Wrinkled skin in bearded dragons is a sign that your pet might be dehydrated, almost shedding, underweight, or infected by a skin disease.
Bearded dragons are known for their many unique appearances and traits. It’s not uncommon for the reptile pets to display a number of queer behaviors. On top of this, you are likely to observe several conspicuous appearances that they take on from time to time.
While a bearded dragon’s eyes and general behavior point at most of the pet’s health conditions, the nature of care you are offering, and their mood, the lizard’s skin is also a major pointer of these statuses.
What Does It Mean If a Bearded Dragon Has Wrinkled Skin?
Wrinkled skin in bearded dragons is a sign that your pet might be dehydrated, almost shedding, underweight, or infected by a skin disease. Alternatively, your lizard buddy could have sustained a physical injury or is suffering from a skin condition such as sunken fat pads, Yellow Fungus, Mouth Rot, Skin Burns, retained shed, or Tail Rot.
Then again, a bearded dragon’s skin normally wrinkles up in some parts when the lizard is basking, turning for a better view, or bloated from overfeeding.
Although most of the peculiar beardie signs and behaviors are normal and usually nothing to worry about, they often signal serious underlying issues that affect your beardie pet’s health, comfort, and mood.
Thus, it’ crucial to carefully monitor any substantial deviation of your beardie from their norm in order to determine the root cause, potential ramifications, and any suitable resolutions you can take.
5 Reasons for Wrinkled Skin in Bearded Dragons
Wrinkled skin on a bearded dragon pet can be particularly worrisome to a new beardie owner who hasn’t experienced the occurrence before.
Besides, any enthusiastic reptiles owner or caregiver would love to understand this incidence to be better placed to offer their pet the best care for a chance to enjoy a long, comfortable, and happy life.
Stay with me as we review the most common reasons for wrinkled bearded dragon skin.
One of the most common causes of a bearded dragon’s wrinkly skin is dehydration. Due to lack of adequate water intake, your beardie’s skin sometimes develops wrinkles, sunken eyes appear in their sockets, and the pet becomes lethargic.
On the other hand, a hydrated bearded dragon skin bounces back into place swiftly after you gently pinch it using your fore-finger and middle finger.
If you discover that your beardie is dehydrated, act quickly to hydrate the pet. You can achieve this by giving the reptile a warm bath three times a week.
Moreover, feeding your beardie with fresh and green veggies provides a good source of water for bearded dragons. And for that extra hydration, consider spraying some clean drinking water on the salad before feeding the dragon.
Further, with the help of a syringe or an eye dropper, you can offer drips to help your beardie drink water. Simply begin by putting a drop of watered down Gatorade on the pet’s nose when the beardie is licking.
The bearded dragon will associate that liquid placed on its mouth with something delicious because the Gatorade is usually sweet.
Another pretty idea is to place the syringe without the needle on one side of the dragon’s mouth and let it drink.
On top of that, you can put applesauce on a plastic spoon and very gently pry the beardie’s lips apart until the pet licks the sauce. You don’t want to miss this interesting bit: The poop and urate (white part of the reptiles stool) of a bearded dragon are the best indicators of the pet’s level of hydration.
If impacted, the beardie’s poop appears hard and chalky, meaning it’s dehydrated and requires urgent attention.
Possibly the best y to deal with impaction in a beardie is by giving your pet warm baths to alleviate the symptoms and hydrate them back to normal.
Ensure the water is not too hot for you as it would be too hot for your reptile and can result in scalding. Further, try to coax the dragon to swim while bathing to crank back their hydration levels to norm even faster.
Wrinkled skin on your bearded dragon does not always mean an illness, but it may be a sign of an underweight pet especially if the dragon’s tail is scrawny and the fat pads indented.
On the other hand, if your beardie’s tail is a good size and their fat pads are normal (not indented), a little wrinkly skin shouldn’t give you sleepless nights.
Nevertheless, in the case of an underweight dragon, you will need to fatten up your pet by including special diet supplements such as Repta Boost to get their skin back to its normal form.
