You might think since bearded dragons come from arid, very dry climates that they would not need to bathe very often, but a regularly scheduled bath is quite beneficial for them. How do you bathe a bearded dragon? Read on to find out what you will need to bathe your bearded dragon, how to give them a bath as well as the benefits of regular bathing.
Bearded dragons need to be clean to help them remain healthy. A regular bath helps to remove bacteria, parasites, and fungus.
It is also inevitable that your bearded dragon will poop and then before you can clean it up, they trample through it getting feces stuck on their feet and tails. This has happened to me on several occasions.
- A clean place to bathe your bearded dragon such as a tub, utility sink, or plastic container or tote.
- A soft bristle brush. A toothbrush will work well here.
- Small cup or dropper for rinsing.
- A towel or two. One to dry your dragon, the second is optional to put at the bottom of the tub.
- Spray bottle with a solution of half water, half white vinegar.
- Optional items, a flat rock for your beardie to rest on, a float big enough to hold the body of your beardie.
Baths Are Beneficial
Bathing your bearded dragon on a regular basis is not only a good bonding exercise for your dragon, but it is great for their overall health. Baths obviously clean your dragon and keep them healthy by preventing excess microbial buildup, but it will also keep them hydrated.
Prevent Excess Bacteria, Fungus, and Parasites
If your dragon has a habit of walking in their feces before you can clean it up, bathing will help to remove any possible buildup of bacteria, fungus, and parasites. A gentle bath and soak will clean off the scales of your dragon keeping them healthy and clean.
Helps With Hydration
Most bearded dragons rarely, if ever drink much water on their own, even if fresh water is always left out for them. They tend to get most of their water intake from the food they eat. While in the bath though, their instinct is to drink some of the water, so bathing on a regular basis helps them with water intake and hydration.
It’s in a bearded dragon’s instinct to not drink much water, but most will regularly lap at the water in the bath when they are surrounded by it.
Where Can You Bathe Your Bearded Dragon?
Believe it or not, there are different options for where to bathe your beardie. A Utility sink, bathtub, or even a large plastic container will work just fine as a bathing vessel for your dragon.
If you are using a utility sink, or plastic tote/container, it is advised to wipe the surface down with a half and half solution of water and white vinegar before bathing to make sure the area is properly cleaned. After wiping out the container or sink, rinse it out with clean water before adding the water for the bath.
A kitchen sink isn’t advised because reptiles can carry salmonella, and beardies often poop in the water while they are relaxing and soaking. To further prevent any possible cross-contamination to food preparation surfaces, don’t use the kitchen sink as a bathing area for your beardies.
How to Bathe a Bearded Dragon
Whether you are a first-time beardie owner or are have done this before, there are some methods, tips, and tricks you should know when it comes to bathing your pet safely and correctly. Here are some of the things you should know:
Check the Water Temperature
Use a thermometer to check the water temperature. It’s not accurate to use the “feel” test. What is cool to you, might be too hot for a sensitive dragon. You want to make sure the water is between 85 and 100℉.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot regulate their body temperature. They are at the mercy of the environment around them, so between 85℉ and 100℉ is a safe, comfortable temperature.
Let Them Investigate
Once the water is at the right temperature, gently pick up your beardie while making sure you support the body and slowly lower the beardie into the water. Take your time introducing them to the water, especially if this is their first bath. They may get excited and try to run out at first, but if you take it slow, they should transition with relative ease.
Make sure it isn’t too high. You want to keep the water at or below the height of their front shoulders. He needs to be able to keep his head above the water comfortably. Bearded dragons can swim, but they should be able to rest in the water with their feet planted on the solid ground underneath them.
Now that your dragon is comfortable and relaxed, let her investigate the surroundings. She may lay there and relax, drink some water or walk around while inspecting the area.
If your dragon spreads out to make himself bigger, his beard grows black or he tries to frantically escape, keep your hands in the water and hold him for a little while until he grows more relaxed. If after a few minutes he still seems stressed out, put a rock big enough for him to climb on or a floating device big enough for his body to rest comfortably on.
If your dragon is still not having the relaxing bathing experience after putting a rock or floaty in the bath with him, you may have to resort to just misting him to get him clean. Most dragons will take to a regular bathing experience with little to no problem but if yours never calms down, just mist them on a regular basis instead.
Scrub a Dub
Now that your bearded dragon is relaxing in the warm water, and has gotten his fill of fresh hydration, it’s time to clean your pet. Using a soft bristle brush, like a soft bristle toothbrush, gently brush the dragon in the direction of the scales to clean him off.
Don’t scrub hard, a light touch is all that’s needed. You can scrub all the areas of your beardie except the eyes, nostrils, and cloaca. These areas are very sensitive, and you want to make sure you don’t get water into their nostrils as this can cause respiratory issues.
Once all the scales are glistening clean use a small cup, or dropper to rinse off your dragon. Again, avoid the head area to prevent water from getting into sensitive areas. Most reptiles can’t close off their nostrils which makes it easy for water to enter.
