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How Do I Treat a Bearded Dragon Bite?

Treating a bearded dragon bite involves cleaning the wound with mild soap and warm water, applying an antibiotic ointment, and covering with a sterile bandage. Monitor for signs of infection. It's crucial to understand why your pet may have bitten to prevent future incidents. What steps can you take to foster a safer interaction with your scaly companion? Continue reading to learn more.
M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

Bearded dragons, also called Pogonas, are small- to medium-sized lizards which are native to Australia, and which are kept as pets in many countries worldwide. Due to their fairly docile temperaments, bearded dragons rarely bite humans. When a bearded dragon bite does occur, it is generally not serious, but nevertheless does require attention to prevent infection. It is generally possible to avoid a bearded dragon bite by learning to recognize the aggressive behaviors typical of these lizards.

The bearded dragon is not venomous, nor does it have sharp teeth. Further, it usually has a calm temperament and even seems to enjoy being handled by humans. For these reasons, bearded dragon bites are rare, and when they do occur, they are usually not serious. In fact, it is partly because bearded dragons rarely bite that they are considered by many to be good pets.

Salmonella bacteria can be passed through a bearded dragon bite.
Salmonella bacteria can be passed through a bearded dragon bite.

From time to time, however, a bearded dragon bite can happen, usually because something has caused the animal to become extremely stressed or frightened. Even though such bites are not usually dangerous, they still require attention and minor treatment. Bearded dragons often carry salmonella on their skin or in their mouths which can be passed to their handlers through a bite, causing infection. Thus, no matter how minor a bite, it is important to immediately and thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water. Further, if the bite has broken the skin, those who have not had a tetanus shot in the past five years may want to consult their physician about receiving a booster.

It's important to thoroughly wash and disinfect a bearded dragon bite.
It's important to thoroughly wash and disinfect a bearded dragon bite.

It is generally possible to avoid a bearded dragon bite by learning to identify the aggression behaviors typical to these lizards. When feeling stressed or defensive, a bearded dragon may attempt to create a threatening appearance by extending the “beard” of spikes which frames his face. He may also hold his mouth in an open position, a posture known among reptile experts as “gaping.” If a bearded dragon displays these behaviors prior to being picked up, it may be best to leave him alone until he becomes relaxed. Should he begin displaying the behaviors while he is being handled, he should be quickly but calmly placed back into his habitat.

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Discussion Comments

anon1004876

My bearded dragon only tries to bite me when my nails are painted. He's very calm and never attacks. But a time I painted my nails (any color that's not light) he will try to bite me. It shocked me at first but when I took the nail polish off, he didn't try to bite me. Does he mistake my nails for an insect? Or food?

anon990944

I have one beardie that is really calm, the other one not so much. When I first got him, he was very aggressive. He has calmed down quite a bit but still he bites accidentally whenever I feed him so I try to trick him by distracting him with one hand. He has caught on to that and it no longer works. So now I'm trying a different tactic. He doesn't get fed until stops trying to bite my hand. He is fed regularly so I think the prior people who had him did him very badly and taught him to be aggressive. This training is slow going but starting to work. Now he he is sitting there waiting for me to put the food in his bowl then he goes for it, leaving my hand and skin alone.

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    • Salmonella bacteria can be passed through a bearded dragon bite.
      By: Lyuba Bunakova
      Salmonella bacteria can be passed through a bearded dragon bite.
    • It's important to thoroughly wash and disinfect a bearded dragon bite.
      By: Jacqui Jones
      It's important to thoroughly wash and disinfect a bearded dragon bite.
    • Breaded dragons can host salmonella.
      Breaded dragons can host salmonella.