For every new Bearded Dragon owner, there are so many things that you need to learn right off the bat in order and this can often mean that shedding is something that gets overlooked or forgotten altogether.
It’s so important that you understand as much as you can about this process as it will be a bit part of your Bearded Dragons life.
As a Bearded Dragon enthusiast, I’ve researched this topic deeply to give you all the answers regarding your Bearded Dragon and shedding.
So why do Bearded Dragons shed their skin? There are two main reasons why a Bearded Dragon will shed its skin. The first reason is due to growth. When a Bearded Dragon grows it’s skin gets tight and therefore needs replacing with larger skin. The second reason is that from time to time the skin can get damaged for various reasons and then needs replacing with new healthy skin.
Read on to find out how often Bearded Dragon shed their skin. How long shedding lasts for, how to help them through shedding and much more.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Shed – A Closer Look
Ok, so we have just briefly looked at why Bearded Dragons shed their skin. Now let’s dive in and take a closer look at these reasons for shedding.
A Bearded Dragons skin in much different to a humans skin. A humans skin will stretch as they get older to fit their body perfectly.
A Bearded Dragons skin doesn’t stretch very well when they grow so they will basically need to create new skin to match the size of their growing body.
Want to know how fast Bearded Dragons grow? Check out this post I’ve written here
This is a perfectly normal process not just for Bearded Dragons but for most of the reptile kingdom. This is backed up by Exotic Direct who also say it’s perfectly normal and something you should be happy about as it means your Bearded Dragon is growing properly.
Bearded Dragons can also shed their skin if it becomes damaged or unprotective in some way.
If their current skin has taken a lot of scrapes, scuffs and damages and it’s no longer protecting them as it should then they have the ability to shed the current skin and form a new one.
As your Bearded Dragon gets older they may only shed part of the old skin, this again is a perfectly normal part of the shedding process.
How Often Do They Shed Their Skin?
How often a Bearded Dragon shed its skin will totally depend on its age.
Baby Bearded Dragons will shed very frequently and gradually shed less and less as they reach full adulthood.
Here is a breakdown of how often you can expect baby, juvenile and adult Bearded Dragons will shed their skin.
Baby Bearded Dragons (0-6 Months)
Baby Bearded Dragons are growing at a rapid rate in the first 6 months so they need to shed their skin often to keep up with the fast-paced growth they are experiencing.
You can expect a baby to shed it’s skin nearly once a week in the first 6 months of its life and this will usually be a full head to tail shed.
Juvenile Bearded Dragon (6-12 Months)
By the time a Bearded Dragon reaches the juvenile age of around 6 months then the growth will start to slow down slightly compared to the first 6 months of its life.
Between the 6-12 month period, you can expect a juvenile Dragon to shed its skin around 2 times a month. The shedding can also change from a full shed all at once to shedding of the body and a few days later shedding of the head.
Adult (12-18 Months)
By this time most of the growth is complete and your Bearded Dragon should now only need to shed around 4 times a year at most.
This again will more than likely won’t be a full shed all at once so you can expect shedding of different areas spread over a period of time.
Adult (18 Months Plus)
By the time your Bearded Dragon has reached full adulthood and all its growth is complete it will only shed its skin to replace it when it’s damaged or when it gets too old to protect your Dragon ad it should.
You can expect them to shed around 2 times a year and this shedding process is often very patchy with the head and body usually shedding weeks after each other.
How Long Does Shedding Last For?
The length of time that it takes for a Bearded Dragon to shed its skin can vary and depend on a variety of different aspects.
Baby Bearded Dragons can usually shed their skin a lot faster than adults and they can normally fully shed their entire skin in 1-3 days.
This process will gradually take more and more time as your Dragon reaches adulthood. By this time it can take anything up to 3 weeks to complete the process.
After 3 weeks has passed if your Bearded Dragon is nowhere near finishing its shed then there could be a problem with the shedding skin getting stuck.
We will look at how you can help them to complete the shed naturally later in this article but please note you should never pull off any skin from your Bearded Dragon.
There are lots of ways to help your Bearded Dragon to loosen any stubborn skin in a natural way and also speed up the shedding process such as having the using substrates, rocks, branches and more. We will also look at this more in depth later on in the article.
