Cleaning Tips

Share
Cleaning Tips

The cleaner you keep your beardie and his home, the happier and healthier your beardie will be! Cleaning is an essential part of taking good care of your bearded dragon and keeping him/her healthy. A messy enclosure is very stressful for reptiles and can cause many serious health problems like parasites, respiratory infections, impaction, etc. Daily cleaning of uneaten food and feces is vital along with periodic thorough disinfecting and cleansing of the enclosure and all accessories. In addition to cleaning your beardie’s home, it is also important to bathe your beardie and keep the feeders’ container clean too.

Bathing Your Beardie:

IMG_9309Bearded dragons typically enjoy a bath from time to time, plus it keeps their body clean. Warm baths are also a great way to keep your beardie hydrated and have the added benefits of making it easier for them to shed, helping them poop if they are constipated, usually makes them feel better and relax, giving them some freedom from their enclosure, helping your beardie bond with you, gives them the opportunity to swim, exercise, and experience new things (most beardies are good swimmers despite being desert lizards), providing entertainment for both you and your pet, ect. Plus, bearded dragons tend to show their best color when they are bathing! Bearded dragons should be bathed at the very least once a month, but preferable at least twice a week. Bathing every day (for normal beardies) is not necessary unless you are trying to treat a problem like parasite or mites and/or it is advised by a vet. (If you have a silky smooth bearded dragon, please refer to the care instructions provided by your breeder). Bearded dragons need to be supervised when they are bathing to avoid accidents and escapes, and the water should not be deep. One half inch deep is enough and a few minutes to 15 minutes is enough time. The tub (or container used for bathing) should be cleaned both before and after bathing your beardie to avoid any contamination. Use vinegar/water solution to wipe down the tub before bathing your beardie to avoid any chance getting harmful chemicals on your pet. REPTILES ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO CHEMICALS, so take extra precautions to avoid exposure! It is a good idea to use a bleach/water solution AFTER you bathe your beardie to clean the tub before you use it. Most reptiles carry salmonella; although, the chance of you catching it is very low, it is best to take safeguards. Always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile to avoid any chance of infection.

Enclosure Cleaning:

Uneaten food and feces need to removed every day. If you use tile, wash soiled tile with a soapy solution and thoroughly rinse it. Use a plastic cup or small shovel to scoop out waste in sand and don’t share the same cup or shovel between different enclosures. If you use newspaper or paper towels, replace it every time it gets soiled. If you’re using reptile carpet, throw it out and get a flooring that’s easier to keep clean like tile or paper towels! If you choose to continue to use reptile carpet, you should have an extra carpet to switch out when the carpet is soiled. Replace the carpet often, because it is difficult to clean thoroughly and can hold parasites if there is an infection plus they can stink! If messes get on the glass, use a 20% white vinegar to water solution to clean it. Remove and clean accessories, climbing décor, and bowls that have been soiled using a soapy bleach & water solution. Scrub them with the soapy solution and then rinse them thoroughly until they no longer smell.

Tip: Keep a roll of paper towels and small spray bottle of a vinegar solution (20% white vinegar to water with a couple drops of dish washing liquid) next to your beardie’s enclosure for daily clean ups. If your beardies enclosure still smells after a basic clean up, it’s time for a thorough cleaning. A stinky beardie enclosure is a clear sign more needs cleaning needs to be done (and your beardie may have a parasite infection)!

Thorough Cleaning:

The most important time to thoroughly clean your bearded dragon’s enclosure is before your beardie ever sets foot in it, especially if you’re re-using an enclosure that previously held a different pet. Many parasites infections are a result of being exposed to enclosures, accessories, dishes, hides, or climbing decor that has not been cleaned well enough to kill the parasites on it. Never re-use wooden or other very porous accessories. When in doubt, throw it out. It is best to avoid any chance of exposing pets to parasites or other contagious illnesses.

