How to Bathe A Bearded Dragon
Most of us are used to taking daily baths or showers to stay fresh. So, of course we would wonder if this same logic applies to our pet bearded dragons. I thought that this would make for a fun hands-on weekend research and testing assignment for my kids. I’ve summarized our findings on bathing bearded dragons in this post. Hopefully, you will enjoy trying out this activity of giving your pet bearded dragon a bath as well.
You can bathe a bearded dragon by placing it in a basin which is filled with clean water that reaches up to your bearded dragon’s elbows or half of its stomach. The water temperature should be between 85 – 95° F. Place an object in the middle of the basin that your dragon can climb onto if needed. Place the bearded dragon into the basin and let it relax for 15-30 minutes. Remove any animal waste as soon as possible. You can pour water over its back and tail, but avoid the head as water could get into its airway. Dry off the bearded dragon after bathing it and place it in its basking spot so that it can continue to dry off.
Bathing a bearded dragon is pretty simple, but there are a few extra details that you might have questions about. In this post, we’ll be going over:
Why Bathe Bearded Dragons?
There are a few awesome benefits to bathing your bearded dragon. These include:
Bearded dragons will sometimes ignore water dishes that are left in their enclosures. Also, their food might not contain the right amount of water to keep them hydrated. So, baths can play a vital role in stopping your bearded dragon from becoming dehydrated.
Just like humans, bearded dragons can have issues with eliminating food if they are dehydrated. Providing baths can give them the hydration that they need to get rid of their food waste (poop) and prevent blockages.
Adding moisture to a bearded dragon’s skin can help loosen up the old skin so that it falls off more easily. This is especially helpful when a bearded dragon has old skin/shed that won’t fall off on its own, as old shed can lead to a build-up of bacteria or a reduced blood flow.
Giving a bearded dragon a bath allows you to clean off the dirt and bacteria that has collected on its feet and other body parts.
Do Bearded Dragons Need Baths?
Bearded dragons don’t require baths by default. Wild bearded dragons usually get their hydration from their food sources. Various plants will have dew and internal moisture. Different insects can also provide a bit of moisture.
Unfortunately, captive bearded dragons don’t have access to those food sources without your help. As an owner, providing a wide variety of food for your dragon that has the right mix of moisture and nutrients AND that they will actually eat can be tough.
Baths can be a great way for you to ensure that your bearded dragon has access to the water that it needs to stay healthy.
Can Bearded Dragons Bathe Themselves?
Bearded dragons don’t really bathe themselves. They will sometimes swim around, often to remove old skin or just to enjoy the water.
It’s up to you to make sure that dirty areas on their back, tail, or legs are clean. You never want to leave a bearded dragon alone while it’s bathing as it could drown.
Bathing Your Bearded Dragon
What You Need
You can bathe your bearded dragon with the following materials:
Preparing the Bearded Dragon Bathtub (Sink / Container / Bowl)
1. Decide on the bearded dragon bathtub
You will first want to decide on what object you want to use as a bathtub for your bearded dragon. Keep in mind that a bearded dragon’s poop can contain salmonella, and they often poop while in their bath. Some people use their family sink or shower, but we personally don’t bathe the bearded dragon in the same vessels that we use to clean ourselves due to the Salmonella issue.
We use a small, clear container as our bearded dragon’s bathtub. We use these types of containers for our adult AND baby bearded dragons. Our “bathtub”/container is small enough to fit into our bearded dragon’s enclosure so that they can be in a familiar and warm environment while bathing.
We do check to ensure that the humidity doesn’t get to a dangerous level while the bathtub is in the enclosure. We will also take the container outside on warm and sunny days so that our bearded dragon can bask under the real sun.
2. Add Water
Fill the bathtub up to the level that your bearded dragon’s upper arm joints (shoulders) would be. This is to ensure that they don’t drown. You can fill the bathtub up to the lower arm joints (elbows) of baby bearded dragons.
Ensure that the room that you will be bathing the bearded dragon in is warm. Use warm water that is around 85 – 95° F. If the water is too cold, then the bearded dragon could get sick. If it is too hot, then they could get burned.
We use warmed up bottled water. Faucet water can sometimes be chlorinated, which isn’t healthy for bearded dragons.
3. Add a Rock
For comfort, I suggest placing an object into the middle of the container that the bearded dragon can relax on when it wants to get out of the water. The object should be tall enough to reach above the water, but not so tall that the bearded dragon can’t climb on top of it. This can be a rock, small container, or any other object that isn’t toxic to the bearded dragon.
