Are Bearded Dragons Poisonous? (I Had No Idea!)

Are Bearded Dragons Poisonous?

When people ask questions about bearded dragons, two of the most common are “will a bearded dragon bite?” and “are bearded dragons poisonous?”.

These are even more common when discussing whether or not to get a pet bearded dragon. The majority of people don’t want to handle a potentially poisonous animal and want to know are bearded dragons dangerous?

The good news is that bearded dragons aren’t dangerous to humans. While they can secrete venom, the amount they secrete is only large enough to render small prey animals paralyzed. Thankfully, this venom won’t cause harm to humans. Though a rare occurrence, if a person does receive a bite, they might have mild symptoms.

Whether you’re considering a pet bearded dragon or just want to know more about this lizard species, we’ll go into more detail about them and everything you need to know about bearded dragon bites and bearded dragon’s venom.

Are Many Lizards Poisonous?

In reality, there aren’t many species of lizard that are classed as being poisonous. Until very recently, it was thought that only Mexican Beaded Lizards and Gila monsters were poisonous.

In 2005, however, Australian scientists discovered that a certain lizard family (which includes komodo dragons, Gila monsters, bearded dragons, and iguanas) all have a venom system to some extent.

Komodo Dragon with it's Mouth Open
Komodo Dragon with it’s Mouth Open

What was even more interesting about this discovery was that this family of lizards had venom that was genetically identical to venom found in some snakes.

In actual fact, the venom that bearded dragons produce contains the same toxins that can be found in rattlesnake venom.

How Do We Know Bearded Dragons Are Venomous?

While carrying out research, an Australian scientist called Dr. Bryan Fry accidentally got bitten by a bearded dragon on his finger. When this turned red and swelled up, Dr. Fry was left wondering why this happened.

Until then, people just presumed it was because of bacteria since bearded dragons’ mouths carry salmonella bacteria among others. But the researcher decided to investigate further.

Are Bearded Dragons Venomous? What the Research Found

The researchers discovered that bearded dragons are, in fact, venomous. And, surprisingly, their venom contained similar properties to rattlesnake venom.

It’s believed that they have this venom due to their common ancestry and hunting prey in the wild.

A bearded dragon has vestigial venom glands. The Eastern bearded dragon has two venom glands, found in the upper and lower jaws. Most bearded dragons, however, only have a single venom gland.

All of these are primitive venom glands and are simply what remains after evolutionary changes. Compared to their counterparts who are much more venomous (i.e. Mexican beaded lizards, Gila monsters, and snakes), they have a very small amount of venom.

There are those that believe this is due to the fact that they kill small prey and so evolution has determined that they only need a small amount.

What Does Bearded Dragon Venom Do to Its Prey?

As previously mentioned, a bite will only release a tiny amount of mild venom. This doesn’t even kill its prey. Instead, it slows it down. This is good news for us as humans as we’re much bigger than the small prey of a bearded dragon!

Thus, bearded dragon bites won’t have an effect on us at all – bar a small amount of irritation caused by their mild venom. If we were to relate all of the reasons why bearded dragons could be harmful to people, their venom isn’t the biggest concern.

What Other Ways Are Bearded Dragons Harmful to Humans?

Before anyone starts to panic, bearded dragons are pretty safe pets to have in the home. In fact, they make great pets! As with all animals and small pets, there are things that pet owners need to be mindful of. Let’s explore these.

Salmonella Bacteria

The first thing bearded dragon owners need to consider is that, like other reptiles, bearded dragons carry salmonella. Salmonella infection is much more concerning for humans than the lizard’s venom!

Close-up View Of Salmonella Bacteria
Close-up View Of Salmonella Bacteria

Salmonella can be really dangerous to humans. It is present in bearded dragon feces. As long as you take precautions like washing your hands with antibacterial soap whenever you handle or bearded dragon or come into contact with its feces, you’ll be fine. This is the same for any pet, though, and isn’t just limited to bearded dragons!


Another possible problem bearded dragons can pass on to humans is other diseases caused by parasites. Sometimes parasites are passed on to humans by bearded dragons and one organism that’s a particular concern is the pinworm.

