For first-time reptile owners, the bearded dragon shedding process may seem very confusing.
As a bearded dragon ages, its skin does not stretch, so it will have to shed the layers of its outer skin to keep up with its rapid rate of growth.
But if your beardie has an incomplete shed or is not shedding at all, you will need to find the cause.
As a general rule, a bearded dragon not shedding is caused by improper habitat conditions, specifically involving too low humidity and too high of a temperature. Dehydration, stress, and poor nutrition will also cause shedding problems.
You should address issues with shedding right away to prevent skin infections and other serious health issues.
Keep reading for more information on how to avoid shedding problems with your beardie, methods to help them through the uncomfortable process, and behavioral changes you might observe.
How Do You Avoid Shedding Problems in Bearded Dragons?
Many problems associated with shedding are easily preventable with proper diet, care, and habitat maintenance.
Every bearded dragon owner will be faced with shedding issues at least a couple of times in their pet’s life.
By following the steps outlined below, your beardie will have fewer problems with shedding, and the entire process will be much easier.
Check The Temperature
The temperature and humidity inside your bearded dragon’s enclosure play a large part in the shedding process.
Reptiles are unable to regulate their body temperature, so they rely on external temperatures to stay comfortable.
If the temperature and humidity are too low, your beardie may become lethargic, and its body will not initiate the natural process of shedding.
If the temperature is too high, your beardie may turn white.
Because a bearded dragon does not shed its entire body at once, it is entirely normal for patches of skin to turn white prior to shedding.
If your lizard turns white and does not shed, this is a cause for concern.
If the temperature is within the acceptable range, your pet may be suffering from a severe illness, and you should seek veterinary care.
For adult bearded dragons, the cool end of the enclosure should maintain a temperature between 80-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).
The basking area should range from 90-95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C).
Nighttime temperatures should never go below 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C).
Baby and juvenile bearded dragons require a much warmer basking area.
The proper basking temperature for babies should be around 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C), and for juveniles, it needs to be at least 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C).
Check The Humidity
The overall humidity should range from 35%-40%, and you may need to lightly mist your bearded dragon with water when it is shedding to ensure proper hydration.
A dehydrated reptile will not shed properly, so be sure to provide your pet with fresh, clean water at all times.
A shallow water dish will allow your bearded dragon to soak its body when it is needed.
Allowing your lizard to soak in warm water 2-3 timers per month also helps keep its skin hydrated.
You will need to check the temperature and humidity regularly to maintain an optimal environment for your lizard.
In addition to ensuring proper temperature and humidity levels within the enclosure, make sure your beardie has a few rough surfaces to rub its body on.
Sometimes a bearded dragon will need to rub on a surface such as tree bark to remove the shedding skin from its body.
Proper lighting and substrate in your pet’s vivarium will also go a long way to keeping your reptile happy and healthy.
Look For Causes Of Stress
Stress is another cause of shedding problems, and it is essential to know the signs in your bearded dragon.
Signs of stress in bearded dragons include:
- Loss of appetite
- Darkened skin
- Not basking
- Frantically running around the enclosure
If you have recently acquired your bearded dragon or moved it into a new enclosure, it may show some signs of stress.
The enclosure should be in a quiet area of your home, away from any sudden loud noises, rapid temperature changes, and other pets who may be curious about your new pet.
Other stressors to your bearded dragon include improper handling, too small of an enclosure, leaving live insect feeders in the enclosure for long periods of time, having parasites or mites, and being housed with others.
To find out if your beardie has parasites, your veterinarian will need to do a fecal exam.
Calm your pet by speaking calmly to it, gently stroking its head, or giving it a warm bath.
It may also be necessary to remove any stimuli by covering the enclosure with a blanket or cover for a short time.
This only needs to be done long enough for your beardie to calm down, and you will have to turn off the heat lamp, so it is vital to make sure the enclosure stays warm during this time.
If you are unable to calm your beardie, there could be an underlying health issue to blame.
A veterinarian will perform blood tests to measure calcium levels and other nutrients within the body to rule out certain diseases.
Evaluate Your Bearded Dragon’s Diet
If your beardie is vitamin deficient due to a poor diet, this will also affect the shedding process.
Bearded dragons need essential nutrients such as vitamins B, E, and D3, as well as calcium and magnesium, to shed properly.
A bearded dragon diet includes a variety of live insects, leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables to provide most of the nutrition it needs.
Leafy greens like Swiss chard is a good source of calcium, for example.
However, to ensure your dragon is receiving all of the vitamins and minerals required for healthy development, you will need to add a calcium and vitamin supplement.
Calcium powder and essential vitamin powder supplements are given by lightly dusting your bearded dragon’s food right before feeding time.
It is vital to provide a vitamin supplement to your beardie to prevent illnesses like metabolic bone disease.
Calcium powder may be formulated with or without vitamin D3, which helps the body absorb calcium.
In addition to a well-rounded diet and vitamin supplementation, you also need to ensure your beardie has access to fresh, dechlorinated water at all times.
A shallow water dish with sloped sides is best because it will allow your lizard to soak its body.
Soaking not only keeps your dragon hydrated but also aids in shedding.
You may need to change the water several times a day, as bearded dragons often defecate when they are soaking.
Should You Help Your Bearded Dragon Shed?
By following good bearded dragon care practices such as proper hygiene, a well-rounded diet, and optimal enclosure conditions, your bearded dragon should not have any problems during shedding.
During the vital growing months, until around 6 months old, your beardie will usually shed all of its skin instead of just pieces.
However, there may be times when the shedding process lasts longer than expected, or your beardie has an incomplete shed.
If your bearded dragon has an incomplete shed, the outer layer of skin doesn’t come off entirely, and you will notice pieces of skin hanging from your pet’s body.
These pieces of skin may become tighter around a beardie’s toes and tail, causing restricted blood flow due to poor circulation.
If the blood supply is not restored to the area, necrosis could set in and lead to the amputation of your pet’s toes or tail.
First, you will need to check your beardie’s habitat setup, stress levels, and diet to ensure its living conditions aren’t the cause of the incomplete shed and eliminate any underlying issue.
Next, you may give your beardie a bath in warm water every couple of days, allowing your reptile to soak to keep the skin hydrated.
Hydration also keeps shedding from being painful or irritating a beardie’s sensitive skin.
It is a good idea to soak your pet in lukewarm water a couple of times a month to maintain the moisture in its skin.
Further reading: Methods for helping your bearded dragon shed
Does A Bearded Dragon’s Behavior Change When They Shed?
A bearded dragon will exhibit several kinds of subtle behavior to let you know they are about to shed.
These behaviors include:
- Becoming skittish
- Rubbing on rocks, substrate, or other textured surfaces
- Not wanting to be held
During the actual process of shedding, your beardie may have a loss of appetite or reduced activity level.
This is due to the large amount of energy required to shed.
Your lizard may eat its shed skin and not have much of an appetite, but you still need to offer food.