Exercise is important because it keeps us active and enhances both our physical and mental health. Bearded dragons, no matter how antisocial, still need a little bit of that. In the wild, they are free to move around, hunt insects for food, and spend a great deal of time observing other animals.
In contrast, they don’t exercise enough in captivity (as pets). On a normal morning, your beardie wakes up, walks to the basking lights, eats, lounges on the hammock, and that’s it. Over time, this might lead to obesity or depression.
They need lots of activity, just like what they would do in their natural habitat. This improves weight management and boosts their mood. Hence, it’s not just all about exercise but a bit of entertainment too.
The question now is, how much exercise does a bearded dragon need? Hint: it might be a little more than you think.
How much exercise does a Bearded Dragon need?
A bearded dragon needs to be brought out of its enclosure to exercise at least once a week.
If you work from home or you are at home a lot, you can take your beardie out of the enclosure to exercise 3-6 days a week.
During this period, fifteen minutes should be enough for them to play with their toys, swim, take strolls with you, or do any exercise.
For more activities that can be done while in the terrarium, you can also leave feeder balls in the tank and build ladders.
How do I exercise my bearded dragon?
There are eight well-detailed and easy-to-follow beardie-exercising ideas on this list.
Balls can be a hit or miss with your dragon depending on its personality, but you have nothing to lose when you give it a try. Start by tossing the ball in the air for them to chase. Make it difficult for them by pushing it out of their reach when they get to where it is.
Do not purchase small balls for your dragon to play with; they are a choking hazard because the beardie can try to bite or swallow the ball. To ensure safety, use larger, lighter balls and monitor them.
Every pet needs a feeder ball because, to an extent, they get motivated by food. Get some crickets into the ball and once they realize that there’s a yummy reward when they push the balls, it’ll be one of their favorite things to do.
However, to avoid insects from getting into your house, you can leave these in their enclosure, but make sure you get quality balls that can survive the temperature inside the tank.
Swimming is a form of exercise that has lots of great benefits for humans and pets alike, and, luckily, bearded dragons can swim. They swim, even though they aren’t skilled swimmers and it may not be something they prefer or enjoy doing. A way of making this fun is by getting floaties in the kiddie pool or sink during their bath, so they either have the chance of staying in the water or not.
Besides, warm water can help them during shedding and also with their hygiene, which means you’re not just fulfilling the exercising part, but also doing a lot more for your bearded dragon.
These are great for tricking a dragon into believing there are bugs on the spot where the rays are positioned, and that can still get them into thinking they’ve got something they need to catch, but after a while, laser pens get boring because your dragon can’t be fooled forever, so you might want to introduce something more challenging for your pet.
If this is still your choice, avoid flashing this in their eyes as it can affect their vision.
Hunting for food
In the wild, bearded dragons hunt for their food, but they don’t get to do that once they’re in the enclosure, which is laudable as that’s the comfort you bring into their lives.
Regardless, bring them out once in a while. Use tweezers to sprinkle insects on the grass to give them the option of hunting for their food.
Ensure that the grass is free from chemicals or pesticides, and you’re good to go.
We can all agree that tweezers are useful for feeding the dragon, but did you know you can also use them to have fun with them?
Try this: hold up an insect, flash it on their faces, and then walk away from where they are just to see if they’re willing to chase you all to get what they want.
This can be a way of bonding with a beardie but remember, don’t run, as that might stress them out and can lead to them giving up on food. You want to motivate them with it, so don’t make it too difficult.
Desert bearded dragons enjoy digging to bury themselves in the ground where they are safe from predators and to cool off from the heat. Tunnels can’t be a mistake as it also works out great for your dragon. Here’s how to do it: get insects into these and watch them crawl their way in and out, or perhaps even hide.
It might not be as effective as other options, but it can be a great way of imitating their natural environment.
Walking your Bearded Dragon
Taking walks with your dragon is the most effective way of bonding and exercising with them, and if you’re wondering how to do that, then the steps below will come in handy for you.
- Harness. For starters, get them a harness, not a leash, as that can end up choking them. A harness helps with guiding your beardie through the entire walking process, and it also prevents them from escaping.
Their attempt at escape doesn’t mean your dragon hates you or wants to go back to where they came from, but it means she isn’t used to the terrain of wherever you’re walking through, or might have seen a predator and at that moment, her instinct is to hide or climb the tree. That’s why you need a harness to prevent such things from happening.
- Get them used to wearing the harness. To get your beardie used to this, place the harness on her a few times before taking her out on a walk. This is important because you don’t want to make your pet uncomfortable, nor do you want them stressed.
- Choose a sunny day. You’ll be bringing your bearded dragon out of its comfort zone, and what you can do is make sure the sun makes up for what it would be losing if it were to be in its terrarium so that by the time they get back in, it doesn’t take much time to recover.
- Avoid loud environments. To avoid stressing your dragon, avoid taking walks in noisy areas. That’ll largely impact their health, and if noise is inevitable, go out very early in the morning and get them back in as soon as you can.
- Start with short walks. You don’t need to walk long distances for a dragon to stay fit. Short walks can also do the trick. The most important thing is that they’re moving. Over time, you can increase the time if they love walking with you, but keep in mind that they also need their tank’s temperature, so a few minutes will always be enough.
Note: If you choose only one type of exercise and they repetitively do it for months, your beardie will find it unexciting.
What you should do is make a calendar, plan, or memorize a way to ensure they don’t repeat an activity in a week.
Ask yourself this question every day: how do I make things more engaging for my pet today? Trust me, you’ll always come up with fun ideas that are—very likely—going to be worth it.
Other fun ways of entertainment
Exercising is great, but to add some fun, there are ways to entertain your bearded dragon.
- Place a mirror in an enclosure. A mirror can feel strange to your beardie as she gets to see a reflection of itself; it might try everything to understand if there’s another beardie before it realizes that it’s staring at herself. It is also likely that the beardie may never know.
The only exception to using a mirror is if it stresses your dragon. Remove it. Also, never leave the mirror in there, even when they show signs of normalcy, like waving at their reflection.
- Allow your beardie to gaze out the window. You can place them just right by the window so they can observe things and the people around them. Don’t forget to add some blankets for them to snuggle in because that will make things more relaxing for them.
How often should you play with your bearded dragon?
Bonding is important between you and your pet, but the time your dragon wants to spend outside the enclosure depends on its personality, as some beardies don’t like being handled for long periods.
If your dragon likes it, a time frame of fifteen minutes will be enough. If she wants to go back in, allow her. Don’t force your dragon into spending more time with you and take things easy, because gradually showing yourself as their caregiver and protector will enable them to spend more time with you.
Can Bearded Dragons roam the house?
Bearded dragons can roam the house as long as it’s safe for them to do so. What that means is that you have to do the work of ensuring their safety. How do you do that?
If you own other pets, keep them locked in to prevent them from attacking each other. Keep the wires away and other harmful things out of reach.
As long as it’s safe, they can freely move around and observe their environment, and the greatest thing about roaming is that it gets them moving, but also remember to get them back into the tank when the time is due.
Bearded dragons don’t get lonely from being alone, but the only reason to take them out for exercise is that their enclosure is so much different from the desert, and that makes activities a little bit limited.
Get them to see life beyond their terrarium and they’ll thank you for it. Most importantly, exercising shouldn’t be the only goal; entertainment is also needed. This enables a great bonding experience and ultimately helps your dragon trust you.