bearded dragon handbook

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

How To Trim a Bearded Dragon’s Nails In 4 Easy Steps

Have you noticed your bearded dragon keeps scratching you when you handle it?

Are you worried about how long your bearded dragon’s nails are getting?

It may be time to clip your bearded dragon’s nail.

It’s not a difficult task to do, but it’s part of being responsible pet owners.

Read on for our step by step instructions on how to trim bearded dragon nails.

how to trim bearded dragon nails

When To Trim Your Bearded Dragon’s Nails

Knowing when to trim is easy.

Two things control the frequency of nail trimming:

  • Your bearded dragon’s nails are scratching you.
  • The nails are growing into the toes or foot.

In the wild, the everyday life of the bearded dragon naturally keeps them short.

If you have any rocks in your enclosure, this keeps your pet’s nails short as well.

If you don’t, then when you need to keep an eye on them.

The most likely time you need to trim its nails is when it starts to scratch you when you handle your pet.

Some people suggest trimming the nails 1 – 2 times a year.

I usually do 3 – 4 times a year on the front with 1 – 2 on the back.

Why Trim Those Sharp Lizard Claws?

The #1 reason we want to get these lizard’s nails trimmed is for our convenience.

Sharp claws only lead to claw marks on your body that can cause bleeding and skin irritation.

Claw trimming is also necessary for us to care for our bearded dragons without struggling with getting scratched and clawed up.

We also want to ensure our bearded dragon’s feet are upright and perpendicular to the ground.

You’ve likely seen pictures of other bearded dragons with their toes twister to the side.

Because when nails are too long, the entire nail pushes the toe to one side.

Your beardie also loves to climb, and they use their claws to maintain balance.

Keeping their nails at a proper length will help them with this.

Long nails will cause your pet bearded dragon to cut caught on things.

Their nails will snag on things they’re climbing on and various things in their terrarium.

The worst thing about nails snagging is the potential for them to rip off.

When a nail rips off, it will not grow back.

That’s why it’s crucial to install things like reptile carpet properly in your bearded dragon’s tank.

What You’ll Need For Trimming A Bearded Dragon’s Nails

Here are a few of the products you may want to consider when it comes to trimming your bearded dragon’s nails.

Some of these may not be necessary, but they are helpful.

Pet Nail Trimmers – The nail trimmer is the key to the whole operation.

It’s the thing you will use to trim the beardie’s nails.

Or use human nail clippers or a regular nail file.

nail clippers for bearded dragon nails

Some people suggest using dog or cat nail trimmers also works effectively.

I believe this is your best choice for nail trimming.

We recommend these pet nail clippers on Amazon for the safety of bearded dragons. Plus, they function great as reptile nail clippers.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

The cat nail clippers come with a safety stop to prevent you from accidentally clipping the toe itself.

It also allows you greater control when clipping, so you don’t clip too far up the nail and cut a blood vessel.

Dragon Treats – To reward and calm down your bearded dragon, it’s a good idea to offer them some treats after the clipping.

This reinforces a positive experience for them when you handle them to clip their nails.

Use any healthy treats to do this.

You may even want to use food.

I recommend using the Nature Zone Bites for Bearded Dragons.

They’re healthy and still make good bite-sized treats.

Blanket Or Cover – This is to cover the tank and desensitize your beardy if it’s stressed out.

covering a bearded dragon

Removing the sensory overload can go a long way to helping your pet calm down.

A thick blanket or cover over the enclosure blocks out light and sound, giving the animal the chance to destress.

Warning! Make sure not to leave the blanket on too long, or the tank may get too hot.

Also, you may want to turn the lamp off when covering the enclosure.

Steps To Trim A Bearded Dragon’s Nails

How to Cut your Beardies Nails

How to Cut your Beardies Nails

In this section, we go over the steps and things to watch for when trimming your beardie’s nails.

Be sure to read this carefully so you don’t end up hurting your pet.

You may also want to check out the embedded video for an example of how to get it done.

The steps aren’t tricky, but you need to know what you’re doing to prevent injury.

#1 Make Sure Your Bearded Dragon Is Calm

calm bearded dragon

The first thing to do is to make sure the bearded dragon is calm.

If the beardy is stressed, you won’t handle its feet accurately enough to trim without accidentally causing harm.

At this point, you probably know your pet and the methods to calm it.

But here are some quick, helpful hints:

  • Stroke its head
  • Provide a warm bath
  • Cover the enclosure with a blanket or cover
  • Feed it a little
  • Rest your hand near the front of its face without touching it

You may want to check out our article on how to calm a bearded dragon for more information.

Pro-tip: If your dragon is jumpy or stressed, bring your hand to grab him from above or behind him.

Bearded dragons have a third “eye” on the top of their heads.

This “eye” senses changes in light and shadow and can make the reptile feel threatened and go into survival mode.

#2 Hold The Dragon’s Foot

hold bearded dragon feet

Once your bearded dragon is calm, you need to grasp the foot and claws you’re going to start with firmly.

Make sure you move your hand from in front of the beardy’s face.

This lets it know you’re coming to handle it and prevents panicked surprise.

Be careful not to grip the foot hard.

This could cause pain and injury.

If a firm grip isn’t enough because your reptile is fighting you, you may need to step back and calm it down further.

#3 Time For Nail Trimming

cutting bearded dragon nails with nail clipper

Now we’re going to cut down to reasonable length nails.

When you look at the claws, there is a black part and a white part to the nail.

The black part should be skinnier and extend beyond the white part.

This black nail is the scratching gripping part of the nail.

It’s what you need to cut.

where to cut a bearded dragons nail

The white part of the nail contains the blood vessels and support the black part of the nail.

If you cut this, it hurts your bearded dragon and can cause bleeding.

Accidents sometimes do happen, so keep some styptic powder on hand to stop the bleeding.

Take your nail trimmer to the thinner, black part of the nail and cut half of its length off.

There should be some of the extending nails over the white part still.

You don’t want to cut them flush with each other to achieve proper length nails.

#4 Repeat With Other Nails And Feet

clipping bearded dragon nails

Now all you need to do is repeat these steps with the other nails.

Typically, the nails of the back feet don’t grow as much as the front ones. You may find they don’t need trimming at all.

#5 Give Them A Treat

Once the beardie gets its nails trimmed, give it a treat and reward them for a job well done!

It may not be the most fun part of owning a beardy, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be a positive experience for both of you.

does PetSmart cut a bearded dragon’s nails?

PetSmart and other pet stores with grooming services typically offer nail trimming for dogs and cats; however, they also offer services for clipping bearded dragon nails.

PetSmart has a package by the name of “Pawdicare” which includes trimming and grinding of the nails, as well as ear cleaning. It usually costs between $15-20.

It’s important to note that not all PetSmart locations offer this service. You can call your local store to confirm availability before bringing your bearded dragon in.


Now you know how to trim a bearded dragon’s nails.

Once you’ve done it once, it’s a simple task you only usually have to do a few times a year.

But it does make it easy and fun to handle your pet reptile without getting scratched.

Check out our other post on how to potty train your dragon.

Leave a Comment