You have just found out that your bearded dragon suddenly adopted a lighter skin tone. While this might surprise you but bearded dragon shedding process is a natural thing to occur. In this guide, we will provide you all the information related to the shedding process of your cuddly lizard.
Every living organism goes through this procedure when its outer skin layer flakes off. Even we human beings don’t realize that we shed thousands of dead skin cells each day. Most reptiles, like snakes, get rid of the full cast to reveal the new epidermis hidden beneath. Bearded dragons mostly loose patches of dead skin when they are shedding. So don’t be worried if your beardie still has an old layer on some parts of the body. The scientific name for this process is ecdysis.
There is no specific time to estimate the onset of this natural process, but it occurs more rapidly in hatchlings. Because of the rapid rate at which their body grows they change dead skin more frequently. As your beardie matures its shedding process would slow down.
During the shedding days, you might notice your beardie getting cranky and agitated. After all, the least we can expect is an irritated dragon when his skin is sloughing off. So during this unpleasant phase, you might want to give your pet lizard some space.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Shed Their Skin?
The frequency at which a bearded dragon sheds its skins depends upon its breed and hormonal changes. Young beardies are more likely to go through the moulting process at a rapid pace. This is mainly due to the fact because they are going through a period of growth spurt.
A young bearded dragon might slough off its skin every 4 to 6 weeks until it becomes 1 year old. When it matures, this process of sloughing off would slow down to once or twice a year. You shouldn’t be worried if they don’t follow the exact same pace. It depends from one dragon to another, as they might have different growth rate and hormonal secretions.
You should also be aware that your beardie would not dispose of its old out layer of skin all at once. You might notice it ripping off from different parts each day. One day it might only shed from its chin and face. Similarly, the other day you might notice the shedding process occurring around the belly and limbs.
There are various factors that can affect this process, such as lighting, diet, temperature, and stress. As long as you provide them a well-balanced diet they would scrape off the old skin comfortably. Some beardies get rid of the entire cast like that of a snake, while others only shed in patches.
Once your bearded dragon outgrows the old skin, it would exhibit eye-catching bright skin dues. These vivid colors would stay for a while after shedding that would give them a beautiful appearance.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Shedding?
Most reptiles go through this process known as “ecdysis”, which is a Greek word that means to “put off”. These ectothermic creatures are covered with tiny protrusions called scales. Scales help them keep all the nearby predators at bay, as they make it difficult to puncture the skin.
Their skin is made up of a keratin-based protein, which also makes up human hair and nails. Unlike human skins, reptiles’ skin is rigid due to the texture of this element. Low elasticity of a bearded dragon’s skin makes it more susceptible to getting permanently damaged. Beta keratin normally stops secreting when the skin is formed, which causes old skin to slough off.
There are usually two things that trigger the shedding process. Your beardie’s skin can shed either due to growth or getting stuck on some pointy object in their tank.
Bearded dragon shedding due to body growth
Since the bearded dragon’s skin is made from beta keratin, this causes it to become inelastic. Think of it like wearing jeans or a jacket that you have already outgrown. You would feel uncomfortable as it would be pressing against your skin. The same thing happens with your beardie when it is growing through a growth phase.
During the age of 0 to 6 months, sloughing off would be a weekly occurrence. Because of the inelastic property of their skin, they would outgrow it every week. You should consider it a positive sign if your hatchling is shedding rapidly. Baby bearded dragons would usually shed within a day.
From age 6 to 12 months, the slough off process would take place every few weeks. Because most of their skeletal growth occurs before this age group, their shedding speed would slow down.
At around 18 months, your adult bearded dragon’s body development would be completed. This would cause them to shed only once or twice per year.
Bearded dragon shedding due to skin damage
Your beardie’s rough skin would become scratched or battered when it comes in contact with sharp objects. You should remove all the pointy protruded items from the vivarium to minimize the chances of damage. Sometimes the skin puncture can be critical, which might be painful for your pet lizard.
Your beardie would naturally acquire a new protective layer when it gets deteriorated due to external factors. The new layer would be smoother and brighter than the old one.
What Are The Signs of a Bearded Dragon Shedding?
The skin of your beardie might appear discolored and rough when a shed is due. During the pre-shed stage, your bearded dragon’s skin tone might become dull and pale. This is totally normal, and you should consider it as a red flag.
Despite the fact that the shedding process might look uncomfortable, it is actually a highly rewarding thing for your pet. Their new epidermis would have better moisturizing capabilities and heat-absorption functions. You would also surely love the new bright layer of skin once they go through the shedding process.
Some of the telltale signs that you should watch out for are:
- The dullness of skin. Because the old epidermis would not cling to the body firmly, this would decrease its brightness and smoothness.
