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If you’ve noticed your bearded dragon looking a little flakey, it is nothing to be alarmed about. Like most reptiles, bearded dragons regularly shed their skin, a process known as ecdysis.
But how often do bearded dragons shed? While a bearded dragon is still growing, it will shed about every month to three months because of the rapid growth they are undergoing. Once a bearded dragon has reached its full size, it will likely shed once a year and in patches, but this varies from lizard to lizard.
Shedding is one of the many cool things that bearded dragons do. Knowing the intricacies of the process can help you better take care of your beardie. In this article, we will discuss how often bearded dragons shed, for how long, any potential problems you should look out for, and how to best care for a shedding bearded dragon.
How Often is Normal for a Bearded Dragons Shed?
There is no hard and fast rule for the number of times a bearded dragon should shed in a year, but depending on the age of your beardie, we can make some guesses.
- Six months and younger: Bearded dragons grow incredibly fast in their first six months of life. If you want to see just how quickly, check out the video below that documents the growth of Gilbert. During this time, you can expect your bearded dragon to shed about once a month, sometimes more.
- Six months to twelve months: Just like with humans, bearded dragons grow at different rates and stop growing at different times. After your bearded dragon is six months old, you will notice its growth rate to slow down a bit, and with that, the shedding should also slow down.
- After twelve months: Some bearded dragons will simply stop growing around this time, but many will still put on an inch or two. Shedding will not be nearly as frequent as those early days.
- Adulthood: Once your bearded dragon is fully mature, it will probably shed once or twice a year, but it could also not shed at all, or only in patches. Not shedding frequently enough is not a problem, but continual shedding could indicate a health issue.
When Your Bearded Dragon is Shedding Too Much
If your adult bearded dragon seems to do nothing but shed, there is likely a health issue, and it is a good reason to have it checked out by a vet who is familiar with lizards. The most common causes of too much shedding would skin irritation, fungus, or pest issues.
When a Baby Bearded Dragon Isn’t Shedding Enough
If your baby beardie isn’t shedding frequently, then the problem is likely that it is not growing, and not growing is a big problem. Be sure you’re providing plenty of food and have your bearded dragon checked out by a vet to determine the underlying problem.
Signs that Your Bearded Dragon is Shedding
The clearest sign that your bearded dragon is shedding is when you see flakes of skin fall off of it, but that is pretty obvious. Signs will vary from lizard to lizard, but if you’re anxiously awaiting the first shed, here are somethings you can look out for:
- Dull patches of skin that look almost gray: If your bearded dragon is losing its luster, it is likely because a shed is coming on. You should soon be seeing flaking!
- Bulging eyes: As a bearded dragon prepares to shed its skin, its eyes will bulge to loosen the skin around the eyes.
- Grumpiness and lethargy: It turns out shedding skin is hard work. Bearded dragons are more prone to grumpy behaviors and may sleep more. Thankfully this is just a phase, and your bearded dragon won’t be like this for long.
If you notice any of these signs, your bearded dragon will soon be shedding. However, grumpiness and lethargy can be signs of other issues as well, so be sure to keep a close eye on your beardie.
How Long Does it Take for a Bearded Dragon to Shed?
Just like with most things having to do with caring for your bearded dragon, you’ll find that the length of the shedding process will depend on your pet. Generally speaking, you can expect that it will take days, maybe weeks with younger bearded dragons shedding more quickly than older ones.
The main thing is to have patience. Healthy bearded dragons will shed when they need to at the appropriate pace. You should never pull at loose skin!
What About a Stuck Shed?
Stuck shed, also known as incomplete shed or dysecdysis, is when a bearded dragon does not shed skin that should be shed. This can be a dangerous situation for a bearded dragon in extreme cases, but it isn’t all that common an occurrence in healthy bearded dragons that are tended to with care.
Bearded dragons tend to experience stuck shed in the crevices of their body like their nostrils or between their toes.
You won’t necessarily know if your bearded dragon is experiencing stuck shed or just still shedding or not unless you keep track of when the shedding began, and you can tell when it has been prolonged.
Most of the time, a stuck shed will handle itself, but it is always a good idea to talk to a vet or someone knowledgeable on bearded dragons to make sure any potential causes of the stuck shed are resolved.
If the skin that has not fallen off look red or swollen or anything seems amiss with your beardie, it is time to get to a vet.
How to Care for Your Bearded Dragon When It’s Shedding
Shedding isn’t a painful process for bearded dragons, just like losing dry, dead skin isn’t painful to humans, but it isn’t exactly comfortable either. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help your bearded dragon shed more efficiently.
- Be patient: The most important thing to know is that you should never, ever attempt to pull away the skin that your bearded dragon is shedding. This can cause damage to the new skin and be painful to your pet, and you might end up with a bite for it as well.
- Bathing: Some bearded dragons are happy for bathtime, and others would like to avoid it. Either way, bathing a bearded dragon will help them shed more quickly and efficiently. Be sure to dry your scaly friend well afterward.
- Misting: If your bearded dragon despises baths, then misting it with a spray bottle can also help. Just make sure you’re still keeping your tank at the proper humidity.
- Space: Shedding bearded dragons are notoriously grouchy. Give your beardie a little space during this time if he or she needs it.
- Eating the shed: As long as the shedded skin isn’t contaminated with fecal matter, it is perfectly fine for your beardie to eat it. Gross to us? Yes. Problematic? Not at all. You can always remove the shedded skin from the tank if it grosses you out.
- Environment: Make sure your tank is correctly set up with UVB light and rocks and branches. All of these items will help the skin loosen as it should.
A shedding bearded dragon might look a little odd, but its all part of being a beardie and the owner of a beardie. The good news is now that you’ve read this article, you’re ready for your beardies first or next shed!