Rankins Dragon Handling Tips


For the first couple of days after introducing your Rankin to it's new home, it is best to handle him as little as possible and allow him to settle in his new surroundings. If your Rankin is less than 6" it is best not to handle him at all, as they can be rather fragile when young. Instead, offer him food by hand making sure that you approach him slowly and preferably not from above. After a while the Rankin will come to understand that you aren't a threat to him and will no longer try to scurry away when your hand goes near by. Once you are at this stage you may start to regularly handle him.

Gently scoop your dragon from underneath, it is usually easiest to slide a few fingers under its chest from the front. Support the underside as you lift him up. Once trust has been gained, gesturing with your hand under his chest will usually result in him walking straight on to your palm.

Remember that room temperature is usually a lot lower than the vivarium, so keep an eye on how long he is out. We tend to handle ours for 20 mins a day before returning them to their warm vivarium to heat up again. It is not uncommon for them deficate while outside so becareful what you let them walk over while they're out and of course avoid taking them out when other pets are present, as this may stress them out.

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Always wash your hands before handling lizards and use an anti-bacterial handwash afterwards. We recommend the alcohol type that evaporates as you rub, containing Triclosan or similar, to kill off any Salmonella strains. It's fast and efficient at killing off the nasties.

Tips: Do not pick up or pull the Rankin by its tail. Support the Rankin's whole body weight from underneath. Do not lift him from the top or by the edges of his hard upper skeleton.


One of the joys of owning a lizard like the Rankin is watching it's behaviour. Some of the funky things you may see your lizard doing include:

Head bobbing - This is part of their mating ritual.
Arm waving - A sign of submission, typically during a mating ritual.
Tail curling - Your Rankin may curl the tip of it's tail upwards when it is alert.
Displaying a dark beard - The underside of your Rankin's chin/throat may darken when it feels threatened or is mating.
Gaping - If your Rankin is sitting mouth wide open he is trying to cool himself down.
Shedding - Small bits of skin shed naturally, you can help your Rankin by bathing him to keep him moist.
Climbing - Being semi-arboreal they enjoy scaling things and sitting up high.
Running in and out of water dish repeatedly - They love water and often bathe/cool themselves this way.
Brumation - Rankin's may 'shut down' over the colder winter months, eating and moving less frequently than normal.

Things to watch out for include:

Twitching/Tremors/Bloating - Possible calcium/uvb deficiency. Increase dosage and seek vetinary advice immediately.
Constant gaping
- If this happens, check your temperatures are not too high.
Weezing - This could be a respiratory infection caused by raised humidity. Seek a vet for further advice.
Redness, Blisters or Bleeding - Possible infections and/or scale rot. Seek a vet for further advice immediately.
Mites - If you see small mite/tick like creatures get a reptile mite solution and/or consult a vet.
Swollen or Runny eyes - Possibly irritation from sand dust or an infection. Seek a vet for further advice.

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