My bearded dragon, Jelly, is around a year old. She’s a large, confident dragon and doesn’t find the occasional dip in the water too stressful. But not all beardies are the biggest fans of bathtime.
You may need to adapt your bearded dragon’s bathtime routine a little, to suit their temperament. I’ll give you some tips to help with that below.
- Where to bathe your bearded dragon
- Bath time preparations
- Tips for bathing your bearded dragon
- Getting dry and cleaning up
To bathe my beardie I use a plastic container of warm water, and two towels. I sometimes use an old toothbrush as well, to get off any sticky patches. Today I’ll walk you through exactly what I do when I bathe Jelly, and share a quick video I made of the process.
I tend to use a RUB box for Jelly’s bath. She isn’t a biggest fan of bath days, but she’s not too upset by it either, so the type of tub isn’t a big issue. I use one with relatively low sides that she can climb out of if she chooses, and with transparent sides so that she can see out.
If your bearded dragon is a bit nervous of new experiences or unsettled by water, then use a box with high sides so they can’t jump out. They may also find dark plastic sides reassuring if they are in a room that they aren’t familiar with.
Setting Up Bearded Dragon Bath Time
Choose a room with plenty of space, and ideally a hard tile, wood or lino floor. If you have any free roaming pets like cats or dogs, make sure they are secured in another room behind a door. Babygates won’t do in this case, because if your dragon makes a run for it when they are on the floor you need to make sure they can’t accidentally end up through the bars and in with your larger mammalian pets.
I use a two towel system when I bathe Jelly. She has one towel that’s dedicated to drying her off, and I use another to keep the floor dry.
Jelly isn’t a splashy bather, but my old bearded dragon Ray loved a good swim and used to throw water several feet from the bath. The towel habit dies hard, and despite Jelly’s calmer approach to bath time I will continue to protect the flooring just in case.
Filling Your Beardie’s Bath
I recommend room temperature or a little warmed for your bearded dragon’s bath. When bathing Jelly I use my elbow to judge this, just like you would with a baby’s bath water. It should feel warm to the touch but not hot.
It’s a good idea to have a big jug of hot water next to the bath to pour in during if the water starts to cool. Make sure when you add the hot water it’s a little at a time, and into an end of the bath away from your dragon, rather than directly onto them.
When I put my beardie into her bath I hold her with one hand under her abdomen, and lower her into the water slowly. I then scoop water with my hand, and let it run over her back so that she’s well covered.
If your bearded dragon has poop stuck to them, you can rub very gently with an old toothbrush. If using a new toothbrush go with the baby variety, as they have much softer bristles. Don’t push too hard, just gently work the area until it comes loose.
If your dragon is nervous when you place them in the water then there are some things you can do to help them stay calm. The first is to make sure the water level is really low. Just covering their feet if they are particularly anxious, or part way up their legs.
Well handled bearded dragons may find it calming if you to place the palm of your hand under their belly and give them the impression of a bit of support.
Nervous bearded dragon behaviors include flattening of the body, head bobbing and darkening of the beard. Extremely upset beardies will even hiss and on very rare occasions bite if they are scared enough. If your bearded dragon is visibly unhappy then consider cancelling bath time and returning them to their enclosure where they feel safe.
If your veterinarian has recommended bathing as part of rehabilitation for stuck shed or something similar, then you’ll need to try again when they are calmer. Use less water and keep bathtimes very brief until they are more relaxed around the whole experience
Pooping and Drinking
Bearded dragons often poop in their bath water, but they like to drink it too. Mostly they have a drink before they poop, but as soon as they have emptied their bowels do whisk them straight out before they have a chance to take another, rather less appetizing, gulp.
Drying Your Bearded Dragon
Our beardies have warm homes with a direct hot spot, so they should dry off pretty fast. But bearded dragons don’t always make great decisions. When I put Jelly back in her tank she will sit where I’ve left her under the heat lamp. But your dragon might have different priorities. A new bather or less calm bearded dragon might well want to hide after a handling and bathing session. This could result in them failing to warm themselves up. Therefore I recommend you put your bearded dragon onto a towel after their bath, and softly pat them dry before you put them back in their enclosure.
Cleaning Up and Biosecurity
In common with many reptiles, bearded dragons, even if they are in good health, can sometimes carry pathogens that could potentially infect their human family members. Therefore when you clean up their poop or even used water, its important to dispose of it safely. Don’t tip it down the kitchen sink or into the trash. Instead, I recommend putting bleach in with the water, then disposing of it down the toilet. You can then clean the toilet through with bleach when you flush.
Clean the container that you use for your bearded dragon’s bathtime with a bleach based household cleaning products, and leave to air dry somewhere safe.