Many people have pets because of the joy it brings them to take care of them. Simple tasks, like cleaning an enclosure or preparing dinner can make a reptile lover’s day. Baths are another thing that people love to do for their pets. But, many reptiles don’t need regular baths. And too many baths can be irritating for some pets
So, do bearded dragons need baths?
Contrary to popular belief, bearded dragons, don’t need regular baths. These desert-dwelling lizards aren’t accustomed to being in the water and don’t need to bathe to maintain health and cleanliness. Baths are warranted in captivity to help remove old shed skin, unclog femoral pores, assist with bowel movements, and increase overall hydration.
This article will do a deep dive into why and when bearded dragons need baths. First, let’s go over a little bit of background information to get started.
Bearded Dragons Aren’t Natural Swimmers
There are plenty of reptiles that are well adapted to life in water. These reptiles are natural swimmers and always need water features in their enclosures in captivity. Bearded dragons aren’t one of the reptiles that are usually found in the water.
Bearded dragons are desert lizards that originate from the dry areas in Australia. Beardies are often found in woodlands, scrublands, savannas, and great deserts. Even though these lizards are found in the desert, they are good climbers and can scale rocks quite well. One place you won’t find a bearded dragon is in the water.
Bearded dragons don’t typically swim in the wild, but these lizards can swim if needed. When bearded dragons swim it’s usually a result of a stressful situation, like evading a predator or chasing down prey.
In captivity, bearded dragons can swim but don’t need to and generally shouldn’t. Many bearded dragon owners claim that their pets love to spend time in the water. This preference might vary between individuals, but typically beardies shouldn’t be swimming in deep water.
Bathing vs. Soaking
In the reptile world, ‘bathing’ and ‘soaking’ are usually used as interchangeable terms. However, it’s important to understand that there are some slight differences between the two.
Bathing typically refers to soaking a pet in water and washing them. Your bearded dragon definitely doesn’t need to be washed or scrubbed with soap. Technically, a bath implies that you’re doing some washing. A bath might also mean a deeper tub of water.
Soaking is a more accurate description of what will usually happen during a bearded dragon a bath. Soaking describes the process of letting a reptile sit in lukewarm water. Soak doesn’t usually involve any scrubbing or washing and is always in shallow water.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll use bathing and soaking interchangeably. That’s because there’s typically no situation where your bearded dragon needs a real soapy bath. So, in this article, a ‘bath’ really refers to a warm water soak.
When Do Bearded Dragons Need Baths?
Bearded dragons don’t need to soak or a bath as often as many people think.
We mentioned above that bearded dragons aren’t found in bodies of water in the wild. These animals don’t need baths to maintain their health. There’s no need to regularly bathe your bearded dragon unless you’re trying to help them through a sticky situation.
There are a few good reasons why you might want to bathe your bearded dragon.
1. Stuck Shed
Shedding is probably the number one reason to give a bearded dragon a bath.
In a perfect world, reptiles will shed their skin quickly, and in a few large pieces. However, sheds aren’t always seamless, and occasionally bits of skin will get left behind long after the shed has been completed.
Stuck shed can cause a lot of issues for your pet bearded dragon. Old shed skin can cause your bearded dragon to obsessively rub his face against the glass or rocks in their enclosure. Skin often gets stuck around the eyes, ears, and nose. This stuck-on skin can cause issues and make your bearded dragon squint or close its eyes. Plus, it’s just uncomfortable to have old itchy skin hanging around.
Giving your bearded dragon a bath is a great way to help them remove old shed skin. The warm water from the bath softens the old skin and lets it fall away. You can even try using a Q-tip to help ease the old skin off of your bearded dragon.
This method is much preferred to simply peeling off your bearded dragon’s old shed skin. If you peel your bearded dragon’s skin off too early, it can be painful for them and probably feels sort of like peeling skin from a sunburn before it’s ready to go.
2. Clogged Femoral Pores
Femoral pores are an anatomical structure that is only found on male bearded dragons. These pores release pheromones during mating season that help male bearded dragons attract females. Femoral pores can be observed on the lower legs of a bearded dragon and the bottom half of the belly.
Usually, femoral pores aren’t an issue for captive beardies. Every once in a while these pores can become full and clogged up. Sometimes, bearded dragons can fix this issue on their own, by rubbing their pores against rough surfaces. It’s kind of similar to the way a dog will scoot their butt on the carpet to help express their anal glands (if you’re familiar with that).
A bath or a soak can do wonders to help loosen up clogged femoral pores. You’ll want to let your bearded dragon soak in the water for a longer stretch of time, around 20 minutes, and then use a Q-tip to gently unclog them.
The video below shows a great example of how gentle you’ll want to be when unclogging your bearded dragon’s pores.
If you’re not sure about the procedure, feel free to contact your veterinarian and ask for guidance.
3. Constipation Or Impaction
Another reason why your bearded dragon might need a bath is that they’re constipated or impacted.
Impaction and constipation are very common in captive reptiles. Both of these words describe the same thing and mean that there is some sort of blockage in a reptile’s gastrointestinal tract. Usually, constipation is caused by something a reptile has eaten.
One of the best ways to help a constipated reptile is to give them a warm water soak. The warm water soak helps rehydrate your pet and loosens up their stool. You might even notice that your bearded dragon does this for themselves by pooping in their water or food dish after sitting in it, a behavior that is generally common among lizards.
It’s important to note that while soaking will help relieve mild constipation symptoms, it won’t fix a serious impaction. True impactions are usually caused by reptiles ingesting something they shouldn’t or food that won’t break down easily. Impaction often requires veterinary intervention to alleviate.
