From time to time, you may have seen your bearded dragon eat their won skin or shed.
As an owner, it can be worrying to see this behaviour especially when you really don’t know why your bearded dragon would choose to eat their own skin.
In this post, we will take a closer look at the reasons why bearded dragons eat their own skin, if its common behaviour, if it’s safe for your bearded dragon to eat their own skin and much more.
So why do bearded dragons eat their own skin? Bearded dragons eat their skin for these 3 common reasons:
- So predators aren’t aware of their location
- To recycle the nutrients in the shedded skin
- To make up for a deficiency in calcium
Read On to Discover…
Why Do Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Skin? (More Info)
As we mentioned above, it can be both confusing and worrying when you see your bearded dragon eating their own skin or shed.
For the most part, this is actually normal behaviour and not something you should worry about.
Usually when your beardie eats their own skin its something to do with these 3 common reasons…
- Hiding the evidence from potential predators
- Eating extra nutrients found in the skin
- A deficiency in calcium
Let’s now take a deeper look at each of these reasons so you can see exactly why your beardie might be eating their own shed…
1. Hide The Skin From Predators
Like all other lizards and wild animals alike, bearded dragons have had to adapt and find ways to survive over the years.
One clever way in which they do this is to eat their shed so that they don’t give away their location to prowling predators nearby.
This is something that beardies do even in captivity as this survival instinct is hard-wired into them.
It’s actually possible that if you have some other pets in your home such as cats or dogs then your beardie could see them as predators and maybe eating their skin in order to hide it from them.
As a side note, lots of bearded dragon owners often ask if their beardie can play and get along with their dog?
We have answered this very question in our new guide that covers all you need to know about bearded dragons and dogs playing together here…
2. Extra Nutrients
It’s actually common for bearded dragons to eat their skin in order to make sure that they aren’t wasting any of the nutrients that are available to them.
It’s not just bearded dragons that do this but many of the lizard species have also adopted this method of recycling nutrients in order to survive and stay healthy.
Growing the skin is a lot of hard work and it requires a vast amount of nutrients in order to form healthy skin and for this reason, there is a lot of minerals and nutrients stored in the shed.
When bearded dragons and other lizards eat their skin, the nutrients they are recycling also help to form the fresh new skin.
This again is something that is hard-wired into them as a survival instinct due to hard times in the wild and shows just how intuitive and clever bearded dragons are.
3. Calcium Deficiency
Another reason why your bearded dragons could be eating their skin is that they may be deficient in calcium and they see eating their skin as a way of increase their calcium intake through the calcium that’s in the shed.
As a beardie owner, you are probably well aware that a high calcium diet is essential for many vital bodily functions of your bearded dragons including the function of muscles as well as bone maintenance and growth.
If you want to know more about calcium and the role it plays in your beardies health and well being then head over to our new guide that explains all you need to know about calcium as an owner…
If you suspect that your beardie has a calcium deficiency then it might be a good idea to speak to your vet about this as they can check over your beardie and give tailored advice.
As a rule of thumb, you need to make sure your beardie has a diet that is full of calcium-dense greens such as mustard greens and turnip greens.
We have created easy to follow guides that share how often bearded dragons should both of these greens and what is the best way to prepare them and you can check them out below…
- Mustard Greens For Bearded Dragons – The Easy to Follow Guide!
- Turnip Greens For Bearded Dragons – The Easy to Follow Guide!
As well as a diet that is fortified with high-quality greens, it’s also recommended by veterinary experts to add a calcium supplement to your beardie diet too as they can actually become calcium deficient if not.
There are many calcium supplements on the market but we always recommend using RepCal as this is the number one option in our opinion.
RepCal has built up a huge reputation over the years for supplying high-quality calcium supplements and is the worlds most popular choice.
It’s actually important to get the right calcium supplement as some have added phosphorus which can have a negative effect.
Is It Safe For My Bearded Dragon to Eat Its On Skin?
Now we have covered the 3 reasons why bearded dragons eat their own skin, it’s only logical to see if it’s safe or unhealthy for them to display this behaviour?
For the most part, it’s not unhealthy when your bearded dragon chooses to eat their own skin.
The first two reasons we mentioned, which were hiding the skin from predators and recycling the nutrients are perfectly fine and natural behaviours.
The last reasons we mentioned, which was a possible calcium deficiency is something that needs looking at as calcium is vital to your beardies health.
You will have to assess your beardies diet and speak to your local vet if you suspect this to be an issue but usually, if their diet is good then they will be eating their skin for one of the first two reasons and this is fine.
Having said this, if you notice that your bearded dragon likes to eat their skin, then you need to ensure that their tank is clean and you are using a suitable substrate.
The cleanliness of the tank is important because if there is pee or poop in the tank the skin could easily get contaminated and your beardie will end up eating more than they bargained for.
This, in turn, can cause health problems and end vet bills that can be avoided.
As a responsible beardie owner, I’m sure you keep the tank clean and have a good cleaning routine but if your dragon likes to eat their own skin then it’s a good idea to take it to the next level just until they have finished shedding.
We actually have a great article that explains all you need to know about shedding as a bearded dragon owner including ways to help your beardie shed faster and easier…
As well as ensuring your beardies tank is clean and hygienic, it’s also important to use a suitable substrate.
If you are using sand-based or loose substrates then there is a chance that they will be ingested and cause digestive issues or even impaction.
For this reason, we would recommend steering away from sand or loosed based substrates.
The best substrate we have found for beardies is ‘sand mat’ as it is basically coarse and rough particle of sand that is stuck to a sheet with no way of becoming loose.
This gives the added benefit of keeping your dragon’s nails short without the issues of ingesting the loose particles.
Sand mat comes on one big sheet that you can cut to the size of your tank.
If you want to learn more about sand mat as well as the cheapest place to get it from then head over to our recommended substrate page here…
Do All Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Skin?
You might now be wondering if all bearded dragon eat their own skin?
The answer to this question is, no, even though this is usually a harmless and perfectly natural behaviour, not all bearded dragons eat their own skin.
All beardies have their own personalities and while some will feel the need to eat their own skin, others simply won’t.
This largely depends on the reasons we have talked about throughout the post.
If your bearded dragon doesn’t eat their own skin it’s nothing to worry about wither and this is perfectly natural.
Beardies will only usually eat their skin when they feel there is a need to do this that is somehow linked to survival or better health.
Do Bearded Dragons Like to Eat Their Own Skin?
It’s hard to tell if beardies actually like eating their shed like they would enjoy eating a superworm or similar but the fact that the majority of beardies don’t devour their skin every time they shed it would suggest otherwise.
It would be more logical to assume that bearded dragons only eat their skin in order to either hide it from predators or to gain some sort of nutrients from it.
Either way, it seems more of a necessity rather than a tasty snack that they enjoy.
Check out this video of a beardie eating their own skin and see if you think they are enjoying it…
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