bearded dragon handbook

Get our pet owner's guide for bearded dragons and help your special friend live its best life.

What Is Bearded Dragon Tail Nip & Toe Nip?

There are several ways for a bearded dragon to become injured, and you may not even be aware of it.

It is essential to observe your beardie’s behavior and check its body over regularly. 

Knowing what is typical for your reptile is vital in spotting anything unusual.

One of the most common injuries in bearded dragons is nip of the tail and toes.

In general, tail or toe nip denotes the nub of a bearded dragon’s tail or toe where a piece is missing due to a wound. The nip may just be a small piece, or the entire tail or toe may be gone. Nips are most commonly caused by aggressive behavior or from heavy objects falling on the bearded dragon.

New bearded dragon owners may not think the nip is serious, and they will need daily treatment. 

This could be dangerous because if the wound is still open, it is susceptible to infection.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes, prevention, treatment, and long-term effects of tail and toe nip in bearded dragons.

bearded dragon tail nip

Causes Of Bearded Dragon Tail Nip And Toe Nip

There are a few different causes for tail and toe nip among bearded dragons, and it is possible to occur at any stage of the reptile’s life.

When bearded dragons are babies, they may be housed with several other beardies. 

Since their vision is not fully developed, the babies might easily mistake a toe or a tail for a feeder insect and bite at it. 

This is most common when you are feeding the baby dragons mealworms or super worms instead of crickets.

Male beardies should not be in the same enclosure because they are very likely to become aggressive toward each other. 

A tail or toe nip often happens when one of the males asserts his dominance over another by biting at the other’s limbs too hard.

Males will also become aggressive during the breeding season, and they will bite a female.

Heavy or sharp objects in a beardie’s enclosure also put it at risk of getting toe or tail nip from being crushed or cut.

Stuck sheds are very common on bearded dragon tails and toes. 

When this occurs, it cuts off circulation to these extremities and causes necrosis. 

In turn, a portion of the tail or toes will die and fall off wherever the shed is stuck. 

If left untreated, this will lead to tail rot.

How To Prevent Bearded Dragon Tail Nip And Toe Nip

Luckily, most of the causes of tail and toe nip are easily preventable.

To keep baby bearded dragons from biting each other at mealtime, it is vital to not house too many in the same enclosure. 

A standard 20-gallon tank should have no more than two or three babies in it at the same time. 

If the space is too small and the babies are not well fed, they are likely to bite and anything moving, thinking it is food, even if it is another bearded dragon.

Adult male bearded dragons are highly territorial, and there should never be more than one in an enclosure. 

Larger bearded dragons will show their dominance over the smaller lizards by biting them, so once the babies reach 2-4 weeks old, you should separate them from one another.

Monitoring your male and female bearded dragons is a good idea to prevent any injury to the female. 

If you see the male biting her, you should separate them. 

If you are breeding bearded dragons on purpose, you will need to check the female for any bite injuries and treat them immediately.

Always be mindful of the objects you put in your bearded dragon’s enclosure and ensure all of the items are secured. 

Remove anything sharp or anything which poses a risk of falling on your beardie.

To avoid a stuck shed on your beardie, it is essential to maintain proper temperature and humidity in its enclosure. 

Here is our guide to managing humidity in bearded dragon enclosures with several tips to help you maintain proper levels.

If you see any stuck shed, do not remove it from your lizard. 

Instead, soak your bearded dragon in a warm bath several times a day until it sheds the skin on its own. 

If you have done this for a day or two and still see a stuck shed, it is crucial to seek veterinary care to safely remove the skin before it cuts off circulation. 

Check out our dedicated post on preventing broken toes in bearded dragons.

Tail Nip And Toe Nip Treatment

If your beardie gets tail or toe nip, you will need to set up a separate hospital tank. 

This is much more efficient than making sure your beardie’s standard enclosure is completely sanitized.

The hospital tank should have minimal items in it, and you should use newspaper or paper towels as a substrate to help keep the tank as clean as possible. 

Fungus and bacteria will quickly cause an infection in an open wound.

If the nip is not entirely clean, use a solution of 25% betadine and 75% water to clean the area. 

Once this is done, make sure the nip is completely dry, and then coat the wound with a triple antibiotic ointment.

If the nip does not seem to be improving after one week or if your beardie displays any of the following symptoms, you should seek veterinary care right away:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • The tail gets darker, or the dark color is spreading up the tail

An exotic animal veterinarian will be able to give your bearded dragon the proper treatment it needs.

Tail Nip And Toe Nip Long-term Health Impact

Unlike the leopard gecko, bearded dragons cannot regrow their tail.

Luckily, a missing tail or toe will not have any permanent health effects on the bearded dragon. 

The lizard’s balance will not be affected, and neither will the animal’s long-term health.

Breeders who have beardies with tail or toe nip will usually offer these lizards at a discount due to the injury. 

This means you are likely to get a nice beardie at a much lower price than usual.

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