Can You Help Your Bearded Dragon Shed Its Skin?
There are lots of ways that you can help your Bearded Dragon shed its skin in a natural way.
Remember that you must never pull the skin off your Dragon as this is often painful and can also lead to infections.
Let’s look at the proven and safe ways you can help your Bearded Dragon shed its skin.
Mist Your Bearded Dragon
As good practise you should always mist your Bearded Dragon at least a couple of times per week to help with hydration.
When your Dragon is shedding then its a good idea to mist them daily, even if it’s just stubborn areas that are refusing to shed.
This will help to keep to skin moist and when they rub up against rocks and branches it will become much easier and faster to shed their skin especially the stubborn parts.
Give Them a Bath
In addition to misting your Bearded Dragon to loosen the skin, giving them a bath is another great way to keep skin moist and ultimately loosen it up.
For adult Dragons that often take a lot longer to shed it might be a good idea to give them a bath every 2-3 days while they are shedding just to keep the skin as moist as possible.
Remember to be gentle when you are drying them as the skin can come off much more easily when wet and if it’s not ready to shed and that point then it can be painful and cause infections.
Use a Shedding Aid
If you find that misting and bathing alone isn’t helping to shed any stubborn skin then you can certainly try a shedding aid.
These are usually very good and safe although I would only use them if your Bearded Dragon is finding shedding difficult because if not it’s just another expense that you don’t need.
Shedding aids often come in the form of a spray that you mist on your Dragon just like you would when misting them with water.
You can also get shedding aids that you add to the bath water. If you let your Dragon soak for 20-30 minutes then the aid will help to loosen the skin along with the water and give your Dragon a much better chance of shedding any skin that is ready to come off.
The Right Tank Setup
One of the best things you can do to help your Bearded Dragon shed its skin is to have a good tank setup that aids your Dragon in shedding its skin.
If you have a good tank setup then usually you won’t need to get involved at all because Bearded Dragons like all other shedding reptiles have evolved to shed their own skin very effectively if they have the right surroundings.
So how do you provide your Dragon with the right tank setup for shedding? You can easily provide your Bearded Dragon with natural surfaces for them to brush up against while they are going about their day. This will help them to shed easily and naturally.
Here are some good items to have in your Bearded Dragons tank.
- Substrate (good quality)
I’ve created a page that lists all the items I recommend for your Bearded Dragons tank and also my hand-picked favourites I use for my own Dragons, you can see the list here
When it comes to substrate I would always recommend using excavator clay for a number of reasons. It even helps when your Dragon is shedding its skin.
Excavator clay moulds into the shape of hills and valleys and you can also easily create caves and hides with it.
If you want to know more about excavator clay then here’s a post detailing the benefits and why i highly recommend it.
It’s this flexibility that makes it a great choice for when your Dragon is shedding. Because of the hills, caves and hides, your Bearded Dragon will naturally brush up against the different areas that the clay has created and loosened the skin.
Rocks are also a fantastic addition to excavator clay. You can add them in different areas of the tank and again, as your Dragon moves in and out of different areas they will naturally loosen the shedding skin.
Branches are always good to have in the tank and they will provide those rough edges that are needed to aid the shedding process.
Having a good combination of all these 3 items will vastly improve your Dragons ability to shed its skin easily and with fewer problems.
Good Quality UVB Lighting
Having good quality UVB lighting will help your Bearded Dragon throughout the shedding process.
UVB light is vital to your Dragon anyway and its something that you should always have set up correctly. (Find out how to set up your lighting correctly here)
Or if you want to know what actually lighting products I recommend then check out this post where I share the best lighting, thermostats, thermometers and more.
When you have a good quality lighting set up shedding will become an easier and smoother process.
Good Quality Diet
Giving your Dragon a good quality diet will obviously give them a good platform to become generally healthy but it will also help them to have healthy skin.
A Bearded Dragon with a poor diet and hydration can find it hard to shed its skin compared to a Dragon with a good diet.
Always have of water available in the tank and try to keep veggies on offer daily as these will help to keep the skin healthy.
Below is a rough guide to help you understand the ration of insect proteins to vegies your Bearded Dragon need to be healthy when it is both a baby and adult.
