Bearded Dragon

What to Do If A Bearded Dragon Scratches You?

Bearded dragons are known to be scratchers. They tend to scratch glasses a lot (glass surfing). But, what if they start scratching you? Are there any reasons for it? What should you do if they scratch you?

If a bearded dragon scratches you, you need to wash and disinfect the affected area and put on a bandaid. A bearded dragon’s claws contain a lot of bacteria, including salmonella and campylobacter. Therefore, a failure to disinfect may lead to bacterial diseases. 

Read on to know more about what to do if a bearded dragon scratches you. 

Why Did My Bearded Dragon Scratch Me?

Bearded dragons have a habit of scratching glasses and walls. But, if they start scratching you, look out for the below reasons. 

Accidental Scratching Due to Usual Movement 

Sometimes, your bearded dragon may not intend to scratch you. However, if its nails are long, they may end up scratching you while moving on your hands or body

In this case, you don’t need to do anything. Simply cut your bearded dragon’s nails and you’re good to go! Ideally, you should consider trimming your gecko’s nails every four to six months. This way, they won’t be able to scratch you while simply playing with you!

Territorial Reasons

Did you know that bearded dragons are extremely territorial in nature? They don’t like sharing and will get aggressive if they feel threatened. 

Therefore, your bearded dragon may start scratching you intensely if they feel territorial over you. Now, this might happen if you have recently introduced a new pet to your household. 


You shouldn’t always ignore your bearded dragon’s scratching habit. It may be a cry for help if they’re feeling stressed due to some reason. 

Stress in bearded dragons is common and can be due to a multitude of reasons such as:

  • Improper tank setup – temperature, humidity, and lighting.
  • Stress due to relocation 
  • Extremely loud noises
  • Repeated handling 
  • Too large/small tank 

You should also look out for other stress signs like stress marks, poor activity, loss of appetite, and irregular basking. If you notice these signs, along with your bearded dragon scratching you, find the cause of stress. 


Lastly, if your bearded dragon keeps scratching you, and also hisses at you, it is a sign of aggression. It may also bite you, open its mouth wide, or attempt to run away. 

In this case, find out why your bearded dragon has become aggressive. 

The typical causes include stress, improper living conditions, breeding period, hormonal changes, or new surroundings.

Can You Get Sick From the Scratch?

Just like turtles, bearded dragons are also a source of salmonella bacteria. Therefore, if the bacteria gets into your skin, it may lead to a disease known as salmonellosis.

According to the CDC, you should always wash your hands if you have touched or dealt with your bearded dragon. A failure to do so may cause the salmonella bacteria to get into your body via mouth or nose. 

Similarly, if your bearded dragon has scratched you, the bacterial germs from its claws may enter your body via scratch. Hence, there are chances that you might fall sick if you don’t immediately clean and disinfect the wound. 

What Should I Do About the Cut?

As mentioned above, bearded dragons contain salmonella and may cause harm to you. So, you should not neglect the cut. Instead, follow the below-mentioned steps. 

Step 1: First, wash the affected area with soapy and warm water. 

Step 2: Next, use a saline solution and dab it on the cut to disinfect it. 

Step 3: Finally, cover the cut with a bandaid. 

Ensure that you don’t allow your bearded dragon to scratch on the affected area again as it may deepen the cut. 

Should You Punish Your Bearded Dragon?

Punishing any animal or reptile, especially pets isn’t recommended in any case. Most reptiles and animals have a hard time trusting humans due to the nature of the wild. 

So, if you try to punish your bearded dragon, it might stop trusting you altogether and see you as a threat. Thus, it is not the solution if your bearded dragon is scratching you. 

Instead, you need to find the root cause of the issue. Are they scratching you because they’re stressed or aggressive? If so, what is the reason for it? Or, are they simply territorial over you? Once you find the actual cause, you’ll be able to find the correct solution for it. 

Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons are loving reptiles, and will love you as much as dogs and cats do! So, if your gecko is scratching you all of a sudden, try to find out the real cause instead of punishing them. 


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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