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How To Cut Bearded Dragon Nails

Nail cutting or trimming is an essential part of bearded dragon care. Cutting your beardie’s nails is good for the beardie owner and the reptile. Long, sharp nails will likely scratch you and may even puncture your skin when handling your lizard buddy.


On the other hand, long nails can be inconvenient for the animal. The nails will bend your pet’s toes to the side. And worse still, they can break and cause pain for your pet reptile. Besides the discomfort, broken nails can increase the risk of infection.


You can prevent all of these from happening by learning how to cut your bearded dragon nails. That’s what this guide will show you. Also, you’ll learn how often you should give your lizard a nail trim.


Things You’ll Need

  • Nail clipper (standard toenail clippers works fine)

  • Alcohol (for cleaning and disinfecting the nail clippers)

  • Towel

  • Dragon treat

Here’s something to keep in mind when shopping for nail clippers. You don’t need any fancy, expensive reptile nail clipper or trimmer for your bearded dragon. Of course, your pet reptile is worth the investment, but you shouldn’t throw away your money when just about any standard toenail clipper can get the job done.


However, you may need a stronger and sharper nail clipper if your beardie has thick claws, particularly with fully grown adult bearded dragons.


How to Cut Your Bearded Dragon Nails

bearded dragon terrarium

Cutting bearded dragon nails is not difficult, but you need to know how to do it correctly so you don’t inadvertently hurt your lizard in the process.


Step 1: Clean the Nail Clipper


First, clean the nail clipper using alcohol to remove any germs or bacteria that may be present on the cutting tool.


Step 2: Make Your Beardie Comfortable


It will be difficult to do a good job if your buddy is agitated, in a bad mood, or in survival mode. If your beardie feels threatened in any way, it might not be a good time for nail trimming.


For this reason, it is important to get your buddy into a calm state before attempting to cut its nails. There are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • Give your beardie a warm bath right before starting the nail-cutting process.

  • Gently stroking your pet on the head or rubbing it under the chin and cheeks.

  • Give it some food, like this pre-packed munchies option.

Step 3: Hold the Bearded Dragon to Limit Movement


Wiggling can make claw cutting difficult. You may accidentally hurt your pet by cutting too deep if it keeps struggling, so you need to hold your pet’s limb to keep it steady while you cut the nails.


Make sure you don’t surprise your beardie. Let it see your hand as you move it in front of its eyes and down to its foot. Hold the foot gently and firmly but don’t crush it to avoid pain and injury.


It might be necessary to wrap your pet in a soft, warm towel to make it more comfortable, especially if your beardie keeps wiggling and you don’t have the patience to wait for another time.


Here’s the thing, though. An experienced beardie owner can trim their pet nails without holding down the limbs. That’s because they have done the process several times, and the lizard likes and trusts the owner.


This might not be the case if it is your first time cutting your pet’s nails. Get your pet to like and trust you through constant bonding to reduce the need to hold it down for nail trimming.


Step 4: Cut the Nails


Beardie nails consist of the tip, bump, pigment, and the quick. Your goal is to cut the tip as much as possible without touching the other parts. The tip is black – that’s what you should cut. Avoid cutting other parts because they contain blood vessels that you might damage if you cut too close to them.


After cutting, check to see if the nails need more trimming. Remember that it is best to be conservative and cut too little than to cut off too much. You can’t undo it if you cut the nails too short, but you can trim off more if they are not short enough.


It might be a good idea to cut only a few nails at a time, especially if your beardie continues to struggle. You can always come back to the care routine at a later time.


Step 5: Reward Your Beardie


Give your lizard buddy a treat once you are done with the nail-cutting job. Your pet will be happy, and you will have a more pleasant experience holding it without scratches.


Lastly, remember to clean the nail clipper using alcohol before putting it away. Like many other household pets, bearded dragons can carry bacteria. For this reason, always disinfect the clipper to avoid transferring germs.


How Often Should You Cut Your Beardie’s Nails?

orange bearded dragon on grass

There is no one-size-fits-all for the nail-cutting frequency for bearded dragons. Several factors come into play here, including your little guy’s activity level, the type of substrate in the enclosure, and how fast the nails grow.


Bearded dragons keep their nails short and blunt by their normal activities in the wild. Digging, climbing, and crawling on rocks help the reptiles to maintain their nails naturally. However, the conditions in an enclosure can be very different from their natural habitat, depending on their owner.


Their nails can become too long if the tank or cage doesn’t have items that can naturally keep their nails short as they carry on their normal activity. And even if the enclosure has a couple of rocks, pieces of logs, and substrates the reptile can dig into, it is still not the same as what’s available in the wild.


For this reason, you should take the time to cut your pet’s nails when they become long. Thankfully, the task is not difficult and doesn’t take more than two to three minutes.


Generally, most beardie owners trim their pet’s nails at least one to two times a year. Some owners do it as many as five times a year. Still, others cut the front limb nails only once or twice a year while giving the hind limb nails a trim about three to four times every year.


In other words, it all comes down to your pet and what’s convenient for you. In any case, you should cut your bearded dragon’s nails when you notice ingrown nails – the nails start to curl inward or underneath.


This can make crawling uncomfortable for the reptile and even painful if you ignore it for a long time. Ingrown nails can also cause your pet to have difficulty digging, climbing, and getting traction.


Another obvious sign that your beardie needs a nail trim is when it starts to scratch you or dig into items such as your sofa and rugs and tear them. Once you notice these signs, you should consider cutting the nails.

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