Most pet and wild lizards have the ability to drop their tails and then regrow them back at will. However, some, like the bearded dragon, don’t have that ability. This holds even for other parts of the body. Without care, your beardie’s tail could be gone and for good.
Bearded dragons cannot drop their tails at will like other lizards. If they lose it accidentally, they will not regrow it back as well. They can lose their tails when grabbed too hard, shedding their skin, and through tail rot. If they lose their tails, stop the bleeding then take them to the vet.
Bearded dragons use their tails for balance, mating and other activities. For this reason, you need to be careful since it’ll need more care once its tail is gone.
Do bearded dragons drop tails?
Bearded dragons don’t drop their tails, unlike other lizards. If it happens, it’ll be an accident and not a willful defensive mechanism.
When a lizard’s tail falls off, it’s usually in response to fear such as when a predator is chasing them. The tail will wiggle around with the predator eating it thinking it has eaten the lizard. This gives the lizard time to escape. The tail can grow back but it can take months to do so.
However, this is not the case for all lizards as bearded dragons are an exception. Bearded dragons don’t drop their tails and their response to fear is different.
What causes tail loss in bearded dragons?
Since they don’t drop their tails due to fear, bearded dragons can lose their tails in the following situations:
The tail might be bitten or cut off
If you have more than one bearded dragon or lizard in the same cage, it’s common for tail loss to occur. If one lizard is scared, it might accidentally bite the tail of another bearded dragon or lizard in its cage.
If your beardie has a tail that looks like it was cut off with scissors, chances are high that this happened due to tail biting from another animal in their habitat. Aggression between lizards can be caused by territorial disputes or competition for food.
A heavy object can also push down on a tail and remove it completely without any other effort needed by the aggressor. This can occur when the tail is trapped under a feeder dish or other object and the dragon can’t get away.
Another way for tail loss to occur in your bearded dragons is physical injury. If they’re too close to an aggressive animal or human, their tail could be stepped on or accidentally slammed into something hard like a wall or floor. It’s important that you know how to handle your beardie so the tail loss doesn’t happen.
Other pets in the home such as dogs and cats can also get playful and cut off the tail even by accident.
The tail could rot
Tail rot in bearded dragons occurs when their tails get infected. Tails also can be susceptible to tail rot when they are bitten by another lizard or creature, so it is important for bearded dragon owners to make sure their pet lizards have a large enclosure with plenty of hiding spots and places where the dragon’s tail cannot be reached by other animals.
Some pet owners may think that if the tail drops off then this means that there was an infection in the tail which caused it to fall off. In most cases, however, what causes tails to detach from bodies is usually trauma (accidental injury). This type of accident would result in damage being done directly around the base of the tail and often leads to bleeding out at the site of injury.
It could be a shedding problem
When shedding in bearded dragons doesn’t go right, tail loss can happen. If tail shedding is not done correctly, the tail will be cut off when the supply of blood to the tail is hampered by a tight layer of cells. Eventually, it dies off and drops.
How to prevent tail drop in bearded dragons
You should prevent tail dropping in bearded dragons in the following ways:
Give them enough living space
If you want to avoid tail loss in your bearded dragon, it’s important to make sure they’re in a single-lizard habitat and have plenty of space to roam around. Give them lots of things to climb on, hide under and explore with their tail. This will help reduce stress levels and prevent tail biting from occurring.
Also, provide enough climbing and basking areas for lizards to prevent tail biting and give them enough room so they can behave naturally without feeling stressed out or scared.
Introduce pets to each other early
To avoid aggression between pets, introduce pets to each other early. Introducing them at a young age reduces aggressive behavior in adults and encourages healthy socialization. Introductions should be supervised for the first few hours together until they seem comfortable with each other’s presence.
Make sure you introduce animals that are of a similar size to each other especially when they’re of the same species. Introduce one animal at a time, making sure it is safe before adding another pet. This should be done for both bearded dragons and other bearded dragons and bearded dragons and other pets.
Prevent and treat tail rot early
When a bearded dragon starts to rot at its tail, it is often a sign that the reptile has been suffering from chronic health problems. This condition can be caused by parasites or injury and will need treatment as soon as possible if you want your pet to heal properly.
Routinely check under their scales for any signs of swelling, cuts or infection. If you notice anything amiss, gently treat it with antibacterial ointment. Also, make sure they are getting plenty of water and fresh fruit at all times.
If the problem continues despite these efforts, consult an experienced vet immediately. Tail rot should never be ignored because left untreated it may lead to even more serious infections in other parts of the body.
Ensure proper shedding
The best way to prevent tail loss is through a proper diet (good quality food) and environment at all times. The focus should be on the right diet, proper sunlight and a stress-free environment. This way, shedding the skin goes smoothly.
If the cage is crowded, they could disturb one another during times of shedding. Such interruptions could lead to issues one of which is tail rot.
Don’t grab the dragon by the tail
While they’re not naturally inclined to lose their tails when in fear, their tails easily come off when you startle and grab them by the tail. This can be common in children who might even pick up the dragon by the tail.
What to do when your bearded dragon loses its tail
In the case that your bearded dragon loses its tail, it is important to take it to the vet. In addition, it can be painful for your bearded dragon and it may bleed and get infected if you don’t disinfect the area quickly.
The tail will not grow back on its own, so it is necessary that you help it heal with medication and a proper diet. If left untreated, there are possible risks of infection setting in.
The closer the cut of the tail is to the torso of the lizard, the higher the chances of bleeding heavily for the bearded dragon. You should prevent excessive bleeding by applying pressure using a sterile piece of gauze.
Do bearded dragons’ tails grow back?
Bearded dragon tails are comprised of keratin and they don’t grow back. While other lizards such as leopard geckos will drop and regrow their tails (and other parts of the body) back several times over, bearded dragons aren’t that way. Once the tail is lost, it’ll be lost for good.
Bearded dragons use their tails for balance, mating, as social signals and to scare off prey. Without it, you’ll need to provide more care to it than before. For example, the tail makes the dragon larger to predators which might scare it away. It also helps the dragon fend off intruders during a fight.
How do bearded dragons respond to fear?
Given that they don’t drop their tail when in distress, bearded dragons react to fear in the following ways:
- clamp its mouth shut with its teeth
- hiss or puff up in an attempt to look larger
- roll over on its back (a defensive posture).
- they whip out their tails
- they bite
- Bearded dragons’ bodies turn black
- they start bobbing their heads up and down as if nodding
- they shake their heads from side to side
- a frightened bearded dragon will also sway back and forth on its hind legs while keeping the front limbs close to the body with all four feet in contact with the ground (sometimes this is followed by secreting foul-smelling fluid).
- they also close their eyes when displeased with the situation
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