The shedding process is always a bit unpleasant for any reptiles, including bearded dragons. Imagine going through the skin peeling almost every month, it would be stressful right? Seeing your bearded dragon during shedding, you might want to hold or pet them for comfort. But, can you hold a bearded dragon while shedding?
You can hold your bearded dragon while shedding but not unnecessarily or for too long as it makes the process more painful for them. The shedding in bearded dragons occurs in patches, which makes the whole process really uncomfortable for them. You can also check for stubborn sheds which is another indication of not leaving them alone while they are shedding.
But in case you want to know more on what to do and what not to do while your bearded dragon is shedding, you should go through the entire article and stick till the end.
Generally, the shedding process, as mentioned earlier, is a natural yet uncomfortable process for the bearded dragon. If you want to pet them while they shed or want to play with them, it’s better to resist your mood and give them space to go with the shedding process at first.
Sometimes you might need to hold your bearded dragon while they shed, which might be:
- During an emergency
- While giving them a bath
- While massaging the skin of your bearded dragons
- For feeding them
- To clean the tank
These are the times your bearded dragon might need your help and so you can hold them for a certain period. Some bearded dragons do get used to this long process and some do not. But as the process is already long-lasting and not pleasant enough, try not to hold your bearded dragon for too long.
If you keep holding them over and over again, they might start getting more irritated which will also affect the shedding process. Hence, try to be a bit considerate and cooperative towards them till the shedding process lasts.
The shedding process usually lasts for 1-3 days in baby bearded dragons. But as they grow and reach adulthood, the process takes longer, generally 3 weeks.
Sometimes the process might even take longer due to their skin getting stuck or any other issues. During this time, you can try to help your bearded dragon to ease the shedding process.
The shedding or ecdysis is a process that every reptile goes through in its lifetime. This natural process starts occurring from their birth and lasts throughout their entire lifetime. The frequency of the shedding though starts to reduce with time.
|Name of the stages||Age||Frequency of shedding||Reason|
|Hatching stage/ Baby bearded dragons||0-6 months||Frequent (1-2 weeks)||Due to rapid growth, they need to keep shedding to cope with it.|
|Juvenile bearded dragons||6-12 months||2 times in a month||To keep up with the growing phase but not frequently like the hatching period.|
|Adult||12-18 months||4 times in a year||Growth is completed and shedding will be done in phases.|
|Adult||18+ months||2 times a year||Fully reached adulthood and shedding only when skin is damaged or old.|
There are some do’s and don’ts that you need to follow while your bearded dragon is going through shedding.
Things you should follow to help your bearded dragon while shedding:
- Giving proper bath and mist
- Ensuring proper diet and hydration
- Good environment setup with proper UVB light, humidity, and temperature
- Appropriate setup of the tank
- Shedding oil and aids
Giving proper bath and mist:
A warm bath for the bearded dragon is necessary in the process of shedding. Sometimes you might find your bearded dragon struggling with the shedding as some skins do not want to come off easily. In that case, you can give it a bath with lukewarm water
Take a bowl of lukewarm water that would be beyond the level of your bearded dragon’s eyes. Then check the temperature and touch it to ensure that it is bearable. Then place the feet of the dragon to see if they react. If they remain calm, then carefully place them in it. Otherwise, try to add more or less water to adjust the temperature.
The water bath will help loosen or soften the skin, making the shedding easier for them. Wait for 15-30 minutes and supervise them the whole time. Do not touch them unnecessarily as due to loosening, you might accidentally pull their skin which would be really painful.
After giving the bath, you can take it out and gently rub its skin with a toothbrush. Try to bathe your bearded dragon each week regularly which will make their skin even better. They will feel less trouble while shedding as well.
Giving mist is another way to help your bearded dragon in shedding. The mist helps to increase the moisture of their skin, making it much easier to fall off when brushed against rocks or branches. This will also make them comfortable and hydrated too.
Ensuring proper diet and hydration:
A proper diet plan for your bearded dragon is a must in order to help them in shedding. The skin condition will only remain good until they consume nutritious food. The skin peeling needs a lot of nutrition to build up new skin again.
You can add calcium, fresh greens, insects that are high in quality, and vitamin D3 (for adults) to their diet plan. Thus, they will get enough nutrition to build up new skin.
Ensuring hydration is equally important in shedding. Due to dehydration, the skin cells might not come off easily. Hence you need to also ensure that your bearded dragon is hydrated and gaining nutrition from healthy items.
Good environment setup with proper light, humidity, and temperature:
A proper environment in a vivarium or tank with appropriate lighting, humidity, and temperature would make the shedding process much easier.
Humidity works as a hydration option for your bearded dragon. If the humidity is low in the tank, then “dysecdysis” also called- abnormal skin shedding will occur. Thus, a proper 30-40% of humidity level should be set up in the tank.
Due to proper humidity, the dragons feel comfortable and burrows under their skin will grow spontaneously. The growing of burrows will make the skin dampened and soft, making the shedding much easier. You can provide humidity by spraying enclosures both at night and morning.
2. Temperature and light:
To create a natural environment for your bearded dragon, you will need to adjust the basking temperature from 95℉ to 105℉. This will create a huge positive impact on their skin and make the shedding easier.
For lighting, you can choose a basking lamp for your bearded dragon. A basking lamp plays an important role in helping the bearded dragons with their digestion. Hence, they can digest the foods they consume and gain proper nutrition for their shedding process.
