Even though shedding is a natural for bearded dragons, it can still be an uncomfortable and stressful period.
Because of this, owners often want to know if you can hold a bearded dragon while shedding? Or will it be too painful or stressful?
In this post, we aim to answer this very question so you will know for sure if it’s a good idea to hold and handle your bearded dragon while shedding.
We will also look at what will happen if you over handle your beardie while shedding and ways you can help your bearded dragon to shed their skin much easier.
First, let’s find out if you should hold a bearded dragon while shedding?
So can you hold a bearded dragon while shedding? You can hold a bearded dragon while shedding but you should keep the handling time to a bare minimum and only handle them if it’s necessary. Shedding can be a stressful and painful time for bearded dragons and holding them too often can make the process much more difficult and even cause injury.
Read On to Discover…
Can You Hold a Bearded Dragon While Shedding? (More Info)
Bearded dragons shed all throughout their lives to replace old, damaged and often outgrown skin.
Even though shedding is something they do from being babies and also into adulthood, it’s still a process that can often cause lots of stress, discomfort and even pain.
Bearded dragons struggle with shedding because unlike snakes who shed their skin all in one piece, beardies shed in patches.
This can often make the process a long and drawn out one and is usually the reason why they can get grumpy.
This means that it’s usually not recommended to hold your bearded dragons while shedding unless you really have to.
You may have to handle your bearded dragon when:
- In an emergency
- To clean the tank
- To allow time out of the tank
- Misting & bathing
- For feeding (depending on your setup)
If you are just wanting to play with your beardie or have a cuddle then its probably best to just give them some space for a few days and allow them time to shed.
With this being said, some bearded dragons handle the shedding process well and can be handled more often.
This will depend on individual circumstances and you will obviously have to judge this for yourself.
If you want to learn more about how shedding works? how long it lasts? and more, then head over to our ultimate shedding guide for bearded dragons…
(Later in the post, we have listed the signs that a bearded dragon doesn’t want to be held while shedding.)
Right now, let’s look at what can happen if you overhandle your beardie while they are shedding…
What Will Happen If You Over Handle a Bearded Dragon While Shedding?
As we have just mentioned, its probably not a good idea to handle your bearded dragon while they are shedding unless it’s totally necessary.
If you do over handle your beardie while they are going through the shedding process then they could display several unwanted behaviours as well as increasing the possibility of injury.
Let’s take a closer look at the negatives of handling your bearded dragon while shedding…
1. Your Bearded Dragon Could Get Angry
It’s important to remember that shedding is both an uncomfortable and possibly painful time for bearded dragons.
Beardies are often less tolerable and placid if this is the case and handling can irritate them to the point where they get angry.
This, in turn, can result in your beardie flaring their beard, hissing and even trying to bite you.
If you do this over and over then it could also possibly affect the way your bearded dragon bonds with you over time.
It’s easy to see if your beardie is angry by the way they react and we would always recommend giving them some space if they display angry behaviours towards you.
2. Your Bearded Dragon Might Get Scared
Just like your beardie could get angry if you hold them too much when shedding, they could also be fearful and scared about the prospect of being handled too.
If your dragon is running away from you or hiding a lot when shedding then its a sign that they just want to be left alone.
Imagine if you were in itchy, uncomfortable and even in pain every time somebody touched your skin, I’m guessing you certainly wouldn’t be best pleased.
Have you ever wondered if bearded dragons do actually itch when shedding?
Well, we have written an easy to follow guide that shows you how you can stop your beardie from itching and feel comfortable through the shedding process.
3. You Could Hurt Your Bearded Dragon
Something that’s often overlooked is the fact that you could hurt your dragon when holding and handling them if they’re shedding.
We’ve already talked about how shedding can be extremely painful for beardies due to the fact they shed in patches.
In addition, this can cause stubborn shedding areas namely on their toes.
These areas can become extremely itchy, sore and painful. Handling your beardie and accidentally rubbing one of these areas could really hurt them and nobody wants that.
Again, the best thing to do is just to handle your dragon only when necessary unless they find the shedding process very easy and smooth, in which case the handling time can be increased a little.
4. You Could Accidentally Pull Off Your Bearded Dragons Skin
One of the worst-case scenarios when holding your beardie while shedding is that you accidentally pull off some of their shed.
As well as being extremely painful, this can also cause lots of problems with their skin in the future, not to mention potential infections.
Even if your bearded dragon seems fine with the shedding process and isn’t in any discomfort or pain, you should still handle them less to decrease the chance of pulling off any of their unshed skin.
We understand that it’s hard to not be allowed to show your dragon any love and affection throughout this period but it really is for the best.
The good thing is that bearded dragons shed less and less as they get older which is great for everyone involved.
4 Signs That a Bearded Dragons Doesn’t Want to Be Held While Shedding
Usually, if your bearded dragon doesn’t’ want to be held when they are shedding then they will show some tell-tale signs.
We’ve put together a list of the most common signs that you should look out for.
Let’s take a look at the signs that your bearded dragon doesn’t want to be held when shedding…
1. Hiding More
Bearded dragons often show they want to be left alone during the shedding process by hiding more than usual.
This is a tell-tale sign that they feel uncomfortable and want their own space.
If your bearded dragon is displaying this behaviour then its recommended to leave them alone for a while.
It’s also important to provide your dragon with lots of places to hide so they can always feel comfortable and safe.
If you want to know more about if bearded dragons actually hide when shedding then we have just published a guide that shares all you need to know…
2. Getting Angry
As we have already mentioned in this post, your bearded dragon is likely to show some signs the process of shedding is bothering them by being short-tempered.
This can result in them beard flaring, hissing and biting. Again the best course of action is to simply leave them alone and give them both time and space.