- Your tiny dragon would excessively yawn during the shedding period. By stretching their mouth wide open they would be able to efficiently get rid of the skin.
- They would become irritable and aggressive when you try to handle them.
- Saggy skin all over different parts of the body.
- Loss of appetite. Don’t force-feed your pet lizard if it doesn’t seem to be interested to do it.
- Your bearded dragon might even bulge its eyes out more frequently. This movement of eyeballs makes the shedding process easier.
It can be a highly distracting period for your bearded dragon when they have flaky skin all over their body. Make sure that you don’t pet them if they appear stressed out. Just make sure to give them some privacy and remove any time that might cause stress.
How Long Does it Take for a Bearded Dragon to Shed?
A full body shed can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks. There is no fixed schedule, as some beardies might take longer than others. Dragons that shed in patches usually take longer than their counterparts who dispose of the full cast.
Juveniles and babies are more likely to partially go through the shedding procedure. On the other hand, an adult bearded dragon is more likely to shed the entire layer.
If you have an adult bearded dragon, then you might notice that the whole shedding thing can last many weeks. For the first week, you might notice your beardie’s skin sagging around the mouth and tail. The other week, their skin might loosen up around the back and belly.
Although skin shedding is a slow natural process, you should still keep an eye out for danger signs. If it takes longer than 3 weeks, then this could indicate an underlying issue. If the dead skin stays intact for far too long, then this can affect their blood circulation. The presence of old skin cells can even cause some body parts like the tail to rot. This is the reason you should remain vigilant when your beardie is shedding.
How Can I Help My Beardie During the Shedding?
Firstly, you should refrain from handling your bearded dragon while it is shedding. In the wild, they don’t need to be assisted during the sloughing process as it withers away naturally. However, it’s good to make the enclosure preferable for your beardie.
You should never try pulling off the loose skin on your own, as that might weaken the epidermis beneath. It can also cause infection if they become wounded during the process. Despite the availability of shedding lotions, it is always better to use water for hydration purposes.
When setting up the enclosure, makes sure to add rough objects, like rocks and tree branches. By rubbing against these items, your beardie would conveniently get rid of the loose patches. You should also set up UVB lighting and temperature accordingly. Try maintaining different temperate zones within the tank. Your beardie might resort to colder areas to get maximum humidity during the night.
You can also soften the scales by giving your bearded dragon a warm bath. During the bathing session, you can gently apply a toothbrush that might help lift the dead skin away. It would also provide a great social interaction to bond with your cuddly lizard pet.
The water-resistant nature of your beardie’s scaly skin would not allow water to permeate through it if the shedding process hasn’t started out it. If your beardie’s skin hasn’t started to flake out yet, then bathing would be futile.
Some reptile owners even mist the vivarium every morning to provide moisture to their pet’s skin. Make sure that you don’t over-mist the enclosure, as that might cause breathing difficulties.
My Bearded Dragon is Shedding and Not Eating
Most reptiles partake in the avoidance of food consumption when they are shedding. Apart from abstaining from eating food, your beardie might also resort to dark corners of the tank. Your guy or gal would also appear less active during their shedding phase.
You shouldn’t be concerned if they are refusing to eat, as long as you have a healthy and stocky beardie. They would have enough nutritional reserves to go by several weeks without eating. Make sure to monitor their body weight regularly. If they seem to reduce weight, then this cannot be a good sign. Hatchlings and juveniles are more likely to become skinny if they stop eating for a few days. This is the reason you should ensure that they don’t refrain from eating for a long period.
Your bearded dragon is less likely to suffer from a loss of appetite if it is partially shedding its skin. Most adults that dispose of the complete cast would refrain from food consumption for some days.
Note: If your bearded dragon is rapidly shrinking in size, then it could be an indicator of parasites. Most intestinal worms latch on the walls of the intestine of their host’s to suck iron from the blood. This can emaciate your pet, as it would not be able to get nutrition from food.
What if My Bearded Dragon’s Shed Isn’t Coming Off?
If the old skin seems to be retained for a long period, then this can expose your beardie to necrosis of the tissue. If it occurs, blood flow would be restricted to some parts of the body. This can even trigger the rotting process, which would deteriorate their tail and nails.
If it still has some saggy patches, then you might want to adjust the heat gradient zones in the tank. Make sure that they can properly absorb UVB light in the basking zones. This would help aid them during the partial shedding process.
Some beardie owners even use aloe vera products or other soothing gels to soften their skin. Make sure to provide them with soaking sessions to ease up the sloughing process.You can add betadine in the bath water to aid the shedding process. Manuka Honey also works well to remove the saggy skin areas. Similarly, you can use Zoo Med Repti Shedding Aid to remove dry sheds quickly.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Shedding?
