How to prevent tail rot in bearded dragons
Skin trauma from shedding, injury or insufficient vivarium humidity can cause tail rot in bearded dragons. Clean a wounded tail with warm water and apply a reptile-safe antiseptic such as tamodine to kill off infection, aid healing and prevent tail rot.
Bath your beardie regularly, particularly after a shed, to prevent dead skin accumulating on his tail. If the skin doesn’t peel off naturally from shedding it builds up over time and restricts blood flow causing the affected part of the tail to blacken and fall off.
Never keep two adult males together because they will fight and injuries from fighting can lead to tail rot if left untreated. Baby bearded dragons fight over food so nipped tails and toes in youngsters are common. When buying a beardie, check for recent injuries to the extremities and make sure that any old injuries are properly healed. Tail damage from fighting doesn’t necessarily develop into tail rot if you catch it early and treat it with an appropriate antiseptic. If the skin doesn't heal and starts to go black, see your vet for advice.
- Never keep two adult males together because they will fight and injuries from fighting can lead to tail rot if left untreated.
Healthy bearded dragons shed their skin regularly but toes and tails are prone to a build up of old skin that thickens each time it doesn’t shed properly. If the tip of your dragon’s has unshed skin, don’t try and peel it off because this could do more harm than good. Commercial reptile shedding aids are natural oil-based sprays that moisturise and help to remove surplus skin.
Desert species of reptiles such as bearded dragons are at particular risk of tail rot due to a lack of humidity in their vivarium. Although beardies need an environment that is predominantly arid, you must also provide a moist hide area in the enclosure to assist shedding and prevent dry skin at the extremities. You can also bathe your beardie once a week to keep his skin hydrated.
Burns from heat lamps and UV lighting can cause injuries that lead to tail rot. Keep your pet safe and cover all your vivarium’s heat sources with a guard or cage to prevent burns and attach heat lamps out of your beardie’s reach. Bearded dragons like to bask in the hottest part of their enclosure and if the heat source is situated too low there is a risk that your dragon will try to climb on to it to stay warm.
Alex Burgess has been a professional writer since 1990, specializing in travel, herpetology, lifestyle, fashion, health and fitness. Her work has appeared in various British newspapers, magazines and international online publications. Burgess studied design before working as a journalist in England.