Bearded DragonBearded Dragon Care

How to Cut Bearded Dragon Nails Safely (Without Causing Injury)

One aspect often overlooked is bearded dragon nail trimming, which is essential to prevent overgrowth and potential health problems for this particular reptile.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cutting your bearded dragon’s nails, including:

  • How long should the nails be
  • How to cut them safely without making them bleed
  • How often do you cut bearded dragon nails
  • Ways to naturally maintain the nail length

First, we will look at the different parts that make up a bearded dragon’s nail so you know what you are looking at when analyzing your beardie’s claws.

Parts of a Bearded Dragon Nail to Know Before Cutting

an image reference on how to cut bearded dragon nails

A bearded dragon’s nail has four main parts: keratin, a quick, the cuticle, and the nail bed. Below is a brief explanation of each component.

  1. Keratin: The nail is keratin, a tough and durable protein found in hair, nails, and other animal structures.
  2. Quick: The quick is the pink area of the nail within the white part that contains blood vessels and nerves. The quick runs all the way from the bearded dragon’s toe to the bottom of the nail before the nail begins to thin. There is a bump at the bottom of the nail, which is a bump of living tissue with the nerve ending. It’s crucial to avoid cutting into the quick when trimming your bearded dragon’s claws, as it can cause pain and bleeding.
  3. Cuticle: The cuticle is the thin layer of skin covering the nail’s base. It helps protect the nail and keep it attached to the toe.
  4. Nail Bed: The nail bed is the tissue beneath the nail that supplies nutrients and blood to the nail. Keeping the nail bed healthy ensures proper nail growth and development.
  5. Nail Tip or Point: The thinner nail tip is often the black part of the nail that starts after the white area where the quick is located and forms a sharp point. This darker black part is the area that should be trimmed.

How to Know It Is Time to Cut a Bearded Dragon’s Nails?

The best way to know it is time to cut a bearded dragon’s nails is to look at the quicks inside the nail. It is time to cut the nails if they have grown far beyond the quick and come to a long point.

Ways to know if the nails of a bearded dragon are too long include:

  • Nails touching the ground lifting the toes
  • Difficulty gripping surfaces
  • Walking abnormally
  • Nails curling under
  • Snags or tears in the nails
  • Scratching
  • Sharp point to the touch

How Long Should My Bearded Dragon Lizard’s Nails Be?

Bearded dragon nails should be short enough not to touch the ground when they walk. If the nails are too long, they can cause discomfort or even lead to injury. Additionally, long nails can make it difficult for your pet to grip surfaces properly, causing them to slip or fall.

Items Needed to Cut a Beardie’s Nails

Trimming your bearded dragon’s nails requires a few specific tools to do the task safely and effectively. Here are the items you’ll need to gather before you begin:

Small Reptile Nail Clippers

This tool is designed specifically for trimming the nails of small pets such as reptile lizards, including bearded dragons. Choose a clipper that’s the appropriate size for your pet’s nails and make sure it’s sharp before use, as dull clippers can cause injuries.

Styptic Powder, Styptic Pencil, or Blood Clotting Gel

Styptic powder, a styptic pencil, or blood clotting gel helps stop bleeding if you cut the nail quick and cause irritation. Having either one of these on hand is essential to prevent excessive bleeding and discomfort.

If you do not have these and need to cut your nails, another option is cornstarch which will similar to the products above if there is no other option.

Treats

It’s always a good idea to have some treats on hand to reward your bearded dragon for their cooperation during the nail-trimming process. Treats can help make the experience more positive and reduce stress for you and your pet.

Optional: A Regular Nail File or Emery Board

If your bearded dragon’s nails are particularly sharp or rough, you may want to use a regular nail file or emery board to smooth them out after trimming. Be sure to choose a gentle file for your pet’s delicate nails.

Can I Use Human Nail Clippers on a Beardie?

No, it is not recommended to use human nail clippers on a bearded dragon. These clippers are not designed like pet nail trimmers to cut rounded nails. Human nail clippers can cause a wound to occur from potentially twisting the bearded dragon’s toe.

How to Trim Bearded Dragon Nails

a calm and sleepy bearded dragon

1) Get Your Beardie Cool, Calm, and Sleepy

Before trimming your bearded dragon’s nails, ensure they are comfortable and relaxed. You can achieve this by letting them cool down and become sleepy. To cool down your beardie, start by reducing the temperature of its enclosure and turning off any bright lights. Once the beardie becomes tired and begins to nestle down to sleep, bring it out of its enclosure onto a blanket.

2) Handling Its Foot The Right Way

Once your bearded dragon is calm and sleepy, you can begin to trim its nails. You’ll need to hold their claws in a specific way. Gently grasp their foot between your fingers and apply light pressure to the top of the toe pad. This pressure will cause the nail to extend, making it easier to see and cut.

3) Clipping Nails With a Trimming Tool

With the nail extended, you can now use a nail trimmer tool to cut the nail. Using a tool specifically designed for pets, such as a small animal nail clipper or a pair of cat nail trimmers, is essential. Avoid cutting too close to the quick, pink nail area containing blood vessels and nerves.

4) Repeat Nail-by-Nail on All 4 Feet

Once you’ve trimmed one nail, repeat the process on the other nails on the same foot. Move on to the next one when you’ve finished all the nails on that foot. Take your time and be patient, as rushing can cause accidental injury to your pet.

