Many owners of bearded dragons don’t know enough about nail care and how often to cut Bearded Dragon nails. Clipping beardie claws are an essential part of their maintenance. It keeps their feet and legs in perfect condition while having added benefits of helping them to eat and preventing damage to furniture.
Trimming a bearded dragon’s nails is fairly easy once you know how. Simply hold them steady and keep their foot still. You can use a standard pair of toenail clippers or cat nail clippers and nip off the sharp ends. You don’t need specialist reptile nail clippers. Don’t try to cut too much, just remove some of the tip, and you are done.
Anatomy of Bearded Dragon Nails
In order to know how much to take off when nail trimming, it’s important to understand bearded dragon nail anatomy. Bearded dragon nails are similar to those of a cat or dog.
They have strong and sharp claws made up of proteins called Betakeratin. Betakeratin is a durable and slightly inflexible protein. It is rigid and provides strength for the claws.
Inside the nail, there are blood vessels and nerves. This area is called the quick and it needs to be avoided when you trim your pet’s nails.
Past the quick is wear the nail begins, and this bit is ok to trim.
If you accidentally cut the quick, it will be painful for your pet and will cause bleeding. You will know if you’ve done this because it will be obvious. The bleeding won’t be dangerous in a healthy bearded dragon, but it will still be painful.
You can use styptic powder and a paper towel to try to stop the bleeding. You can find instructions on a good veterinary website.
If your bearded dragon is very young or older, cutting the quick could be a medical emergency. You should consult a certified veterinary professional, especially if you have caught a blood vessel. They might prescribe a blood clotting gel if bleeding persists.
Above all, it’s best to avoid hurting your little guy in the first place, so just take off the tip to avoid that living tissue.
Which Part of The Nail to Clip?
When you look at your bearded dragon’s nails, you’ll see there is a white part close to the leg and a thinner part with pigment running through that comes out in the nail. You need to trim this pigmented black part.
The white is where the live tissue or quick is. Simply trim the nails up to half of the pigmented section.
Don’t overcut it so that your pet has the proper length nails.
If you’re still unsure, check out some videos on YouTube or look at some instructional pictures of a bearded dragon nail online.
When Is It Time to Cut Their Nails?
How do you know when to trim bearded dragon nails? There are no specific rules as such. If you notice your pet’s nails looking long and getting in the way a little, or you are seeing claw marks on your furniture, you might want to consider cutting them.
You can trim bearded dragon nails as often as every few months, provided that you understand where to trim so that you’re not getting close to the quick. If your bearded dragon walks a lot on sharper substrate, he will naturally wear down his nails more quickly and so they won’t need trimming as often.
Why Trim Bearded Dragon Nails?
The first reason most bearded dragon owners trim their pet’s nails is that they’re sharp. Holding your beardie is a great experience but getting a scratch or skin puncture from your beardie isn’t so great!
First and foremost, clipping the nails will keep us safe. After all, breaking the skin means that you have more chance of bacteria getting in and infecting you.
For the beardies themselves, trimming claws is important for their health. Their nails and toes should sit perpendicular to the ground and upright.
If the claws aren’t cut regularly, they will force your beardie’s feet to bend over. This is uncomfortable for them. It also prevents them from gaining traction when they try to dig or climb.
As bearded dragons love climbing, it’s important their claws don’t prevent them from doing so.
They also love sleeping high up on a branch and they grip with their claws so that they don’t fall.
When their nails are a reasonable length, they can do this with ease.
Long and sharp claws can also get caught up in things. If they’re too long or too sharp, they can snag. This is a problem, especially for reptile owners who use a carpet as a substrate.
When a nail snags, it can even tear off. With a torn-off nail, you won’t get regrowth. Reptile carpet is not recommended for this reason.
What You Need to Trim Bearded Dragon Nails
To trim bearded dragon nails, you can use a nail trimmer that’s suitable for beardies or other animals. Pet shops might try to convince you to buy expensive clippers to trim your beardie’s nails. While this is useful, it’s not essential. Any nail clippers will work. You can even use a nail file or emery board to get reasonable length nails – and this way you won’t risk getting too close to the quick.
List of essentials:
Here is a list of things you might want to get ready before you start:
- Nail clippers (standard ones work fine)
- Alcohol (to clean and disinfect the nail clippers)
- A towel (to help secure your beardie)
- A treat for your pet as a reward afterward.
- Styptic powder or blood clotting gel (in case you accidentally clip the quick)
- An emery board
Preparing Your Bearded Dragon to Get His Nails Trimmed
First of all, you need to make sure your bearded dragon is calm if you want to do a nail trim. If he’s not calm and makes a sudden movement, you risk removing the entire nail! To trim your bearded dragon’s nails is not an easy undertaking so you don’t want him to feel stress on top of that.
