Bearded Dragon Tail & Toe Nips - Prevention & Care
After adopting two juvenile bearded dragons, one with with tail nip and the other with toe nip, we were at a loss for how to care for their injuries. There were a few tricks to ensuring that their nips healed well. So, I decided to write a blog post on what bearded dragon nips are, how they are caused, and how to care for them.
A bearded dragon tail or toe nip is the nub of a bearded dragon’s toe or tail where a section of or the whole tail or toe is missing due to a wound. This is usually due to trauma such as an attack from another bearded dragon or having a heavy object crush and disconnect all or a portion of the tail or toe.
Many new bearded dragon owners might not understand how serious a nip can be if left untreated. Also, on the flip side, many might unfairly overlook a great new pet just because of an injury that can be cheaply treated.
Let’s look at what this all means and what you can do about it.
Does My Bearded Dragon Have Tail / Toe Nip?
You can easily spot tail and toe nip as they are just incomplete or missing tails or toes on your bearded dragon. If the nip wound has not completely healed, then it will usually show as a black, dark grey, or even white section at the very end of the tail or toe nub.
Is It Natural For A Bearded Dragon’s Tail To Fall Or Drop Off?
A bearded dragon’s tail doesn’t naturally drop or fall off. This breakage typically occurs because the tail doesn’t feature a fracture plane, or a section of the tail where the muscles will naturally pull apart from each other when the tail is stressed. Because of this lack of muscle flexibility, pulling apart of the muscles results in the tail falling off or “dropping” in a process called autotomy.
What Causes A Tail / Toe Nip?
There are a few common causes of tail and toe nips:
Hungry Baby Bearded Dragons
A Territorial Bearded Dragon
Cut or Crushed By Heavy Objects
Improperly Shed Skin (Dysecdysis)
Sometimes, bearded dragons can have difficulty shedding their skin, called dysecdysis. When this happens on the tail or toe, then there can be a reduction in the blood flow to that section of their body. This loss of blood can cause a portion or all of the tail or toe to fall off. If not closely monitored, this could develop into tail rot which travels up a bearded dragon’s body.
How to Treat Tail / Toe Nip
What is Needed
Tail and toe nip can usually be treated by daily soaks in a mix of betadine solution and water.
Perform the following steps for 5-7 days:
Nip After Care
Ensure that the bearded dragon’s enclosure is completely clean so that the wound doesn’t get infected.
Remove any loose or soiled substrate such as food, waste items, and even sitting water because these can breed fungus and bacteria which can make it onto the dragon’s tail or toe nip as it moves around the enclosure.
Check to ensure that the nip stays completely clean. If it is not clean, then clean with the 25% Betadine / 75% Water mixture, dry, and coat with un-medicated neosporin.
If the nip wound appears not to be improving after a week, or your bearded dragon displays the following symptoms, then please contact a reptile vet immediately:
Common Treatment Questions
Is Betadine Healthy For My Bearded Dragon?
Why Can’t I Use Medicated Neosporin For My Bearded Dragon?
Although un-medicated neosporin has many benefits, the painkilling agents in the medicated version of neosporin are toxic to bearded dragons. Always use unmedicated neosporin when working with bearded dragons.
Long-Term Health Impact
Unlike many other lizards, a bearded dragon’s tail does not grow back. Their toes also do not grow back. That said, missing a small portion of the tail or a toe should not have a large impact on your bearded dragon’s mobility. It also doesn’t affect the genetics or long term health of your bearded dragon. In addition to that, breeders will often offer a lower price for the bearded dragon due to the injury. This can result in you finding a great pet at a nice price.
THANKS FOR READING!
I hope that this post helps any new bearded dragon owners out there who are having trouble caring for their new pet.
Now, I want to hear about your own experience with your bearded dragon’s tail or toe injuries.
Have you dealt with a bearded dragon with toe or tail nip?
Did you use something other than Betadine and Un-medicated Neosporin to heal it?
Leave a comment below to share your experience.
Further Reading & Sources
First Aid For Reptiles – Melissa Kaplan’s
Herp Care Collection
Emergency Care of Reptiles – Thomas H.BoyerDVM, From The Pet Hospital of Penasquitos, San Diego, California