Bearded dragons get their name from the ability to "puff" out pouches in their necks. The neck pouches are rows of scales that can change colour and are visible on both male and female lizards. Known also as "beardies," bearded dragons are social critters that love investigating areas and being held.
Hatchlings are very delicate and require very little handling the first two weeks of life. Once the babies are hatched, only handle them when it's necessary for habitat-moving or health issues. Many bearded dragon babies hatch with an egg sac still attached. Moving the animal can result in the egg sac tearing or ripping off of the beardie's body. Prevent accidents by holding a bearded dragon baby only when required, such as if you need to move it from the hatched egg to a new habitat.
After two weeks of age, you can hold your bearded dragon more frequently. The egg sac will have absorbed into the lizard or fallen off at this point. Young dragons still require extra care when handling due to their still-soft bodies. Pick up a beardie from the side and allow it to walk on your fingers. Open your palms flat to let your dragon climb on your hands and arms. At this young age, many dragons will "cling" to your fingers. Exercise caution if your young dragon tries to "run"; instead of grabbing it firmly, grasp the dragon gently to avoid squishing it. Young children should not handle young bearded dragons.
Adult bearded dragons are sturdy and like to explore. Pick them up carefully but firmly by their bodies and support the tail on your arm. An unsupported tail makes a dragon at any age feel off-balance. Keep "candy," like wax worms, in your hands to entice your dragon to stay there. If you want to let your dragon explore the house, keep a heat lamp low to the ground so it can bask in the light at any time.
There's no set time limit for holding your bearded dragon, but there are warning signs to look for if you think you're holding your dragon too much. If your bearded dragon is not eating or has runny stools, its body temperature might be too low. A bearded dragon's body temperature needs to be 37.8 degrees Celsius for proper digestion. If your house it too cold or if your dragon is away from its heat source for too long, it can get sick. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your bearded dragon is sick.