Additionally, bearded dragons should have their enclosure thoroughly cleaned every month or so to avoid chances of a parasite infection and some other health problems.  To start cleaning your enclosure, make sure your bearded dragon in a safe location outside and away from the enclosure to avoid being exposed to fumes. Put gloves and a mask on to remove all the accessories, bowls, dishes, hides, and climbing decor. Vacuum out the enclosure to remove all debris, uneaten food, and sand (if you use it). Soak the accessories, bowls, dishes, hides, and climbing decor in a bleach solution for at least 20 minutes. Thoroughly clean and scrub them with a soapy solution like dish soap and scrub. Rinse them until the smell of bleach and soap have disappeared. Clean the enclosure with at least a 5% bleach to water solution with some dish soap. The solution should be about 1 inch deep in the enclosure. Thoroughly scrub the enclosure paying special attention to the corners, up the sides, and bottom. Let the solution sit in the enclosure for at least 20 minutes. After the enclosure has been soaked and scrubbed, rinse it with water several times until the smell of bleach is gone. If you have a very large enclosure that cannot be moved, you will most likely need to use a wet/dry vacuum.  Clean the glass with a 15% vinegar to water solution and wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. Replace the substrate, accessories, bowls, dishes, hides, and climbing decor. Make sure everything is dry and warm before putting your bearded dragon back in the enclosure.

Step by Step of Enclosure Thorough Cleaning:

Supplies: Vacuum (preferably a wet/dry vac), gloves, mask, bleach, dish washing soap, cloths and/or sponge, microfiber cloth, vinegar, and a spray bottle.

  1. Take your bearded dragon(s) out of their enclosure and put them in a safe location.
  2. Remove all accessories, bowls, climbing decor, hides, and flooring. Soak them for at least 20 minutes in a soapy bleach/water solution. After soaking, scrub each item to remove all debris and thoroughly rinse clean.IMG_2582 IMG_2605
  3. Vacuum out the enclosure.
  4. Clean the tank with a soapy bleach/water solution. Wipe the entire tank with a clean sponge or cloth paying special attention to the corners and edges. Soak the enclosure for at least 20 minutes. The goal of a thorough cleaning is to disinfect and kill any parasites in the enclosure in addition to making it look and smell clean.     IMG_2581IMG_2584
  5.  Use a wet/dry vac to remove the soapy bleach solution. You may also sponge out the solution if you don’t have access to a wet/dry vac.
  6. Rinse the tank with water until it no longer smells like bleach then wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  7. Spray the inside and outside of the enclosure  with a vinegar solution and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.                    IMG_2607
  8. Put the flooring, accessories, bowls, climbing decor, and hides back in the enclosure.
  9. Bathe your beardie(s) in warm shallow water. Bathing your beardies will help clean them, hydrate them, and hopefully provoke a bowel movement, so they don’t immediately mess up your thoroughly cleaned cage.         IMG_2608
  10. When everything is dry and free of all odors, put your bearded dragon(s) back in the enclosure and feed them to help make them feel at home again.IMG_2610

 

Making Cleaning Fun:

Every time you clean out the beardies enclosure is a great time to take your pet out and have a fun interaction with him/her. I like to give mine a bath in a warm shallow water or on warm sunny days take him/her outside in a safe screened in area (like a mesh dog play pen or screened in patio) while I’m cleaning. Beardies love to get out and experience new things. You can also give your beardie treats like small amounts of different fruits and observe his/her behavior while experiencing new adventure and foods. Also, when you’re cleaning the tank, it’s a great time to reorganize, replace accessories, and decorate the enclosure. You can put in new accessories, flooring (like tile), climbing decor, and wall art.

 

Share

28 comments

  1. sonja enslin says:

    Hi. With whatbcan I bathe my beardie with?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Sonja,
      You may bath your bearded dragon in filtered water or bottled water. If you have well water, that should be fine too. Just make sure you don’t have any harsh chemicals or chlorine in the water you use. Don’t use any soap or anything else. If your beardie is a silkie, you will need to moisturize your beardie as directed by your breeder.

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  2. Grace says:

    I want to get an adult bearded dragon and I was just wondering when in the day is best to feed the dragon?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Grace,
      The best time to feed a bearded dragon is in the morning. It’s best to feed them greens first and offer insects like dubia roaches some time after. If you offer insects first, they probably won’t eat the greens, because they prefer insects and won’t be hungry enough to eat the greens. Avoid feeding a beardie 2 hours or less before their lights shut off. They need plenty of time to digest their food before night time. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      Best wishes.
      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  3. Leigh says:

    Hello, my child is getting one for her birthday, she is 11 years old. I was wondering how to make it fun for my daughter to clean the tank.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Leigh,
      Every time you clean out the beardies enclosure is a great time to take your pet out and have a fun interaction with him/her. I like to give mine a bath in a warm shallow water or on warm sunny days take him/her outside in a safe screened in area (like a mesh dog play pen or screened in patio) while I’m cleaning. Beardies love to get out and experience new things. She can put the beardie in the bath or outside while she is cleaning up the tank, and someone else can keep an eye on the beardie to ensure he/she stays safe. Then when she’s done cleaning up, she can have a fun interaction with her beardie outside of the tank. She can give her beardie treats like small amounts of different fruits and observe his/her behavior while experiencing new adventure and foods. Also, when she’s cleaning the tank, it’s a great time to reorganize, replace spoiled accessories, and decorate the enclosure. She can put in new accessories, flooring (like tile), climbing decor, and wall art that she can make herself and hang outside the cage for the beardie to look out. I hope your daughter loves her new beardie! Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  4. Leilani says:

    I am currently using carpet substrate with my adult beardie but it seems difficult to keep clean since it gets soiled every day. Any suggestions?

    • Mary says:

      Tile is a great alternative to carpet! Slate, ceramic, and porcelain tile all work well. Tile is easy to wipe clean daily and take out to clean thoroughly. It doesn’t hold smells and can be cleaned well & bleached to kill parasites that might be on them. Plus, it never needs to be replaced. It’s time to toss the carpet and get some tile!

      • Kelley archer says:

        I have reptile carpet in my glass enclosure. If I replace it with tile why not just leave them on the glass instead and not use anything? I am confused why the tile would be better than the glass?

        • Mary says:

          Hi Kelley,
          Tile can easily be taken out and cleaned/bleached/replaced. Tile has more traction than the glass on the bottom of the tank, so accessories in the enclosure and your beardie don’t slide around like they would if they were on just glass. Also, if you don’t use the something on the bottom, the silicone seal on the sides of the glass tank will get destroyed and it may no longer be water tight. Many people use paper towels or newspaper on the bottom of the tank, which is a good option.

          Thanks,
          Mary

      • Brittany says:

        Does the tile get too warm? That’d be my only concern. I definitely think it sounds like a better option than the carpet though

        • Mary says:

          Hi Brittany,
          Ceramic and porcelain tile distribute heat very well and should not get too warm, but it is probably best to avoid black or very dark colored tile that might have a chance of possibly getting too warm under bright lights. I’ve been using tile for years and never had a problem and the beardies seem to like it.

          Thanks,
          Mary
          http://www.DragonRancher.com

    • Leilani says:

      Great! Will get some tile this weekend. Thanks!

  5. Shannon M Stewart says:

    Ok so my poor beardie has been constipated, he has finally been able to go but unfortunately I was at work when he did go and now he has poo all over his underside. Is there something I can use to clean him other than just water. I feel bad for the little guy and wanna give him a good cleaning so he can feel better lol…

    • Mary says:

      Hi Shannon,
      Sorry to hear your beardie was constipated and later soiled himself. Poor guy. You can try organic olive oil soap and carefully clean his dirty underside and avoid his face. Rinse very well. Also, you can try just applying (preferably organic) olive oil, coconut oil, or aloe vera gel to soften areas to make them easier to clean. Again, be very careful and avoid sensitive areas. I hope this information helps and your bearded dragon feels a lot better and gets the good cleaning he deserves.

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  6. Megan says:

    My bearded dragon is always dirty, i clean his tank once a week but at night i yhink he steps in his poop, thus he always has shit on him. How do i get him clean i bathe him once a week but he is still dirty?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Megan,
      It can very difficult to clean a soiled bearded dragon, but some people will use a soft bristle tooth brush and very gently and carefully scrub waste from their scales after being soaked and softened for awhile. Some people also use organic coconut oil and/or aloe vera to soften soiled areas to make them easier to wipe with a soft cloth or scrub with a soft brush. The best way to keep a bearded dragon clean is to clean out any waste as soon as possible after it happens. Regular cleaning will also help keep a bearded dragon healthier and make him less susceptible to parasite infections, respiratory infections, fungus, and other common health problems. The cleaner you can keep a bearded dragon and his/her enclosure, the healthier he/she will remain.

