Do Bearded Dragons Bite?
Bearded dragons are not typically aggressive creatures but it is always useful to know if and when they are likely to bite.
These spectacular looking reptiles are usually pretty easy to handle and have a reputation for being chilled out and good-tempered most of the time. So do bearded dragons bite? Despite their reputation as being the lizard kings of cool, bearded dragons can sometimes bite. Although their bite is not very painful or dangerous it can still hurt, especially if you are not expecting it.
So why do bearded dragons bite?
Whilst a beardie will not often bite there are a couple of reasons why it might. These may include:
- Self-defense – This can occur if a bearded dragon feels under threat or is frightened and can often happen if you have only recently got your beardie. It may be that your beardie has not yet become accustomed to their new home.
- Inexperienced handling – Most new reptile owners will get bitten a couple of times until they become more experienced at handling their lizards.
- Mistakes – Sometimes a beardie may bite by pure accident. This can happen if they are hungry and smell food on your hands.
Note: Younger more excitable bearded dragons tend to bite more than older mature lizards.
Is a Bearded Dragon Bite Dangerous?
A bearded dragon bite is not poisonous to humans and isn’t dangerous, but it can hurt. They have sharp serrated teeth that can draw blood, but any damage will largely depend on the size of the lizard and the reason for biting. A nip from a baby, for example, will be less painful than a bite from a fully grown adult.
At food time, your beardie may get a little excited and nip your fingers if they smell of food. This is not painful but it can give you a shock.
Your beardie may bite to defend itself and if it sinks its teeth in and won’t let go, try to keep it still by wrapping a towel around it so that its movements do not cause it to dig his teeth in any deeper.
A bite from a bearded dragon is not dangerous but you do need to monitor the wound for any signs of infection such as if the bitten area becomes red and inflamed or won’t stop bleeding.
In addition, bearded dragons do harbor salmonella bacteria in their mouths which could transfer to humans. This can be avoided by scrupulous hygiene. You should always wash your hands with antibacterial soap or disinfectant before and after contact with your bearded dragon.
What to do if you get bitten
If you are bitten, run the affected area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes and then clean the area with antiseptic wipes. If your dragon does draw blood you should always check that you are up to date with your tetanus jabs in the same way as you would with any other type of pet bite.
How to avoid bearded dragon bites
Many people have own beardies for years without ever being bitten however, it is important to treat them with respect. The way you treat and interact with your beardie will affect how it responds to you.
1. Reduce Stress
Exposing your beardie to less stress will allow them to feel safe, meaning they are far less likely to bite you. Sudden and unexpected movements can increase stress, you should be patient and calm when handling them. Check this guide for some ways to reduce the stress of your beardie.
2. Build a Bond
Once your beardie gets used to your presence and begins to trust that you mean it no harm, you can be confident that it won’t react aggressively. Building up this confidence can take time but is very rewarding. One of the best ways to increase the bond between you and your beardie is to regularly handle them and also speak with them. Your beardie will quickly get used to your voice.
3. Hand Prep
Washing your hands before touching your beardie will wash away any tempting smells. If a beardie detects the smell of food on your hands they may mistakenly take a bite out of you too! If you are worried about this there are a couple of things you could do.
You could wear gloves to prevent the bite from hurting however this will also mask your scent which can make it difficult to establish a strong bond between you and your beardie.
Instead of using the gloves, you could use a pair of feeding tongs, these are fairly cheap and can really assist in the feeding process whilst also helping you and your beardie have some bonding time.
4. Learn how to pick up a bearded dragon
You should never pick up a bearded dragon by its tail or legs. Instead slowly and gently move your hand under the beardie’s chest and belly area, using your other hand to support the back and tail.
Don’t grab or squeeze too hard and keep calm. Once the beardie feels supported, he will calm down and will become accustomed to handling. Put him down gently in the same way, keeping all your movements calm and unhurried.
Beardies often like to be petted and handled but because they are quite nervous they need very careful handling until they are tamed. To avoid bites take everything slow and easy avoiding sudden movements and other behavior that your lizard could perceive as a threat.
Your beardie will display warning signs if they are getting ready to bite, so if you notice hissing, a puffed-up collar, or a change in color, you probably need to back off a little. You may want to check out this guide which will help you to calm down an angry bearded dragon.
Bearded dragons make great pets and once they are tamed they will start to feel more secure. It will take a little patience but beardies will soon become accustomed to you as their owner and will then show you some real affection. Beardies actually quite like being handled. If you put the effort into caring for your bearded dragon in the correct way you are highly unlikely to get bitten as a result.
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