Bathing bearded dragons is a controversial subject. If bearded dragons in the wild don’t take baths, what’s the need to bathe your pet?
There are benefits associated with bathing bearded dragons. Whether you agree or disagree with bathing bearded dragons, there are times when you have no other option than to bathe your beardie.
For instance, if your beardie walks on their poop, you can’t have him running around smelling like poop. When things like that happen, you have to bathe your pet.
Okay, we can all agree that that’s a must-bathe moment, but there are still more questions you may have. Should that be the only time I bathe my pet? How often should I bathe my bearded dragon?
This post answers these questions and more, so without further ado, let’s dive in!
Should You Bathe Bearded Dragons? The Controversy
This is a tough one. Wild bearded dragons prefer warm, arid areas and rarely come into contact with water. In short, these creatures don’t bathe.
And since we are supposed to mimic our pet’s natural habitat, should domestic beardies have baths?
Yes, wild bearded dragons have natural survival tactics. You compromise most of their survival tactics when you put a bearded dragon in captivity. I know that’s not the aim, but it happens anyway.
For example, bearded dragons in the wild bask in direct sunlight, so they rarely deal with calcium issues. On the other hand, domesticated bearded dragons spend most of their time in artificial light, which may not be as good as direct sunlight.
As a result, beardies held captive are likely to have calcium-related issues. One way to correct this is through calcium baths. However, you should only do it under your vet’s instructions.
The point is, you can try to create something similar to their natural habitat, but their bodies will adjust to the new domestic environment. So, while wild bearded dragons may not need baths, domesticated beardies may need frequent baths for different reasons.
However, soaps, shampoos, and other chemicals said to help clean bearded dragons should not be used. Your pet may drink the contaminated water during a bath, leading to severe health issues. Additionally, the chemical may be absorbed through the eyes, ears, or nose.
I should also say this. Most beardie owners bathe their pets for the wrong reasons. For starters, some believe these reptiles absorb water through their skin, so bathing helps keep them hydrated.
Well, bearded dragons stay hydrated by drinking water or absorbing it from watery vegetables. So no, they don’t absorb water through the skin.
Also, most bearded dragons dislike baths, so what you assume is playing in the water may attempt to get out.
How Often Should I Bathe My Bearded Dragon?
How often depends on several factors. One is how your pet behaves in water, and the second is your reason for bathing him.
As I said, most bearded dragons dislike being in the water, so if you’re bathing your pet because you think they like being in the water, check again.
How your pet behaves in water should tell you how they feel being in the water. Don’t miss-read climbing to the sides as swimming or a playful activity. Your beardie may be stressed and looking for ways to get out.
But if it’s calm and relaxed, then it probably enjoys being in the water. Like humans, different beardies portray different personalities. And as absurd as it may sound, some may like being in the water more than others.
For those who enjoy bath time, you can bathe them twice or thrice a week. For our other friends, once a week should do the trick.
Baths can be beneficial and stressful at the same time. They are only beneficial if your pet is calm and enjoys them. But if your beardie dislikes being in the water, he may struggle to get out and injure himself in the process.
How Long Should I Bathe My Beardie?
How long still narrows to how your beardie behaves in the water. If they’re stressed, take the shortest time possible to complete the process.
In such a case, the target should be to finish in five to ten minutes. But if your pet likes being in the water, you can soak them for ten minutes and take another ten to clean them up.
How to bathe your Bearded Dragon: Step-by-Step Guide
Use this step-by-step guide when bathing your bearded dragon. But first, this is what you need:
What you need
- Clean plain warm water: Don’t add anything to the water as it may affect the ears, eyes, and nose. Besides, your pet may drink this water during cleaning, so ensure it’s free from chemicals.
- Thermometer: You need a thermometer to check the water temperature and ensure it’s right for your beardie. Aim for a temperature between 30-32°C (86-90°F). You can also use a digital temperature gun if you don’t have a thermometer.
- Water container: You can use a water bowl, sink, or bathtub. However, what to use depends on the age of your pet. A tub may be too big for baby dragons, so containers will do the job in such a case. You can also use a sink, but this depends on how comfortable you’re holding your pet because they can easily hurt themselves in a sink. Water bowls are ideal as you can choose one specifically for your pet, unlike sinks and tubs that you’ll have to share.
- Soft brush: Go for the softest brush, so you don’t hurt your bearded dragon while scrubbing.
- Clean, dry towel: You’ll need a clean towel to dry your pet after a thorough cleaning.
Now that you have all the essentials, follow this guide to clean your pet.
Step 1: Get everything you need
Choose your station and get everything you need before taking your pet out of the enclosure. This makes your work easier and speeds up the process.
Step 2: Check the water temperature
Use your thermometer or digital temperature gun to check the water temperature. Ensure it’s the right temperature for your pet.
