Your beardie will shed its skin many times over the course of its life. This naturally occurring process may seem straightforward enough, but there are numerous important details that you should be familiar with.
I’ve gone ahead and narrowed this list down to the most important data points to remember about the bearded dragon shedding process.
If this is a topic you’ve never researched before, have no fear! You’ll be a beardie shedding expert by the end of the article.
Important Facts to Keep in Mind
Here are a few things you should keep in mind about the bearded dragon shedding process:
The Shedding Process Is Not Constant
Perhaps the most important distinction to make between the shedding of a baby and adult bearded dragon is the frequency with which it occurs.
Younger dragons will shed far more often than adults: once or twice per month.
Shedding will continue at this pace until the dragon is fully grown, sometime between 8 and 18 months. Once they’ve reached maturity, you can expect your beardie to shed every few months on average.
The Shedding Schedule Is Not Precise
The higher frequency of shedding experienced by younger bearded dragons lends itself to a relatively predictable shedding pattern. However, adult beardies are liable to shed much less predictably.
Your pet may shed after one month on one occasion and take two or three months before its next shedding. This is completely normal!
It may become worrisome if a significant amount of time has past since your dragon last shed but rest assured this is no reason for concern.
Adults Shed Differently
Mature bearded dragons will shed differently than juveniles because their bodies are no longer growing, thus causing the “coverage” of the shedding to become less uniform.
Many adult beardies will shed in patches—one leg, then another, then their tail, and so on.
Adults will experience complete sheds from time to time, but you should expect patch shedding to be the standard.
Shedding Can Take Time
Another variable in the shedding process is the length of time it takes a specific reptile to complete a shed.
Some bearded dragon’s may shed in only a few days while others take weeks.
It should also be noted that it will take your beardie varying periods of time to complete shedding between occurrences.
A bearded dragon that has not completed shedding after three weeks is cause for concern. This could mean that the shed is stuck.
If you hadn’t been using shedding aids already the three-week mark is the time to try. If the process takes longer than three weeks with the use of shedding aids, skip straight to consulting a vet.
How to Make the Bearded Dragon Shedding Cycle Easier
Here are information about making the shedding process a little easier for your bearded dragon:
One of the best ways to help a bearded dragon complete the shedding process is to increase the frequency that you’re misting them.
You should already be misting your beardie several times per day as part of their routine care. Try doubling the frequency of misting once the shedding process begins.
The extra moisture will help the skin peel away more easily and has the added benefit of keeping your pet extra hydrated!
We always recommend misting your bearded dragon with purified water as tap water may contain chlorine or trace metals.
Baths can achieve a more efficient result than misting because of the additional softening of the skin provided by soaking.
Draw a shallow bath in your sink or a small plastic bin and let your beardie splash around. If bathing in a sink, do not leave the faucet running as you risk forcing skin away that was not ready to peel.
A “spa day” like this is a fantastic way to help your beardie shed. They will undoubtedly enjoy the bath, too!
Use a Shedding Helper
A variety of products are available to aid your bearded dragon’s shedding.
Zoo Med Repti Shedding Aid is a very popular choice among reptile owners of all kinds. It encourages the dead, shedding skin to fall away while simultaneously conditioning the newly developed layer of skin beneath it.
A few spritzes can do your beardie a load of good!
Another option is Zilla Shed-Ease Reptile Bath.
- Using Shed-Ease results in the old skin easily sliding off of the reptile
- 20 minute soak is like a spa treatment for reptiles
- Also ideal for animals suffering from poor health or diet stress or lack of humidity
This shedding aid is designed for use while bathing. It will provide largely the same shed-enhancing and conditioning effects as the ZooMed Repti Shedding Aid once added to your pet’s bathwater. The downside is that it cannot be directly applied.
In either case, implementing a shedding aid into your beardie’s care routine can make the process significantly easier.
Important: Never Force Shedding!
The absolute most important rule of caring for your bearded dragon while they’re shedding is to avoid peeling any skin off at all costs.
Accidents can obviously happen, but the utmost caution should be used when handling your beardie during shedding to minimize the possibility of one occurring.
You’ve likely been peeling away dead skin from somewhere on your body and been interrupted by a sudden, sharp pain, potentially followed by bleeding.
That skin wasn’t fully ready to fall away, and the same is true for the skin your beardie is shedding. Peeling the skin exposes the dragon to possible injury and infection.
Changes You May Notice in Your Bearded Dragon
If you’re anything like me, you will probably get nervous when you see your bearded dragon shedding for the first time.
Here are a few things that you may notice about your bearded dragon:
Your Bearded Dragon May Not Seem Hungry
One of the telltale signs that shedding is approaching is a sudden loss of appetite with no apparent changes in the bearded dragon’s health. Some beardies may stop eating completely.
This can be alarming for many pet owners—understandably so. Still, this change in appetite is entirely normal.
Continue routine feedings and keep a watchful eye on your beardie. Loss of appetite in these situations is never a cause for concern unless, rather than shedding beginning, other symptoms begin to crop up.
Related Reading: Bearded Dragon Diet Guide
Your Bearded Dragon May Seem Tired
The shedding process is physically taxing on a bearded dragon. You may notice decreasing energy levels in your pet both leading up to and during a shed.
This can compound the concern caused by the lack of appetite when the changes appear together.
Do your best to stay calm and only seek medical attention for your beardie if symptoms persist despite a shed never beginning.