3. Skin Disease
Skin infections like yellow fungus could also cause wrinkly skin in bearded dragons. Yellow fungus is a serious skin infection that affects the beardie resulting in red or swollen skin which further causes wrinkling.
While some skin diseases might appear minor, it’s extremely important to visit a reptile pet vet immediately you suspect you beardie pet has a skin condition to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Possibly the worst thing about bearded dragon skin conditions is that they could cause more serious health implications or even death of the dragon.
4. It’s About to Shed
A bearded dragon skin gets stiffer and wrinklier just before peeling off during skin shedding. Usually, shedding is a normal and common process in a beardie’s life as they grow, thus nothing to be concerned about.
However, wrinkly skin at the time of shedding can be exceptionally uncomfortable to a bearded dragon. Therefore, you can help your pet to shed the skin faster and more easily by providing the optimal tank conditions.
Ensure you provide the recommended optimum temperature, humidity, and lighting setup to enable the process to happen naturally, fast, and painlessly.
On top of this, giving your bearded dragon periodic warm baths and massages is a great way to ease off the skin shedding symptoms.
You can also gently soak up stiff, brittle, and resistant skin shed with a cotton pad or ball soaked in warm water to help it shed faster.
5. Physical Injury
If your bearded dragon has sustained a physical injury, the skin around the wound might develop visible wrinkles.
The skin tissue could be taught and loose at intervals around the injury as the skin stretches over to cover and heal the wound. Besides the wrinkles, the skin around injured skin is easily visible as darker patches.
Moreover, skin wrinkles in a beardie can result from the presence of foreign objects or organisms. For instance, parasites such as mites lodge themselves into a beardie’s skin and appear as red and black spots in a wrinkly skin patch.
On top of this, sharp objects like pins, insect stings or fangs, and stuck pollen can also cause a beardie’s skin to appear wrinkled.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Skin Wrinkled?
As mentioned earlier, there are numerous reasons why the skin of your bearded dragon could be wrinkled. The most common reason for this occurrence is dehydrated dragon.
Alternatively, your beardie pet might be underweight or overweight. Besides that, a beardie that is just about to shed the skin or has been infected by a skin disease often displays wrinkled skin.
Interestingly, wrinkles allow bearded dragons to flex their skin, puff out or pancake. Whenever a beardie is sitting in a strange angle, it’s normal to see skin wrinkles on their body.
On top of that, the skin on a bearded dragon’s sides naturally gets wrinkled during basking. If something catches the attention of a bearded dragon and the dragon turns their torso to get a clearer look, the lizard’s sides naturally folds and wrinkles.
Sometimes your pet’s stomach might appear bloated after consuming a heavy meal. Later, the stomach shrinks back after a poop or if the reptile takes a smaller meal than the previous one.
In such cases, you may notice wrinkles on the dragon’s sides but this if usually nothing to fret about. Just ensure you feed your pet the right amount of food at the recommended frequency for their specific age.
Should My Bearded Dragon’s Skin Have Wrinkles?
In instances like eating out, flattening out, turning around or to signify an oncoming skin shed, having loose skin with a bit wrinkled is normal in bearded dragons.
However, the crucial thing is to try and identify what’s causing the wrinkles. This is because some wrinkles in bearded dragons could symbolize an underlying health issue, which if not early diagnosed and attended to could lead to serious complications or the possible untimely demise of your beardie friend.
Additionally, if you are not sure what is causing wrinkly skin on your dragon, it’s best to visit a professional reptiles vet for reliable diagnosis and assistance.
Other Bearded Dragon Skin Conditions
In your time owning and tending to a bearded dragon as a pet, you will probably come across a skin condition at some point. So, it is necessary to what to look out for along with the correct measures to take to correct the situation.
The most common bearded dragon skin conditions (Pogona Vitticeps) include mouth rot, yellow fungus, skin burns, tail rot, retained shed, wrinkly skin, and sunken fat pads.
