Bearded dragons are the least aggressive reptiles, especially when they get used to you. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t defend themselves when they feel threatened.
In such a case, bearded dragons will not hesitate to bite you, and it’s important to know what happens if your pet bites you, particularly what to do.
This article paints a picture of what happens when your dragon bites, guides you on what you should do, and explains why your pet may bite you.
Keep reading so you know the next action to take in case of this minor accident.
What Happens If My Bearded Dragon Bites Me?
Bearded dragons have sharp, tiny teeth, so they may or may not break your skin when they bite. You might feel a strong pinch when your pet bites, but you’ll rarely have any bruising.
But if the bite is a bit more powerful, you might have some bruising that will itch. You may experience light bleeding and your skin might pull off.
In most cases, what happens when your beardie bites is that you experience a sudden shock. That’s a normal human reaction, as you didn’t anticipate the bite, and it’s not something positive.
Others may not experience pain while in shock, while others may experience more pain. Actually, the shock may exaggerate your pain.
But don’t worry, it will subside within minutes. Your shock is not as intense as in more serious accidents, but your body will still react to the sudden attack.
Your dragon may or may not grab you when biting. What I mean is, there are different ways your pet might bite you. He might jump at you, bite, and return to the ground immediately. This takes a second or two, and the bite may not be that serious.
Bearded dragons often do that when they are scared and feel threatened. It’s a defense mechanism, especially if they are not used to you.
The other bite is more aggressive as your pet may grab your finger and grasp tightly. Such a bite might cut deeper into the skin, causing serious bruising, and you may bleed.
It will seem like your pet is trying to eat you, like he would a worm. That’s why such a bite might hurt more. The other bite is more of a nibble and might indicate that your pet is hungry.
This bite rarely hurts, and some people won’t feel anything.
Does a bearded dragon bite hurt?
Bearded dragon bites may or may not hurt, depending on how your pet bites. Like I said, a “food bite” where your pet holds tighter to your skin and tries to “eat you” would hurt more than a defensive bite.
A defensive bite takes the shortest time as your pet is trying to scare you away because they feel threatened. Often, your bearded dragon will try to attack you by jumping suddenly at you and landing back on the ground.
If it’s an adult beardie, such a bite might hurt a little because they have more strength in their jaws. But if it’s a baby or juvenile beardie, you may only feel a pinch but no pain. Or if it’s there, it won’t be like that of an adult bearded dragon bite.
Again, even if adult bearded dragons have more strength, their tiny teeth are blunter (from chewing), so they won’t break deep into the skin. On the other hand, baby dragons’ teeth may be sharper, but they lack jaw strength, so the bite won’t hurt as much.
I should also say that whether a bearded dragon’s bite hurts depends on your pain tolerance. A painful bite to you may be painless to another person.
What to do If My Beardie Bites Me
These guidelines mainly apply when your pet bites and holds on to your skin. Otherwise, in other cases, your pet will bite and move away immediately, so the only thing left is to treat the injury.
In such a case, skip to step six, but if your pet bites and holds onto the area, follow these steps:
Step 1: Try to remain calm
I know you are tense at this point, but the best you can do is try to keep calm. When you’re calm, you take control of the situation and prevent serious injury.
Keep in mind that bearded dragon bites are often harmless. Knowing this might help maintain your cool because, after all, it can’t be as serious as a snake bite.
Step 2: Resist the urge to pull the beardie away from you
It’s only natural that you’ll want to pull away from the dragon to prevent his teeth from breaking your skin. However, pulling away may cause more harm than good.
You’ll be using force to pull away, causing more bruising in the bitten area. Besides, your pet might try to grasp harder when you pull and break deeper into your skin.
So while it seems like the right thing to do, try to resist the urge to pull away from your pet.
Step 3: If possible, support the rest of your beardie’s body with your hand
Assuming your pet is biting the front part of your finger, the rest of his body will hang if you lift your hand. Furthermore, he will grip your finger more tightly so that he does not fall and injure himself.
He might even panic and bite harder, causing more injury. To avoid this, use your other hand to support the rest of his body, so he doesn’t feel threatened and grasp harder. Actually, he might let go of your finger when you do that.
Step 4: Place the beardie on a table or any secure surface
While supporting the rest of his body, place your beardie on a flat surface like a table so your other hand is free and your pet is not hanging.
Now your other hand is free, and you can use it for step 5.
Step 5: Pull the jaws apart
Use your free hand to pull the jaws apart while applying pressure until the pet lets go of your finger. Do it gently to avoid causing panic.
Step 6: Clean and treat your injury
Now that your finger is free, inspect the bitten area to evaluate the injury. Use the below guide to clean the bitten area.
