Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (2023)

Symptoms of scale rot on your bearded dragon?

Scaly rot may not be something you think about when caring for a pet lizard, but proper care is important. If they live in a dirty environment or aren't taken out often enough, their skin can get sick from this annoying problem of eating right and having fun in general.

This article will help ensure that Scale Rots never become snack-worthy by providing some tips on the best way to treat them if caught early enough to avoid costly vet bills in the future.

What is bearded dragon scale rot?


  • What is bearded dragon scale rot?
    • Signs and symptoms of scaly rot
    • causes of dandruff
      • Your bearded dragon is eating poorly
      • What foods should they eat?
      • You don't have a clean environment.
      • Mites can crawl
  • How is scaly rot treated in bearded dragons?
    • Scale rot treatment plan
  • Prevent future rot in bearded dragons
  • Other Common Bearded Dragon Diseases
    • infectious stomatitis
    • fungal infections

Who would have thought that cute lizards could turn into such dangerous lizards if you weren't careful? Did your pet just cut itself while chasing its prey? Well, you better be aware of scale rot! Trust me, this nasty bacterial infection is super harmful and can even be fatal if left untreated.

So keep an eye on the humidity levels in your home and make sure it stays really dry or it will get awfully slimy! Oh yeah, no live prey either, otherwise this cut will take longer than expected.

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (1)

To be on the safe side, it never hurts to recognize the signs and symptoms of dandruff so you can start any treatment plan as soon as possible. If not taken seriously, this health hazard can cause major problems for your beloved scaly friend!

Signs and symptoms of scaly rot

If your dragon is showing signs like blisters, scaly skin and ulcers, it could be a case of scaly rot! Don't worry, it's not the end of the world (but make sure you take antibiotics right away). Strange things like scaly pores on their stomachs? It's definitely an infection. But hey, don't discount it yet!

(Video) Tail Rot- Prevention and Treatment!

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (2)

Because you might be in for a big surprise; Abscesses and lesions can appear out of nowhere. Of course, it will be difficult to see your dragon become lethargic and lose its appetite, but why isn't it easy? Discolored scales are a lot more fun when described as the messy equivalent of a tan.

causes of dandruff

If your bearded dragon is suffering from scaly rot, don't be so scaly, it's time to get serious! You need to find out what caused this condition because prevention is definitely better than cure. Left untreated, the poor fellow could meet a fatal fate, so better get a grip and learn what can cause scale rot to stop it before it starts.

Your bearded dragon is eating poorly

Bearded dragons need a special diet to survive. If they don't get the proper food, their scales can rot from the discomfort of inadequate food intake!

Their diet varies with age, with bearded teenagers having a slightly different diet than adults.

  • Young bearded dragons should have a diet of approximately 50% insects and 50% plants, fruits and vegetables.
  • Adult bearded dragons need to focus more on vegetation than insects. Limit insect consumption to once a day.

As a pet owner, you need to make sure your pet doesn't miss out on their daily dose of superfoods! After all, dragons need proper nutrition to stay healthy and alert as they age. Skimping on your diet can have dire consequences: Not only will your dragon look like something out of a horror movie, it will also make you more prone to health problems, and nobody wants that.

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (3)

So hoe, it's veggie time! Prepare your dragon's homemade treats and watch the scales glow!

What foods should they eat?

There are a number of things you should give your pet lizard to ensure its health. Protein is important for building muscle and bones, while vitamins provide energy for life! Calcium also helps with tooth development, so keep those high-calcium treats on hand (and make sure you don't give them dairy).

  • Kale is one of the best green leafy vegetables to eat. They are rich in calcium and vitamins A, C and K.
  • Dubia Roaches provides good, high-quality protein for bearded dragons.
  • Sweet potatoes contain a lot of vitamin A.
See also: Should you feed bearded dragons in a separate tank?
(Video) Scale rot treatment and bedding

A diet high in oxalates will deprive your lizard of the calcium it needs.

From time to time, you can share some foods with your pet lizard, but make sure they are moderate in oxalate. You should also keep in mind that it's best to completely avoid anything that has no nutritional value, as it can create more problems than it solves!

