Do Bearded Dragons Carry Salmonella: Symptoms and Prevention of Salmonella in Bearded Dragons

Yes, bearded dragons may carry Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bearded dragons can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings, even if they appear healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, and anything where they live. Humans can become infected with Salmonella by touching their bearded dragon and then touching their mouth or face.

While not all bearded dragons carry Salmonella, owners need to take precautions to prevent the spread of germs. This includes washing hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the reptile or cleaning its habitat, avoiding contact with the animal’s droppings, and keeping the habitat clean and sanitized. In addition, owners can enjoy their bearded dragon’s company by taking these steps while protecting themselves from potential illness.

Ways How Bearded Dragons Get Salmonella

Bearded dragons can get Salmonella from various sources, including contaminated food, water, and surfaces. They can also get Salmonella from other reptiles or animals or from being handled by humans in contact with contaminated materials.

Bearded dragons can carry Salmonella in their intestinal tract without showing any signs of illness. However, they can still shed the bacteria in their feces and other bodily fluids, potentially infecting humans and other animals.

It’s important always to practice good hygiene when handling or caring for bearded dragons and to follow proper sanitation protocols to reduce the risk of Salmonella contamination. This includes washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling bearded dragons, their equipment, or their waste, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting the enclosure and any equipment used to care for the bearded dragon. 

Additionally, it’s important to feed bearded dragons a balanced and nutritious diet and to keep them away from other potentially infected reptiles or animals.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Bearded dragons, like many reptiles, can carry Salmonella bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract without showing any symptoms. However, they can still transmit the bacteria to humans through contact with feces, saliva, or other bodily fluids. Therefore, it’s important always to practice good hygiene when handling or caring for bearded dragons to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella or other bacterial infections.

Symptoms of Salmonella in humans can include:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Salmonella infection can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever.
  • Dehydration: Severe diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration, particularly in young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Septicemia: In rare cases, Salmonella infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause septicemia, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Reactive arthritis: Some people may develop reactive arthritis after a Salmonella infection, which is a condition that can cause joint pain and inflammation.
  • Death: Salmonella infection can lead to death in severe cases, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of Salmonella in bearded dragons may include:

  • Diarrhea: Bearded dragons infected with Salmonella may experience diarrhea, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Lethargy: Bearded dragons may become lethargic and lose their appetite due to Salmonella infection.
  • Weight loss: If the bearded dragon’s appetite is affected, it may lose weight and become weak.
  • Septicemia: Salmonella infection can lead to a serious condition called septicemia, a systemic bacterial infection that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of septicemia may include lethargy, weakness, difficulty breathing, and a lack of appetite.
  • Death: In severe cases, Salmonella infection in bearded dragons can lead to death, particularly if left untreated or if the dragon has a weakened immune system.

If you suspect that your bearded dragon may be infected with Salmonella or if you develop any symptoms of Salmonella after handling or caring for your bearded dragon, it’s important to seek medical attention and inform your healthcare provider of your exposure to reptiles. Additionally, you should contact your veterinarian for advice on caring for your bearded dragon and reducing the risk of transmission to other animals or humans.

Prevention of Salmonella

Preventing Salmonella in bearded dragons and humans requires practicing good hygiene and preventative measures. For bearded dragons, prevention measures include:

  • Proper sanitation: Keep the enclosure clean and free from waste. Regularly clean and disinfect food and water bowls and any equipment used in the enclosure.
  • Proper diet: Feed your bearded dragon a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain health and reduce the risk of Salmonella infection.
  • Quarantine new reptiles: When introducing a new bearded dragon to your collection, quarantine them for a few weeks before introducing them to other bearded dragons. This will help prevent the spread of any potential infections.
  • Regular checkups: Take your bearded dragon to a veterinarian experienced in reptile care for regular checkups to monitor their health and detect any issues early on.

For humans, prevention measures include:

  • Proper hygiene: Every time I hold a bearded dragon, I always wash my hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling bearded dragons, their equipment, or their waste.
  • Minimize contact: Avoid kissing, hugging, or holding bearded dragons close to your face, and keep them away from young children and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Safe food handling: Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils, and dishes for preparing bearded dragon food and human food.
  • Education: Learn about the risks of Salmonella and how to prevent it from spreading, especially if you have young children or people with weakened immune systems in your household.