Original Image: By Ltshears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Bearded Dragon Shedding Process
You may be wondering what’s happening if you see your Bearded Dragon one day looking a dull grayish/white. He may be cranky, listless, or not eating. Don’t worry, it’s the bearded dragon shedding process taking place. It’s also known as ‘molting’ and all reptiles go through it.
We might be cranky too if our skin was sloughing off. It’s not a vanity thing, but I imagine it might be itchy? I don’t know. My dragon, Shirley, won’t share her experience with me in so many words, but she does seem to go through something less-than-pleasant during her shedding days.
Shirley tries to rub her loose skin off by scratching, rubbing against the log or rock in her tank, or on furniture or carpet.
How often does the bearded dragon shedding process occur?
Young lizards shed more often than older ones because they have a faster growth rate, so where a juvenile might shed every 3-4 weeks, up until they’re a year old, an adult might only shed once, maybe twice a year.
Dragons usually don’t shed their skin all at once either, not like a snake would. Shirley’s last bout was just her head and thighs. At the moment, she’s shedding under her chin and belly. The bearded dragon shedding process can happen over several days, to several weeks, stretching the whole darn thing over a few months.
Once your dragon has finished shedding, you’ll notice the skin has brighter and more vibrant colors. My Shirley comes out of a shed with the most beautiful orange/pink skin. It’s an unusual color, I think. This is a new skin, as she has outgrown the old.
Aside from shedding representing growth spurts, especially in older dragons, it may also be brought on by certain conditions of diet and nutrition, habitat, health, breeding, brumation, stress, seasonal, temperature & humidity. There are a lot of great books to read about taking care of Bearded Dragons.
What can I do to help?
Well, I always want to help her out and speed up this miserable process by peeling off her old skin for her. You know, like people do with sunburned skin that’s sloughing off. Resist the temptation, though. You can damage the new skin if it’s peeled off too early. If the dragon is not ready to shed, and you peel off loose skin, the skin underneath will be damp. That’s not a good thing. This leaves it open to bacteria and mites if there are any around.
The biggest concern with peeling off the skin before it’s ready to come off naturally is damaging the skin underneath, which can lead to infection and problems with shedding the next time.
Let dragon nature take its own course.
You could, however, help by misting your dragon every couple of days with a spray bottle of water. High humidity can easily cause respiratory infections in dragons, so use the misting method with caution.
The safest way is to give it a really good soaking in a tub of warm water (no soap, please) — maybe 10-15 minutes or so– not too hot! Make the water deep enough that they can swim in it, but shallow enough that they can stand in it.
Monitor your dragon at all times. Don’t leave it there by itself! Dry him off completely before putting him back in his cage. We don’t want bacteria growth due to moisture.
Some dragons love the water and can’t wait to get in. Shirley, on the other hand, doesn’t like her baths at all and tries to get out right away. To each their own! While I have her in there, though, I use an old toothbrush to ‘comb’ her. She seems to like that — maybe it feels like a massage or that I’m petting her. What it does is it helps to soften the old, loose skin and help the speed up the process.
What if the old skin hasn’t shed? (aka Improper Shedding)
Sometimes it can happen that old skin isn’t shedding, especially on the tail, toes, nails, and spikes. This happens more often in juveniles. That old skin can restrict blood flow to the extremities as it shrinks and dries, making them susceptible to necrosis of the tissue. This can potentially cause tail rot, ending up in the loss of a toe or end of a tail.
First, check to make sure the temperature and humidity in your tank are correct. Is there a good UVB source? Is your dragon getting the proper nutrition?
If your dragon loves the water, provide a shallow dish of water they can soak in at their own discretion. (They’ll probably poop in it too, so change the water every day or whenever necessary.) Water is the best way to help in the shedding process.
Video Source: Pogopogona.com
A QUESTION FOR YOU:
Has your Bearded Dragon gone through a shed?
***Leave your comment below. ***