How to take care of bearded dragon nails?

To take care of your bearded dragon’s nails, follow these steps:

  • Make sure your bearded dragon is calm before starting.
  • Hold the dragon’s foot gently but firmly.
  • Use a standard pair of toenail clippers, baby nail cutters, or pet nail trimmers to trim the nails. Clip only the sharp ends, avoiding the tissue to prevent bleeding.
  • Repeat the process for all nails and feet.
  • Reward your bearded dragon with a treat after trimming to reinforce a positive experience.

You may need to trim your bearded dragon’s nails approximately once a month. To help maintain their nails naturally, consider using slate tile as a substrate in their enclosure, which can file and dull their nails as they walk

The Importance of Taking Care of Bearded Dragon Nails

Bearded Dragon - Brisbane, Australia
Credit: Brendan Cutler

Bearded dragons are wonderful pets that require a lot of care and attention to keep them healthy and happy. One aspect that is often overlooked by many pet owners is the importance of taking care of their bearded dragon’s nails. Proper nail care is an essential part of keeping your bearded dragon healthy, as it not only helps prevent injury but also promotes good hygiene.

Just like humans, bearded dragons need to have regular nail maintenance to prevent overgrowth, cracking, or splitting. The overgrown nails can cause discomfort when the beardie walks on them, which makes it difficult for them to move around comfortably.

Long nails can also get caught in substrates or other objects and tear off, leading to bleeding and infections. Moreover, long nails can house bacteria and fungus that can cause infections like yellow fungus disease or bacterial dermatitis.

It is important to trim your bearded dragon’s nails regularly to prevent these issues from occurring. In this article, we will discuss how you can take care of your bearded dragon’s nails properly and keep them healthy.

Understanding Bearded Dragon Nails

Bearded Dragon - Brisbane, Australia
Credit: Brendan Cutler

The Anatomy of a Bearded Dragon’s Nail

To take care of bearded dragon nails, it’s important to understand the anatomy of their nails. Bearded dragons have sharp, curved nails that protrude from their toes.

Each nail is made up of a tough outer layer called the keratin sheath and an inner core that contains blood vessels and nerve endings. This inner core is known as the “quick” and is pink in color.

It’s important to only trim the keratin sheath when trimming your bearded dragon’s nails. Cutting into the quick can cause pain and bleeding for your pet, so it’s essential to be able to differentiate between the two parts of the nail before proceeding with trimming.

How Their Nails Grow and Why They Need to be Trimmed?

Bearded dragon nails continuously grow throughout their lives. In captivity, these animals may not wear down their nails as effectively as they would in the wild because they are confined to smaller spaces or cages with smooth surfaces. If left untrimmed for too long, these overgrown nails can curl around and grow into your pet’s skin causing pain or infection.

Long nails can also make it difficult for them to walk properly or climb onto rough surfaces like branches or rocks. Regular trimming of bearded dragon nails prevents this overgrowth from happening while also keeping them healthy and happy.

Tools Needed for Trimming Bearded Dragon Nails

Bearded Dragons (Pogona viticeps)
Credit: Douglas Bete

Keeping your bearded dragon’s nails healthy and trimmed is an important part of maintaining their overall health. The tools you’ll need for trimming their nails are inexpensive and readily available at most pet stores. To safely and effectively trim your bearded dragon’s nails, you’ll need the following:

Nail Clippers:

When it comes to trimming your bearded dragon’s nails, using the right tool is essential. You’ll want to use a pair of nail clippers specifically designed for reptiles.

These clippers have small blades that allow you to trim your pet’s nails with precision, without accidentally cutting into the quick (the pinkish area that contains nerves and blood vessels). It’s important to note that using regular human nail clippers or scissors can cause serious injury to your bearded dragon.

Styptic Powder:

Styptic powder is a clotting agent that helps stop bleeding in case you accidentally cut into the quick when trimming your pet’s nails. This is an essential item to have on hand during nail trims as it can quickly stop any bleeding should an accident occur. Simply apply a small amount of styptic powder directly onto the wound and hold pressure until the bleeding stops.

Towel or Cloth:

While not necessarily a tool, having a towel or cloth on hand can make trimming your bearded dragon’s nails much easier. Wrap them up in a towel with only their foot exposed so they are more calm while trimming their nails.

Nail File:

A sandpaper block or emery board works well as a nail file for bearded dragons after they are trimmed. This will help smooth out any rough edges left after clipping. Using these tools correctly will ensure that your pet remains safe and comfortable during their nail trim sessions so they can continue to thrive and live happy, healthy lives.

