A bearded dragon bite is something that many new and prospective owners wonder about. And we totally understand why.
Many times this is the first lizard (or even reptile) that people consider purchasing, and they want to know what they’re getting into. Unlike other pets, bearded dragons are an animal that many people don’t have prior experience with.
Interestingly enough, “do bearded dragons bite?” is one of the most popular questions we get. This is probably due to their prehistoric look and unique temperament.
So that’s what we’ll address in this guide. You’ll learn if they bite (spoiler alert: they do), why they bite, and if a nip from these lizards is anything to worry about.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- So, Do Bearded Dragons Bite?
- Why Do They Bite?
- Do Bearded Dragon Bites Hurt?
- What To Do If You Get Bitten
- How To Avoid Getting Bitten Again In The Future
So, Do Bearded Dragons Bite?
The short answer to this question is yes, bearded dragons do bite. However, it’s not something that will happen often (if it does that means there’s something wrong).
In fact, many bearded dragon owners never get bitten at all! You’re far more likely to get intentionally scratched by a cat (because they’re demons) than bitten by a bearded dragon.
Why Do They Bite?
Understanding the cause of a bearded dragon bite is actually a very important skill that all owners should develop. It’s another signal or piece of information you can use to provide them with better care.
In many ways, the actions of your pet bearded dragon are easier to read than the actions of a human. There’s no deception or trickery. They’ll make it clear how they’re feeling!
Because of their friendly nature, a bearded dragon bite usually means there’s something wrong (unless it’s an accident). It’s then up to you to combine your experience with common sense to figure out what needs to change.
Expert Tip: Remember, they’re never biting just to be mean. They’re trying to tell you something!
Below are the most common reasons why a bearded dragon might try to bite you. These are all things you can influence as an owner and should be pretty easy to recognize.
1. They’re Hungry
We wanted to include this reason first because it’s the least exciting and most obvious cause on the list.
Bearded dragons like to eat. Just like any pet, they get pretty darn excited when it’s time for a meal. While all this is going on, it’s entirely possible that you can accidentally get nipped during the process.
There are a number of ways this can happen. The first and most straightforward is if you’re hand-feeding them and they accidentally bite your finger in the process. This is something that you and your beardie will get better at over time if you continue feeding them by hand (this is something that’s more common for snacks and treats than full meals.
It’s also possible for your hand to smell tasty after you’ve been touching their food. If this is the case (and you dangle your fingers in their enclosure for long enough) they might get confused and nip your finger by accident. They’ll obviously realize this mistake rather quickly and abort the attempt, but by then they’ve already bitten you.
The best way to avoid this is by sticking with consistent handwashing habits before you handle them. This is something you should be doing regardless, but it will help reduce the possibility of a mistake as well.
2. They’ve Gotten A Bit Too Excited
This usually happens around feeding time, but it can occur in other instances as well. A lot of new owners don’t realize that bearded dragons can get their own version of the “zoomies” that you see in other pets.
This is very rare and is shown in different ways (they won’t be running all over the place for example. Instead, they’ll just be more active and responsive to any outside stimulation.
When they’re all fired up and ready to go there’s a higher chance that they’ll bite you (although still very uncommon). This isn’t a malicious act and pretty much requires you to be handling them or feeding them in a way that brings up their excitement levels.
We recommend avoiding this and keeping them calm and happy. There’s a fine line between excitement and stress with bearded dragons, and it’s very hard to tell the difference. If you do a good job of making them feel safe and relaxed, your chance of being bitten goes down significantly.
3. They Feel Unsafe
This is where we get into the reasons that need to be addressed more seriously. As you might imagine, a bearded dragon bite is far more likely to occur if they feel like they need to defend themselves.
It’s a pretty universal animal response, and it works like a charm.
There are a number of situations that can make bearded dragons feel unsafe or threatened. Maybe you have other pets that are sniffing around their enclosure and making your beardie feel like they’re on the menu. This is something that many new owners overlook, and it’s why safe enclosure placement away from other pets is so important.
When a bearded dragon is brought to a new environment they’re more likely to feel freaked out and threatened as well. This could be the first time you bring them back from the pet store, or even if you upgrade them to a new enclosure.
Anything that throws them out of their comfort zone can increase their levels of stress and result in a potential bite. That’s why your goal should always be to keep them in a relaxed, calm, and stable environment.
Expert Tip: If you do have to make a big change in their environment, it’s not the end of the world. Simply let them acclimate to their new home before you try and resume handling.
4. You’re Doing Something They Don’t Like
There are a number of different things you can do that will make a bearded dragon bite you, and most of the time it comes from poor handling techniques.
