"They Like to be Petted."

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"They Like to be Petted."

Postby ComicBookMama » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:42 am

I put the title in quotes because that's something I've read on numerous occasions... that beardies like to be petted... and I'm curious, because I tend to think of what an animal is designed for by nature. Primates like us are social touchers. We are accustomed to touching to explore, befriend, show affection - even our nearest relations in the animal kingdom do this, so touching and petting other species is something we seem to be programmed to do by nature. Our mammalian pets also seem to have a social touch language compatible to our own - whether it's the pawing or hip-bumping that dogs do, or the rubbing up against one another that cats do, or the social grooming that many small mammals do. So our petting them seems to be an extension of what they know and understand, and we can say with a fair degree of certainty that they like it. Certainly some even seek it out.

But bearded dragons don't touch one another in the wild, from all I've seen. The closest thing to social touch they appear to have, outside of mating behavior, is that "stacking" thing some do in captivity, and that seems to be a dominance behavior. So I wonder... how DO beardies see our need to touch, hold, and pet them? Are we even capable of knowing this? I once asked a reptile vet, "How do you know your pet snake likes you?" He replied, "He doesn't try to bite you." But this doesn't speak to me as LIKING - more as TOLERATING.

So... are our beardies simply tolerating, or learning to tolerate, our social handling of them? Or do they enjoy the occasional stroking and warmth of our bodies? I'd expect that it might feel good to them, but darned if I can figure out how to know for sure. I'd love to hear some ideas on this - because if beardies really don't like to be held and touched, I almost feel like I shouldn't be forcing it on Figment, aside from teaching him to tolerate handling in case of vet visits. Thoughts?
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby claudiusx » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:47 am

IMO I think they basically tolerate it. Or learn to trust that us doing it doesn't actually hurt them.

As far as if they enjoy being around us or getting out, I think they do enjoy that. Or at least learn that they can get something good out of hanging out with us.
The body heat is a definite. If given the choice of where to hang out on the body, they most of the time tend to hang out around the neck of us, one of the hotter parts of the body.

I think it all comes back to enrichment and the fact that i'm sure being stuck in a tank your whole life is boring. So I think they enjoy that aspect of it once they realize what is happening.

But to your main question about being petted, I personally don't think they get anything out of it.
However I don't get anything out of them not being able to clean up after themselves so I guess we're even :laughing6:

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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby ComicBookMama » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:39 am

claudiusx wrote:IMO I think they basically tolerate it. Or learn to trust that us doing it doesn't actually hurt them.

As far as if they enjoy being around us or getting out, I think they do enjoy that. Or at least learn that they can get something good out of hanging out with us.
The body heat is a definite. If given the choice of where to hang out on the body, they most of the time tend to hang out around the neck of us, one of the hotter parts of the body.

I think it all comes back to enrichment and the fact that i'm sure being stuck in a tank your whole life is boring. So I think they enjoy that aspect of it once they realize what is happening.

But to your main question about being petted, I personally don't think they get anything out of it.
However I don't get anything out of them not being able to clean up after themselves so I guess we're even :laughing6:


Yes, that's pretty much what I suspected. I guess if I look at it as enrichment for Figment, I don't feel so bad about "violating" his species body language code - he does get to come out of his tank, gets to see new things, and if he has to put up with a bit of stroking, well, he'll learn to cope with my primate tendencies. :D

And I definitely agree with you about the cleaning up after themselves... it would be so much easier if they were like leopard geckos and "went" in a particular corner of their hab! Not that it would be any more enjoyable to clean up, but it would, at least, be easier... :lol:
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby kingofnobbys » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:21 pm

It's more the body warmth than the interaction they like.

That said, some dragons do enjoy interaction more , the indicator is displaying "happy" colors when they are having human QT and being petted / having a snuggle.

Given the choice, wild dragons wont poo inside their territory, this is because pooing inside their territory in the wild lets predatory goannas and snakes know they are there. Unfortunately , a pet dragon can't go somewhere else to poo, so they will generally have a fav spot to poo ( a latrine area ) and will save it up until they are taken / allowed out of their tank.
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby ComicBookMama » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:30 pm

kingofnobbys wrote:Given the choice, wild dragons wont poo inside their territory, this is because pooing inside their territory in the wild lets predatory goannas and snakes know they are there. Unfortunately , a pet dragon can't go somewhere else to poo, so they will generally have a fav spot to poo ( a latrine area ) and will save it up until they are taken / allowed out of their tank.


I just wish Figment's favorite place to poo wasn't right where he is basking!
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby claudiusx » Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:54 pm

ComicBookMama wrote:
I just wish Figment's favorite place to poo wasn't right where he is basking!


God that was the story of my life with Moro for the first 4 months lol! Just know, there is hope. Figment can change just like Moro did! There is hope! :notworthy: :laughing6:

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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby Linzloohoo » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:55 pm

Well, it could be worse! Kai has chosen my sons head as his latrine area. 4 times encounting!
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby GloriousMom » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:33 pm

Well, I know my boy likes to snuggle close for warmth when I hold him, but a lot of times, I'll just reach into his cage and pet his back, and he settles down and closes his eyes. He doesn't press himself to the ground like he doesn't want me to pick him up, just full-body relaxes. Also if I'm holding him while watching TV, if I stop petting him, he'll lick my hand. I don't know if he's actually trying to get my attention, but he stops licking my hand when I start petting him again?
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Re: "They Like to be Petted."

Postby beardie parents » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:51 pm

I don't know about being petted but our girls, Rosie and Lil Squirt like being on our shoulder. Before we got Lil Squirt the person we got her from told me that her favorite spot is the shoulder. It was so when we first got her and it still is now. If we would let her stay there 24/7 she would be very happy. But it's not safe to have her there over night, besides, she has to be warm enough to eat.
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