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Scale Rot In Bearded Dragons: Prevention And Treatment

Would you be able to identify the symptoms of scale rot in your bearded dragon

Like with any pet, it’s essential to provide proper care for your pet lizard. 

Ensuring they live in a clean, habitable environment is key to giving them the quality of life they deserve. 

Still, scale rot may happen, and you need to know what to do. 

This article is here to help you with this common problem. 

scale rot bearded dragon

What is Scale Rot In Bearded Dragons?

Scale rot is a bacterial infection extremely harmful to your bearded dragon. The scale disease requires proper treatment because it can lead to death if left untreated. 

Bacteria can quickly enter your lizard’s skin through a small cut or bite they have received.

This is why you should avoid feeding your pet live prey.

Check out our post on if bearded dragons can eat anoles for more information. 

Once the bacteria enters their system, it is more likely to turn into an infection. 

Scale rot is typically brought on by high humidity and a damp living environment. 

Bacteria can grow incredibly rapidly in a wet environment. 

It’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms of scale rot so you can seek immediate attention. 

The appropriate treatment plan is critical in ensuring a full recovery for your bearded dragon.

Signs and Symptoms of Scale Rot

Blisters and flaky skin on your lizard are some of the first signs of scale rot. 

Ulcers can begin to appear and are very painful for your lizard. 

Once the scales are infected with the ulcers, they will start seeping, and eventually, the scales will begin falling off. 

bearded dragon scale rot in front legs

If it looks like your dragon’s pores are clogged, it likely could be scale rot.

Dragons do not have pores on their stomachs, so if you observe any abnormality in this area, it probably is the start of an infection. 

When their skin is infected, abscesses can form and create lesions on their skin. 

You will need to promptly get your beardie on antibiotics to help treat the problem.  

The infected dragon will start to develop a lack of appetite and become quite lethargic. 

Your dragon may develop discolored scales and eventually shed the dead tissue off its skin. 

A yellow fungus can begin growing between their scales. 

bearded dragon scale rot in tail

Causes of Scale Rot

Understanding what can cause scale rot in a bearded dragon is essential. 

You want to be aware of the causes of scale rot to prevent it in the future.

If the condition goes untreated, it may be fatal. 

Your Bearded Dragon Has A Poor Diet

Bearded dragons who aren’t given the right food in their diet are much more likely to suffer from scale rot. 

It’s essential to be aware of what’s healthy in their diet and not. 

Their diet is based on age, and juvenile beardies have slightly different diets than adults. 

  • Juvenile Bearded Dragons should have a diet consisting of about 50% insects and 50% plants, fruits, and vegetables
  • Adults Bearded Dragons need to focus more on vegetation rather than insects. Limit insect consumption to once a day. 

As a pet owner, you need to be sure to provide your animal with a nutritious diet to avoid health issues. 

As your dragon ages, you need to alter its diet based on this factor. 

Poor nutrition can lead to so many other health issues. 

What Food Should They Be Eating?

It’s essential to be aware of the foods you should be giving to your pet to ensure a healthy life. 

Your pet lizard should have a diet consisting of protein, calcium, and vitamins. 

  • Collard Greens is one of the best leafy greens you can feed them. They are rich in calcium and Vitamins A, C, and K. 
  • Dubia Roaches provides good, quality protein for bearded dragons. 
  • Sweet Potato contains a high amount of Vitamin A. 

A diet high in oxalates will deplete your lizard of the calcium they need. 

You should only give any foods with a moderate level of oxalates on rare occasions to prevent further health issues. 

This sampling of foods you should avoid giving to your pet lizard. 

Anything providing no nutritional value should be used sparingly. 

You should be aware of foods toxic to your pet. 

  • Spinach contains oxalates, a calcium-binding element, which cause a bone disorder if eaten in large amounts. 
  • Fireflies are toxic to bearded dragons and end up being fatal if ingested. 
  • Lettuce has little nutritional value and can cause diarrhea in beardies. 

They Don’t Have A Clean Environment 

Having an environment with too much moisture can make a bearded dragon more prone to scale rot. 

They do not do well in areas with high humidity, regardless of how clean their space is. 

A dirty cage with wet bedding is a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Wet bedding will affect the moisture in the air and cause the humidity to go up. 

If you aren’t cleaning their tank regularly, you need to start. 

Cleaning your lizard doesn’t have to be difficult either. 

You don’t want to use any type of soap if they accidentally ingest it. 

Dechlorinated tap water is all you need to get your beardie fresh and clean. 

Mites Might Be Crawling Around 

Mites are similar to ticks and are drawn to damp living environments. 

The mites can spread bacteria through the open wounds on a lizard and thus result in scale rot. 

Mites can hide in the scales of bearded dragons and sometimes are hard to spot. 

If you see any redness around their eyes, it could signify bites they have received. 

Mites can cause a lot of discomfort for your lizard, so it’s essential to keep up with your pet’s hygiene to prevent them. 

Mites are hard to get rid of, so prevention is vital. 