4. To Increase Hydration
The last valid reason to give your bearded dragon a bath is to increase their overall hydration.
Some signs that a reptile is dehydrated include dry or tacky mucous membranes, sunken eyes, and wrinkly skin. Dehydrated reptiles may also have difficulty shedding and might sit in their water dishes for extended periods of time.
Baths can help reptiles increase their overall hydration. This is because many reptiles can lose or take water in through their skin. That’s why appropriate humidity is so important in keeping a reptile healthy in captivity.
While baths can help temporarily increase hydration, if your bearded dragon is showing signs of dehydration, you’ll want to make bigger, more permanent changes to their environment.
How To Safely Bathe Your Bearded Dragon
Now that you know when an appropriate time is to give your bearded dragon a bath, let’s talk about how to do it!
1. Gather Your Supplies
It’s always a good idea to get your supplies ready before removing your bearded dragon from their enclosure.
The first thing you need is a dish or a tub that is too tall for your bearded dragon to climb out of. Many people use Tupperware or Rubbermaid storage tubs for this purpose. Then you’ll want to make sure that there’s something lining the bottom of the bath to give your bearded dragon some grip. You can use a rag, small pebbles, or even a paper towel to line the tub.
If you think you’ll need a Q-tip to help remove any old skin, don’t forget to grab a few of those. Grab a clean, dry cloth to towel your bearded dragon off with at the end
2. Add Warm Water
Now that you’ve got your supplies, you’re ready to start adding warm water to your bearded dragon’s bath.
Ideally, you’ll want to have a thermometer to read the temperature of the water you’re putting in your bearded dragon’s bath. The water should be somewhere between 85 and 90°F. They should be warmer than room temperature, but not uncomfortable to your bare skin.
Add enough water, so that your bearded dragon’s belly will be submerged but not so much that they’ll need to swim or hold their head high to feel comfortable. The bath should be pretty shallow overall. Resist the urge to add any soaps are fragrances as they will definitely irritate and dry out your reptile’s skin.
It’s finally time to get your bearded dragon into their bath and let them soak.
Placing your bearded dragon in a bath for the first time can go a few different ways. Your bearded dragon might freak out and try to escape from their soak. If they do this, make sure the water temperature isn’t too hot. Try to give them a minute to get used to the water.
If your bearded dragon keeps stressing out, you can remove them from the bath. Hi, you might get lucky and your bearded dragon might just chill out and relax.
If that’s the case, you can soak your bearded dragon for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. It seems like your bearded dragon needs more time in the bath, you’ll probably need to change out the water before it gets too cold.
Make sure that you never leave your bearded dragon unsupervised while they’re soaking. You can also start to use the Q-tips at this time to help remove any stuck shed or to clear out clogged femoral pores.
Your bearded dragon has been properly bathed, it’s time to dry them off.
Paper towels can work, but can also get stuck on a bearded dragon’s rough scales. Instead, you can use a clean cloth or towel to pat your bearded dragon dry. Make sure not to rub or be too rough on your bearded dragon’s newly soaked skin.
Once your pet is dry, you can put them back into their enclosure to relax
Too Much Bathing Can Dry Out Bearded Dragon Skin
Bathtime can be relaxing for both you and your bearded dragon. “However, baths shouldn’t be a regular occurrence for bearded dragons; they should only happen when your pet really needs them. Not only do bearded dragons usually not enjoy the water, but baths can be damaging to their skin and lead to other health problems.
For many animals, bathing can remove natural oils and dry out the skin. This can lead to allergic reactions, irritation, and other dermatological issues.. Bearded dragons stay plenty clean on their own by regularly shedding old skin.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Misting?
There’s not necessarily a black-and-white answer to the question of whether or not bearded dragons need to be misted.
Bearded dragons live in relatively dry environments. A healthy bearded dragon in a stable enclosure should be just fine without regular misting. If your bearded dragon’s enclosure tends to get a little too dry, you can use misting as a way to increase humidity. Misting can also be used as a way to rehydrate your bearded dragon in a pinch.
Better options than misting include providing your bearded dragon with a dish of fresh water that’s changed daily and giving them warm water baths or soaks as needed..
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve gone into detail about when and why bearded dragons may need to take a bath, let’s answer a few more specific questions on the topic of bathing.
Do Beardies Like Hot or Cold Baths?
Bearded dragons should always be submerged in a bath that is between 85 and 90°F. Hot water isn’t good because it can burn or irritate their skin. Cold water also isn’t good because bearded dragons are ectothermic and putting them into icy water can put them into shock.
Do Beardies Like Warm Water?
Bearded dragons definitely prefer warm water or room-temperature water for baths. It’s hard to say that bearded dragons like water at all because typically bearded dragons aren’t good swimmers and aren’t comfortable while soaking.
Do Bearded Dragons Get Hydrated From A Bath?
Many reptiles take in and lose hydration through their skin. While this ability isn’t as pronounced as it is in an amphibian, a bearded dragon can definitely get hydrated through a bath. Because bearded dragons can take water in through their skin, it’s so important to make sure their bathwater is free of chemicals, fragrances, and soap.
Bearded dragons do need baths, just not as regularly as you might think.
Bearded dragons need baths when they’re having a difficult shed if their femoral pores are clogged when they’re constipated, or if they’re dehydrated. Bathing or soaking a bearded dragon is pretty simple and just involves a shallow tub, warm water, and a gentle hand.
Hopefully, this article has given you enough information to help you decide when it’s bathtime for your beardie.