Bearded Dragon Toys: Because our favourite reptiles CAN get bored!
I’ll hold my hand up, my dragons are spoilt. We’re forever trying to come up with new ways to entertain them, and here’s how you can have more fun with your lizards too!
Pingpong Balls: Sounds simple, is simple. Brightly coloured balls are fun to lick, shove about, hide in corners, sit on – all manners of entertainment. Cat toy versions are always the prettiest, with stripes and patterns. My dragons have a big red one, and a small purple one they like to shove about occasionally, and even snap back and forth with us. We now have a stripy one with a yellow feather, and a big orange one with spots too! Make sure the ball won’t fit in their mouths first.
Climbing Frames: Again, a cheap, easy and thorougly entertaining graft! If you know someone with a fruit tree, grab a few sturdy branches when they trim it back. Scrub them down, bake them, then enjoy cutting to size and tying firmly with garden string. You can design all kinds of frames for your lizard to climb and explore – and you can take it apart and make a whole new one when they get bored! Try incorporating some thick cardboard to make interesting platforms to sit and hide under – my dragons can’t get enough of it. For the REALLY creative, try this link: http://www.lizard-landscapes.com/Fake-rock-wall-beginner.html
Swings: Creativity can run wild on this one, just be careful of sharp edges. Personally, I like the ones made for rabbits/guinea pigs; you can pick them up very cheaply, they’re made of natural wood (safe for licking/chewing) and easy to set up. I’ve also made some out of old tablemats and string, they work just as effectively. Bamboo ones can have splinters, so again, be careful – you don’t want the dragons to get hurt/stuck. Swings are fun places to bask in the heatlamps, as well as to jump off, hide under, run round and peep from behind – Kuleana (my first dragon) liked to do circuits of her tank, leaping off her swing to the hut… Hyphen (my special needs dragon) loves to sit on his.
Food Digs: Get a shallow bowl/plate, some brown paper roughly torn into large chunks, and some tasty treat food – waxworms work wonderfully for this, they’re the equivalent of lizard candy. Do note they are quite fatty, so try adding bits of fruit too. Simply shuffle them together, leave some tasty bits on the top, and let your dragon hunt!
“Hide-N-Seek”: Dinnerstyle! Hide favourite treats on top of “plates” made from tinfoil around the tank (or room, if your lizards are allowed out-time, they LOVE to explore, so keep a close eye on them) and let them go “hunting”. This keeps fidgety Tsam entertained during the day – he never knows where he might discover some more grape bits.
Training: Yes, you can train lizards. My gang all know how to stay for a camera, they can all use the dragon-slope correctly to get in and out of their individual homes when it is their turns, and you can pretty much train them with any simple ideas. They’re not as daft as they’d like you to think…
Observing: Dragons LOVE to watch what’s going on – be it what’s going on in the room, so give them a nice busy room so they can get the most out of their family! They also love a nice wide windowsill to sit on, and watch the world go by: just be careful they can’t fall off the sill and get hurt – and don’t put a vivarium in the window, as it WILL overheat in the sun. They also adore to explore – so a leash is recommended, so you can keep an eye on where they’re going and what they’re up to!
Another “Lizard”: Toy lizards can create some spectacular responses. As always, make sure they won’t fall apart.
Mirrors: Also great for getting dragons used to the idea of other dragons, and for observing rival body languages – bobbing, bearding, flaring and dancing!
Springy Toys: Ceiling hung spring toys can be hours of entertainment. Make sure the spring is a tight one, so they can’t trap claws, tails (and occasionally tongues) in it, and then show them how it bounces. I have a giant cricket and a giant cockroach in my tanks, the wiggly legs have often been the target for all-out attacks!
Swimming: Yes, beardies are desert animals – but that means they VALUE water. In the wild, they’ll take any opportunity to have a soak and a drink: baths are a lot of fun for dragons, as well as essential for rehydration – at least once a week is recommended for happy dragons. Warm (not hot!) water, preferably moving – you can use a jug to gently pour, or if you’re really techie, you can use an aquarium pump to create a current and movement. Many dragons won’t recognise still water – but all dragons have a good splash in the bath!
Rainbows: You need one of those big glass crystals, or a bunch of suncatchers. A laserpen might work just as well, we have yet to get one. Anyway, on a sunny day, wiggle your crystals round to catch the light and watch as your dragon goes mental trying to eat the “pretty bugs” scuttling around your floor/wall/bed/etc…
Jingles: A bell on a string. You can go for any kind of small bell, but beware of the “jinglebell” type, they can have sharp edges – always test toys for sharp bits or bits that might be swallowed. As with a cat toy, you need to tie your chosen small bell onto a good peice of string or ribbon, then just scootch and drag it along the floor. The jerky bounce and the tinkle noise is enough to captivate even the most ADHD dragon into throwing him/herself at it and trying to kill/eat it…!
The Ultimate Toy: You.
Play with your dragon. Jacques, one of our little rescues, has even learned to play chase with us. Spend time with your reptile, get to know their likes and loves, what they find entertaining and what they appreciate. You might find your dragon even has favourite TV shows! (Seriously – Tsam adores David Attenborough. Go figure.)
And yes, http://beardeddragontoys.blogspot.co.uk/ is me too.