One thing that often overlooked in the health of your Dragons skin is the importance of the basking lamp.
When your Dragon basks under the basking lamp it helps them to digest its food and without access to the lamp after meals, they basically won’t be able to process the nutrients they’ve just consumed.
The basking lamp plays a vital role in digestion and therefore in the condition of the skin so you should always make sure that the temperatures in the tank are optimal so your Dragon can digest its food easily and with no problems.
Here’s a post that shares all you need to know about why Bearded Dragons bask as an owner and how you can improve their basking area and temperatures.
Never Pull Off The Skin
Ok, so I know I’ve already mentioned this earlier in the post but this is so important that it needs to be said again.
You must never and I mean never pull off any stubborn skin from your Bearded Dragon. Every reptile owner, expert or adviser will give you the same advice here and the Reptile Guide who are a reputable advice website for reptiles also stand firm on this point too.
If the skin isn’t ready to come off what some reason then pulling it will only cause more problems.
First of all, it’s going to be painful for your Dragon and I’m sure you don’t want to put your beloved pet through any sort of pain especially when its not necessary.
Secondly, you can actually cause your Dragon to pick up an infection which obviously can have other health implications further down the road.
The bottom line is, just don’t do it! The best way to help your Dragon is to use the methods we’ve covered already in this article.
Signs Your Bearded Dragon Is About to Shed
Let’s take a look at some of the tell-tale signs that your Bearded Dragon is about to shed.
It’s highly unlikely your Dragon will display all of these signs and some won’t show any signs at all but knowing how a Bearded Dragon can behave before and during shedding can help you to understand sudden changes in behaviour.
One of the most common things you will notice when a Bearded Dragon is about to shed is that its skin will often get tight.
This is more common in baby Bearded Dragons because they are outgrowing their skin due to the rapid growth they are experiencing.
If you notice this don’t worry, it’s totally natural but just be mindful that your Dragon is likely to start shedding very soon.
Chance In Colour
Another common sign that your Dragon is about to shed is a change in the colour of its skin.
This can often look like your Bearded Dragon is ill but it’s actually the first signs of the skin being removed from the body.
The colour will usually start to look dull and eventually turn grey then later become white in appearance as it starts to loosen from the body.
This again is totally natural and will give you a good idea of when your Dragon is about to shed.
Loss Of Appetite
You may often notice that your Bearded Dragon will have a decreased appetite before they show any signs of shedding.
I understand that unless your a fortune teller its’s hard to know if shedding is the reason why they have a loss of appetite but just keep an eye on them for a few days and you should notice other signs and then obviously the shedding will start.
Here’s a post that lists the 9 common reasons that your Bearded Dragon can lose their appetite. So if they are not eating it’s a good idea to go take a look at this post.
It’s also common that your Dragon will have a loss of appetite during shedding and some won’t want to eat at all.
If a baby Bearded Dragon is not eating then it usually only lasts a day or so. This is for 2 reasons, the first is that shedding of babies only lasts for short periods any usually doesn’t affect them very much and secondly their mind tells them to constantly eat!
If they aren’t eating for more then a day or so then you should think about consulting your Vet to get their opinion.
Adult Bearded Dragon can go a little longer without food as they have stores of nutrients they can rely on for when they go into brumation.
That being said, you should still consult your Vet if you notice this going on for too long and they start to lose weight.
Just keep offering your Dragon food as normal, make sure they have veggies in their tank so they can nibble if they feel like it and they also have fresh water to drink.
Some Bearded Dragons will shed with no problems and zero loss of appetite while others will feel a little off the pace. The good thing is that as they get older shedding happens less so it’s not something you need to deal with every week.
May Become Lethargic
Before you notice any other signs of shedding you might notice that you Bearded Dragon starts to become lethargic.
Shedding can be a painful experience for some Bearded Dragons and it can also lead them to feel itchy and irritable.
The more they move around the worse it will get so naturally they want to stay still and therefore look lethargic.
Bearded Dragon can often become lethargic throughout the whole shedding process so just be mindful.
You might want to consider handling them less if you notice this behaviour as you could be making them feel more irritable.
Some Dragons have been known to get aggressive towards their owners during the shedding process when over-handled due to the irritation and ain they can often feel.