5) Clean The Clippers With Alcohol

Bearded dragons carry bacteria that will grow inside the substrate over time in the bearded dragon’s enclosure, especially if it is not sterilized regularly. It is essential to keep this tool clean to prevent the device from harvesting the bacteria and transferring it to you, where you store it, or back to the bearded dragon at a later date.

6) Wash Your Hands Thoroughly

Just like the tool, your hands will most likely have collected bacteria off of the bearded dragon while handling it and cutting its nails. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly once you put the bearded dragon back into its cage to prevent ingesting or spreading the bacteria around.

How Often Do Bearded Dragons Need Their Nails Trimmed?

a juvenile bearded dragon's nails

Adult bearded dragons need their nails trimmed every 4-6 weeks. This timeline allows for natural wear and tear of the nails and helps prevent them from becoming too long or sharp.

Juvenile bearded dragons may require frequent nail trimming as they grow faster than adults. You may need to trim their nails every 2-3 weeks to prevent them from becoming overgrown or sharp.

Why It Is Important to Keep Them Trimmed?

Keeping your bearded dragon’s nails trimmed is essential for several reasons, including:

  1. Comfort: Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and pain for your bearded dragon, especially if they curl under and pressure the toe pad. Trimming their nails can help prevent these issues and keep your pet comfortable.
  2. Health: Overgrown nails can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, leading to infections and other health problems. Trimming their nails can help prevent these issues and keep your pet healthy.
  3. Safety: Long nails can make it difficult for your bearded dragon to grip surfaces properly, which can cause them to slip, fall, or injure themselves. Additionally, sharp nails can scratch you or other pets in your household.
  4. Mobility: Overgrown nails can make it difficult for your bearded dragon to move around and climb, negatively impacting its overall health and well-being. Keeping their nails trimmed can help them move more freely and stay active.

Can I Use a File Instead of Clippers?

Yes, a file will work instead of clippers on bearded dragon nails. However, it may take longer and require more patience and skill than clippers. Using a file can also create more friction and heat, making your pet uncomfortable.

If you use a file, use a gentle one specifically designed for pet nails, such as a fine-grit emery board. Hold your bearded dragon’s foot steady and gently file the tip of the nail, being careful not to file too close to the quick. Use a back-and-forth motion, and continue until the nail is smooth and the desired length.

Remember that filing may not be as effective at trimming the nails as clippers, especially if your bearded dragon’s claws are long or thick. In that case, it’s best to stick to using clippers or seek the assistance of a professional groomer or vet.

How to Naturally Maintain Bearded Dragon Nails

a bearded dragon on a wooden log naturally filing its nails

The best way to naturally maintain bearded dragon nails is by placing items with rough surfaces into the bearded dragon’s enclosure that will naturally file down the nails. These rough surfaced items include stone tiles, such as slate tiles or porcelain tiles, for it to walk on and either wooden logs or natural rocks to climb on inside of your bearded dragon’s tank.

Slate or porcelain tile, wooden logs, and stones with a rough texture can naturally wear down your bearded dragon’s nails as they walk and climb.

If the stone tiles are too smooth or polished, it may not be sufficient to naturally wear down the nails to keep them at a reasonable length. However, ensuring that the slate tile is rough enough to maintain your pet’s nails is essential. You can test the tile’s roughness by running your fingers across it or by observing your pet’s nails to see if they’re naturally wearing down.

Additionally, it’s essential to keep the tile and rocks clean and free of debris that could cause injury or infection to your bearded dragon’s feet. Clean the tile regularly with a pet-safe disinfectant. Remove any sharp objects or debris that could harm your pet’s feet.

While stone tiles and rocks in the terrarium can help maintain your bearded dragon’s nails naturally, monitoring their nail growth and trimming them as needed to ensure your pet’s comfort, health, and safety is still important.

Ways to Make Bearded Dragon Nail Trimming Easier

Trimming your bearded dragon’s nails can be a stressful experience for both you and the beardie. Here are a few tips to make the experience of trimming a beardies nails easier:

  • Start Early: Getting your bearded dragon used to having their nails trimmed from an early age can help prevent fear and resistance in the future.
  • Regular Bathing: Giving a bearded dragon regular soaking sessions can keep their nails cleaner to make the quick more visible when nail trimming. Bathing once or twice a week can help keep the nails from turning dark from dirt so that you can see the quick.
  • Pre-Trim Foot Soak: Regular foot soaking can help soften the nails to make trimming easier. Soak their feet in a shallow dish of warm water for about 10-15 minutes before the nail trimming.
  • Make It Comfortable: Ensure your bearded dragon is comfortable during the nail trimming. You can use a towel or blanket to wrap your pet gently and securely, which can help reduce their stress and make them feel more at ease.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Use treats, praise, and reassurance to help make nail-trimming a positive experience for your pet. Offer treats before, during, and after the process to help keep your pet calm and happy.
  • Be Patient: Take your time during the nail trimming, and be patient with your pet. Rushing or forcing the process can cause your bearded dragon to become fearful and resistant.
  • Have a Helper:┬áHaving someone assist you during the nail trimming process can make it easier and safer for you and your pet. The helper can hold your bearded dragon securely and offer treats and reassurance while you focus on trimming the nails.

Chris

Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

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