Thankfully, you don’t need to feel threatened by pinworms in the same way as salmonella as they’re not particularly harmful. That said, they are a real inconvenience!

Once again, the solution is to practice good hand hygiene whenever you have handled your pet. You can also prevent your bearded dragon from getting pinworms if you avoid feeding them crickets or wild insects. Crickets are the main source of this parasite in bearded dragons!

Do Bearded Dragons Bite Frequently?

If you’re worried about getting a bite, it might reassure you that this is a rare occurrence. Bearded dragons are docile creatures. They do, however, have natural instincts, which can be blamed for almost all bites.

If you get a new pet bearded dragon, it’s important to research thoroughly the sort of care these lizards need. This way, you’ll avoid many a bite!

Simply treat your pet well, raise him correctly, and handle him properly and you won’t need to worry about getting a bite from his sharp teeth!

What Does a Bearded Dragon’s Bite Feel Like?

Though not much different in size to a Gila monster, the bearded dragon’s bite isn’t as dangerous to receive at all. If you do get bitten, it will hurt, but it’s not so bad.

The feeling of being bitten is a sort of tingling. How much the bite hurts will depend on whether it’s a fully-grown lizard or a baby. The former will hurt a lot more.

Should you be bitten by a bearded dragon, it’s important not to try and remove your hand too quickly away. Instead, your movements should be slow to remove your hand from his clutches.

It goes without saying that you should wash your hands properly with antibacterial soap if you receive a bite. You might also want to consider a tetanus booster shot if you haven’t had one recently.

Where Are Bearded Dragons’ Venom Glands?

Bearded dragons have their venom glands located in the jaws. In most species of bearded dragon, there is only one venom gland. When they bite their prey (or your hand!), this gland is secreted.

The Eastern bearded dragon with its two pairs of venom glands, is considered to be more primitive.

Signs that Your Bearded Dragon Is Getting Aggressive

As we’ve previously mentioned, it is rare to be bitten by a bearded dragon. And even though their venom is harmless to humans, we still need to avoid getting bitten.

If you educate yourself on the signs of aggression in a bearded dragon, you might be able to prevent bites. Here are some things bearded dragons do before they bite:

This is a Very Angry Bearded Dragon
This is a Very Angry Bearded Dragon

If you spot these signs, it’s best to put your pet back in his enclosure and move away. Handling a bearded dragon when he doesn’t want to be handled is a sure-fire way of getting a nip! If you feel like your bearded dragon is always aggressive, speak to a reptile vet for advice.

Final Thoughts

It was once thought that most lizards weren’t venomous but now we know differently. While we’ve discovered that yes, bearded dragons are poisonous we can rest assured that their venom will cause us no huge harm.

We should, however, be mindful of other ways in which we can become ill from bearded dragons – namely salmonella bacteria and pinworms.

As long as you wash your hands after handling and recognize signs that a bite might be coming our way, you’ll be fine.

There are other lizard species that are much more dangerous to humans like the Gila monster and the komodo dragon!

Are Bearded Dragons Poisonous? FAQs

If Beardies Are Docile Creatures, Why Do They Sometimes Bite?

Like all reptiles and lizards, bearded dragons have instincts. Even as pets they won’t lose these. There are a number of reasons why a bearded dragon might bite. These include being handled incorrectly, seeing your hand as a threat or as food, or your hand simply getting in the way when they’re chewing food!

Are Bearded Dragon Teeth Sharp?

Yes. These lizards certainly have a sharp bite! They have different types of teeth. The ones at the back are permanent while their front teeth can fall out and be replaced. This means that they can give a hard bite and don’t need to worry about damaging or losing teeth in the process!

Do Bearded Dragons Make Good Pets for Children?

These reptiles make wonderful pets. In general, they are good-natured and are easy to look after. Kids love having a pet bearded dragon and parents love them for their low maintenance too! It’s vital, though, to ensure children know how to look after these lizards. They need to know how to handle them correctly, how to care for the dragon’s skin, and when to give these solitary creatures the space that they need. This is to ensure that the bearded dragon is happy and so is the child!

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