Step 3: Put the water in a clean container
If the temperature is right, pour it into the container you’ll use to bathe your bearded dragon. Make sure the container is clean before putting water into it. Also, go for a sizable container depending on the age and size of your bearded dragon.
Step 4: Put your pet inside the container
Put your bearded dragon in the water and observe his reaction. I recommend getting a rock for him to climb onto while in the water. This makes him more comfortable and helps with the process.
Step 5: Soak your pet in water
Let your bearded dragon sit in water for five to ten minutes, depending on how he behaves in water. If he’s nervous, reduce the soaking time, or don’t soak at all. But if they like being in the water, soak them for at least ten minutes, then proceed to a thorough clean.
Use the thermometer to check the water temperature after soaking. If it’s cold, remove some of the water and add more warm water to correct the temperature.
Step 6: Brush gently until clean
Use a soft brush to clean the underarms and brush the skin. Be gentle as you do it so you don’t hurt the skin, especially if your pet is shedding. You can do away with the brushing if your pet is shedding to avoid damaging the new skin.
Use your hand to splash water when cleaning while avoiding the head and mouth because you don’t want your beardie to aspirate water.
Step 7: Rinse and remove them from the container
If you’re convinced your bearded dragon is clean, rinse them thoroughly and remove them from the container.
Step 8: Dry with a clean towel
Now use a soft clean towel to pat your pet dry. I recommend setting one aside specifically for your beardie to avoid any contamination. Once the beardie’s all dry, keep your pet under a light. Their temperature might have dropped during the process, so it’s wise to provide warmth.
Step 9: Clean up
The last step is to clean up everything you used during the process. From the soft brush to the water container, make sure everything is clean before putting it away.
Tips on How to Bathe a Beardie
Below are tips and things to keep in mind when bathing a bearded dragon.
Do it on a hot day
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded and rely on external heat sources to control their body temperature. They bask when it’s cold and burrow underground to avoid extreme heat. For this reason, only bathe them on hot days so they don’t get too cold during the process.
You can also let them bask in direct sunlight after the process so they can balance their body temperature.
Ensure your beardie is calm
The worst thing you can do is bathe a stressed beardie. To start with, not all bearded dragons like being in the water, and they get stressed underwater. If they are already stressed, abort the bath mission and try the next day.
A stressed beardie will feel threatened underwater and try to escape. They can easily hurt themselves as they try to escape. Ensure your pet is as calm as possible. You can pet him before the process so he can relax and get used to your hands.
Handle your pet regularly
Don’t wait until bath time to handle your pet. Handle them regularly to create a strong bond so they are comfortable during bath time.
Pets that are used to their owners’ hands have an easier time adjusting to baths than neglected ones. Pick your pet anytime you’re relaxing watching TV or basking in the sun and enjoy some quality time together.
Always brush gently through the skin so you don’t hurt your pet. Though their skin is scaly and may look tough, bearded dragons have sensitive skin. This is especially true during shedding; they remove dead skin to make room for a new one.
The new skin beneath is more delicate, and anything harsh can poke through. That’s why you’re advised to get a soft brush and be gentle as you brush.
Use a sizeable container
Your pet should fit comfortably into the water container. Get the perfect size depending on your beardie’s size and age. The container should be big enough to accommodate the pet and leave an allowance for your hands.
You’ll need to brush your pet and splash water on your pet’s skin without the container blocking your way. In the same way, don’t go for a giant container, as your bearded dragon can easily drown in it.
Put a rock inside the container
Your pet will feel more comfortable on a rock than inside the water. Get a sizable rock and put it inside the container for your pet to climb onto.
Bearded dragons love climbing on rocks and rough surfaces, so this will ease the tension and make bath time fun for them. But don’t go for a soft rock; your beardie may easily slip, especially since it will be in the water.
A rough rock that provides traction is ideal for your pet. Besides, it makes your work easier as he can remove the dead skin around the belly as he moves on the rock. You will also have an easier time keeping your pet’s head and mouth away from the water with a rock.
Don’t use any soap
As I said, bearded dragons may drink their bath water during the process. That’s why you’re advised to do away with soaps, even those meant for beardies.
Aside from drinking it, water may get into their eyes or ears during the process. Using soap or shampoo will affect these areas, causing irritation or serious health concerns.
Imagine a beardie with eye irritation in water; they will get scared and compromise the whole process. Besides, even the dirtiest beardie will get clean with plain warm water, so you don’t need soap or any other chemical unless specified by a vet.
You can give your bearded dragon a relaxing bath once or twice a week. Some owners do it three times a week because their pets enjoy being in the water.
The frequency depends on your pet’s temperament in water. If they are calm and relaxed during baths, you can do it more than once a week. However, don’t be extra and give your beardie baths daily.
Even when they enjoy being in the water, this may be too much for them. I recommend a maximum of three to four baths per week.
Bathing bearded dragons is a delicate process that needs extra caution. Always involve your vet when you are unsure of what to do or if your pet is behaving strangely in the water.