I would always recommend that you educate young children to give your Bearded Dragon space during the shedding period and always keep handling supervised.
It can be very scary to see your Bearded Dragon bulging its eyes out of its head. This is often absolutely nothing to worry about and is usually just your Dragon displaying very clever behaviour.
Bearded Dragons can actually bulge out their eyes in order to loosen the skin around the head.
The skin around the head is often a stubborn area for Bearded Dragon to shed because the head gets rubbed of rocks and branches far less than the body and tail.
This leaves them having to use other means to try and remove or loosen the skin themselves and eye bulging is one of those means.
Puffing Up The Beard
A Bearded Dragon can puff up its beard for many reasons as you can learn in this post here but they are actually also known to do it in order to loosen the skin around the neck and head during shedding.
Like we just talked about above, the skin around the head is harder to lose during shedding due to the fact it doesn’t get as much friction from rubbing up against rocks, branches and other things in the tank.
Puffing up the beard is yet another behaviour that your Dragon can display in order to help then shed their skin.
It’s really common for Bearded Dragon to sleep for during shedding. Some Dragons that find shedding easy and comfortable won’t feel the need to do this.
The ones that are constantly itchy and irritable will often sleep more often. The only problem with this is that the shedding process will often take longer because they are moving less and therefore rubbing off loose shed less.
There isn’t a great deal you can do about this apart from making sure that when they are awake they have everything they need in their tank to make the shedding process as easy as possible.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Shedding Skin?
It’s actually a perfectly natural behaviour for your Bearded Dragon to eat its own skin once it’s been shed.
In the wild, a Bearded Dragon would do this so larger predators would have no indication that they have been in the area.
They also get some nutrients from the skin and in the wild, you never know where your next meal is coming from so nothing goes to waste.
In captivity, a Bearded Dragon will display exactly the same behaviour so you will often see them eating their own skin.
Does this mean you should let them do it? Well, I would be a little wary because depending on what substrate you use, they could poop and pee in and around the skin they are shedding and then eating it which obviously isn’t good for them.
The bottom line is, if the tank is clean with no pee and poop in and around the skin then it’s safe to eat.
Do Adults Shed In Patches?
When a Bearded Dragon reaches full adulthood it will commonly shed in patches.
This is perfectly normal, you can expect them to shed their head and then later their leg and then later their body.
You won’t have any way to tell what part of their body is going to shed next or when it’s going to happen.
Sometimes they will produce an all-over body shed and right out of the blue. Usually, an adult Dragon will only shed a couple of times per year as opposed to babies that shed nearly weekly.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Shedding?
Baby Bearded Dragons really need to be shedding their skin to keep up with the growth that’s needed in the first 12 months of their life.
If your baby Bearded Dragon isn’t shedding then it could be down to one of the following reasons.
- Poor UVB Lighting
- Wrong Basking Lamp Temperatures
- Poor Diet/Supplementation
- Poor Hydration
As you know by now, adults will only shed their skin a couple of times a year and this process is really just to renew the old skin that may not be doing its job as well any more so if you have all of the above in place there isn’t too much to worry about.
If you are ever concerned that either you baby or adult Bearded Dragon isn’t shedding at all then you should always consult your Vet to get their opinion.
What to Do When Shed Gets Stuck?
It is highly unlikely but the shed can actually get stuck on your Bearded Dragon.
If you have tried all the methods we have covered in this article and the shed still is refusing to budge then you really need to consult your Vet.
If a stubborn piece of the shed remains attached to your Dragon for a length of time it can cause infection and even loss of limb.
Remember don’t be tempted to pull off any piece of shedding skin no matter how stubborn but make sure you ty all the method we have spoken about such as:
- Shedding Aids
- Correct tank Setup (Rocks, Branches, Substrate)
If you have done all of this and there is still no joy then you should certainly consider consulting your Vet.
I hope you got a lot of value form this article and you now have all your Bearded Dragon shedding questions answered.
The mains things to remember are that baby Bearded Dragons will shed the most, make sure you provide your dragon with the things it needs to help the shedding process, things like diet and good lighting help them shed easily and if you are worried about anything always consult your Vet.
If you stick to the advice in this article you will aid your Bearded Dragon through the shedding process as fast and easily as possible every time.
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