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  7. Matteo says:

    Hi, I very rarely see my dragon eat her greens, and so she generally has a full food bowl which I throw away at the end of the day. I got her recently so maybe she is still adjusting? Also, I don’t know how good my cage is as it is mostly wood with sliding glass doors at the front and the seals on the doors aren’t very secure as well, should I change my cage to something different or should I touch it up? Also do you have any tips as to cleaning it?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Matteo,
      It’s normal for adult beardies to only eat their greens when they’re really hungry and there are no other options. You can try to mix in a small amount of chopped up fruits like peaches or cantaloupe into the greens to try to get her to eat more. Also, whenever you give her insects like dubia roaches, put them in the greens. She will likely some greens along with the roaches or fruit. She could also be adjusting like you said and may eat more when she’s more settled in and comfortable.
      Honestly, I would recommend replacing the mostly wood cage, because it will be very difficult to clean throughly. If she ever has a problem with parasites, you won’t be able to clean the wood well enough to get rid of the problem. If you cannot get replace the wood cage, you can try to cover up all the wooden parts with tile or plexi glass so it’s easier to clean. For now, you can try cleaning it and wiping in down with a soapy bleach solution then rinsing it thoroughly with water until you no longer smell bleach. Keep your beardie in a separate enclosure until the wooden cage is dry. You could also buy a lock for the sliding glass doors to secure them, and feed your beardie insects in a separate enclosure/container so the insects don’t escape thru the sliding doors. I would recommend getting a 40 gallon or larger glass tank. You can get a used tank cheap at yard sales, flea markets, or thru classified ads, but you will need to clean any used enclosure thoroughly. I hope this information helps. Best wishes with your new beardie!

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  8. Vickie says:

    Im taking over care of my brothers beardie. First time bearded dragon owner. Any tips for when I transport him? Its only a 20 minute drive. I also will have to clean his aquarium when I get it here. Any advice will be much appreciated.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Vickie,
      Congrats on your first beardie! Try to make your beardie’s trip as stress-free as possible and keep him warm and comfortable. If you have heated seats, use it to keep your beardie warm and warm up the car before you put him in it. You can use a rubbermaid container or other similar container to transport him. Put paper towels on the bottom of the container so he doesn’t slide around. Have a comfortable new place ready for him while you’re cleaning his cage. Make sure you take time to throughly clean his cage with bleach & soak then rinse till it no longer smells like bleach. Moving can be a stressful time for a beardie, and it can make him more susceptible to illness. It’s best to keep your beardie as comfortable as possible and limit how much you handle him till he’s settled in. Also, feed him more of his favorite foods, like dubia roaches, than you normally would. I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Best wishes with your new beardie!

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  9. sherry says:

    i have had larry the dragon for three weeks and ia have only seen him sleep once and i was scared he was dead an i woke him up is this normally ?

    • Mary says:

      Hi Sherry,
      How is Larry the dragon doing? Is he sleeping better now? Beardies are normally good sleepers and tend to get ready for sleep before their lights turn off. Are his lights on a timer? Also, beardies usually don’t like infrared lights or black lights at night. Under tank heat pads are a better source for night time heat than night lights. They prefer dark enclosures with no nearby lights at night. They sleep well when no lights are on and can wake up easily when lights are turned on, but some beardies are heavy sleepers who will remain asleep even when picked up. If he’s acting and eating normally during the day, it’s probably nothing to be concerned about. I hope this information helps and Larry is sleeping normally. Please let me know if you have any questions.

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

  10. Kristina says:

    I soaked my bearded stuff in bleach for 20 mins and then rinsed each piece for like 5 mins but it still has a slight bleach smell. Will this harm him if I put the items back in his tanks after they dry?

  11. Sydney says:

    Hello! Thanks for the helpful article. This is my first beardie- what’s the best ratio for the cleaning solution for the cage? Thanks

    • Mary says:

      Hi Sydney,
      A ratio of 1:10 bleach to water solution is adequate for cleaning a bearded dragons enclosure. If possible, let accessories, bowls, tiles, cage, etc. soak for 20 minutes to disinfect. If you have a known infection or parasite problem you may want to increase the amount of bleach. Always rinse thoroughly until you can no longer smell bleach. I also like to wipe down the glass of the enclosure with a vinegar/water (1 part vinegar to 5 part water solution), and let everything dry before returning your beardie to his/her home. Best wishes with your first beardie!

      Thanks,
      Mary
      http://www.DragonRancher.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Google Analytics Alternative