Humidity, temperature, and light- all three will make the tank more natural and hydrated. Moreover, digestion of nutrients will be easier for the bearded dragon too. These three will help your dragon shed without any hassle.
Appropriate setup of tank:
Including light, temperature, and humidity, there are other factors in a tank that needs to be taken care of. The bearded dragon may feel good if they brush up against anything that is not really hard yet hard enough to help them in shedding.
For this, you can provide:
- Good quality substrates
This diversity in the tank with proper arrangements will help the bearded dragon shed properly. All of these items actually give a rough surface which is helpful for the bearded dragons, when they brush up against these elements. The skin becomes loose enough to come out naturally without extra pain and uncomfortableness.
Shedding oil and aid
Shedding oil and aids are one of the options that you may use to ease the shedding process of your bearded dragon.
When the bathing and misting both are not working and the skin is really hard to come off, that time you can use this method as the last resort.
The shedding aid comes in the form of a spray that you can apply to the part where they are facing trouble to shed. Make sure to notice all the stuck shed and apply shedding oil or aid gently.
- Holding for too long
- Pulling off the skin
- Trying to hold them when they are angry/ running away from you
Holding for too long:
The shedding process is a natural process yet really exhausting for bearded dragons. Hence while shedding, it is best if you leave them alone instead of trying to pet them unnecessarily. Holding the bearded dragons for too long can cause some issues:
- Your bearded dragon will become angry and start hissing or biting. This is a sign that you should leave them alone and not be with them any longer.
- They will start to run away from you once you leave them and will not come closer to you. This is another signal for you to not hold your bearded dragon while shedding.
Pulling off the skin:
This is a must NO for you to do while your bearded dragon is shedding. If you think that pulling off the skin will make things better, then you’re wrong. The pulling will instead make your bearded dragon suffer more which probably is the last thing you want.
Keep yourself and the kids of your house from pulling off the skin of the bearded dragon while they shed.
Trying to hold them when they are angry/ running away from you:
If your bearded dragon is running away from you, then you must know that they do not want to be near you. As the shedding process is not pleasant enough, the bearded dragon might want to face it alone and naturally. Hence, instead of catching them, try to help them out in the shedding process.
As already mentioned, the shedding process is an unpleasant experience for bearded dragons. Thus, they tend to show some signs while they go through the shedding process;
- Starts to eat their own skin
- Shows aggressive behavior
- Becomes more lethargic
- Shows more restlessness
- Hides from people
- Eye bulging becomes frequent
- Stops eating and shows less interest in it
These are common signs that your bearded dragons might show while shedding. Most of these behaviors might also be visible before they start the shedding.
There are some behaviors that you might find your bearded dragon is showing for some days before shedding. Some of the common behaviors that they show before shedding are:
- Change in color of the skin
- Tight skin
- More sleepy
- Becomes lethargic
- Bulging eyes
- Loss of appetite
Change in color of the skin
The color changing of the skin is probably the first thing you will notice in your bearded dragons. The skin color will start to become darker and soon it will become gray and dull. Slowly the old skin will start to detach and the new skin will appear as shiny and bright.
This is a common phenomenon for baby bearded dragons as they start coping with the shedding process. The skin becomes tighter than before which gives an indication that the shedding is going to start soon. Hence do not worry about it as it’s totally natural.
Some bearded dragons might not feel uncomfortable during the shedding process if they are sufficiently hydrated or have nutrition. So they may sleep more while they shed.
Some bearded dragons might feel the complete opposite and still feel more sleepy than usual. Both of the cases are completely normal and it will continue till the shedding process ends.
The shedding process can make your bearded dragon lethargic as this continuous process might make them feel itchy and uncomfortable.
As the shedding process lasts for at least 3 weeks, during this entire time your bearded dragon might not feel good enough everyday. The pain and discomfort might make them lethargic and they may even start showing signs of aggression towards you.
In this case, try to help your bearded dragons instead of holding them unnecessarily. Also, tell the kids to not trouble the bearded dragon until they feel better again.
The bulging eyes of bearded dragons might make you scared but this is also a common thing that they do before shedding. This process helps them shed skin near their eyes and head which are hard to lose. You can also see changes in the color of their eyes as well.
Loss of appetite
Before shedding, your bearded dragon might not like to eat any food and show less interest in eating. The nutrition they already contain helps them in the process, thus mostly they do not want to eat more. Instead, they eat their own shed after the shedding is completed.
This loss of appetite is very normal and you should wait for a few days to see if your bearded dragon is shedding or not.
Are Bearded Dragons Aggressive When Shedding?
Bearded dragons go through this unpleasant process called shedding which lasts for almost a month. This process thus makes them a bit frustrated and aggressive as sometimes their shedding does not occur smoothly. Also due to improper nutrition or dehydration or lack of suitable environment, they tend to act a bit aggressive with any touch or handle.
As loss of appetite is a part of the shedding process, you need to give some time to see if they really are going to shed or not.
Generally, the baby dragons do not wait for a long time before starting eating again. The adults do take time as they contain stored nutrition in them for shedding.
If you see that your bearded dragon is not having any food and not even shedding, make sure to contact the vet.
The shedding process of bearded dragons is really not a comfortable thing they go through. Hence holding them while shedding for a long time without any reason will increase their pain. If you really want to help them for the better, there are several ways you can apply to do that.
You can also make arrangements before the shedding starts to make things easier for your bearded dragon. Make sure you always check on them and contact the vet when needed. This is how you can try to hold a bearded dragon while shedding and pet them in their need.