Many bearded dragon owners prefer to let their dragons roam free, providing them with the opportunity to explore outside their enclosure.
While some bearded dragon owners believe this is a great way to entertain their pet, there are those that are against it, as there are many important factors to take into consideration.
If you are wanting to let your dragon have a bit of freedom, continue reading below for some valuable tips on letting your dragon roam free.
1. Is Free Roaming Good For Bearded Dragons?
Most bearded dragon owners remove their pet to handle it and build up a bond and to give them some interesting entertainment, offering them some excitement outside of their enclosure. Not all bearded dragons enjoy free roaming, so there are some things to take into account.
Providing your bearded dragon with healthy stimulation is taking it out of its normal routine, stimulating the brain, and adding a fun element to an ordinary day. These reptiles tend to get bored and want to learn new things and explore new surroundings.
Limit what is around them the first time you let them out, reducing the risk of your dragon becoming overwhelmed.
Ensure the room is clean and safe before letting your dragon roam free.
Remember always supervise your pet when it is roaming free, do not let it roam alone. Always keep a close eye on them.
2. Do Bearded Dragons Enjoy Roaming Free?
Not all bearded dragons enjoy being outside of their enclosure. You will find that this is determined by the tolerance of your dragon.
If it enjoys being handled and has got used to you and its surroundings, it may enjoy being outside the enclosure for a period of time.
Every bearded dragon has its own little character and while some love being handled and spending time outside their enclosure, there are those that become stressed when they leave the security and comfort of their habitat.
Watch your dragon closely for signs of stress if you take them out. Any sign of stress, return them to their enclosure immediately.
What to Look For
If you bring your dragon out of its enclosure for the first time and it starts to wander around the room slowly walking and exploring, then that means your pet is relatively relaxed.
Get to know your dragon well, know what signs they exhibit when they are happy or stressed, so you can identify a problem right away.
If your dragon starts to try and escape or bite you, then it is stressed and needs to be returned to its enclosure.
If your pet gets stressed quickly when outside their enclosure, only allow them time outside for a short amount of time, slowly building their confidence, getting them used to be handled, and getting them relaxed around you.
3. Where To Roam
You need to take the room temperature into consideration when choosing where to allow your dragon to roam, bearing in mind that they rely on external temperatures to regulate their own body temperature.
On a lovely warm sunny day, you can let your dragon roam freely in a sunny room. Though keep an eye for when he/she runs for a shady corner. This could mean they are too hot and need to cool down. This is time to return them to the enclosure.
Close off areas that you have not dragon proofed, ensuring your pet cannot get injured. Most pet owners choose one room in the house which is safe without sharp objects, where their pet can roam freely without too much concern.
It's recommended to choose a room with a wooden or tiled floor, where the risk of your pet getting its nails stuck in a carpet or accidentally eating some carpet and getting impaction is dramatically reduced.
4. When To Roam
There is no hard and fast rule here on when you should let your bearded dragon roam, this is down to your pet and its character.
You don't have to let them roam every day, but daily outings will help your pet bond with you, get used to being handled, and encourage it to enjoy spending time with you.
You may find your pet gets stressed if taken out of the enclosure for extended periods. Some show no interest in coming out of the enclosure at all. Bearded dragons are territorial and they don't enjoy any change to their environment, which is why if you take your dragon out too often, it may refuse to come out in the future.
Start by taking your dragon out of its enclosure once a week for no more than half an hour, making it part of their schedule and getting them used to the idea that they do get time to explore and roam free.
5. How Long To Roam
It's important to limit how much time your bearded dragon spends outside its enclosure.
There is a temperature difference between inside the home and inside your pet’s habitat. Keep a close eye on your bearded dragon’s behavior to identify if the change in temperature is making them stressed.
Based on your dragon’s personality, you should be able to let your dragon roam for anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour.
Bearded dragons can survive without their heat lamp for up to 24 hours, as long as the temperature remains above 65ºF.
After 24 hours, your pet will lose its appetite and be unable to digest any food, as they rely on heat to get their metabolism going.
6. Dragon Proof Your Home/Room
Letting your dragon roam free is the same as allowing a human toddler into a room, you need to bearded dragon proof it.
Ensure that the room you allow them to roam in is clean and there are no sharp objects or high ledges they can access, which can cause injury, or worse.
Any other pets should be removed from the room, as you don't know how the two are going to get along, which can be an added stress factor for your dragon.
Look for cracks and holes in the floors and walls, behind and under fridges and other appliances. Close up these areas to reduce the risk of your pet getting in behind somewhere and you cannot get them out and back into their enclosure.
7. Heat Pad on a Windowsill
Some bearded dragon owners have found that placing their dragon on a heat pad for half an hour to an hour on a low windowsill provides their dragon with warmth and the ability to keep an eye on the outdoors, offering excellent mental stimulation.
While the dragon may leave the low windowsill for a short period to explore, they seem to always return to the same place.
There are going to be times when you turn your head and when you look back your dragon has gone.
Tying a piece of bright ribbon just in front of their hind legs, ensuring that their walk isn't affected is a great way to quickly find your pet when it explores new areas and gets out of sight for a short period.
9. Heat Lamp on the Floor
If you are able to, bringing the heat lamp out of the enclosure and placing it on a floor stand provides your dragon with the UV lighting and heat it needs while outside the enclosure.
This can enable a comfortable and happy dragon to explore for longer.
If you are still new at letting your dragon out of its enclosure and you're nervous, then you can purchase a bearded dragon harness.
The harness fits the same as a dog harness and is attached to a leash, so you can keep your dragon close to you and ensure they don't get up to any mischief.
The harness is also ideal for bearded dragon owners that want their pet to explore outdoors on a warm sunny day.
11. Add Hides
The hides you provide your bearded dragon in its habitat provide safety and privacy. Letting your bearded dragon free roam means that they need to find new hiding places if they feel nervous or threatened.
Placing one or two hides in the room within easy access of your pet can give your pet the security it needs, enabling it to go and hide if it wants. This can help reduce stress and also help you identify when it's time to put your dragon back in its enclosure.
If you are worried when it comes to allowing your bearded dragon to free roam, you can purchase a small animal playpen, similar to a playpen used by a toddler just starting to walk.
The small animal playpens are an ideal way to enable your pet to explore outside the enclosure while keeping them contained to one place. The playpen can be used in the home or outdoors under supervision.