Should I bath My Bearded Dragon?
The answer to this question is yes!! There are several benefits to giving your beaded dragon regular baths…..
Bathing helps to soak away any dirt and grime your beardie may have walked though or laid in, especially faecal matter.
Having a soak while shedding encourages the stubborn scales to soften and lift away. Bathing will also help to soothe their tight dry itchy skin. Its a good idea to increase the frequency of bathing while shedding. (also see How to care for my shedding bearded dragon for additional information)
Bathing can help with constipation and impaction. The warm water helps to relax the intestine and stimulate bowel movement. If you are concerned that your beardie is impacted and bathing has not produced results your must contact a vet.
Its a great way to keep your beardie hydrated as many will drink from the water while bathing.
Good Interaction for you and your beardie
Bathing is excellent social interaction and bonding time with your beardie. Its also an ideal opportunity to health check your beardie.
Do Bearded Dragons like to Bath?
The answer to this question will entirely depend on the individual bearded dragon. When it comes to bathing bearded dragons are similar to us, some absolutely love a bath and will swim and splash around. Others don’t mind a bath and are content to sit and soak. While a few loathe bath time and will try to escape at all costs.
How often Should I Bath Bearded Dragons?
1 – 2 times weekly should be sufficient for most bearded dragons but its largely dependant on the age and type of bearded dragon you have.
Babies and Young bearded dragons
Will benefit from a bath 3 -4 times a week. This will not only help with preventing dehydration but help with their frequent shedding. Babies also poop a lot and seem to enjoy trampling through it, making regular baths essential for hygiene. Its also not uncommon for the youngsters to have digestion issues bathing is a great way to encourage bowel movement.
Adult Bearded Dragons
Every 1 – 2 weeks is usually sufficient but you can bathe them more often. Increasing frequency during shedding.
Leatherbacks and Silkbacks (silkies) are a morph of bearded dragon where they have been selectively bred to develop smaller scales or to have no scales entirely. Both require more frequent bathing than regular beardies Silkies in particular. They have very specialist skin care requirements.
The Scales on the backs of leatherbacks are much smaller and smoother to touch (but only on their backs hence their name) than regular bearded dragons. Because of the lack of spikes their colouring appears more vivid, appearing more enhanced after bathing. Weekly bathing is recommended.
Bathing a Silkback bearded dragons is essential and extremely beneficial.
Silkbacks or Silkies have been bred to have no scales giving them a smooth soft appearance, very similar to that of the leopard gecko. Hydration is important for the health of all bearded dragons. In the context of silkies hydration is of supreme importance!
Silikes require frequent bathing (and moisturising) to help maintain hydration but also with shedding. Their skin is extremely delicate, and susceptible to skin tears and injury. Silkies shed at a greater rate than regular bearded dragons which consequently leads to problems with shedding. Because of the specialist skin care requirements it is recommended that silkbacks are bathed 2-3 times weekly.
Bathing A Bearded Dragon
What do I need to bathe a bearded dragon?
You will need something to bath your beardie in – this can be anything from a large bowl or container, sink or bath. It just has to be water tight and big enough.
It is recommend that what you bathe your beardie in is only used for that purpose. However this is not always possible especially if your using the sink or bath. As long as whatever vessel you choose to use it is cleaned before and after use with reptile safe products.
Water – How hot and how high?
Fill the bowl / bath with warm (not hot) water, temperature should be around 37 degrees Celsius / 98 Fahrenheit.
The water level should be no higher than the beardies shoulders this will allow them to keep their head above water. 1 -2 inches of water is enough but much will depending on their size. See video below if still unsure of where the water level should be.
How long should a bearded dragon bathe?
A lot will depend on the beardie and how often he gets bathed. Aim to bathe for around 20 minutes but anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes will be beneficial.
Keep a check of the water temperature it can drop quickly, top up with more warm water as necessary. If you do top up be mindful of the water level.
How to bathe a bearded dragon
Gently lower your bearded dragon into the water on the flat of your hand, this will allow them to adjust to the water temperature. He/she may quickly scamper off into the water and begin splashing and swimming, or just simply sit and and soak.
If you have a bearded dragon that’s not as compliant and tries to climb out you could introduce them slowly, tail first and gently splash the water over their back this method can calm some beardies allowing you to soak a least part of them. You may also need to keep them supported on your hand until they are happy for you to move it.
There are some bearded dragons that simply point blank refuse going in for a bath. Patience is key and gently does it. If your beardie only allows his tail in the water that’s a good result especially during shedding as tail tips are notorious for build up of unshed scales. You can also try holding him over the water and sponging them down this will at least get them clean. If after a few minutes your beardie is still not happy and still trying to get away he may be getting stressed and its time to abandon and try again in a few days.
Do not just drop your beardie in to the water if they are resisting as this will result in stressing them further.
It is common for many bearded dragons to defecate in their bath pretty much as soon as they go in. which can be annoying because you have to empty it out and start again. It is for this reason I often prepare an pre-bath bowl (I call the poo bowl) that I soak them in first and as soon as they poop they are scooped out out and put into their bigger bath for a proper soak and a drink.
When bath time is over
Carefully lift beardie out of the water wrap him in a clean towel or microfiber cloth and dry thoroughly, try to avoid putting your beardie back into their enclosure still wet. A wet beardie takes longer to thermoregulate. If this is done on a regular basis the extra moisture can increase the vivarium / tank humidity and long term can have an impact on your beardies respiratory health.
Remember to clean out what you used to bathe your beardie.
How to tell if a Bearded Dragon is Dehydrated
If you are worried that your bearded dragon is becoming dehydrated you can do whats called a skin turgor test. It is done by gently pinching the skin on the side of your beardies back in the same way we would pinch the back of our hands. If the skin does not spring back and is slow to return it would suggest they may be dehydrated.
A beardie that is severely dehydrated will have very obvious signs. Their skin will look wrinkled, their eyes sunken as will the fat pads on their heads. they may also have a sallow look, they may become lethargic and not eating.
Ways to prevent and reverse dehydration.
- Regular baths
- Provide a water source in the vivarium for your bearded dragon to drink from
- Supply plenty of vegetation to eat
- Put small droplets of water on the nose of your bearded dragon they will lick it off.
For additional information on hydration see should I mist my bearded dragon.