When Bearded Dragons Shed: Signs of Shedding and What to Do to Help Your Bearded Dragon During This Stage
Bearded dragons shed their skin periodically throughout their lives as they grow. Shedding frequency can vary depending on age, diet, and environment. Juvenile bearded dragons shed more frequently than adult bearded dragons, shedding every 6-8 weeks. Depending on the individual, adult bearded dragons may shed around once every couple of months.
During shedding, the bearded dragon’s skin may appear dull and grayish, and they may become less active and eat less. This is a normal part of the shedding process and should not cause concern.
It is important to provide your bearded dragon with a healthy diet, adequate hydration, and a proper habitat to support healthy shedding. If you notice any issues or abnormalities during shedding, such as difficulty shedding or retained shed, it is best to consult a veterinarian experienced with reptiles.
Signs of Shedding in Bearded Dragons
Dull, Grayish Appearance
During shedding, one of the most noticeable signs in bearded dragons is a dull, grayish appearance of the skin. This is because the top layer of skin is starting to loosen and separate from the underlying layer, and as a result, the skin may look dry, dull, and lack its usual vibrant colors.
This dull, grayish appearance can be seen all over the bearded dragon’s body and may be more noticeable in areas such as the head, back, and tail. The skin may also appear slightly wrinkled or crinkled in areas where the old skin is starting to loosen.
This appearance of the skin can be a sign that your bearded dragon is about to shed, or it may indicate that the shedding process has already begun. However, bearded dragons may appear more sedentary or less active during this time as their skin is sensitive and uncomfortable.
During shedding, the skin around the bearded dragon’s eyes may become dry and flaky, which can cause the eyes to appear cloudy or milky. Cloudy eyes can also be caused by a buildup of fluids in the eye, which can occur as the bearded dragon’s body prepares to shed the skin around the eyes. This buildup of fluid can cause the eyes to look swollen and puffy and make it difficult for the bearded dragon to see clearly.
In addition to cloudy eyes, you may also notice that your bearded dragon is rubbing or scratching its eyes more than usual during shedding. The dry, flaky skin around the eyes can be irritating and uncomfortable. The bearded dragon may try to alleviate this discomfort by rubbing its eyes against objects in its enclosure.
If you notice any signs of retained shed around the eyes, such as a buildup of skin or discharge, it’s important to seek veterinary care, as this can lead to potential health issues.
Bearded dragons may become less active during shedding due to discomfort caused by dry, itchy, and tight skin. This discomfort can be exacerbated by movement, making the bearded dragon less willing to move around, explore its enclosure, or engage in typical activities such as basking, hunting, or playing.
Your bearded dragon may also spend more time resting or hiding during shedding because it may feel vulnerable or exposed to its skin in a weakened state. For example, in the wild, a shedding bearded dragon might retreat to a safe location to wait out the shedding process, so it’s important to provide a comfortable hiding spot in the enclosure for your pet.
Once the shedding process is completed, your bearded dragon’s activity level should return to normal. If you notice any abnormalities or persistent changes in activity levels, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
During shedding, the bearded dragon’s skin may become dry, tight, and itchy, making the animal feel uncomfortable and less interested in eating. Additionally, the shedding process requires a lot of energy and nutrients from the bearded dragon’s body, which can temporarily suppress its appetite. This is a normal response to shedding, and appetite should return to normal once the shedding process is complete.
In some cases, reduced appetite during shedding may also be due to dehydration, as bearded dragons require more water during the shedding process to help soften and loosen the old skin. If your bearded dragon is not drinking enough water, it may become dehydrated, which can further suppress its appetite.
Suppose your bearded dragon’s reduced appetite persists for over a few days, or you notice any other signs of illness or abnormal behavior. In that case, it’s important to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.
What to Do When Your Bearded Dragon Sheds
When your bearded dragon is shedding, there are several things you can do to help ensure a smooth and comfortable shedding process.
Provide a Humid Hide
During shedding, the old skin can become dry and tight, which can be uncomfortable and even painful for the bearded dragon. A humid hide can help to alleviate this discomfort by providing a moist environment that can soften and loosen the old skin, making shedding easier and less stressful for the bearded dragon.
A humid hide can be created by placing a small container filled with damp sphagnum moss or paper towels in the bearded dragon’s enclosure. The container should be large enough for the bearded dragon to fit inside comfortably but small enough to retain moisture.
The humidity levels in the humid hide should be monitored and adjusted to ensure the environment remains moist but not too wet, which can lead to bacterial or fungal growth.
Providing a humid hide during shedding can also help to prevent retained shed, which occurs when areas of old skin do not come off completely and can lead to potential health issues. The humid hide can help to ensure that all areas of the bearded dragon’s skin are shed properly and reduce the risk of the retained shed.
Ensure Adequate Hydration
Adequate hydration is important for a bearded dragon when shedding because it helps keep the skin moisturized and supple, making shedding easier and less stressful for the bearded dragon. By keeping the skin hydrated, the old skin can become more pliable, making it easier to shed.
Inadequate hydration during shedding can lead to retained shed, which occurs when areas of old skin do not come off completely and can lead to potential health issues. Additionally, dehydration can cause other health issues for bearded dragons, such as kidney problems and impaction.
To ensure adequate hydration during shedding, it’s important to provide fresh water to the bearded dragon daily and monitor its water intake. However, bearded dragons can also benefit from regular misting or soaking in water to help keep their skin hydrated.
It’s important to note that some bearded dragons may resist drinking from a water bowl and require other hydration methods, such as soaking or misting. If you are concerned about your bearded dragon’s hydration levels, seeking veterinary care is important.
Avoiding handling is important for a bearded dragon when shedding because the old skin can be sensitive and uncomfortable, and handling can cause further irritation and potential damage. Handling can cause the old skin to rub against surfaces, which can cause further irritation and potentially damage the new, sensitive skin underneath.
Also, handling during shedding can stress the bearded dragon, further impacting its health and well-being. Stress can suppress the immune system and make the bearded dragon susceptible to illness or disease.
It’s important to note that some bearded dragons may be more tolerant of handling during shedding than others. However, it’s still important to be cautious and avoid handling it to minimize stress and potential skin damage.