Bearded Dragon Tail Toe Nips Prevention Care

Bearded Dragon Tail & Toe Nips – Prevention & Care

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?

Bearded Dragon Tail Nip Tail Rot
our bearded dragon, Xena, when we were still treating her tail nip wound (she arrived with it).

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?

Bearded Dragon Toe Nip Zeus Zero
toe nip on our male bearded dragon, zeus.

There are a few common causes of tail and toe nips:

Hungry Baby Bearded Dragons

Baby bearded dragons will often attempt to eat most objects that move and will fit in their mouth. The biting can get worse if the dragons aren’t well-fed and space in their enclosure is limited. This is a reason that it’s not recommended to house multiple baby bearded dragons in the same enclosure.

A Territorial Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons are very territorial, and there is often competition for basking spots and food when you house more than one in an enclosure (not recommended). A bearded dragon might show it’s dominance by biting smaller bearded dragons, which could result in toe or tail nip.

Breeding Season

Male bearded dragons will sometimes bite females during breeding.

Cut or Crushed By Heavy Objects

Nip can result from any heavy object that crushes, cuts, or fractures a bearded dragon’s tail and causes a reduction or complete lack of blood flow in a section of the tail. This is a reason to be very careful if you’re moving around accessories in a bearded dragon’s enclosure while the bearded dragon is still inside of it.

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

Bearded Dragon Wound Care Neosporin Betadine
What we used to treat toe and tail nip on our bearded dragons.


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

Bearded Dragon Tail Nip
Xena's healed tail nip.

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:

The wound should become less prominent with each shed cycle.

Common Treatment Questions

Is Betadine Healthy For My Bearded Dragon?

Betadine is safe to use on bearded dragons as long as it’s used in a diluted form. At full strength, betadine can corrode a bearded dragon’s scales. Diluted Betadine is widely used by veterinarians to clean wounds before and after surgeries.

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.


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

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