Obviously, there are also lots more reasons why bearded dragons can potentially become angry so it’s also a good idea to eliminate all other options before assuming their bad temper is definitely due to shedding.
You can check out our full guide that shares the 12 reasons why bearded dragons get angry here…
3. Running Away From You
Another tell-tale sign that your beardie doesn’t want to be handled is when they run away from you as you approach them.
They might even try and climb out of your hands when you are holding them.
The bottom line is that any kind of evasive behaviour that is out of character probably means you shouldn’t be handling them.
4. Stubborn Shed
One of the easiest ways to know if you should hold your bearded dragon or leave them alone is to take a look at their skin.
If they have stubborn of areas shed then its probably a good idea to give them some alone time unless handling is absolutely necessary.
The good thing is that this should only last a few days if they are healthy, have a good diet and lighting setup (more on this shortly)
Do All Bearded Dragons Not Want to Be Held While Shedding?
While a lot of beardies will find the shedding process a difficult one, others will sail through it without any problems.
So the answer is, no not all bearded dragons don’t want to be held while shedding.
Bearded dragons will usually find the shedding process easier if:
- They have a good diet
- They have the correct lighting setup
As an owner, you will have to take a look at how your dragon is handling the shedding process and make a judgement call.
Remember, even if your bearded dragon finds shedding an extremely easy and smooth process, we recommend still not handling too much as you could accidentally pull off some of their skin that isn’t ready to shed and cause unnecessary problems.
How Can I Help My Bearded Dragon to Shed Easier?
It’s important as an owner to do everything you can to make the shedding process a smooth one.
There are plenty of things you can do both before and during shedding to encourage healthy skin and also lessen the chance of stubborn shed.
We have listed 6 areas where you as an owner can make a difference and help your dragon through the process much easier.
Let’s take a closer look at the 6 ways you can help your bearded dragon through the shedding process…
The wrong humidity levels in your bearded dragon’s tank can cause problems when shedding.
While excess humidity can cause problems such as dermatitis, low humidity can also cause issues of its own.
If the humidity in your beardies tank is too low then it can cause something called ‘dysecdysis’ also known as abnormal shedding of skin.
This will obviously decrease the health of the skin and make it difficult to shed.
The humidity in the tank should ideally be between 30-40% and this can be manipulated by altering the size of the water bowl, which should always be in the cool side of the tank.
To correctly test the humidity in the tank each day, you need a humidity gauge.
If you don’t have a humidity gauge or are simply want to know what kind of gauge is best then check out this one we recommend…
- 【QUICK RESPONSE REPTILE THERMOMETER HYGROMETER 】The 2 in 1 reptile thermometer and hygrometer detects the temperature and humidity with built-in...
- 【HIGH ACCURACY TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY GAUGE】Use advanced waterproof humidity and temperature sensors to ensure accuracy and stability;...
Last update on 2021-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
2. Branches & Rocks In The Tank
Adding rocks and branches to the tank is extremely important and plays a vital role in how well your bearded dragon will shed.
Beardies will often run themselves up against rough branches and rocks to help remove stubborn areas of shed and to relieve any itch patches they are experiencing.
Without access to branches or rocks in their tank, the whole shedding process will take much longer and your beardie would be in a lot more discomfort.
It can be hard to know what kind of branches to add to the tank as there are so many choices and things can get a little confusing.
We recommend something that is natural if possible as beardies usually love natural branches and they are good for shedding purposes too.
Here’s one branch we recommend you use for your bearded dragon’s tank…
- Naturally shaped over time
- Offered in 4 sizes to create unique centerpieces
Last update on 2021-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
3. A Warm Bath
One other best things you can do as an owner if you notice stubborn shed or if your beardie struggling with the process as a whole is to give them a bath.
Bathing your bearded dragon will help to soften and loosen any dry areas of shed on their body.
As well and been a calming and soothing activity, bathing them will also help with bonding.
You don’t have to wait until your dragon is shedding to provide them with a bath as regular bathing time each week will help to keep their skin supple and in good condition all the time.
You can find out if bearded dragons actually need baths? Or if they can be both happy and healthy without a bath? by taking a look at our short guide that explains all you need to know…
Another great way to keep your bearded dragon’s skin soft and in good condition is to mist them regularly.
Misting also helps to soften stubborn areas of shed as well as providing a great source of hydration to your dragon if done correctly.
Misting is widely accepted by experts as one of the best ways to hydrate your dragon and keep their skin in great condition if it’s done correctly.
If you want to know how to mist your beardie correctly then head over to our step by step misting guide.
5. Correct Tank Setup
The actual lighting and temperature setup of your beardie’s tank can make a huge difference to the condition of their skin over time.
Things that make a difference to skin condition are:
- Basking temperature
- Good quality UVB bulb
- Temperature gradient & cool spot
Without these fundamental care elements in place, it will negatively affect the condition of your dragon’s skin.
We have written a tank setup guide with diagrams if you are unsure how to set up your bearded dragons tank correctly…
In addition to setting up your dragons tank correctly, It’s also important to provide them with enough hours of light each day.
Around 12 hours of daytime hours are recommended each day to ensure your beardie is getting the correct amount of exposure each day.
6. A Good Diet
The diet you offer your bearded dragon also plays a big role in the condition of their skin.
Because bearded dragons shed their skin regularly, it can take lots of nutrients to create and maintain healthy skin after each shed.
A good diet containing plenty of high-quality insects and additional fresh greens will all contribute to skin health.
Bearded dragons are actually known to eat their shed due to the nutritional value it holds and this is an indicator of how much nutrients it takes to form healthy skin in reptiles.
There are actually 3 common reasons why bearded dragons east their own skin and you can find out what they are here…
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