Do Bearded Dragons Smell?

Learn why bearded dragons don’t smell all that much at all unless something is going wrong. And how to prevent smells if they start

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Cats and Dogs Can Often Smell Worse

About 7 min reading time

Do Bearded Dragons Smell? 

Bearded dragons themselves don’t generate any significant smell, largely because they don’t sweat or urinate (at least in the normal sense). However, their food can smell and their poop can create a strong smell. 

Bearded Dragon Poop Smells Bad 

In fact, it’s only the poop from a bearded dragon that is going to cause any smell. And this depends to a significant extent on the consistency of the poop, since bearded dragons poop tends to be encased in a type of membrane which helps to keep all the smell inside. If this membrane is broken, or the poop is runny, the smell will be worse. 

This is probably because of evolution since poop is often used by predators to determine where their prey is hiding or congregating. Less smelly poop means less likelihood of discovery by predators. 

Bearded dragons have evolved to conserve as much water as possible in their bodies. This is because they originate from one of the driest places in the world – the arid areas of Australia. But this means that bearded dragons don’t pee like mammals do. This helps reduce the smells a bearded dragon produces. Bearded dragons get rid of the extra salts and metabolites through a product called urate which is a white encapsulated solid substance. 

Smells from Bearded Dragon Food 

Bearded dragon food can generate a smell inside the tank, or in any enclosure that you keep the food in. For example, the poop of locusts can become quite smelly if left in the container for any length of time. Rotting greens in the bearded dragon tank or the insect enclosure can cause smells too – although we’d hope that food isn’t left there long enough to begin to go rotten. 

Crickets, for example, can generate some nasty niffs. Dubia roaches are probably a better option and are a better dietary option if you can get hold of them. 

Too Much Humidity Can Create Nasty Smell 

Too much moisture inside your bearded dragon’s tank is not good for their health in general, but can also lead to foisty, musty smells because of mould growth. Your bearded dragon’s tank should be too hot for mould growth when it’s operating at the correct temperatures and humidity levels so this should never be a problem. If it is, you’ll need to check why that’s happening and fix it. 

Spilled water dishes for example, can create musty smells if not cleaned up straight away, particularly on a loose substrate, or paper-based substrate. Spills that end up on tiled or vinyl floors should still be cleaned up, and underneath the vinyl/tile checked to make sure any wetness is dried up before it soaks into the floor of the vivarium. 

Tank Ventilation Can Affect Smells Released 

The type of tank you have can also affect how much of the smell is emitted into the room. For example, a bearded dragon tank with an open mesh top, will allow far more smell into the room than a wooden vivarium with sliding glass doors. 

How To Stop Your Bearded Dragon from Smelling 

Since bearded dragons don’t intrinsically smell bad themselves, and any smell that is generated is generally because of their poop, the best way to stop your bearded dragon from smelling is to remove the poop as soon as they do it. 

Keep The Tank Clean 

Making sure your bearded dragon tank is kept clean has several advantages. 

  • Any smells created are removed straight away 
  • The bearded dragon doesn’t walk or drag their tail through any poop 
  • Parasites don’t have such a chance to multiply and re-infect 
  • It’s just altogether a nice environment for them 

A bearded dragon will only smell bad if they walk through, or against, something else that smells bad, such as poop. So, removing poop as soon as they go will reduce this chance and stop your bearded dragon from smelling. 

Keeping your bearded dragon’s tank clean and fresh is the only way to reduce and remove any of the smells that might be associated with your beardie. 

Loose Substrates Can Make Smellier Tanks 

Loose substrates can be a real problem for harbouring dead insects (if you feed in the tank), random poops, rotting vegetables that you might miss and bacteria even if you clean up poops almost immediately. We don’t recommend loose substrate, although we’re not totally against the right loose substrate being used. But if you are using a loose substrate it needs to be meticulously cleaned, with poops removed as soon as possible after they’re done and any substrate pooped on removed along with the poop. 

Loose substrate should be completely replaced once a week to avoid the build-up of these items that cause smells and risk bacterial or parasitical infection. 

Tiles, or slates, on the other hand can be wipe cleaned as soon as any poop is put on them, and they can be sprayed with a bearded dragon safe tank disinfectant. Any dropped food, poop, or dead insects are far easier to see on a solid substrate such as tiles, reducing the risk of unwanted smells. 

Why Do Bearded Dragon Poops Smell So Bad? 

Let’s face it, any poop smells bad. Bearded dragon poop smells worse than a rabbit’s poop partially because they’re omnivorous and most carnivore poop smells, on average, worse than an herbivore. 

If your bearded dragon’s poop is smelling particularly obnoxious though, it may be that they have a medical issue going on that ought to be checked by a vet. Some parasites can cause bearded dragon’s poop to smell awful and can also give them diarrhoea which compounds the problem. If your bearded dragon’s poop is becoming particularly smelly it’s worth collecting a sample of it and speaking to a vet to get it checked for parasites. 

What Do Bearded Dragons Smell Like? 

Bearded dragon’s themselves have no smell. They have no sweat glands, so don’t produce any sweat. They have no fur and so don’t need to produce any oil to keep their coat in decent shape. Their skin is dry (except in the case of Silk back Bearded Dragons) and moisture of some kind is required to produce odour. 

Bearded dragons don’t pant like dogs might. They don’t lick themselves to clean themselves either. So, they don’t tend to develop bad breath. Even if they did, their heads are small and the volume of breath they produce is tiny. 

So, any smell a bearded dragon produces will come only from its poop. But bearded dragon poop smell is hard to describe. It’s not pleasant though. But it’s not as nasty as cat or dog poop. This is likely because bearded dragons eat more vegetables than dogs or cats do, which seems to help tone the poop smell down. 

Do Bearded Dragons Smell When They Shed? 

No, since bearded dragons don’t produce any fluids from their skin, such as sweat, they don’t smell any different when they’re shedding to any other time in their lives. If you’re finding that your bearded dragon is smelling more when they shed, you may find they have some trapped water underneath a shedding area. This can happen if you bath them for example and some of the shed has come away leaving an open end to a pocket of shed. If you’re bathing your bearded dragon during shedding, often to help with the shedding process, it is important to make sure they’re properly dry before returning them to their homes. 

Summary 

Bearded dragons themselves don’t smell. They don’t have any way to produce a smell, since they don’t sweat or have oily skins. But they can produce smells from their poops. Any smell that might emanate from your bearded dragon tank is going to be caused by something that’s been left in it for too long and is becoming nasty. 

Good tank hygiene and setup is going to reduce any smells that are produced to almost zero. Most bearded dragons will generate less smell than a cat or dog as a pet. 

If your bearded dragon’s poop is becoming obnoxious smelling it might be worth a ‘faecal check’ with a Vet to ensure they’re not becoming overrun with parasites which is causing the nasty niff. 

Featured Image by MHeadroom from Pixabay