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How Do I Treat a Bearded Dragon Bite?

Salmonella bacteria can be passed through a bearded dragon bite.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 March 2014
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Bearded dragons, also called Pogonas, are small- to medium-sized lizards which are native to Australia, and which are kept as pets in many countries worldwide. Due to their fairly docile temperaments, bearded dragons rarely bite humans. When a bearded dragon bite does occur, it is generally not serious, but nevertheless does require attention to prevent infection. It is generally possible to avoid a bearded dragon bite by learning to recognize the aggressive behaviors typical of these lizards.

The bearded dragon is not venomous, nor does it have sharp teeth. Further, it usually has a calm temperament and even seems to enjoy being handled by humans. For these reasons, bearded dragon bites are rare, and when they do occur, they are usually not serious. In fact, it is partly because bearded dragons rarely bite that they are considered by many to be good pets.

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From time to time, however, a bearded dragon bite can happen, usually because something has caused the animal to become extremely stressed or frightened. Even though such bites are not usually dangerous, they still require attention and minor treatment. Bearded dragons often carry salmonella on their skin or in their mouths which can be passed to their handlers through a bite, causing infection. Thus, no matter how minor a bite, it is important to immediately and thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water. Further, if the bite has broken the skin, those who have not had a tetanus shot in the past five years may want to consult their physician about receiving a booster.

It is generally possible to avoid a bearded dragon bite by learning to identify the aggression behaviors typical to these lizards. When feeling stressed or defensive, a bearded dragon may attempt to create a threatening appearance by extending the “beard” of spikes which frames his face. He may also hold his mouth in an open position, a posture known among reptile experts as “gaping.” If a bearded dragon displays these behaviors prior to being picked up, it may be best to leave him alone until he becomes relaxed. Should he begin displaying the behaviors while he is being handled, he should be quickly but calmly placed back into his habitat.

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