It is highly recommended that you pay keen attention to your bearded dragon’s skin in order to notice any extraordinary changes.
· Yellow Fungus
In this case, the bearded dragon’s scales become discolored or seem yellowish in colour. Yellow fungus attacks the beardie’s deep tissues, and internal organs in severe cases.
As the fungal infection worsens, it may break off the reptile’s scales to reveal raw and sensitive tissue. In such a case, a reptiles pet Vet will prescribe the required anti-fungal drugs to be given orally or via injection to treat the beardie.
Moreover, in order to rule out other dangerous internal illnesses, they may perform an X-ray, an ultrasound or blood tests to the sick bearded dragon.
· Mouth Rot (Infectious Stomatitis)
Mouth rot inflames the inside of a bearded dragon’s mouth and causes it to starts rotting. It can be a sign of viral, fungal or bacterial infection.
If the immune system of a beardie has been compromised, the pet is more susceptible to infections, and mouth rot has a high chance of attacking them. Luckily, you can catch mouth rot in its early stages by regularly checking the appearance of your bearded dragon’s mouth.
Upon suspecting signs of mouth rot, visit the reptile vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis saves your pet a long, expensive and severe treatment. Besides this, early diagnosis and treatment of mouth rot allows your beardie a quick and relatively painless recovery.
· Skin Burns
A bearded dragon requires a properly set up lighting system to thrive. A suitably setup heat and lighting arrangement not only promotes healthy growth in a beardie but also enables the lizards to stay comfortably and be active.
Otherwise, incorrect lighting and heating setups might expose your pet to more than enough heat which will in turn cause skin burns.
Unlike other lizards that need plenty of heat, bearded dragons are exceptionally sensitive to high heat levels. In captive beardies, the tank should have dual temperatures accurately measured by two thermometers in the middle of the tank’s height on either sides.
Heat lights should be switched on 12 hours per day without exceeding. The hot spot of the tank should have an optimal temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees C) for beardies below one year old.
110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees C) for six months old dragons, and 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees C) for adult bearded dragons.
72 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees C) is the required cooling temperature for a beardie’s tank during the night.
Further, bearded dragons use light as a stimulus to determine when to move away from heat. This is the main reason heaters are not recommended in a dragon’s tank.
Since these heaters emit no light, they tend to confuse the pet, thereby making the beardie to overstay in the heat produced by the under-tank heater. Unfortunately, this can lead to life-threatening burns.
Fortunately, you can protect your beardie from skin burns by ensuring their tank has the recommended lighting and heating arrangements. Besides installing the suitable lighting and heating appliances, monitor the installments constantly to guarantee your pet a continuous comfortable experience.
· Tail Rot
Tail rot is a common beardies skin condition caused by an internal infection where a dragon’s tail starts to rot. The major causes of tail rot in beardies include insufficient calcium, tail injuries, and unsuitable living conditions.
It’s extremely difficult for a bearded dragon to absorb vitamin D3 from calcium unless its supplied with enough UVB.
As a result, the reptile’s bones becomes weak and brittle, making them predisposed to various conditions such as metabolic bone diseases (MBD). Such conditions occurring in a beardie’s tail bones can easily result to ail rot.
Luckily, Betadine and water soak is a great home remedy for a bearded dragon’s tail rot. You can try it out on your beardie as first aid before consulting with the reptile vet.
If tail rot is noticed early on, prescribed antibiotics can be used to treat it. The vet physically examines the pet and may recommend or provide surgery in severe cases. Thus, you’re advised to act quickly once you suspect it in your beardie pet for effective diagnosis and treatment.
This is worth noting: Tail rot is a detrimental bearded dragon that can quickly aggravate to grave health conditions such as your dragon’s tail falling off.
In worse scenarios it has been reported to cause severe organ failure and untimely death in beardies if left untreated.
· Retained Shed (Dysecdysis)
Dysecdysis refers to the abnormal shedding of the outer layer of a bearded dragon skin. It’s often signified by raised skin patches that appear unnaturally dull and dead on a beardie.
