Shedding the old skin in bearded dragons is a natural and healthy process that every beginner pet owner should be aware of so that they won’t freak out the first time they witness their beardie losing its skin.
Shedding of the skin involves the removal of the old skin that is no longer useful and is getting in the way of the new skin, this process of shedding lets the organisms grow. Every animal goes through the process of shedding old skin, and it is not easy to observe this process in every organism, but in some organisms like snakes, lizards, and true crabs, we can see it very clearly.
Here in this post, being a beginner bearded dragon keeper, you will know all the answers on bearded dragon shedding, how natural and healthy the process is, how often it happens, and much more. So, keep reading till the end and get all your doubts cleared.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Shed?
The epidermis of bearded dragons contains keratin-based protein; the inner side has α-keratin, and the outer side has β-keratin, which is covered by a thin layer of keratinised cells is very tough and not stretchable.
When their size increases as they grow older, because of the non-stretchability of their outer skin, it won’t get any bigger and will stay the same size; here comes the point where they have to shed their skin to continue growing healthily.
The old skin emerges as a whole in baby bearded dragons and patches as they grow older. After the shedding process is done, they have already grown new skin inside that looks beautiful and shiny.
Bearded Dragon Shedding Process
The shedding process in bearded dragons differs at different stages of their life span. They shed very often when they are babies, but as they grow old, this process slows down.
When they are young, they grow fast and must keep replacing their skin to grow without hindrance. After a certain age, they start to grow slowly, and eventually, they stop growing; during this time, they shed a long gap.
Now let’s get to know in detail how often the bearded dragons shed.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Shed?
As already said above, baby bearded dragons frequently shed while adults shed with a long time gap.
0-6 Months Old
At this age, baby bearded dragons grow very fast, and their skin needs to maintain that fast growth, so they shed once every week, and there is full-body shedding used to happen at this time.
6-12 Months Old
This age is called the young age, and at this age, their growth rate starts to slow down compared to the first six months of their life. It is the age when they shed twice every month, and the shedding no longer happens at once; their body can shed at one time, and the head part can shed after that.
12-18 Months Old
Beardies turn into adults at this age, and their body has almost reached maximum growth. Now, at this age, at most, they only need to shed four times annually. There won’t be a full shedding at once; shedding in patches can be seen at this age.
18 Months and Older
Bearded dragons reach adulthood at this age, and their body won’t increase in size anymore. Now they only shed to replace the damaged skin or when it gets too old. Now they only shed around twice a year, and patchy shedding can be seen, along with long gaps.
Behaviour Change in Bearded Dragon While Shedding
As we talk about the changes in the behaviour of the beardies while shedding, there are no major changes. Still, there are a few changes in their behaviour that you can easily observe: loss of appetite, eye bulging, and resistance to handling.
Loss of Appetite
Bearded dragons don’t eat during their shedding period; they eat their shredded skin, a common behaviour change that can be seen. If they seem to lose their appetite and you don’t see any sign of illness, that is because of the shedding, and at the time, you can continue offering food to them.
Bulging eyes are also a behaviour change seen in beardies; their eyes appear dull and somewhat whitish blue. They bulge their eyes as it helps loose skin around their eyes and from their head.
They Resist Touching
Your beardie can resist you from touching or holding them during their shedding period, as shedding itself is an itchy process. You holding them can cause discomfort to some extent, so avoid being touchy. At the same time, they shed.
5 Ways to Help a Shedding Bearded Dragon
As bearded dragons avoid being touchy during the shedding period, there is nothing much you can help them with, but here are 5 ways you can try helping your beardie:
1: Provide Them With Rough Material
Providing your beardie with rough material can help them rub up against it in case they are having a hard time trying to get out of their old skin. You can set up their tank when you observe that they are around their shedding period.
You should not put any sharp and pointy materials that might hurt them; provide something strong enough to help them remove their skin on rubbing. A few things you can provide them for rubbing are rocks, branches, and slates.
2: Give Them Bath
Bathing your bearded dragon can help them shed its loose skin. Shedding takes longer in adult beardies; offering them a warm bath can help keep their loose skin moist and come off easily. Make sure to hold them gently and dry them, as moist skin for a long time can cause infection. You can take them for a bath every 2-3 days during their shedding; keep moistening their skin.
3: Provide Them With Food And Water
Bearded dragons avoid their diet while shedding, but you should keep providing them with a healthy diet as it can affect their shedding process. They can suffer from metabolic bone disease without sufficient calcium in their diet. Along with a proper diet, keep in mind to keep them hydrated because hydration is as much important as a diet; it helps in keeping their skin healthy.
4: Avoid Handling
Shedding when your beardie would like their own company; they don’t like to get touchy. So avoid holding or touching them as it can irritate them, and there might be a good chance they can harm you by biting.
5: Don’t Pull Their Skin
Don’t try to pull their skin at all; if the skin has not fallen on its own, it’s not ready to come off their body yet, and the skin beneath that portion is not ready to emerge. If you pull their skin, you might hurt them. So avoid doing that to your beardie and let it be in a natural way.
2 Problem With Bearded Dragon Shedding
It’s healthy if your beardie is shedding on time without issues. They face some minor discomfort during shedding, but there are a few things you need to know if you see something different that doesn’t usually happen to your beardie:
1: Not Shedding
If your beardie is not shedding at all, that is a serious problem that some environmental factors can cause, and it needs to be fixed soon. So, if you see it, visit the vet clinic and start its treatment.
2: If the Skin Is Stuck
Despite your beardie’s best efforts, there is a possibility that the dead skin may become stuck, and it doesn’t come off. It can lead to the constriction of blood flow; a long bath can help in dislodging the stuck skin from the body.
Shedding isn’t that hurting nor the most fun experience for them, but with your care and love, they can handle this situation just fine.
Shedding in bearded dragons is a natural and healthy process; you should know all about it as a pet owner. As mentioned above, baby beardies shed the most, and as they grow, shedding slows down. They usually don’t need help during their shedding process, but you must keep an eye on the process of shedding. If you see anything unusual bothering your beardie, visit the vet on time before it worsens. Keep them hydrated and provide them with a healthy diet; make sure not to get too touchy, as it can cause discomfort.
Now you know everything about bearded dragon shedding, remember, even though your beardie doesn’t need your help in shedding, it’s your job to provide them with everything in case they need your help.
How long does it take for a bearded dragon to shed?
Shedding off old skin in baby bearded dragons takes only 1-3 days, but it can take two or even three weeks in adults.
Why is my bearded dragon irritable when shedding?
Shedding makes them uncomfortable as it can be itchy and irritating, and they might get hurt while rubbing themselves to get rid of their shedding skin.
Can you hold a bearded dragon while they are shedding?
Holding bearded dragons during their shedding process is not suggested; they can bite you when stressed and irritated.
Do bearded dragons eat less when shedding?
Yes, bearded dragons eat less during shedding because they lose their appetite, so there is nothing to get worried about.
Do bearded dragons eat their shed?
Yes, sometimes they eat their shed to get minerals present inside the shed, but you can’t just relax and stop feeding them their actual food.