While some bearded dragons can’t get enough bath time and others can’t stand it, regular baths are a great way to keep your bearded dragon clean and hydrated—not to mention being a great way to bond with your reptile and let her have some fun. Baths also aid in easing certain health concerns like shedding and constipation. Learn all about how to bathe a bearded dragon properly so you and your reptile can have the best experience.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Need Baths?
Before reading about how to bathe your bearded dragon, you may still have a question weighing on your mind: If bearded dragons wouldn’t be getting baths in the wild, do pet bearded dragons really need baths at all? There are actually a lot of benefits from giving your bearded dragon a bath.
- Cleanliness and hygiene. Baths help keep your bearded dragon clean from fungus, parasites, and bacteria. Especially if he has a habit of scurrying through his droppings.
- Healthy skin. Keep your dragon’s skin healthy and prevent it from becoming too dry.
- Playtime and bonding. Many dragons absolutely love bath time. It’s a great way for them to unleash their wild side and have some fun. It can also be a wonderful opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with your pet.
- Hydration. In addition to providing a water dish and hydrating foods like cucumbers and grapes, baths can be a great way to keep your dragon hydrated. Bearded dragons absorb water through their skin as well as drinking it, so a nice soak can give them that extra hydration boost they need. Additionally, many dragons refuse to drink from a water dish but will drink from their bath (maybe yours is one of them!).
- Alleviate constipation and shedding. Constipation and shedding both make your dragon very uncomfortable. A nice warm bath offers much-needed relief.
How to Bathe a Bearded Dragon
First let’s start with a list of everything you’ll need:
- Bin or container
- Mug or cup
- Warm water (at a temperature of 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Soft-bristled toothbrush
- Soft towel
- Rock or something for your dragon to climb on
- Water and white vinegar to disinfect the tub
And here’s a list of some things you don’t need:
- Rough brush
- Soaps or shampoos
- Bathtub or sink
That last item on the list might make you raise an eyebrow. It's unwise to use a household bathtub or sink unless you have a utility sink you can reserve just for your dragon. Here’s why:
- Salmonella poisoning. Dragons often defecate in the bath, and their droppings can contain salmonella—not exactly something you want in the family tub.
- Soaps, shampoos, and chemical cleaners. Dragons can absorb chemical residue through their skin, not to mention they also tend to drink (a lot!) during bath time. Even if you use all-natural sprays and cleaners, your dragon is at risk of absorbing or ingesting something harmful, especially if they are regularly exposed for bath time. The same applies to shampoos and soaps, which often linger on the walls and floor of the bathtub.
So for the sake of your own hygiene, as well as your dragon’s health and safety, it’s best to have a separate tub for your bearded dragon.
How to Give a Bearded Dragon a Bath, Step by Step
- Fill the receptacle. Use warm water no higher than your dragon’s knees to prevent drowning. Gently place your dragon in the water.
- Don’t leave your dragon alone. Bearded dragons can easily drown in the bath if they are unsupervised or the water is too deep. Keep an eye on your dragon and don’t leave at any point during the bath.
- Have fun! If your dragon isn’t too stressed out, this could be a great chance to bond with him. Let him explore and enjoy the water, and offer a bath toy or two if you’d like.
- Wash your dragon. When you are ready, use a soft brush or simply pour water over your dragon. There’s no need to scrub or use soap. Avoid brushing your dragon’s eyes, nose, or cloaca; and try not to get water in their eyes.
- Dry your dragon. When the bath is done, wrap your dragon in a soft towel and pat her dry. Get her as dry as possible since any water left on her can make her too cold, but don’t rub as this can aggravate her skin (especially if she is shedding).
- Warm your dragon. Since dragons are cold blooded, they rely on external temperatures to regulate their body heat. Coming out of the bath causes your dragon’s body temperature to drop so it’s best to get him back under his basking light immediately to make sure he doesn’t get too cold.
- Clean the tub. For optimal hygiene for your dragon, rinse out your dragon’s tub with a mixture of water and white vinegar to ensure the tub is disinfected while protecting your dragon from harsh chemical residue. To be extra safe, you can wash out the tub before the bath as well.
Pro Tip: Bath time can range from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on your dragon’s tolerance level. If your dragon favors a nice, long soak, replace the water if it gets too cold.
How Often Should I Bathe My Bearded Dragon?
The answer to this question often depends on your dragon. As a general rule, bath time three times a week should be sufficient to keep your dragon clean and hydrated. If your dragon absolutely hates baths, then once a week may be a reasonable goal. If your dragon can’t get enough bath time, you may want to do it more frequently, maybe even once a day.
If your dragon is shedding or constipated, bathing him every day can help alleviate those issues. Just be prepared to clean up after your dragon since her constipation will likely be relieved in the bath.
Shedding is a very uncomfortable process for your dragon. A nice warm bath not only soothes the pain and discomfort of shedding but also encourages the skin to fall away more quickly.
Pro Tip: NEVER pull away shedding skin. Doing so can seriously harm your bearded dragon. You can gently rub it with a soft brush in the direction of the scales, but it’s best to let it fall off on its own.
What to Do If Your Bearded Dragon Hates Baths
During a bath it’s normal to see your dragon puffing in an attempt to make himself more buoyant (in fact, that may be why your bearded dragon appears bloated after a bath). But if your dragon is frantically puffing, flailing, splashing around, or swimming desperately, especially toward the edge of the receptacle, he is probably very stressed and afraid. There are a few things you can do if your bearded dragon hates baths.
Be gentle. If the water isn’t too cold or too high, you may have to slowly get your bearded dragon used to bath time. When it’s time for a bath, make sure the water is quite shallow and you are very calm and gentle with your dragon the entire time.
Try a smaller tub. If you are using a large sink, tub, or bin, perhaps your dragon is intimidated by the size. You can try a smaller receptacle with shorter walls to help him feel less threatened.
Offer a rock. You can also try providing a rock or something solid for your dragon to climb on so she can get in and out of the water if she wants to. A rock can give your dragon a sense of security and help her overcome bath time fears.
Your dragon may eventually come around or he may just hate bath time...it really just depends on your pet.
Mist daily. If you can’t seem to calm your dragon down in the bath, it may not be worth the stress to bathe them more than once a week. While it’s not ideal to eliminate baths altogether, you can try misting your dragon once a day to boost her hydration and clean her off a bit in between baths.
Can I Give My Bearded Dragon a Bath Outside?
If you’d like to give your bearded dragon a bath outside, it’s best to do so on very hot days. If it’s not hot out, bearded dragons can quickly become too cold during or after the bath, making it very difficult for them to return to a normal body temperature.
Whether you give your bearded dragon a quick bath or a long bath, whether it's inside or outside, stay attentive to your dragon’s needs and make bath time as enjoyable as possible, and it should be smooth sailing for you and your dragon.
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