Do Bearded Dragons Bite and Does It Hurt?


If you haven’t been around a bearded dragon and are only going by the name, they may seem like dangerous, scaly little creatures. Creatures that have spiky, sharp teeth, perfect for biting!

Do bearded dragons bite, and does it hurt? Yes, bearded dragons do bite, but not often. When they do bite, it is typically for a good reason. The bite of a bearded dragon is a small stinging sensation; it doesn’t hurt as much as a cat or dog bite.

Bearded dragons are known for being very well-tempered. They only bite under extreme circumstances to get a message across. Or fingers that smell like food may get nipped by a hungry beardy by mistake. Here’s more about when and why beardies may take a snap at you.

An adult biting you will obviously hurt more than a juvenile dragon, but the shock is the worst part of the bite.

While the bite may not hurt, it could lead to infection if it is not cleaned properly because bearded dragons carry lots of bacteria.

Why a Bearded Dragon Might Bite

The bearded dragon is one of the most laid-back, and mild-mannered of all the reptiles. They are known for being a fairly easy reptile to own and handle because of this. Since they aren’t known for biting very often, under what circumstances do they bite?

Here are a few reasons why a bearded dragon may bite.

  • Out of hunger if they smell food on you
  • Out of defense when attacked
  • Out of fear or defense if they are mishandled

But, in all these cases, a bearded dragon is reacting by instinct: protecting itself or seeking food. Most bites are just a misunderstanding. It doesn’t mean your bearded dragon is a monster or that it dislikes you. It just means it is reacting due to its instincts.

Food

This is one of the most common reasons that a bearded dragon may bite somebody. If your hands smell like food and your beardy is hungry – look out!

If you forget to wash hands after handling food and you reach into the beardies’ habitat, then because of their special senses, the beardy may give a quick nip out of instinct. Their sense of smell comes from taste. So, if they smell food on your finger, they may try to take a bite of what they think is food.

Others have been bitten during feeding, from not getting their hand out of the way of a hungry bearded dragon while setting down food. Move quickly during the process, just to be safe!

Out of Defense

Your bearded dragon may feel threatened under some circumstances and lash out in defense. They could sense danger or just be unhappy with the situation that they’re in.

They may also be scared, and biting is the only way they know how to react. Many people see that this is the case with bearded dragons that have found new homes and are stressed out in their new environment or uncomfortable with a new owner.

Mishandling

For people that have no experience with the breed or reptiles in general, they will probably mishandle them quite a few times, which will inevitably lead to being bitten.

Picking up the bearded dragon incorrectly could lead to injuring the beardy and yourself in the process.

The most common scenario is children who are so excited that they pick up the dragon roughly or awkwardly, and the dragon bites them to show its disapproval.

How to Prevent Your Bearded Dragon from Biting

Bite prevention depends a lot on the situation, as we previously discussed three main scenarios above. Any one of those situations that prompts an instinctual reaction will cause your bearded dragon to bite.

  • Wash your hands. If the bite results from you smelling like food, the solution would be to not smell like food. You must wash your hands well before handling your beardy or reaching into its cage.
  • Handle with care. You must make sure you know how to properly hold, pick up, and handle your beardy. Most importantly, promptly demonstrate these techniques to any guests.
  • Be gentle, soothing, and patient. The most difficult scenario to rectify will be when a bearded dragon feels threatened. Working through anxiety or fear will take the most time and patience of all.

You need to make sure your beardy remains comfortable and that they feel as safe as possible so there would be no reason to bite. The best way to do this is through repeated contact, which will take time.

You also need to know the telltale signs that your beardy may bite so that you can take proper precautions, either wearing gloves or leaving him alone.

Warning signs your dragon is about to bite:

  • Fluffs up their throat
  • Changes to a darker color tone
  • Starts hissing

The dragon in the following clip is clearly showing these warning signs and should be left alone.

When displaying these signals, if they can reach you and take a nip, they probably will. If you notice these behaviors, don’t disturb them, or if you are already holding them, put them back down in their home.

There is a rumor that if you try to handle your beardie in these circumstances and try to comfort it, you may strengthen your bond. But if you are going to attempt this, make sure you are wearing gloves!

General tips to avoid getting bitten:

  • Keep it on a routine feeding schedule
  • Pick your dragon up correctly
  • Keep away if the beardy starts showing defensive signs
  • Wear proper clothing and gloves when handling an aggressive bearded dragon

Bearded Dragons Make Mistakes

Many owners report that when they have been bitten mostly during feeding time that the bearded dragon is very quick to stop, appearing to realize it was a mistake.