If you hold these reptiles in a way that they don’t like there’s a good chance they’ll try and squirm out first. If you continue to handle them improperly, that’s when they might bite you in hope that you’ll get the message.
Some examples of ways you can handle a bearded dragon that will cause them to bite you are:
- Holding them too tightly
- Poking or prodding them
- Pinching them (even accidentally)
- Refusing to put them down if they want space
This is why it’s so important to gradually work your way up when it comes to handling. This will not only make your bearded dragon more comfortable with you (more on that in the section below), but it will improve your handling skills as well.
Over time you’ll know how to pick them up in a way that is comfortable with them. You’ll also be able to identify the signs they give you that they want to be put down.
Just like people, the mood of your bearded dragon will vary. Sometimes they’ll be fine with you handling them, and other times they won’t. It’s your job to recognize these signs to keep your lizard happy (and to prevent yourself from getting bitten).
5. They Aren’t Used To People Yet
When a bearded dragon is young, everything is very new to them. Their enclosure, the environment, and you are all things they don’t trust yet.
As you might expect, this lack of trust will keep them on edge. And when they’re on edge there’s a far greater chance they’ll bite you.
It’s important to let your bearded dragon adjust to new people slowly. Ease into all experiences and try to understand that they’re probably a little bit freaked out!
Don’t jump into handling your beardie a bunch after you’ve just gotten them. Work your way into it.
If your friend or relative wants to pick them up, do this with caution and look for any signs that your bearded dragon isn’t comfortable. If you see anything you don’t like then it’s best to hold off.
Do Bearded Dragon Bites Hurt?
Because most people don’t understand the teeth situation of these reptiles until they own one, a lot of prospective owners aren’t sure if a bearded dragon bite hurts or not.
Some people online say it hurts a bunch, and others say it doesn’t hurt at all.
So which is it?
The answer is it’s situational, but the worst-case scenario really isn’t that painful. Even though these lizards have tiny sharp teeth, it really just feels like a brief pinch or sting.
The age of your bearded dragon when it bites you will impact how much their bite hurts too. Younger beardies can’t bite as hard as older ones. This is a good thing because a baby bearded dragon that’s being brought home for the first time is far more likely to bite you!
The nature of the bite matters as well. There’s a difference in pain between a small nip by accident and an intentional bite when they’re upset.
At the end of the day, there’s really nothing to be scared of.
Is The Bite Dangerous?
This is another follow-up question that we get a lot. It seems that a lot of people think these creatures might be poisonous or something!
But thankfully, it’s just a bite. It’s always smart to clean the spot of the bite to prevent any bacteria or infection from setting in (although the risk of that is very low). We’ll briefly cover that in the following section, but there’s really not much to do!
However, a bite from a bearded dragon could end up hurting them more than you.
When a new owner gets bitten they’re usually not expecting it. And in their surprise, they might yank their hand back (it is instinct after all).
In doing this, there’s a chance their beardie falls to the floor or goes flying. This can cause a serious injury (even if you’re providing them with enough calcium).
It might seem difficult, but you should always do your best to not react in such an extreme way if your bearded dragon bites you.
If they bite you and don’t let go, simply use your other hand to open their mouth to free your precious finger. If you pull this will only trigger their instinct to clamp down, and ultimately injure them.
What To Do If You Get Bitten
We’re not going to make this section very long, because in our opinion there’s not much to talk about.
At worst, a bearded dragon bite is essentially a small cut. You’re not in any immediate danger.
Your main concern should be to clean the spot of the bite to get rid of any bacteria. While the chance of you actually getting sick is extremely low (their poop carries more bacteria), washing the area, as well as your hands, can’t hurt.
Expert Tip: If you want to go all-out you can treat the “wound” with alcohol or Neosporin. Honestly, we’ve never done this but understand that some people like to play things safe.
How To Avoid Getting Bitten Again In The Future
If you want to avoid a bearded dragon bite in the future (which you should), it all comes back to understanding the cause in the first place.
When you know why the bite happened it’s relatively easy to prevent it from happening in the future.
Did they bite you because you help them wrong? If so, use a better handling technique and be sensitive to the signs they give you.
Did your finger accidentally look like a tasty worm? Try feeding them from your palm.
The process of owning a bearded dragon is all about learning to understand these reptiles and how to keep them comfortable. You won’t know it all on day 1, and that’s ok. Just do your best to improve each day!
As you can see, a bearded dragon bite is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it can be used as valuable information to help you provide better care!
The chance of a bite is always there when you own an animal. It’s just the way it goes.
However, the chance of you getting bit is actually very low. We actually know many owners who have never gotten nipped by their beardie!
Maybe you’ll join their club as well.