How to Trim Bearded Dragon Nails?

Trimming your bearded dragon’s nails can be a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. However, with the right tools and techniques, it can be a straightforward process that is beneficial for your pet’s health. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to trim your bearded dragon’s nails:

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you start trimming your pet’s nails, make sure you have all the necessary tools. These include nail clippers designed for reptiles, styptic powder or cornstarch (in case of bleeding) and a towel or cloth to wrap around your pet. It is essential to use nail clippers specifically designed for reptiles as they are sharp enough to cut through the tough nail material without causing harm.

Step 2: Prepare Your Pet

It is crucial to prepare your pet before starting the trimming process. One way of doing this is by gently wrapping them in a towel or cloth so they feel secure and cannot move around too much during the procedure. You can also put them on a flat surface such as a table or countertop, ensuring that there are no sharp edges that could harm them if they fall off.

Step 3: Find the Vein

Once you have secured your pet, examine each nail carefully and locate where the vein ends (also known as “the quicks”). The vein appears as a red line running through the center of each nail. It would help if you did not cut into this area as it contains blood vessels and nerves that will cause pain and bleeding.

Step 4: Cut with Care

Using the reptile-specific nail clippers, carefully cut only the tip of each nail where there is no vein visible. Take care to cut straight across the nail, avoiding any angled cuts. Repeat this process for all nails, taking breaks between each one to avoid stressing your pet.

Step 5: Stop Bleeding

In case of any bleeding, apply some styptic powder or cornstarch onto the affected area to stop the bleeding. This will also prevent infection and promote healing.

Tips on How to Handle Your Pet During the Process

It is essential to approach this process with patience and kindness. You can offer treats as a reward for good behavior or take breaks if your pet seems too stressed or agitated.

Be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure while holding their paws. Remember that trimming your pet’s nails is not only crucial for their health but also an opportunity for bonding and building trust with them.

Common Mistakes When Trimming Bearded Dragon Nails

The Dangers of Cutting Too Close

When trimming a bearded dragon’s nails, it can be tempting to cut as close quickly as possible in order to reduce the frequency of trims. However, cutting too close can lead to bleeding and pain for your pet. This can also increase the risk of infection and make future nail trims more difficult due to fear and mistrust on the part of your bearded dragon.

Instead, it is important to take small cuts at a time, always leaving space between the quick and the cut. If you are unsure about how much needs to be trimmed or where exactly the quick is located, consult with a veterinarian or experienced reptile owner for guidance.

The Importance of Using Styptic Powder

Another common mistake made when trimming bearded dragon nails is failing to use styptic powder. This type of powder helps stop bleeding in case you accidentally cut too close.

Without it, your pet may experience significant blood loss that could lead to more serious complications. To use styptic powder effectively, first, locate any areas on the nail that are actively bleeding.

Then apply a small amount of powder directly onto these areas using your finger or a cotton swab. Gently press down until the bleeding stops completely before continuing with any additional trims.

Additional Tips for Keeping Bearded Dragon Nails Healthy

Providing Rough Surfaces for Them to Climb On

Aside from trimming their nails, providing a rough surface for bearded dragons to climb on is another way to keep their nails healthy. When they climb, jump, and crawl on rough surfaces, it helps them wear down their nails to an optimal length.

Providing different types of rocks, logs, and branches at various angles can help in maintaining healthy nails. Make sure you sanitize the materials before putting them in your pet’s enclosure.

You can use a mild bleach solution or boil the items in water for 15-20 minutes. Also, be mindful of the size of the objects you add – they should provide enough surface area for your bearded dragon to explore but must not overcrowd the enclosure.

Regular Check-Ups with a Reptile Veterinarian

The most important tip for keeping your bearded dragon’s nails healthy is by scheduling regular check-ups with a reptile veterinarian. A vet can assess whether your pet’s nail length is optimal and will not cause any issues in terms of mobility and health. During these visits, they can also identify any signs of nail disease or injury that might require additional treatment.


Trimming your bearded dragon’s nails is essential to keep them healthy and happy. In addition to regular trimming, providing rough surfaces such as rocks and branches helps maintain optimal nail length and wear them down naturally.

Remember always to consult with a reptile veterinarian who has experience working with bearded dragons regularly. Following these tips will ensure that your pet remains happy and healthy for years to come.