If you own an adult bearded dragon, then you shouldn’t be concerned even it hasn’t shed in a year. As long as you provide them with top-notch UVB setup and diet, they would do it when they have to. On the other hand, baby bearded dragons should shed after 4 to 6 weeks. You might want to make changes to your husbandry if your baby beardie hasn’t shed in a month.
Bearded dragons have evolved to go through this natural process over thousands of generations. If the light and heat setup is in tip-top shape, then they would shed without any external assistance.
My Bearded Dragon is Shedding and Sleeping
During the shedding period, you would notice your beardie being sleepy all the time. By dozing off they would be able to tolerate the uncomfortable experience.
So, prolong sleeping hours during the shedding process are totally normal. Make sure you don’t disrupt the sleeping pattern of your adorable lizard. Despite the apparent advantage of sleeping it away, it has some disadvantages.
Sleeping for long period means that your beardie would mobilize less. Less mobility would lengthen the period to loosen the dead skin cells. Usually, a healthy bearded dragon would rub his underside and limbs against coarse objects in the tank. They would not be able to do this if they spend most of their day slumbering in the enclosure.
Bearded Dragon Shedding Lethargic
Your bearded dragon would appear exhausted and tired when it is going through this inconvenient process. You would be irritated too if you had loose strands of skin hanging from all over your body. During this period, your beardie would avoid interacting with any other living beings. It would just want to be left alone, as that would help them go through this process without stress.
Even if you are tempted to caress your pet dragon, you should refrain from doing it. After all, you don’t want to partake in an activity that might cause them trauma. Make sure that you have placed hiding boxes in their vivarium. This would allow them to remain hidden until they are ready to interact with you again.
So, don’t worry if your energetic dragon seems to be lazy from the past few days. It would experience these shedding blues for a few weeks and then get back to the normal routine.
What if My Bearded Dragon’s Tail Isn’t Shedding?
As mentioned earlier, some parts of your bearded dragon would take longer than others to shed. Their tails usually take longer to shed because of the restricted movement. As long as the coloration and brightness of their tail match to the rest of the body you don’t have to worry about it.
If your bearded dragon’s tail is shriveling up, this can be due to a blockage in the blood circulation. Their tail might appear darker or dull than the skin shade of the other body parts. Many beardie owners seem to be getting promising results by applying 100% cocoa butter to the affected region. You can also topically apply aloe vera gel to nourish and moisturize the dried-up patch.
Once you have applied these soothing gels, don’t allow your beardie to go in the heat zones. The chemicals in these products can potentially cause skin irritation to your delicate pet.
Baby Bearded Dragon Shedding
During the first 6 months of their life, bearded dragons grow in length at a rapid pace. This seems to be a survival mechanism because bearded dragon babies are very tiny in size. By growing at an exponential rate, they are able to reach a formidable size within a few months period.
It might become worrisome if it has been a few weeks since your baby beardie hasn’t shed. As long as they are shedding after 2 to 4 weeks, then you shouldn’t be concerned. New hatchlings would even slough off almost every week because of the fast rate of their growth.
Juvenile Bearded Dragon Shedding
Just like babies, juvenile bearded dragons would adopt a fast pace as far as their shedding is concerned. They would follow a predictable pattern for disposing of the old skin layer until the first year. When the juvenile becomes older than 1 year, then he might follow an unpredictable shedding routine.
As their body growth comes to a halt, their shedding process would also slow down. Make sure to provide a well-balanced diet, which would allow you juvenile to grow into a healthy dragon.
Bearded Dragon Shedding Problem
Prolonged shedding can create several complications for the health and wellbeing of your exotic pet. Whether the shedding isn’t occurring frequently or too frequently, there might be a problem. It is always better to keep track of the shedding routine of your beardie. This way you would be in a better position to tell whether something is wrong or not.
The presence of mites and other invading organisms can trigger an unwanted infection. Shedding can also take longer to complete if there isn’t enough humidity in the enclosure. A dry environment would cause their skin to rupture at random parts. So, you might notice the skin getting punctured around their limbs and head first before other parts. Usually, a dry patch is left around the entire skin. This can act as a tourniquet, which can block the blood flow towards the tail.
What to watch out for?
There are some body parts of your beardie that are more susceptible to getting affected, such as tail and legs. These parts can become thickened when the epidermis above them doesn’t flake off. If the skin doesn’t budge, then this can cause poor blood circulation. In extreme cases, your doctors might recommend amputation for the affected parts.