A healthy and normal bearded dragon skin contains a rich supply of nutrients. Thus, retained shed in a beardie can result in acute nutrient deficiency in your pet with the possibility of emaciation and untimely demise in severe cases.
Along with this, retained shed can cause heightened nervousness, restlessness, and cause a bearded dragon to be easily frightened.
Therefore, it’s important to regularly monitor your dragon’s limbs, tail, and toes as they can lose blood circulation and nutrition relatively faster than other body parts. If you observe resilient retained shed, it’s best to consult your reptile pet’s veterinarian for assistance.
· Sunken Fat Pads
A bearded dragon’s fat pads are situated at the back of the reptile’s eyes. The fat pads provide natural storage for any surplus fat from the dragon’s nutrition. Naturally, the pads are mushy, soft, and easily noticeable in a healthy beardie.
On the other hand, an unhealthy, undernourished, underweight, or dehydrated dragon spots flat and sunken fat pads. On top of this, your beardie’s skin could appear wrinkled around the eyes due to sunken fat pads.
Fortunately, resolving wrinkled skin due to sunken soft pads is straightforward. Just address the issue causing the sunken pads (dehydration, malnutrition, or underweight) and your beardie pet’s wrinkles will vanish.
Common Signs of Sick Bearded Dragons?
- Weight loss
- Cloudy eyes
- Respiratory issue
- Sunken eyes
- Strange behavior
- Wont eat
- Stress marks
How Do You Prevent Bearded Dragon Skin Problems?
Possibly the best way to resolve wrinkled skin in bearded dragon pets is by preventing the condition from happening. You can achieve this easily by preventing the occurrence of conditions that lead to most skin complications in beardies.
It’s crucial to maintain a healthy and strong immune system in your bearded dragon to help protect them from contracting various diseases such as skin infections.
Moreover, keeping general tank hygiene, maintaining proper temperatures, ensuring there are balanced humidity levels, providing healthy nutritious diets, and reducing stress are among the best ways to boost a bearded dragon’s immune system and keep various infections at bay.
Another recommendation is to invite a reptile vet to physically examine your beardie’s habitat and offer advice on proper lighting, nutrition and correct husbandry.
Moreover, perform yearly fecal and physical examinations on your bearded dragon to identify, prevent, and treat common bearded dragon skin diseases and other conditions.
On top of this, observing faultless hygiene when handling your beardie pet will help keep away infectious parasites like protozoa, pinworms, and coccidian which cause diarrhea and loss of weight.
Furthermore, performing routine blood and fecal tests enables a reptile pet vet to identify and catch most beardie skin diseases from the outset.
Thus, booking your beardie for periodic vet examinations is a solid way to catch various diseases and other unfriendly conditions in their early stages before they get a chance to grow into more complex and troublesome health complications.
Like other pets, captive bearded dragons require proper care throughout their lives to not only survive in artificial habitats but also thrive. Unfortunately, beardies face numerous potentially life-threatening conditions such as dehydration, malnutrition, physical injury, retained shed, mouth rot, and tail rot skin that lead to unsightly skin wrinkling.
Fortunately, you can easily resolve skin wrinkles in a beardie pet by tackling its underlying cause. Giving your beardie periodic warm baths and massages to ease dehydration and shedding, providing the right nutrition and supplementation to boost the immune system and promote all-round health.
Providing the recommended optimal tank conditions of temperature, light, and humidity are the best ways to prevent and drive off skin complications and the resultant wrinkled skin.
On top of this, keeping your beardie’s enclosure in pristine condition not only keeps the pet active, clean, and comfortable but also prevents beardie pests such as infection-causing parasites from attacking your captive beardie and causing various infections.
Then again, skin wrinkling is sometimes normal in bearded dragons in scenarios such as basking, overfeeding, shedding, and brumation. In such cases, the beardie’s skin naturally folds over in a wrinkle but reverts to its normal state almost instantly.