Not only do most bearded dragons enjoy a good bath, there are also several health benefits that time in the tub can provide to them. Bathing your bearded dragon can aid in the shedding process, helps to keep them hydrated, can relieve mild constipation, and keeps them clean after long days spent in their terrarium.
So, can my bearded dragon shower with me? Unfortunately, no, you should not shower with your bearded dragon. Showering with your bearded dragon is not a viable alternative, as it can cause potential harm and will not provide the same health benefits as a bath.
While this may be a bit disappointing, and doesn’t allow for the time-saving, pet-bonding doubles shower you might prefer, your bearded dragon will thank you for providing her with her own supervised bathing time. Read on to find out why you might also be happy not to share the shower stall with your reptilian friend.
Showering Does Not Allow Your Bearded Dragon to Drink Water
In the wild, a bearded dragon’s water supply comes mostly from the vegetation they eat, and from the water droplets that form on that vegetation. You will hopefully have a dish of water available to your bearded dragon in her terrarium.
However, giving her a regular bath is crucial to supplementing her hydration needs, since many bearded dragons are more inclined to sip their bath water than the water provided in their dish. (In fact, if you want your bearded dragon to drink from a dish at all, you may have to train her to do so.)
Many novice reptile owners underestimate their bearded dragon’s need for water. Brad Lock, DVM, DACZM states, “…captive dragons are often in a state of undetectable, chronic dehydration because of the misunderstood need of a ‘desert’ lizard for water. Some dragons aren’t given the amount of water that they need to be healthy.”1
Even if you’re feeding your beardie a regular diet of vegetables and providing water in a dish, they will still need ample occasion for bathtime drinks.
Showering with a bearded dragon does not provide them with the same opportunity to sip the water around them. In order to effectively supplement your beardie’s hydration and prevent conditions such as constipation, you’ll need to bathe them a couple times a week in water that is approximately two inches deep, or reaches the dragon’s shoulders.
Showering Does Not Help Your Bearded Dragon to Poop
There are a few factors that determine how often your bearded dragon should poop, including age, diet, and exposure to UVA and UVB light.
Baby beardies poop far more often than adults, typically defecating once a day, if not much more. Young bearded dragons, those 4 – 18 months of age, poop about every other day. Once your bearded dragon reaches adulthood, or is over 18 months of age, they should poop anywhere from 1 – 7 times per week (depending on their diet).
Bearded dragons who consume mostly crickets may poop 1 – 3 times a week, while those with diets that are more calcium-rich (due to higher consumption of silk worms, for example) may poop daily. Providing your bearded dragon with fruit and vegetables can also help them stay regular (collard greens, turnip greens, bell peppers, and broccoli are a few fantastic options).
Additionally, bearded dragon’s must receive both UVA and UVB radiation to maintain healthy digestion. UVA helps beardies to maintain a good, healthy appetite, among other things. UVB light helps them to properly metabolize calcium and vitamin D3.
Bearded dragons who are not receiving adequate amounts of both types of radiation may experience digestive issues, such as constipation.
Bearded dragons also need sufficient exercise to ensure regular bowel movements. (And hey, what better way to provide that exercise and stave off boredom than by letting your beardie paddle around in her bath!)
Even if you’re doing everything right, constipation, unfortunately, is still fairly common for bearded dragons. In fact, it is one of the top reasons for veterinary visits.
If your bearded dragon is pooping less than is expected for her age and diet, and is displaying other symptoms of constipation such as lethargy and loss of appetite, a warm bath may help. Regular bathing also goes a long way in preventing constipation in the first place.
It is extremely common for bearded dragons to defecate in their baths. (When they do, remove the poop immediately using a cup to avoid contamination, or end the bath.) Warm water does wonders for moving a bearded dragon’s bowels. However, in order to receive this benefit, your dragon must be submerged in water that is lukewarm, or between 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water sprinkled from a showerhead does not exactly provide the same sort of gastrointestinal relief for a beardie. Not to mention, most humans enjoy a shower-water temperature that is closer to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way too hot for your reptilian friend.
Please note: If your dragon is constipated and a warm bath does not help, please call your veterinarian right away to make an appointment. Even if the bath does help them go, you’ll still want to speak with your veterinarian about the cause of your beardie’s constipation. This will enable you to make the necessary tweaks to their diet or environment and prevent it from happening again.
Showering Will Not Provide the Same Skincare Benefits as a Bath
In addition to providing moisturization benefits (which contribute to softer skin and better color for your beardie), regular baths can help your dragon with her skin-shedding process.
Soaking in warm water does wonders for removing stubborn old beardie skin that refuses to fall off on its own. The warm bathwater helps to soften, and therefore loosen, your bearded dragon’s dead skin.
It will then either fall off itself, or you can assist in the process by gently brushing your dragon with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Though it may be tempting, don’t ever pull on loose skin. Doing so could damage the new skin beneath it and potentially cause bleeding and infections.
Again, your bearded dragon really needs to be submerged in warm water in order to receive this skincare benefit. A shower just won’t cut it.
Your Shower Products May Be Harmful to your Bearded Dragon… and Their Poop can be Harmful to You
You should always avoid cleaning agents when it comes to bathing your bearded dragon. Soap, body wash, shampoo, and other human bath products contain chemicals that could potentially be quite harmful to a bearded dragon if they are ingested or come into contact with her skin.
The tubs and sinks in your home may also contain residue from these types of products. It is most preferable to gift your bearded dragon with a dedicated tub of her own to prevent even the slightest contact with household cleaning or bath products. A plastic storage container is the perfect solution.
Ideally, bearded dragons should also be bathed in either distilled water or water that has been dechlorinated using a reptile-safe water conditioner. Depending on the area you live in, the water rushing out of your shower head probably contains some amount of chlorine (it is one of the most common disinfecting agents used across the globe).
To keep your bearded dragon as healthy as possible, you should avoid contact with untreated tap water.
And last, but not least, as previously noted, bearded dragons will often poop in their baths. Though it is somewhat less likely, they may also poop while in the shower with you. Bearded dragon poop contains salmonella bacteria, which can make humans very sick. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the sort of thing I want floating around in the shower with me.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever and can even lead to hospitalization. Again, this is why it’s a fantastic idea to give your beardie buddy her own personal bathing container, rather than in a human-shared sink or tub.
While sharing a warm shower with your bearded dragon may sound like a fun activity and would allow for some additional bonding time, it isn’t the best idea. If you really want your pet to receive the full range of health benefits that water can provide, she needs to be submerged in a tub.
If showertime with your bearded dragon still sounds incredibly appealing, merely as a recreational activity, keep in mind that there is a certain amount of risk involved (mostly due to the factors you cannot necessarily control, such as chlorine content in your tap water and the possibility that your little bearded friend may poop while sharing the shower with you).
Your bearded dragon only has one life to live, and can live up to fifteen years if cared for properly. Do everything you can to promote their well-being by bathing them appropriately.
- Constipation in Reptiles by Brad Lock, DVM, DACZM https://www.vin.com/veterinarypartner/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=7996830