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How To Cut My Bearded Dragons Nails? 5 Vet-Reviewed Steps

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By Nicole Cosgrove

man holding yellow bearded dragon

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Bearded Dragons can make great pets. They will not only get used to being handled but actively enjoy it in time. They are not as skittish as some other smaller lizard species, either, and while you do need to ensure you meet their temperature, humidity, and lighting requirements, they don’t take too much care. You certainly don’t need to go out and walk a Bearded Dragon like you do a dog, but you must spend time with your Bearded Dragon, though, especially if you want to be able to handle it in the future.

Handling your Beardie should be an enjoyable experience for you both and one factor that can ruin this is if your Bearded Dragon’s nails have got so long that they cause scratches and bleeding: a sure-fire sign that the nails need cutting.

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Bearded Dragon Nails

Bearded Dragons use their nails for grip and also to catch and hold prey like insects. When your Beardie is young, you will be able to feel their nails as they walk on you, but they likely won’t be painful. But, as they age, their nails grow and as they grow they inflict more pain. After some time, long nails may cause injury to you and others.

If they get very long, they can also cause discomfort to your Beardie which may end up walking oddly and developing other problems. If your Beardie walks on abrasive surfaces this can help maintain the length of the nails but, more likely, there will come a time when those nails need trimming.

Fortunately, it is a relatively simple task to cut the nails and you can do it yourself once you get the hang of it. But Bearded Dragons do have some blood flow through the nails, which means you need to be careful not to cut too much off. It is therefore best to ask your vet to trim your pet’s nails to ensure that you don’t cut the quick and cause an injury. 

How often you need to cut your Beardie’s nails will depend on whether they get worn down naturally while in their enclosure or running around out of their enclosure. Generally, though, you will need to clip the nails every 3 or 4 months to keep them at a healthy length.

male hypo leatherback bearded dragon on a branch
Image Credit: Ery Azmeer, Shutterstock

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How To Trim Bearded Dragon Nails

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Trimming a Beardie’s nails is as easy as getting hold of the Bearded Dragon, holding its feet, and cutting the nails. There’s no special process, but it does help to understand the anatomy of the nail, to avoid causing pain and distress.

1. Ensure Your Beardie Is Calm

If your Bearded Dragon is stressed or anxious and trying to get away, it is going to make the process a lot more difficult. Try petting it and make sure that you are also calm. If it is your first time cutting a lizard’s nails, you might be nervous, but the process will be easier if you act confident. If you can’t calm your Bearded Dragon enough to be able to hold it firmly and securely, without gripping too tight, you might have to wait for another opportunity. Alternatively, if your bearded dragon isn’t cooperative, or if you’re not comfortable with nail clipping, have your veterinarian demonstrate the process to you.

2. Hold Your Beardie Securely

Scoop your Bearded Dragon up and hold your pet with the palm of your hand under their belly and the legs and feet poking through your hands. Make sure your pet can’t escape or wriggle free but don’t squeeze too tightly or you might cause an injury or stress your Bearded Dragon out.

woman handling her bearded dragon
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

3. Hold the Foot and Nails

It is possible to cut a Bearded Dragon’s nails on your own, but if you do have a helper, it can be easier. If you are doing it alone, hold one foot in your fingers and make sure the nail is easily accessible.

bearded dragon holding mans finger
Image Credit: on-ziv-Shutterstock

4. Do Not Cut the Pink Nail

The end of the Bearded Dragon’s nails do not have any blood vessels or blood flow, and these are the sharp sections that are causing rips in your skin. As the color of the nail changes, this is where blood vessels are located. Don’t cut to where the color changes—allow a little space because blood vessels protrude out a little way to the nail ends. This area is usually pink in color.

5. Wash Your Hands

It is important to thoroughly wash your hands after you handle your pet. This is especially true after a nail trim, as you don’t want to exposed to potentially harmful substances or contaminants that your pet might have stepped on prior to having their nails trimmed.

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What If I Cut My Bearded Dragon’s Nails Too Short?

You can buy special powder to place on the nail if you cut it too short – this is known as a styptic pen and is readily available at most pharmacies. This helps the blood coagulate and stops the bleeding. Make sure your Bearded Dragon is calm before you put it back in their enclosure. Take them to your veterinarian to inspect the nail you cut too shortly, for a complete assessment of the issue. Nails cut too short are often very painful, your veterinarian may prescribe some medication for your Beardie to help manage the pain. They may also prescribe some supplements which can expedite the regrowth of new, healthy nail beds. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon to cut the nails too short and it can be really upsetting the first time you make this mistake, but it does happen and the damage isn’t permanent.

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Bearded Dragons are relatively easy pets to care for, which is one of the reasons they are considered great first lizard pets. But, there will likely come a time when you need to trim your Beardie’s nails. You will know it’s time because they will be sharp and may cause scratches and bleeding when you’re handling your Beardie.

The process is simple, but you do need to try and make sure you don’t cut too far down the nail or it can cause bleeding and may stress your Bearded Dragon.

Featured Image Credit: BLUR LIFE 1975, Shutterstpck

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