Aggression is not something you usually have to worry about when it comes to bearded dragons, they are touted as calm reptiles, often described by their owners as keeping to themselves.
However, like with most animals, there are times when a bearded dragon might react to a situation by biting an unsuspecting human. It’s important to know why bearded dragons bite, the symptoms and risks, and how to care for a bearded dragon bite to avoid infection.
Do bearded dragons bite? Yes, but it’s usually not the end of the world.
Why did my bearded dragon bite me?
You’re probably wondering why your normally docile bearded dragon bit you. Especially if you didn’t do anything different than you usually do. There are a few reasons why a bearded dragon might bite a human, they include:
Feeding: This is probably the most common reason why a bearded dragon bites and it’s usually accidental. During feeding, a bearded dragon might nip your hand if you fail to move it away in time or they might be attracted to the smell of food lingering on your hands.
Feeling stressed/threatened: If your bearded dragon’s environment has changed recently or they are in a situation they might deem threatening, it’s best to restrict handling (unless necessary) because it’s not uncommon for a bearded dragon to lash out while feeling extreme emotions.
Mishandling: Mishandling usually occurs by children and adults unfamiliar with the reptile. When handled incorrectly, a bearded dragon might react by biting, a sign that they are feeling uncomfortable.
How serious is a bearded dragon bite?
Luckily, in most cases, a bearded dragon bite is nothing to worry about. While a bearded dragon’s bite produces venom, it’s not very strong and is shown to have little to no effect on humans. It has been reported that most people find the bite of a bearded dragon to hurt significantly less than the bite received from a cat or dog.
Depending on the type of bite, bleeding, and redness and swelling around the affected area are common side effects.
Treatment for Bites
Treating a bearded dragon bite is relatively simple. Like with all reptiles, a bearded dragon’s mouth is full of bacteria so the most important thing you can do is immediately wash the wound with hot water and antibacterial soap. You can also disinfect the wound using an antiseptic wipe or spray.
In cases where the bite breaks the skin, it is recommended that you receive a tetanus shot (unless you have gotten one within the last 10 years).
Complications with Bearded Dragon Bites
In severe cases, a bearded dragon bite can lead to infections like salmonella. Symptoms include bloody stools, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, fever and chills, and can last anywhere from 2-7 days. Children and people with compromised immune systems are more at risk and should be monitored closely for signs of dehydration.
If your symptoms persist longer than average, seek medical attention immediately.
How to Avoid Being Bitten
To avoid being bit by your bearded dragon, it’s important to wash your hands after handling food to remove tempting odors. You’ll also want to watch for these signs of aggression and refrain from handling if possible: darkening or fluffing of the throat, and hissing noises.
Children should be supervised around the bearded dragon and refrain from handling until old enough to learn safe handling techniques.
While bearded dragon bites can be painful, they are usually nothing to worry about. Proper handwashing and treatment of wounds can do a lot to reduce the likelihood of an infection developing. You can avoid a bearded dragon bite by learning how to handle them safely and watching for signs of aggression before getting too close to your bearded dragon.