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How Is Scale Rot Treated In Bearded Dragons?

Mild cases of scale rot are treatable at home, but more severe cases will need to be treated with antibiotics by your vet. 

It’s essential to immediately take your lizard to the vet if you suspect scale rot. 

The quicker you treat your pet, the quicker they can bounce back from the infection. 

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to take good care of your pet and understand the signs and symptoms of scale rot. 

Knowing how to care for your pet properly can help prevent it in the first place.

Read over our basic bearded dragon care guide to ensure you’re meeting core requirements. 

Scale Rot Treatment Plan 

If you catch the scale rot in its early stages, you can probably treat it at home. 

Using a topical treatment, gently apply to the infected areas. 

topical treatment

Be sure to clean and sterilize their tank before putting them back in their home. 

If the condition worsens, it will warrant a visit to your reptile vet so they can give you the appropriate antibiotics. 

Once they provide the diagnosis for you, you can begin treating the infected skin. 

Your vet may run blood tests as part of a physical exam. 

The blood tests will help determine the treatment needed for a full recovery. 

Your vet may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or a povidone-iodine solution to help treat the infected area. 

If you feel your bearded dragon is in pain from the scale rot, your vet can discuss pain relief options for them. 

Diluted betadine is used to treat open wounds on pets and is an option for your bearded dragon. 

You may consider putting your lizard in quarantine until they are entirely healthy. 

Having your lizard in quarantine will give you sufficient time to make their space safe again.  

If you have another bearded dragon at all, the scale rot can quickly spread to them as well, so be sure to separate them from each other. 

Take the time to completely sterilize their tank and assure it is suitable to use again. 

The last thing you want to do is get your bearded dragon back to good health again and then bring them home to a dirty tank. 

Preventing Future Scale Rot In Bearded Dragons

The best way to ward off scale rot is to make an effort to prevent it in the first place. 

Knowing the correct temperature for your lizard’s environment is imperative. 

It typically can range from 80-100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C). 

Humidity levels should be around 30-40%. 

To help keep humidity at an ideal level, consider putting a reptile carpet in the tank. 

They are easy to clean and throw in your washing machine. 

You may even consider investing in a hygrometer, which monitors the humidity in their tank and adjusts as needed. 

It’s a helpful tool to help reduce the chances of an unhealthy habitat for your lizard. 

Be sure to keep your tank clean and free of any unnecessary decorations. 

A bearded dragon needs just a minimal number of items in its home. 

A dirty cage is going to be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Something as simple as using a paper towel to clean their space will help prevent future infections. 

You should do light cleaning daily and a thorough cleaning once a week. 

Take a look at your pet’s diet and see where changes need to be made. 

If you catch yourself giving them scraps of anything you have hanging around, you need to develop a better nutrition plan. 

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Other Common Bearded Dragon Illnesses

Unfortunately, scale rot isn’t the only illness affecting your pet lizard. 

Providing your pet with a poor diet and unsanitary living conditions can bring on other problems. 

Bearded dragon owners should be aware of other ailments which may harm their pets. 

Infectious Stomatitis

Infectious stomatitis, also known as mouth rot, is a bacterial infection in the gums of a bearded dragon. 

It is seen more in other types of lizards, like iguanas, but this doesn’t mean your beardie is immune to it. 

Mouth rot develops from cuts to gums or food stuck in their teeth. 

You will notice swelling on the inside of their mouth and gums. 

A mucus, the consistency of cottage cheese, will begin to develop. 

Mouth rot is also caused by trauma to your lizard. 

Any abrasion the dragon receives can easily welcome bacteria into their skin. 

Bearded dragons can receive cuts to their skin just by rubbing up against the glass of their tank. 

X Rays make sure the infection has not traveled to the bone. 

It’s important to know how severe their case of mouth rot is. 

Your vet can prescribe a topical antibiotic to help treat the mouth rot. 

Treat the condition swiftly with the appropriate medications, as it can lead to death if left alone. 

Fungal Infections 

Your bearded dragon may be prone to fungal infections producing a yellow fungus on your lizard. 

Be aware of the symptoms since you may catch them when handling your dragon. 

A yellow fungus can begin to develop between their scales. 

The yellow fungus is very contagious, so you must seek medical help immediately. 

The yellow fungus is deadly in a bearded dragon. 

At this point, it’s imperative to have a vet visit scheduled. 

Leaving the yellow fungus to spread over their entire body will worsen the situation. 

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Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons make great companions and are more popular than ever. 

Their laid-back demeanor and overall low-maintenance upkeep make them great household pets. 

As with any pet, it’s crucial to take the time to care for them properly. 

Taking the necessary precautions to prevent scale rot is vital for an overall healthy life for your bearded dragon. 

Staying on top of their tank’s cleanliness and giving them nutritious food are vital to prevent future infections. 

While scale rot may be extremely harmful to their health, it doesn’t have to have a long-term effect on your dragon. 

Take care of your beardie to ensure a long, healthy life for them. 

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