Should I Hold My Bearded Dragon While Shedding?

In bearded dragons, the process of getting rid of old skin and replacing it with new skin is called shedding. It’s a natural process, and all bearded dragons (whether in captivity or wild) undergo this phase. Humans also shed skin cells regularly; however, in humans, all this happens in an imperceptible manner. Unlike humans, bearded dragons shed their skin in patches, and the process is somewhat disturbing and uncomfortable for the beardies. Every time a bearded dragon lover sees his friend shedding skin, knowing that his pet is going through a difficult phase, it’s natural for him that he would want to hold, pet, and hug his bearded friend to make him feel comfortable and relaxed.

But the question is, “Is it really a good idea to hold a bearded dragon while shedding?” “When it’s necessary to handle a bearded dragon while shedding?” “How long can you hold a bearded dragon while shedding?” or “can handling a bearded dragon while shedding harms him,” etc. Go through the article till the end, and you will get all the necessary information. However, first, let’s discuss “Should you hold a bearded dragon while shedding.”

Should You Hold a Bearded Dragon While Shedding?

YES / NO. Technically it’s not recommended to hold or handle your bearded friend if he is shedding. Although bearded dragons begin to experience shedding from day one of their lives, still it’s a bit uncomfortable and stressful for them. However, you can hold your beardies for a short duration in certain unavoidable situations (discussed later in this post). Handling too often or holding for a long time can be painful and even injure him.

How Long & How Often Do Bearded Dragons Shed?

The duration of shedding depends on the age and size of bearded dragons. Generally, shedding in baby bearded dragons last for one to three days, while in adult beardies, it takes up to 21 days, or even longer under some circumstances.

The frequency of shedding also depends on age. The baby bearded dragons shed too often (twice a week), and the frequency decreases as they grow, to once or twice every year. The table below explains how often a bearded dragon sheds during different phases of life.

Life StagesAgeShedding frequencyReason
Hatching stageUp to 6 months1 – 2 times every weekRapid growth
Juvenile6 – 12 monthsOnce in a monthAlthough growth is comparatively slower than baby beardies, still rapid enough.
Adult12 – 18 monthsOnce in three monthsAdults but still growing very slowly
Adult18+ monthsOnce a yearNot growing further and shed only when skin is dead or damaged. 

What If You Mishandle Your Bearded Dragon Or Hold It Too Long  While Shedding?

As already mentioned, it’s not advisable to hold a bearded dragon while shedding unless necessary. Even when it’s necessary to hold a beardie, if you are not extremely careful, you can harm your bearded dragon, and he may behave differently. Let’s see what can happen in that case.

  • Since shedding is both uncomfortable and painful for your beardie, they are irritating and less tolerable during this phase. So if you try to handle them, they can get angry quickly and may show aggression signs. If you do it often, your bearded friend can flare up and may try to bite you. This practice can also negatively affect your mutual bond. 
  • Mishandling or too much handling of a bearded dragon during shedding certainly adds to their pain. So they can be scared of your presence. If your bearded friend tries to avoid you, run away, or hide him when you approach his tank, he may be scared of you. Once he associates fear or negative feeling with you, he’s likely to remember even after the shedding ends.
  • The worst thing that can happen due to mishandling of beardie during shedding is that the partially shed skin patch is pulled off accidentally by you. Due to this, severe pain and inflammation is bound to occur. Infection can also occur later on.

When Can You Hold A Bearded Dragon While Shedding?

Naturally, we want to spend time with our loved ones when they are going through tough times or not feeling well. Similarly, knowing that shedding is tough, painful, and uncomfortable for our bearded pets, every beardie owner wishes to hold and pet his bearded dragon just to show affection and make his pet feel comfortable. However, the best way to favor your bearded friend during shedding is to leave him alone and avoid holding him as much as possible. However, in some situations, holding your bearded dragons is unavoidable, like

  • During an emergency
  • Misting & bathing 
  • While Giving Skin massage
  • For feeding them
  • To clean the tank

Although you can hold your bearded dragon in the above situations, however, make sure to be gentle and keep the holding period to a minimum.

What To Consider When Holding A bearded Dragon While Shedding

  • The first thing to consider while holding a bearded dragon (especially when he is shedding) is to be gentle and not hold him tightly because the areas on the body where the skin is being shed are painful and sometimes slightly inflamed too. 
  • The second crucial thing to consider is not to hold or handle your bearded friend for long. Handling for long can make an already irritated dragon angry, and he will start hissing and puffing, which means he wants to be left alone. In addition, it will become scared of you and try to avoid you. This will make handling further difficult, especially when handling is unavoidable.
  • If your beardie is showing signs of aggression or anger, try to avoid you, run away or hide; when you approach its tank, never try to hold him.
  • The last but the most crucial is to be extremely careful that you do  not pull off his skin (intentionally or unintentionally). Many novice owners may think they can help their bearded friend manually remove its skin, but this is not the case. Doing this will only add to his pain, and further complications can occur. Since it’s a natural process, the best strategy is not to interfere at all and let it happen naturally.

How Can You Make Shedding Easier for Your Bearded Dragon?

Naturally, as a responsible beardie owner, you may be wondering if there is any way you can help your bearded dragon while shedding or make the process easier. Yes, there are a few steps that you can follow to make the shedding easier for your bearded friend.

  • A 15-20 minute warm bath will soften the dried skin and reduce the pain. In addition, soft skin will shed more quickly. 
  • Misting is another way to help your beardie while shedding. It will also moisten and soften the skin, which is easy to shed.
  • Provide well balanced and high-quality diet, according to age.
  • Make sure that the internal environment (like temperature, humidity, lights, etc.) is correct. 
  • If a warm bath and misting are not helping, you can apply shedding oils to make the process easier for your beardie.