Bathing the Bearded Dragon
4. Place the bearded dragon into the bathtub
Slowly lower the bearded dragon into the water. Don’t be alarmed if they start running around the bathtub. They are getting used to their new environment. Also, they will sometimes wiggle around a lot to loosen shedding skin.
The bearded dragon will lower the front of its face into the water in order to drink. As long as your bearded dragon is awake when this happens, then you’re OK. If they are asleep when it happens, then take them out of the bath immediately so that they don’t accidentally drown.
5. Clean the bearded dragon (optional)
You can clean the bearded dragon’s back, limbs, and tail by pouring water over it. Just make sure not to pour any water over their head, as some could get into its airway and cause respiratory issues.
You don’t need to use any soap. Although the bath will work to clean the bearded dragon, these baths are mostly a chance for them to shed skin and drink water. You don’t want there to be any chemicals in the water that would irritate their skin or digestive tract.
As previously stated, bearded dragons will often defecate into the water while bathing. When this happens, take your dragon out of its bath immediately, clean the bathtub, and change the water.
6. Remove old shed
You can assist your pet bearded dragon with removing old shed (older than 2 weeks) by lightly brushing their old skin off using a soft bristle toothbrush. You don’t want to help brush off any old skin when the bearded dragon is actively going through a new shed.
Just like a human’s skin will be sensitive when it peels off due to sunburn, a bearded dragon’s new skin will also be sensitive during shed. That’s why it’s important that you wait until the new shed is done to help remove any old skin.
The bath should last from 15 to 30 minutes. During this time, use a thermometer to check the water’s temperature. Replace cool water with warm water as needed.
Drying the Bearded Dragon
After the bearded dragon’s bath is done, you can pat it dry with a paper towel or regular cloth towel. For sanitary reasons, I’d suggest having a cloth towel that you only use for your dragon.
Next, place your bearded dragon under their basking lights so that they can continue to dry off and get their body temperature back to a normal range.
Clean the Bearded Dragon's Bathtub
A bearded dragon’s bath can leave behind a lot of bacteria, excrement, and old skin. Make sure to sanitize the bathtub with a solution of bleach and water. Then, clean behind that process again with antibacterial soap.
How Often Should You Bathe A Bearded Dragon
You could technically bathe a bearded dragon every day. That said, it isn’t a necessary practice unless your bearded dragon is dehydrated, shedding, dirty, or having digestive issues.
We bathe our dragons every 3 days or so to ensure that they are appropriately hydrated. That said, it appears that a lot of bearded dragon owners bathe their dragons every 4 to 8 days.
Remember that a bath should last between 15 – 30 minutes.
Does Age Matter?
You can bathe your bearded dragon at any age. When bathing baby bearded dragons, just be sure that the water is very low and that they have a rock to stand on if they feel uncomfortable in the water.
What if My Bearded Dragon Isn’t Drinking?
So, your bearded dragon is dehydrated and you’ve decided to give them a bath so that they can get some water in their system. You wait and wait, but they don’t drink! What do you do now??
In my experience, there are three major reasons that a bearded dragon won’t drink water from its water bowl or during a bath:
Before you worry about trying a different method to hydrate your bearded dragon, check to ensure that they are in need of hydration. Do they have large wrinkles on a thin frame? If so, they are probably dehydrated. You can perform the skin pinch test to be sure. Just pinch a section of their skin and wait to see how long it stays in the shape that it was in between your fingers. If it stays that way for a few seconds, then you need to hydrate your bearded dragon as soon as possible.
Some bearded dragons won’t eat or drink while you’re watching. You can resolve this by leaving them in their bathtub for 5-10 minutes while you wait on another side of the room. A few feet away should be fine.
Bearded dragons have a preference for moving water. Although they might drink from a water bowl that is in their enclosure, they usually just end up defecating in it. Unfortunately, moving water can add to the humidity of their enclosure which can be dangerous and cause respiratory issues for your bearded dragon.
If your bearded dragon won’t drink during its bath or from a water bowl in its enclosure, I’d suggest adding an aquarium air hose to their bathtub to create movement in the water. This will often solve this issue.
Thanks For Reading!
Giving your bearded dragon a bath can be a fun experience. Some bearded dragons love to splash around in the water. Hopefully, this post taught you something new about the process.