Bearded Dragons

When Do Bearded Dragons Shed? – The Process & Signs

Shedding, also known as “Ecdysis” is the process where bearded dragons loose their outer layer of skin as a result of growing. The shedding process is most common for juvenile bearded dragons, as it’s this period of time where they grow the most. The answer to “When do bearded dragons shed” can differ for every individual. However there is a timeline which will give you a rough guide for shedding stages.

For many reptiles, it is common for them to shed their skin. This is because the outer layer of skin is tough and not very durable, so they will literally out grow their own skin. You will notice a slight change in skin colour when this process has begun. Commonly a bearded dragons skin will look dark and start to look grey, and sometimes even white closer to the actual shedding stage. This is the top layer of skin drying out so it can shed easily and peel off without any problems.  

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Most Common Shedding Times For Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons can either partially shed or fully shed their skin, so they can in fact do either. Unlike snakes who shed their skin all at once, in one connecting piece. Partially shedding bearded dragons will shed at their own rate. Some may shed their tails first, and some may shed their tails last. Initially it’s completely up to them and they will all be different.

Juveniles 

Younger, or juvenile bearded dragons will shed their skin more often than a fully mature adult. The reason for this is purely down to the fact they are still growing. Like I said before, their outer layer of skin is very touch and not durable, so their bodies actually get too big for their skin. 

On average juvenile bearded dragons will shed their skin roughly once a month for the first 6 months of their lives, if they are exposed to the correct environmental conditions. This may differ for some individuals that are exposed to the wrong environmental conditions, meaning they may actually shed more often or less often than they naturally should.

Mature Adults 

As fully mature adults, bearded dragons will completely shed their skin once or twice a year. They do not have to shed as commonly as the younger dragons as they body size is not changing as dramatically. Sometimes they may even partially shed every few months throughout the year, being very relaxed about the whole process.

After Brumation

Brumation is a process similar to hibernation which all reptiles go through in the colder months of the year. It is very common that bearded dragons will shed their skin very soon after the brumation period has passed. When becoming inactive during the brumation period, a bearded dragon will have no need to shed its skin. It will likely be eating less and will want to conserve as much energy as possible throughout this process. Soon after however, they may not have shed their skin for 3, maybe 4 months, so a shed will be well over due. They will likely do this within the first couple of weeks after brumating.

Shedding Problems That May Occur

Some problems can occur for bearded dragons from abnormal shedding. Shedding can sometimes be quicker or much longer than intended and this can lead to severe health problems. Keeping a record of your bearded dragons shedding patterns is a great way to acknowledge if there are any potential problems with the process. This way you can clearly see if they are shedding too often, or not often enough, giving you the ability to find the possible reasons why early. Always remember to affair a water bowl which is big enough for them to bathe in.

Prolonged shedding process

A prolonged shedding process could be the result of a bacterial infections, mites or incorrect humidity levels. Problems occur when skin is retained, as the shedding process will continue until all the skin has fallen off. This means the new layer of skin can not toughen up, which leaves it exposed to potentially harmful bacteria, and the possibility of cuts and wounds.

Retained skins can also massively reduce the blood circulation for bearded dragons. This is most commonly seen on their tails, with the end of their tails becoming black. This is a clear sign that skin has been retain. If you do not get you bearded dragons to a veterinarian soon, your dragon may loose its tails completely. This has also been the case for other limbs such as their legs. Lack of blood flow and oxygen to their legs means they’re at risk of losing the functions to it.

Shortened shedding process

A shortened process is most commonly seen in juvenile bearded dragons, and can be an indication that their growth rate is too slow. A baby or juvenile bearded dragons should always be interested in eating, to the point where they will continue to eat an unhealthy amount if you would let them. Obviously you don’t want to do this, but their appetite is always very high. 

One of the most common reason for this to happen is due to the humidity level. It is simply just too high. Keeping track of this with a digit hydrometer is the best way to ensure the correct exposure level of humidity. High humidity can leave a bearded dragon vulnerable to mite infections and yellow fungus disease (YFD) which will then need to be treated by a veterinarian. 

Here are some great tips for you to ensure your bearded dragon is shedding correctly throughout its lifespan;

Baby/Juvenile bearded dragons will shed more than mature adults

Throughout the first 12 months of a bearded dragons life its metabolism is very high. It will need to eat a considerable amount to keep up with its growth rate. This fast growth rate means a juvenile will need to she its skin for frequently then adults will.

There is no set schedule for shedding. 

Bearded dragons do not have a set time or schedule for shedding. It could be every month, it could be every three months. It is completely up to the individual and its environmental conditions. Use a thermometer to check the enclosure temperature.

Fully mature bearded dragons shed in patches.

Once fully mature, bearded dragons will slow their shedding process to maybe twice a year. They will also shed their skin in patches at different times, over longer period of time. This is complelety natural, so do not worry.

Shedding can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.

Again, the shedding process can take as little as a few days, or it can take a few weeks. This is completely down to the individual and its environment conditions. If the process seems either shortened or prolonged, I would suggest taking a look at the environmental conditions a little closer and making sure they are correct.

Bearded dragons will usually lose their appetite before the shedding process.

Before the shedding process a beard dragon will most likely lose their appetite. This is absolutely normal and you may still continue to offer them food through a shed, as they are using more energy than they usually would.

Behaviours may change

Sometimes a bearded dragon may become more aggressive throughout the shedding stage. Shedding is a stressful process for a bearded dragon as there are many complications that could occur. Naturally they will just want to be left alone.

They commonly lack energy and enthusiasm before and during the process.

Like I said before, the process is stressful and very tiring. This causes a lethargic state of mind and they will commonly become very inactive. You may see them spend more time in their hide.

Their skin will start to look grey in colour, and sometimes even white.

A beard dragons skin colour will start to turn very dark. Before you google these symptoms and wrongly diagnose it for some other illness, wait for a couple of days and you should see it start to turn grey, and eventually white before the peeling commences.

Their eyes may look bulged, this is completely normal.

This is a very strange actions and will undoubtably take you by surprise. Bearded dragons have the capability to bulge their eyes, which looks like they are about to pop. As weird as this looks, don’t be alarmed. They eye bulge to loosen and stretch the skin around their eye, as this is one of the most difficult places to shed for a bearded dragon and helps the process around that particular area.

Never pull at peeling skin, it will fall off naturally.

More than likely, if the flakey skin hasn’t fallen off, then it is still attached to the under layer on skin. Pulling the skin off will cause a lot of pain for your bearded dragon, and the new (now sore) layer will likely become infected. 

Retained shedding is common, so keep a close eye through this period of time.

Sometimes shedded skin will stay retained. This can cause a lot of discomfort for your beard dragons and may even reduce blood circulation. You will need to keep a close eye on them to make sure this doesn’t happen. If you see some skin that does look retained, you can take a cotton bud and dip it in water, then gentled rub the retain area in a circular motion to hopefully free up the retained skin. If this doesn’t work, or your dragon shows signs os stress or pain, stop. Take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible and seek professional advise.

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