How to clean and treat a bearded dragon’s bite
How you clean a bearded dragon’s bite depends on whether the bite broke your skin. If the teeth didn’t break your skin, you could just wash the area with soap, and you’re good to go.
But if your skin is broken, treat this like you would treat a cut. Start by washing the area with soap, then disinfecting it with any available disinfectant.
Disinfecting reduces the chance of infection and kills any germs in the area. You can then use a bandage to cover the area.
If you suspect any serious injury, like a broken bone, which rarely happens, consult a doctor so they can inspect the area.
Can I Get Sick from a Bearded Dragon Bite?
Not really; most bearded dragon diseases result from their diet and habitat, and they rarely transmit the disease through bites.
Besides, their diseases are almost harmless to humans, except for salmonella, which may cause intestinal problems in humans. Again, you can’t get the disease through a bearded dragon bite. This disease is passed through human-beardie interaction and not bites.
That’s why you should always wash your hands with antibacterial soap after handling your pet to avoid spreading germs or bacteria. You should also do this before handling your pet, as you can pass germs to them.
The only way you can get sick from a bearded dragon bite is if you neglect the wound and it results in infection. And the bite would have to be too deep and left open, and that rarely happens.
Most of these bites are small openings that heal on their own. However, you should always clean up any bite to be safe.
Reasons your Beardie Might Bite You
Beardies bite for different reasons. Some include:
Self-defense: When your pet feels threatened, for whatever reason, it will puff its head and try to bite you. You might have done something that threatened their safety, making them feel that way.
Picking bearded dragons from above in their enclosure or handling them without announcing your presence are both common threats to bearded dragons. Though most enclosures have screen openings at the top, you’re advised to pick your pet from the sides to avoid provoking them.
They should also see you approach, so they don’t assume you’re a predator. Another weird but valid reason your beardie might feel threatened is if there’s a reflection in their enclosure.
They may mistake it for unwanted company, even if it’s their reflection, and get defensive. Other pets, like cats and dogs, can also scare your bearded dragon away.
Hunger: As I said, your pet might nibble on you if they are hungry. They are trying to communicate how they feel and might hurt you in the process.
Excitement or Stress: Stress may result from a change in the environment, for example, if you recently changed their enclosure. Before they adapt to the new change, your pet might feel stressed and bite you when you get close.
This is also common when you bring a new bearded dragon home. Just like humans, they take time to adjust, and change can be stressful for them.
Excitement can also cause your pet to bite. Beardies often get excited when it’s time to eat or when they are more active.
Poor handling techniques: like a human baby, you can’t grab your pet carelessly. Don’t use force or hold them tight, as this triggers them and they react in defense. Bearded dragons are prey, so they are always ready to defend themselves in case of an attack.
Any tight grab, poking, or pinching will be mistaken for an attack, and this may make them bite. Even if it’s kids handling them, they will still bite in defense.
Not used to being petted or being handled: a bearded dragon that’s not well socialized will not like it if you pet it or try to pick it up.
To them, you’re a predator who wants to harm, so they need to act in defense. Avoid picking up unsocialized beardies until they are used to being handled.
How Can I Avoid Being Bit by My Bearded Dragon?
Though dragon bites happen by accident, you can reduce the chances of being bit by:
- Build a strong bond with your pet, so they are used to being handled.
- If you’re picking your pet from their enclosure, do it from one of the sides and make sure they see you as you approach.
- Never pick a tense pet but instead, wait until they are calm.
- If you’re moving your pet to a new habitat, give them time to adjust to the new surroundings before handling them.
- Be patient with new bearded dragons and use gentle, gradual techniques to bond with them.
- Keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure away from other pets if you have some around the house.
- Keep your pet’s enclosure where they can’t see their reflection from glass sides or block the reflection with an opaque material.
- Check for other hunger signs instead of waiting until your pet nibbles on you. Better still, ensure they always have food around, so they don’t go hungry.
- Pick your pet gently, and don’t hold it too tight, as it may trigger a defense reaction. You should also keep it away from young kids who may mishandle the dragon, causing it to bite.
Remember that bearded dragon bites are mostly harmless unless they are not treated. Even in such cases, your body will most likely heal itself, but hey! We are not taking any chances.
The good news is bearded dragons rarely bite, and even when they are scared, which is the major reason they bite, they will warn you by hissing or puffing up their heads before biting you.
So you see, you can almost always avoid bearded dragon bites by using the discussed techniques or reading the signs of an aggressive beardie. You will never have to deal with bearded dragon bites if you’re careful.