What Do Bearded Dragon’s Bites Feel Like

Bearded dragons have very sharp teeth that are serrated like a knife. The bites can feel very different depending on the age and size of the bearded dragon. Some say that it is just a small stinging sensation in the case of juveniles. Others will say that it will pinch very hard and may even draw blood.

The other variables that could cause a difference in the bite are if they are actually trying to hurt you from feeling genuinely threatened or they simply nip by trying to go for some food. In the case of attacking you, they will still only draw a small amount of blood.

Though it may or may not hurt, the infection could still get to you, and any indication of your beardy biting you on purpose is obviously bad news. If you start to believe that your bearded dragon is aggressive and/or sees you as an enemy, consult your vet for advice.

Is a Beardy’s Bite Dangerous to Humans

The bites of bearded dragons are not usually dangerous. The most dangerous aspects come from the ability to become infected due to the bearded dragons carrying lots of bacteria.

Some possible results after a bite by a bearded dragon:

  • Bleeding profusely
  • Swelling
  • Salmonella infection

These symptoms are possible but aren’t common, keep in mind that bites from cats and dogs are much worse than bearded dragon bites.

The most serious problem is the risk of salmonella; the mouths of bearded dragons can carry salmonella bacteria. These bacteria will transfer to humans if bitten. Being infected with this can lead to serious intestinal problems.

This is why it is so often stressed how important it is to disinfect your hands and scrub them with antibacterial soap and hot water before and after you handle the dragon to avoid getting this infection.

Note: If you are bitten to the point of drawing blood, contact your doctor. It may be recommended that you get a tetanus shot if it has been 5 years since your last one.

Are Bearded Dragon Bites Poisonous?

Bearded dragons themselves do produce venom, but the amount of venom produced is very small and harmless to many animals, including humans. There is no need to worry about getting poisoned from these bites.

What to Do If a Bearded Dragon Bites You

Sometimes despite your best effort, you will just get bitten, and you will need to know what steps you have to take to stop any bleeding and prevent potential infections.

What If He Won’t Let Go

If your bearded dragon is biting you and won’t let go, then you will need to first support his body with a towel or anything around you that will prevent him from being flung around in the air. Any wiggling he does will cause the teeth to cut even deeper into you.

If he gets really irritated, he may even scratch you with his long nails, which would be another problem. Once he is propped up, try to open the mouth gently, they don’t have much jaw pressure so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Rinse your hands with soap and water, applying disinfectant spray after you have him removed.

Bearded Dragon Bite Antiseptic Wipe Treatment

Don’t panic if you find yourself bitten by a bearded dragon. An alternative way to treat the bite is very simple: clean the area as fast as possible with an antiseptic wipe.

This is the most critical part of treatment, bearded dragons carry lots of bacteria, and even if the skin isn’t broken it should still be cleaned up to avoid any risks. You should also wash your hands after touching them at any time for this reason.

One antiseptic wipe will be enough to clean the bitten area because the bites aren’t very large; this will prevent potential infections.

  • If the bite went through the skin, then you will need to apply a bandage after the antiseptic.
  • Keep this whole area clean and dry until it is fully healthy again.

Analyze Why You Were Bitten

Make sure you know why you were just bitten so you can make sure not to repeat those same steps again in the future.

  • Were you mishandling the dragon?
  • Do you pick him up incorrectly?
  • Did the body part that got bitten smell like food?
  • Was your dragon displaying defensive gestures that you ignored?

How Do You Pick up a Bearded Dragon?

First, you must make sure you don’t make any sudden movements, so you don’t scare him off.

Carefully slide your hand under their belly, for babies keep one finger under their chin, they will hold onto the finger. For larger dragons, you may have to use two hands to properly support the back legs. Gently lift the bearded dragon up and let the tail rest on your forearm.

If they try to run, let them and don’t squeeze or grasp them tightly. This simply means they aren’t ready to be picked up at the moment.

Keep the bearded dragon as close to your body as you can to prevent it from falling from your arms.

Respect Bearded Dragons

While bearded dragons may not bite you very often, it is still very important that you show your beardy respect and communicate, you are a safe and friendly presence.

Showing lots of friendly human contact will only make your bearded dragon happier and more relaxed around people.

Being bitten by a bearded dragon is not a big problem, and it most certainly doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. You need to instead re-evaluate the situation. Punishing the dragon for biting you will not solve anything because it doesn’t understand punishment.

Learn what you did wrong and make sure it isn’t repeated, most owners never even experience a bite from their bearded dragon so that should show you how rare of an experience this actually is.

Mark Ingram

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it was informative and useful in some way. I love all of my pets and their care is paramount to me. I hope that my writing will help others in caring for their pets also.

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