Some bearded dragons may also become highly irritable which can lead to aggressive outbursts. If your beardie falls into this category, give them space and let them rest.
Their temperament will return to normal once the shedding has concluded
Your Bearded Dragon Might Look Different
A bearded dragon’s appearance can change even before the shedding has visibly begun.
Their skin may become noticeably less vibrant, mimicking the signs of a manifesting illness. Don’t panic! The dulling of their skin will increase gradually until breaks form and the shedding begins.
Your beardie might also begin to intentionally bulge their eyes as far out of the socket as they can. This is obviously quite unpleasant to witness, but it is normal behavior nonetheless.
Bearded dragons do this to facilitate the shedding process around their eyes.
Here are some of the most common concerns owners have when it comes to shedding:
My Bearded Dragon Is Eating Its Skin…Is That Normal?
Once shedding is underway, you may notice your bearded dragon munching on bits of skin that have flaked off. There is nothing inherently harmful about this behavior.
Regardless, best practices suggest that you should prevent your beardie from eating the shed as it can become contaminated by bacteria.
One theory about the cause of this behavior is that eating the shed is the bearded dragon attempting to make up for a calcium deficiency.
You can ignore this altogether if you’ve been properly supplementing your bearded dragon’s diet, but if you’ve been lax on their nutrient intake it may indicate that a real problem exists.
What Can Go Wrong?
The ultimate concern during the shedding process is some of the shed becoming stuck.
It is also possible for a bearded dragon to not shed at all. This incomplete shed or lack of shedding altogether is known as dysecdysis.
Both situations pose a very real health hazard for your beardie, with the primary danger coming from restricted blood flow to the area where the shed has not been completed. Afflicted dragons risk limb loss and, in more serious (and untreated) cases, death.
Shedding aids like those mentioned earlier are excellent for treating dysecdysis, especially bathing solutions.
Problem areas should respond well to a very gentle rubbing after soaking is complete.
However, this is not a guaranteed fix and medical attention should be sought for your beardie if home treatment is unsuccessful.
Is There a Right or Wrong Way to Help My Bearded Dragon Shed? Can I Let Shedding Occur Naturally?
In short, there is no one way that you should approach caring for your beardie while they shed. All the advice listed in this article—extra misting, bathing, etc—is not an exact science.
These recommendations are strongly encouraged but choosing to let shedding occur naturally is equally valid.
In fact, a significant number of beardie owners elect to not interfere with the process in any way.
Of course, if your bearded dragon is having difficulty shedding you will have to step in, either by assisting the shedding directly or consulting with a veterinarian.
The only other finite rule would be the piece about not pulling on any of the flaking skin.
Otherwise, test a few of the methods above and find out what works best for your beardie—every reptile is unique!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the bearded dragon shedding process:
My beardie has become lethargic/lost their appetite/has a dulling complexion—how long should I wait for a shed to begin before considering the presence of a health issue?
- The answer to this is complicated primarily because no two bearded dragons are the same. If some or all of these symptoms are present for several days with no shedding, you shouldn’t worry. However, if the absence of the shed stretches towards the end of roughly two weeks, it may be time to consider a vet visit. As always, skip straight to seeking medical attention if something seems immediately wrong regardless of the time frame.
I’ve heard some negative things about shedding aids. Are they truly safe to use?
- Yes, they are. As with anything else, use the products only as directed. Constantly and excessively saturating your beardie’s skin in a shedding aid solution is a recipe for disaster. Also, buy from reputable brands with a positive customer satisfaction track record. Exercising common sense when approaching these issues should prevent any harm from coming to your pet.
My Bearded Dragon enclosure is full of rough surfaces. I know I’m not supposed to pull on the shed—should I remove abrasives from the enclosure? Could my pet injure itself?
- No, you don’t have to worry about the rough surfaces the beardie can access in their enclosure. Rubbing against rocks and branches is normal behavior aimed at expediting the shedding. Could a bearded dragon accidentally catch skin that wasn’t ready to fall off? Sure, but such an occurrence would be extremely rare. They are the real shedding experts after all—trust their judgement and try not to worry.
My beardie doesn’t seem to eat his shed, but I’m still concerned about how frequently I should remove the dead skin from the enclosure.
- If eating shed isn’t a behavior your Bearded Dragon already displays it is unlikely to develop unless they experience a major dietary change to the point of nutrient deficiency. Still, a good rule of thumb is to pick the pieces out of the enclosure every other day. This isn’t a necessary practice, but it can provide you with peace of mind.
- Juvenile bearded dragons will shed much more frequently than adults—once or twice per month. During adulthood shedding can occur as infrequently as every three months. Adults will also commonly shed in patches.
- Shedding does not happen immediately once the process begins. Expect the shed to happen over a period ranging between several days and three weeks. Sheds that take longer than three weeks are cause for concern.
- Shedding aids are great ways to help the process along and keep your beardie healthy.
- Do not peel the skin!
- Behavioral changes, such as a decreased appetite or sudden lethargy, are perfectly normal.
So, there you have it: all things bearded dragon shedding. To repeat myself one final time, don’t worry!
Your little guy or gal will likely be perfectly adept at shedding on their own, free of any serious complications.
No matter the reality of your beardie’s shedding routine, you’re now equipped with the knowledge required to help them through any trouble spots. Thank you sincerely for stopping by, and best of luck!
Last update on 2021-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API