To relax your pet reptile, bath him, stroke him, cover his cage and provide treats. The more you get to know your bearded dragon, the more you’ll know when he’s calm. If you have any doubts that your pet is stressed, put off the nail cutting for another day.
Handle Your Beardie Regularly
The biggest problem with removing a nail is how quickly you start to wiggle and squirm. As mentioned above, t is best for your Beardies to stay calm while trimming their nails.
If you hold your bearded dragon’s feet regularly, even when not attempting a nail cut, you’ll find him happier to have the nails cut when the time comes. A social beardie will be able to handle nails well and behave.
It’s also possible your beardie will get less skittish as soon as you take him or her to see a vet. Nail trims are something veterinary nurses can perform too, and they’re used to doing it.
If He’s Squirming
Just like many mammals, a bearded dragon has different behaviors depending on his mood, the time of day, or other factors in his environment. If you’re finding it difficult to securely hold on your beardie to trim his nails, save the trim for another day. Trimming can happen whenever, but you might want to avoid the times when he’s acting skittish! If you think you can, why not try trimming his claws while he’s asleep!
Wiggling can make claw cutting difficult. You may accidentally hurt your pet by cutting too deep if it keeps struggling, so you need to hold your pet’s limb to keep it steady while you cut the nails.
Here are some other ideas on how to prevent movement when trimming nails.
- Be sure to make subtle movements so as not to surprise your beardie. Make sure he can see your hands when you’re moving them. Hold each foot firmly but gently. Make sure you don’t hold it too hard so that it is comfortable for him.
- Wrapping him up with a soft and warm towel will help him to stay comfortable. This is also really useful if you have a wriggling beardie and don’t want to wait to cut the nails.
Can You Trim Bearded Dragon Nails without Holding Them?
Bearded dragons aren’t the fastest of creatures so it might not be possible to trim a bearded dragon’s nail without holding his whole body. However, if your beardie is really comfortable with you, you might be able to get away with keeping him standing where he is and lifting up a nail at a time to trim it. If he allows, use one hand to lift the foot and the other to trim the nail.
Reward Your Beardie After the Deed
After trimming bearded dragon nails, your pet certainly deserves a reward! You might also choose to give a small treat in between doing each nail. Something delicious like small bits of kiwi would work really well.
Trimming the Claws Step by Step – a Summary
Here is a summary of the steps you need to take when trimming your pet’s nails.
- Make sure your beardie is in the right mood – he needs to be calm and not stressed.
- Either take hold of your bearded dragon in your arms and take each of the claws, in turn, to cut or keep him where he is (if he’ll allow) and lift up each of his toes for individual clipping.
- Lift up his toes in turn securely with one hand, and clip with the other. When cutting the claw, aim to remove half of the black section of the claw only. Removing more will potentially hurt your beardie. Look at pictures online to ensure you know where to cut to.
- If your bearded dragon is becoming stressed or restless, stop and leave it for another time. Otherwise, continue claw by claw. You could even reward him in between with a treat.
- If you’re nervous about doing it, take your beardie to a veterinary surgery or exotic pet shop where they can do it for you.
Problems with Trimming Nails
Aside from the problems of cutting a bearded dragon nail too close to the wick, there are other problems you might encounter when you trim bearded dragon nails. Let’s take a look at some nail trimming problems.
An Ingrown Nail
If your bearded dragon’s nails aren’t able to grow properly, they might curl up. With ingrown claws, your pet could find eating difficult. Bearded dragons use their sharp lizard claws to secure their prey to eat so it’s essential they’re not ingrown.
Whenever you handle your pet, you should check how his nails are growing and don’t allow them to get too long. Long nails that haven’t been trimmed can end up coiled or ingrown.
What if I Don’t Want to Trim My Bearded Dragons Nails Myself?
If you’re unsure, you can also go to a vet to get this done. If you’re allowed, observe this taking place so that you know what you’re doing next time. You could also try visiting a reptile pet store where they’ll be really knowledgeable about bearded dragon nail health.
Before storing away your clipper for next time, make sure you clean it thoroughly and disinfect it. You should also wash your hands thoroughly as you would whenever you handle your pet. Remember, bearded dragons can pass on salmonella to humans so this step is vital for your health!
Conclusion – How To Trim Bearded Dragon Nails
As a bearded dragon owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your bearded dragon has the best life. For a beardie, this means taking care of all of his physical traits, including his claws.
Trimming your bearded dragons nails is not an onerous task. In fact, it can be much simpler than doing the same on pets like dogs who are much bigger!
Unlike a dog, nails on a bearded dragon are pretty small and can be trimmed easily. The nails are also different colors where the quick is so as long as you only cut the black section and avoid the clear nails or white part, you’ll know you’re not going to cause your beardie harm to his toes, and it won’t hurt.
Remember, being calm is key, as it is with all pets!