Yes, a bearded dragon eats its shed skin. They do so because the shed skin is very rich in calcium, potassium, and other nutrients like protein, fat, phosphorus, and vitamins too. So, if they feel that the food that you are giving them is lacking in some nutrients, they will consume the shed skin to fulfill their needs for these nutrients. But you may ensure that the captivity they are living in should be clean if they have to consume the shed skin and subtract also in the captivity should be checked properly.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Eat Their Shed?
- To Avoid Its Predators
Your pet bearded dragon is one of the most popular prey in the wild. There are many predators like snakes or big reptiles, which wait for bearded dragons to come out of captivity so they can hunt for them and attack them.
However, by eating their shed these bearded dragons may protect themselves from being hunted.
By eating their shed, they may collect all the traces of themselves which they might leave behind while shedding. So any predators of these bearded dragons may not be able to trace them and find them. This may help your pet bearded dragon to save itself.
In addition by eating their shed, these bearded dragons may camouflage themselves with the ground shed. Skin provides a protective layer to your pet bearded dragon and makes it very difficult for large reptiles and snakes to hunt them.
Also, when any animal or let’s say the bearded dragon is shedding, it becomes too vulnerable to its predators. Its immune system also reduces. So by eating its shed, your pet bearded dragon will have no evidence left for its predators. Hence it eliminates all the chances of them being hunted by their predators.
- For The Calcium
One of the most important nutrients that your pet bearded dragon needs in their body is calcium. Calcium is one of the key ingredients to keep your pet bearded dragon’s bones healthy and in working condition.
If your pet bearded dragon is not getting enough calcium in the food you’re giving it, then it may develop diseases like a metabolic bone disease. If this is not treated at the right time or goes without notice, it may cause your pet bearded dragons some very serious chronic diseases.
The skin that your pet bearded dragon is shedding is nothing but a coating of dead cells and may have calcium stored or deposited in them by your pet bearded dragon. So by eating this, your pet bearded dragon may be consuming some amount of calcium to keep their bones healthy.
You should also focus on keeping the bearded dragon’s habitat clean as it has the habit of eating the shed skin and the shed skin should not be contaminated.
A deficiency of calcium in your pet bearded dragon may also be shown by other symptoms like broken bones, lethargy or weakness, etc.
So if you see your pet bearded dragon consuming the shed skin then you should revise the meal that you are providing them with and add something which has more calcium in it like green vegetables.
- Extra Nutrients
To shed is a very natural process for your pet bearded dragons that they go through as they become older. Your pet bearded dragon needs to shed to stay healthy. This shed skin contains a lot of nutrients with calcium as discussed above.
It is a very good source of taking in protein which is one of the important nutrients that you should provide your pet bearded dragons with. Proteins help to grow and keep your pet bearded dragon’s tissues and other organs intact. Your dragons’ physical health can improve a lot by consuming the shed skin which is rich in protein.
In addition to protein and calcium, this shed skin is also rich in other kinds of nutrients like potassium and vitamins too. Vitamin A and vitamin E are found in abundance in their shed skin which is very necessary for your pet bearded dragon to function properly, maintain its immune system, and also keep its digestion at its best.
If you see any time, your pet bearded dragon is eating its shed skin, you should re-look at the meal plan that you are following and should consult the vet. If there’s any nutrient-rich food that is missing, you should include it in your pet’s diet.
When Should You Stop Your Bearded Dragon From Eating Its Shed?
While there is no harm in a bearded dragon eating its own shed, below are a few scenarios where you should stop your pet from consuming it.
- Unclean Enclosures
It is always advised that you should keep sanitizing your pet bearded dragon’s enclosure and keep it very hygienic and clean each time for your pet bearded dragon to stay healthy and away from all illnesses.
Eating the shed skin surely provides your pet bearded dragon with some of the most essential nutrients that its body needs which include calcium protein, fiber, etc. But you should ensure that the shed skin isn’t contaminated or has any parasites or bacteria in it.
You should stop your pet bearded dragon or remove all the shed skin from its enclosure if at any time you find that the enclosure is dirty and has not been disinfected properly. This would help to maintain the well-being and health of your pet bearded dragon.
You may also think of contacting a vet if at any time you find that your pet bearded dragon’s enclosure was not clean. A vet check-up may reveal if it has swallowed any parasite or other bacteria or has any other infections and may help to keep your pet bearded dragon healthy. It is advised to not take parasites lightly.
- Substrate Issues
The substrate in your pet bearded dragon’s captivity holds great importance in its well-being. your pet bearded dragon may get impaction if they consume inappropriate substrate from its captivity.
Impaction is a disease that creates a blockage in the digestive tract and may make it difficult for you to swallow or eat anything further.
If you think that the substrate in your pet bearded dragon’s captivity is not safe for it to consume then you should immediately take out all the shed skin from their captivity. There have even been cases where a bearded dragon’s nose can get clogged making it difficult to breathe due to the leftover skin.
It’s essential that your pet doesn’t consume inappropriate substrate along with the skin sheds that can lead to impactions. It’s also important to note that you must be careful handling bearded dragons while they are shedding as their skin is very sensitive.
Wrapping up, it is very normal for your pet bearded dragon to shed skin and consume the shed skin. It may be because of many reasons, for example, to hide away from its predators, to recover from its calcium deficiency, or to consume it in need of other nutrients. It may also act as an alarming situation for you if you are not providing these dragons with food rich in all the nutrients.
However, you need to ensure that the bearded dragon’s captivity is hygienic and properly clean as your pet bearded dragons are at risk of consuming parasites. If it’s not cleaned properly and also the subtract in the captivity should be checked properly.
- Should I Not Be Worried if My Bearded Dragon is Eating Its Shed?
Yes, it is completely normal for you to let your pet bearded dragon eat their shed. Though there are some conditions in which you should prevent your pet bearded dragon from eating its shed skin like dirty enclosures or loose substrates.
But you should always remember that if your pet bearded dragon is eating its shed skin, then some nutrients are missing in the food given by you. So you should check the meal that you are giving your pet bearded dragons to eat and check whether they are rich in protein, fat, calcium, vitamin, potassium, etc.
- Do All Bearded Dragons Tend To Eat Their Shed Skin?
No, it’s not necessary that all bearded dragons eat the shed skin. You may also notice that your pet bearded dragon is eating the shed skin the first time and not eating it the second time. It all depends on the nutritional needs of your pet bearded dragon.
However, if you notice that your pet bearded dragon is eating its shed skin then you should find out the root cause and try to rectify it as it’s not very beneficial for your pet bearded dragon to consume its shed skin for a long time.