Don’t use any kind of detergents or soap. Even if the label states it is safe for animals, is organic, or all-natural, the only thing that should be in the bath is fresh, clean water. Your dragon will be drinking the bathwater and it’s best to keep it completely free of any kind of cleaners.
If you follow this guide and bathe your beardie regularly, a gentle brushing and clean water will get your dragon perfectly clean without the need for any cleaners or chemicals. Bathing your pet a few times a week with clean water is all you need to keep their skin clean and healthy.
Let Them Soak
While the water is still warm, and after you have gently scrubbed all their scales to sparkling brilliance let your little buddy soak in the water. Letting them soak in the water is beneficial because they can simply sit and relax. They may also continue to drink, or let the water run down to their mouth where he will lick it off if he is still thirsty.
If your bearded dragon is relaxed and calm, let him soak in the water for 10 to 15 minutes. This can help with shedding if they are in that process, or they may drink more while leisurely enjoying the soak. Always supervise your pet while in the water so they don’t accidentally drown or injure themselves.
Dry the Scales
Once your pet is nice and clean and has had a good soak, it’s time to dry him off. Gently pick up your beardie, place on a small, soft towel or paper towels if that is your preference, and wrap him up like a little chimichanga.
You want to make sure you get her dried off very well by gently dabbing with the towel all over. Don’t scrub your beardie with the towel as this could irritate the skin, simply use a dabbing motion to get all the surfaces dry.
Don’t Let Them Get Cold
Remember that reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. They are at the mercy of their environment and getting out of the warm water into the cool air, especially when wet, could chill your bearded dragon too much.
After you dry her off completely, you’ll want to set them back down in their enclosure, preferably under the basking lamp so they can remain or get warm again if needed.
Disinfect the Tub After the Bath
Once your pet is clean, dry, and back in its enclosure, be sure to clean the bathing surface. Often beardies will poop in the water during a bath. Using a solution of half water, half white vinegar, spray or douse a cloth with the solution and clean out the bathing surface. After the surfaces have been wiped well, rinse the area with clean water to remove any residue.
The vinegar will help to disinfect the surfaces without using harsh chemicals, and it’s safer for your pets.
Make sure you always supervise your beardie during bath time. Keeping a vigilant eye on your pet while in the water will avoid any undue accidents.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Bearded Dragons?
You should aim to bathe your bearded dragons on a regular basis. A good routine to strive for would be about 3 times a week. This way they stay clean, their skin remains healthy, and they can get better hydrated.
You’ll find that over time, your bearded dragon will generally start to enjoy this time if they didn’t at first
You can increase the number of times you bathe your bearded dragon to 5 or 6 times per week if he is in the process of shedding. When he is not shedding, 3 to 4 baths a week will be plenty.
Toys in the Bath?
During the bath, you can introduce toys or objects into the water for extra comfort measures. A non-slip pad or towel placed at the bottom of the bath area will help with grip if your dragon wants to move around.
Add a rock for her to rest on. You can put a clean rock in the bath that she can climb on if she wants to get out of the water for a moment. While she is resting above the water, use a small cup to soak her down and then scrub her scales.
Some bearded dragons will take to small floats. You can find cheap blow-up floats for your dragon to rest on if you so desire. Just make sure it’s big enough to hold your dragon’s body length.
Check out this beardie enjoying a bath with toys:
Other Benefits to Bathing
Along with keeping your pet happy and healthy, bathing is a good time for bonding with him. The extra handling, the gentle cleansing and the relaxing atmosphere is great shared time with your pet.
Bathing helps with constipation as well. A lot of times, the warm water and extra drinking will alleviate mild constipation if that is a problem with your dragon.
If your dragon is in the process of shedding, extra baths and time for soaking will help that process along and alleviate some of the irritation associated with shedding. Remember to never pull at loose skin as this can cause tears or rips to the new scales underneath and introduce bacteria which leads to infection. Soaking and the soft bristle brush is all that is needed during shedding to help the process along.
Check out this cute, interesting video about how to bathe your bearded dragon Big Al’s way:
If Bathing is Just Not Happening for Your Beardie
If your bearded dragon is still afraid or stressed no matter what you do to calm him, then a bath may not be the best thing for your pet. If he constantly tries to climb out of the sides, has a black beard or is generally stressed and does not relax during the entire process, he may be one of the few that will never enjoy a bath. Don’t worry though you can still keep your pet clean without a bath.
While in the enclosure, use warm, clean water to mist your dragon a few times a week. After misting, you can still use a soft bristle brush to clean off your dragon, mist him again, then dry him off very well.
Once this is finished, wipe off any excess water droplets off the cage or items in the enclosure to keep the humidity lower. That’s it, now your dragon can be cleaned without the bath.
By following the above simple steps, you can easily bathe your bearded dragons. This time can be a great bonding experience for you and your pet.
Remember to try and stick to a routine as much as possible, let them explore, keep the water warm, and if they still seem to be stressed out during the bath there are other options listed to keep your little scaly buddy clean.