Do Bearded Dragons Smell: Causes of Smell of Bearded Dragons and How to Deal With It

Yes, bearded dragons smell. Bearded dragons, like any animal, can produce odors. However, with proper care and maintenance, bearded dragons should not have a strong or unpleasant odor. Bearded dragons’ most common odor source is their feces and urine. Regularly cleaning their enclosure and removing uneaten food or debris can help prevent odor buildup. 

While bearded dragons do not have a strong odor like some other animals, there are some situations where they can develop a smell. Poor hygiene is the primary reason a bearded dragon may start to smell. If their tank is not cleaned regularly, there can be a buildup of waste and bacteria, creating an unpleasant odor. Therefore, it is important to clean the tank frequently to prevent this from happening. 

Another reason that a bearded dragon may develop a smell is due to mouth rot or fungal infection. These conditions can cause bad breath or a musty odor that is not typical for a healthy bearded dragon. If you notice any signs of illness in your pet, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for treatment.

Causes of Smell of Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are known for being low-maintenance pets but require some basic care to keep them healthy and odor-free. Here are some common causes of bearded dragon smell:

  • Unclean enclosure: Bearded dragons can produce a lot of waste, and if their enclosure is not cleaned regularly, it can start to smell. Feces, urine, and leftover food can all contribute to a foul odor. It is recommended to spot-clean the enclosure daily and do a deep clean at least once a month.
  • Improper substrate: The substrate is the material that lines the bottom of the enclosure. Some substrates, like sand or wood chips, can hold onto moisture and bacteria, leading to a bad smell. A better option is a non-porous substrate like reptile carpet or paper towels that can be easily replaced and cleaned.
  • Mouth rot: Mouth rot is a bacterial infection that can cause bad breath and a foul odor. It is important to regularly check your bearded dragon’s mouth for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.
  • Fungal infection: Fungal infections can also cause a bad smell, especially if they are located on the bearded dragon’s skin. Symptoms of a fungal infection include crusty or discolored skin, according to Veterinary Partner.

By addressing these common causes of the bearded dragon smell, owners can ensure that their pets remain healthy and odor-free.

Tips to Prevent Bearded Dragons from Smelling

Proper Cleaning of the Enclosure

One of the most important things to do to prevent your bearded dragon from smelling is to keep its enclosure clean. This means spot cleaning for feces and uneaten food daily, disinfecting and cleaning once a week, and deep cleaning once a month. 

Removing uneaten food after 24 hours is also crucial, as rotting food can create an unpleasant smell. Maintaining a consistent humidity level and temperature in the enclosure is also important to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

When cleaning the enclosure, using safe and non-toxic cleaning products is important. Avoid using cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia, as these can harm your bearded dragon’s health. For example, a mixture of water and vinegar or a reptile-safe cleaner can be used instead.

Regular Bathing

Bathing your bearded dragon regularly can also help prevent them from smelling. However, based on experience, it is important not to over-bathe them, as this can strip their skin of natural oils and lead to dryness and irritation. Once a week or every two weeks is sufficient.

When bathing your bearded dragon, use lukewarm water and reptile-safe soap. Gently massage their skin with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove dirt or debris. Rinse thoroughly and dry them off with a soft towel or paper towel.

Proper Feeding

What you feed your bearded dragon can also affect its smell. Avoid feeding them too much protein, leading to excess urate and a strong odor. Instead, feed them a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, and insects.

When feeding your bearded dragon insects, it is best to feed them roaches instead of crickets, as roaches are less likely to hide, die, and decay in the enclosure. This can help prevent an unpleasant smell from developing.

Things to Do When Your Bearded Dragon Smells

Identify the Cause

The first step in addressing the issue of a smelly bearded dragon is to identify the cause. Various factors, such as a dirty enclosure, uneaten food, or an underlying health issue, can cause the smell. Observe your bearded dragon and look for any signs of illness or injury. Check the enclosure for any signs of dirt, feces, or uneaten food.

Clean the Enclosure

Once you have identified the cause of the smell, the next step is to clean the enclosure. Remove all uneaten food, feces, and other debris from the enclosure. Wipe down the surfaces with a reptile-safe disinfectant. Replace the substrate, and clean any accessories or toys in the enclosure. Ensure that the enclosure is well-ventilated and has adequate lighting and heating.


If the smell persists after cleaning the enclosure, it may be time to bathe your bearded dragon. Use lukewarm water and a reptile-safe shampoo for bathing your bearded dragon. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue that can cause skin irritation. Avoid bathing your bearded dragon too frequently, as it can strip its skin of natural oils and cause dryness.

Consulting with a Vet

If the smell persists even after cleaning and bathing, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. Consult with a reptile veterinarian to rule out any health problems. For example, a vet can perform a physical examination, run diagnostic tests, and prescribe necessary medication.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your bearded dragon remains healthy and odor-free.