Basic Bearded Dragon Care Begins with Routine Baths and Basic Tank Cleanings
- Does your dragon have dry skin?
- Does he have leftover bugs in her beard?
- Is his home smelling less than lovely?
- Perhaps it’s time for some TLC (Total Lizard Cleaning)!
How to Give Your Bearded Dragon A Bath
One of the most enjoyable activities you can do with your dragon is to give it a bath. Not only is the bearded dragon bath a fun excuse to handle and care for your dragon, but it is also important for proper hygiene. Bathing will help keep your bearded dragon healthy by removing old skin and scales. It also removes bacteria and germs that build up on the bearded dragon’s feet and claws. While it might seem like a simple task, there are some important things to know before giving your bearded dragon a bath.
Items You'll need…
- Container to use as a bath tub
- Warm water
- Water conditioner
- Vinegar-water solution
- Washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush
- Soft towel
Preparing the Bath…
- Choose a container with sides high enough that your bearded dragon cannot easily escape. A plastic storage bin will work well. Some enthusiasts like to use a kitchen or bathroom sink for their baby or juvenile bearded dragons. You can even put your adult beardie in the bathtub. (If you decide to use a bath tub, it is important that you use a bleach-water solution to clean the tub after your beardie’s bath. Reptiles can carry salmonella.)
- Reptiles are very sensitive to chemicals. The bathing tub should be cleaned ahead of time with a solution of vinegar-water to avoid the chance of exposing your bearded dragon to harmful chemicals you might have used the last time you cleaned the bathroom.
- Fill the container with a few inches of warm water (between 85-92 F), up to the top of the dragon’s legs (just 1-3 inches of water for adults, about ½-1 inch for babies).
- If you are using tap water, add a few drops of water conditioner. DO NOT add soap. Most bearded dragons will drink the water, and cleaning agents can be damaging.
- Allow your beardie to soak for 10-30 minutes. If the water starts getting too cool, add some warm water (don’t forget to remove the cool water first to maintain the water level). This will give him time to splash around, which most bearded dragons enjoy.
- Using the cup, gently pour cups of the conditioned water down your dragon’s back and tail. Avoid pouring water around its eyes and nose.
- Using the washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush, gently wipe any areas of shedding skin. Skip this step if your beard dragon is still actively shedding or if the skin doesn’t come off easily.
- When you are finished cleaning your beardie, gently pat him dry with a soft towel and place him back in his habitat so he can warm up. It is especially important to get him back under the basking lights as soon as possible during cold winter months.
Most experts recommend bathing your bearded dragon in warm water at least once a week. Twice a week is even better, especially in the summer months. Not only do baths keep your bearded dragon’s body clean and help him shed, they also have other added benefits:
- Helping him relax
- Relieving constipation
- Providing a change of scenery
- Allowing him to swim, which provides exercise
Please supervise your bearded dragon at all times while bathing to prevent accidents and escapes.
Cleaning Your Bearded Dragon's Tank
While your bearded dragon is enjoying his time in the bath, why not take the opportunity to clean out his bearded dragon terrarium so he can return to a clean habitat? After all, wouldn’t you love going home to a clean house after a day at the spa?
Cleaning your bearded dragon’s home is an essential part of taking good care of your pet. Not only is a messy habitat stressful for many reptiles, but it can also cause serious health problems like parasites, respiratory infections and impaction.
How to Clean Your Bearded Dragon’s Habitat:
You will need..
- Plastic gloves
- White vinegar
- Soft brush and/or sponge
- Small shovel or plastic cup
- Paper towels
Remove feces and uneaten crickets or superworms (this should be done every day to keep the habitat clean and your beardie healthy), and remove all soiled substrate and discard. You can use a small shovel or plastic cup to clean sand (if you have more than one beardie, don’t share the same cup or shovel between enclosures). Wipe soiled tile with soap and thoroughly rinse. Dirty glass can be cleaned with a solution of 20% white vinegar. Keeping paper towels and a bottle of vinegar solution near your beardie’s tank will make cleaning up much easier.
If your bearded dragon’s enclosure is till emitting odors after these quick touch-ups, its time for a whole house cleaning.
- You should clean your bearded dragon’s entire habitat at least once a month. This involves cleaning all accessories, replacing the substrate and cleaning the entire tank. If you use a reptile carpet, it’s a good idea to keep a few extra on hand to alternate them when cleaning. Replace the carpet often. They are difficult to clean, stinky and can hold parasites. You might consider replacing the reptile carpet with flooring that is easier to clean, such as tile or paper towels.
- You can place your beard dragon in the same container used to give your him a bath, but don’t add water. Make sure your bearded dragon is far enough away that it will not be exposed to any fumes.
- Remove all the accessories in the tank and soak them in a bleach-soap-water (with at least 5% bleach and dish soap) solution for at least 20 minutes. Scrub them thoroughly with a soft brush. Rinse until the solution is removed (you should no longer be able to smell any bleach) and allow them to air dry.
- Use a vacuum to remove any left over substrate and dirt in the tank.
- Scrub the entire tank with a solution in the 5% bleach-soap-water solution. Scrub the entire enclosure and allow the solution to sit in the enclosure for at least 20 minutes. Rinse the tank several times until you can no longer smell bleach.
- Clean the glass with vinegar-water solution and paper towels or a microfiber cloth.
- Replace all the substrate and accessories, and make sure the entire habitat is warm and dry before you return your bearded dragon to his enclosure.
Bearded dragons love new experiences. Consider rearranging his decor or changing up the accessories a bit. Most of all, take the opportunity to enjoy time with your pet while keeping him happy and healthy.