As time passes, every living creature must replace their outer layer of skin, scale, or exoskeleton. For humans, the process is subtle but constant—individual skin cells flaking off every day without us even noticing.
That is until some salesperson convinces us to try their new gel specifically designed to collect this grime—yuck. Unlike us, reptiles discard their outer scales all at once in a process commonly known as shedding. Scientifically speaking, it’s called ecdysis.
While the primary purpose is the renewal of old skin, the process can be initiated by a range of things—including growth, diet, humidity, or hormonal changes.
Throughout a reptiles life, they will shed their scales time and time again—meaning—anyone caring for a scaly friend will have to deal with it as well. So, do bearded dragons shed?
Yes, and here is a list of 10 Things you MUST Know About The Bearded Dragon Shedding Process:
1. Baby Bearded Dragons Shed More Than Adults
A young bearded dragon is growing at a rapid rate. To keep up with this, they shed much more frequently than adults. How often do bearded dragons shed? A growing dragon will experience full-body sheds every few weeks until they mature.
How Often Do Bearded Dragons Shed?
While growing bearded dragons shed every two to four weeks, an adult bearded dragon will shed every few months. Sometimes your bearded dragon will shed after one month, sometimes it takes three months.
It doesn´t really matter and it shouldn´t bother you as long as your bearded dragon is healthy and sheds without any problems.
2. Once dragons mature they shed in patches
After bearded dragons slow down in growth, the shedding process changes slightly. Adult dragons usually shed in random patches throughout the year. A leg here, a tail there.
There is no schedule or pattern for a mature dragon’s shedding, so don’t bother trying to pin down the when and where. Keep note, adults do go through full-body sheds on occasion.
3. Bearded dragon shedding can take from a few days to a few weeks
Depending on the animal, the shed, and the ambient conditions, the cycle can take three days to three weeks under normal circumstances.
However, always pay attention to how long your animal has been in shed. A shed that takes longer than three weeks could indicate underlying issues or may be stuck.
4. Beardies may lose appetite before and during shed
If your beardie suddenly loses appetite, but you haven’t noticed any signs of illness, keep watch for a coming shed. During the shedding process, beardies feel—well—miserable.
Growing a new skin while the old one detaches itself is as pleasant as it sounds. It’s not uncommon for dragons to eat less or refuse food altogether. Continue to offer them meals and try not to worry.
5. Beardies may become lethargic before and during shed
As with my last note, your miserable dragon is likely to want a time of rest during shed. Bearded dragon shedding behavior consists of exhaustion and irritability—You might consider keeping interactions to a minimum until they perk up again.
6. Change in appearance
Before a shed becomes obvious, a bearded dragon’s skin can turn darker and duller. To an unsuspecting owner, this may be perceived as illness.
However, this change in appearance will slowly progress until patches of grey, loose scales announce shedding time. So, if you’re worried about your dragon’s appearance, wait a few days to see if it’s simply time for a shed.
After everything is over, your little friend will look brighter than ever!
7. Eye bulging? no problem!
Eye bulging has been a source of panic for many bearded dragon keepers in the past. Basically, if you walk in to see your pet’s eyes looking like they’re about to pop out of their sockets, stay calm—this is normal.
Bearded dragons use eye bulging to stretch the skin around their eyes, helping to loosen shed in the tricky area.
8. Do not tug a piece of shed off your dragon
If a piece is dangling there, it won’t hurt to knock if off. However, shed that isn’t ready to come off is likely to be attached to the sensitive skin underneath. It’s easy to imagine why yanking it off could result in injury.
If you pick at a section of shed and meet resistance of any kind, leave it alone! Another note: if you lift a part of the shed, finding it to be soft and moist underneath—once again—it’s best not to pull off your dragon’s shed, no matter how tempting.
9. Some dragons eat their shed
Reptiles in the wild eat their own shed to prevent detection from predators and to reabsorb the nutrients inside their old skin. This instinct sometimes carries over in captive animals.
However, it has been suggested that bearded dragons eat their shed to make up for a deficiency in calcium. Also, it may have been contaminated by fecal matter.
So, the shed itself is harmless to eat, but take these things into consideration if you catch your reptile chowing down on its old skin.
10. Shed can get stuck and cause problems
Stuck shed (dysecdysis) is a condition where a bearded dragon is not shedding, or has experienced an incomplete shed.
This can cause restricted blood flow in the area, resulting in small infections, limb loss, and even death when left untreated
Common problem areas include the toes and tail.
To help a bearded dragon shed, frequent misting and roughly textured rocks or logs can be utilized. However, the best way to remove dysecdysis is to soak your bearded dragon in a warm bath. After the skin softens, gently rub the area.
Eventually, it should loosen and detach. If the shed can’t be removed or an infection sets in, consult your local vet.
It is not too complicated
Whether it starts with growth, diet, humidity, or hormonal changes, your bearded dragon is sure to shed countless times under your supervision.
You can choose to let things run naturally—leaving them to their own devices until the cycle ends. Or—you can pamper your pet with luxurious baths, mistings, and scrubs.
Regardless of your style, keep these 10 things in mind to avoid mistakes—such as pulling off shed—and you’re prepared for any shocking symptoms like eye bulging.
Every living creature has some way of renewing their epidermis, and now, you’re ready to face the reptile shedding cycle with cool, sweet understanding, rather than awkward, panicked, confusion.
Hope this article on bearded dragon shedding has helped you! Any questions? Leave a comment and I get back to you as soon as possible!