Imbalanced walking posture
If the dead skin around your beardie’s skin dries out then this can cut off the blood supply. Your bearded dragon might face difficulty while walking because of having excess skin dragging them down. They might even end up with numb limbs that make it impossible for them to mobilize.
Bearded Dragon Tail rot
The distal end of your bearded dragon’s tail is highly susceptible to rot when it doesn’t shed properly. Because of the fact that the tail isn’t covered with many scales, it makes it difficult to provide it abrasion during the shedding phase. It also remains hoisted up in the air, which makes it difficult for beardie to rub it against edges of solid objects placed in their vivarium.
This bacterial infection would more likely affect your adult bearded dragon. If they go through recurrent failed shedding phases, then that would trigger the rotting process in some parts.
Make sure to keep their tail and limbs well-moisturized when they are sloughing their skin off. This would ensure that all the parts get a new epidermis after proper shedding.
Bearded Dragons Behavior during Shedding
You would be surprised to find out that composed and calm beardie would adopt a skittish behavior while it is shedding its skin. Your little guy would not be tempted to take part in any physical activity and would become lethargic.
You have to be mindful of the entire situation, and make sure that your actions don’t cause them stress. In order to carry out this whole process in a stress-free manner, you should refrain from handling them.
Bearded dragons have evolved to adopt a very clever behavior when they have to get rid of stubborn skin. The skin around their hard can stay intact because it doesn’t come in contact against rough objects. To tackle this, your bearded dragon would bulge their eyes out of their head. By protruding their eyeballs outwards, this would help them get rid of the dead skin while they are shedding.
In order to create more friction, your bearded dragon might puff up its beard. While you might confuse the puffing up behavior with aggressiveness, they might also adopt it to loosen dry skin covering their skull. This causes their skin to stretch out, which would puncture it.
Why Isn’t My Bearded Dragon Shedding Anymore?
When your bearded dragon surpasses the age of 18 months, he or she would shed less frequently. You might be accustomed to seeing your baby beardie getting rid of old skin after every few weeks. Now that it has fully grown, it would only exhibit this natural process about once or twice a year.
It is highly advisable to maintain a desired indoor temperature and humidity of the terrarium. Even if your bearded dragon isn’t shedding, it stills needs to live in a humid environment. By misting the space daily, you would be able to keep their skin fresh and glowing.
Why My Bearded Dragon Eats His Own Shed?
It is very common for small reptiles to eat their own shed once it is completely removed from their body. This is a survival tactic, as by eating it they leave no traces that can be tracked down by predators.
They also do this to reabsorb nutrients from the outer layer of the skin. Because of the scarcity of food in their habitat, they are never sure about the availability of the next meal. The epidermis contains calcium and other elements, which provide nourishment to the dragon. Wild geckos also tend to do perform this ritual, as it can be dangerous to leave their shed behind.
Captive beardies would also perform this instinctive behavior. It can be hazardous if your substrate contains droppings and parasites. It can have a toxic effect if the base of the tank has poop and pee all over it. If you keep the tank clean, then it wouldn’t be a problem if your beardie gulps down its shed.
Whether it is triggered by growth or hormones, your beardie would inevitably go through several shedding phases. You just have to keep an eye on it to ensure that they don’t run into trouble.
In most cases, you can leave your pet reptile to its own device. They can go through this shedding process on their own, as they have acquired it through evolution. It’s up to you whether you want to pamper your pet or let it be on its own.
Your baby bearded dragon would go through these flaking sessions more frequently than the adults. Make sure that you feed them properly and keep the temperature setup running. This way they would be able to shed their dried-out skin in a comfortable manner.
We hope this has helped you. By referring to the guidelines you would be able to care for your pet during the shedding phase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you can find some of the most common questions regarding bearded dragon shedding:
How long does bearded dragon shedding last?
Usually, an adult bearded dragon would take anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks to completely shed its skin. Partial shedding usually has a shorter duration than full-body shedding. Baby and juvenile bearded dragons would shed their skin within a few days.
Are bearded dragons aggressive when shedding?
Your bearded dragon would become easily agitated when it is going through the shedding phase. Try not to handle them during this period, as it might cause them stress. Because they have loose skin all over their body they might even attack if you try handling them.
Are bearded dragons less active when shedding?
Yes, bearded dragons become lethargic when they are sloughing off. They would usually sleep for prolonged hours and stay in the corners of their tank. Make sure you don’t disturb them when they don’t appear active.
Can I handle my bearded dragon while it’s shedding?
It is better not to handle your bearded dragon while it is shedding. Holding up might cause them stress and affright them. It can even damage their new epidermis if you hold them in an improper manner.