You must be careful with foods that are toxic to your pet.

  • Spinach contains oxalates, an element that binds calcium and causes bone disease when consumed in large amounts.
  • Fireflies are poisonous to bearded dragons and fatal if ingested.
  • Lettuce has little nutritional value and can cause diarrhea in bears.

You don't have a clean environment.

If you don't want them to be susceptible to rot, it's time to rescue them! Moisture is your enemy in this situation because a humid environment breeds bacteria. Also, wet bedding will help build up moisture, which will affect their scales. But don't worry: cleaning up your scaly friend's mess doesn't have to be difficult!

All you need is some non-chlorinated water and a little effort. But remember: no matter how tempted you are, resist the urge to use soap as you risk choking and oops, that doesn't look good!

Mites can crawl

These pesky critters love damp spaces and love to latch onto our beloved lizards and wreak all kinds of havoc and itch on them. Mites can spread bacteria through a lizard's open wounds, causing scale rot - yuck. But did you know that they can actually hide in your bearded dragon's scales? And if you find redness around the eyes, chances are the poor creature has been bitten by those naughty mites!

However, prevention is better than cure and maintaining your pet's hygiene should be a top priority when it comes to getting rid of them.

How is scaly rot treated in bearded dragons?

Looks like you need to check your scale! Taking your lizard to the vet can be, shall we say, devastating. However, if your pet has developed scale rot, antibiotic treatment as soon as possible is a must, otherwise things can go wrong... quickly!

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (4)

And sure, if it's a mild case of dandruff, you can treat it at home with some TLC herbal remedies, but if things turn sour, take your little pal to the vet - it'll be worth it. being a responsible parent galore (even swirls)!

(Video) HOW TO TREAT BEARDED DRAGON BURNS | I thought it was Yellow Fungus | Storytime

Scale rot treatment plan

If you catch scale rot in its early stages, you can probably treat it at home like a true amateur veterinarian! All you have to do is apply a topical treatment, clean and sanitize the tank to kill germs, and apply it to the infected areas. But if things aren't too hot, you'll need to take your scaly companion to the reptile vet for antibiotics.

They'll run some blood tests, just in case, and find out what medications your friend needs. Also, you can talk about pain relief options, because who wants a beard to hurt? You don't want them to feel gross, so make sure they are well groomed so they can get back to being their fabulous dragons as soon as possible!

If your beloved bearded dragon has scale rot, don't panic! Consider quarantining her while treating her open wounds with diluted betadine. This gives you plenty of time to get your tank safe and clean again, because the last thing you want are those little fingers and tails walking around in the dirt.

See also: Can you leave crickets in your bearded dragon's cage?

Don't forget me: if you have another bearded dragon, separate them to prevent germs from spreading too quickly. With this precaution, we can have your friend playing again in no time!

Prevent future rot in bearded dragons

Keep your reptile's environment in the ideal range: 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit (38°C) and about 30-40% humidity! – is the key to preventing lime from rotting. Consider throwing a reptile mat into your tank to keep humidity levels at optimal levels; Plus, they're super easy to clean, just toss them in the washing machine!

If you want to play it safe and make sure the environment is just right, why not invest in a nifty hygrometer that will monitor humidity levels and adjust accordingly? And when it comes time to decorate, don't overdo it - a bearded dragon only needs a minimum number of items in his home. So there you have it folks: controlling the temperature and keeping things clean are great ways to prevent lime from rotting.

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (5)

A dirty cage is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for microscopic critters, so be sure to keep the area clean. Daily light cleaning should be done, think of it like doing the dishes. And once a week it's mop time! Also, take a look at its diet: if you're guilty of giving leftovers here and there, put this creature on a nutritious diet right away.

Other Common Bearded Dragon Diseases

If you thought that scale rot was the end of your pet lizard's problems, alas, think again! Providing your pet with a subpar diet and, shall we say, "less than acceptable" living conditions can and will likely lead to other problems, which can introduce a whole new set of problems.

(Video) How to Treat Scale Rot Bearded Dragon?

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (6)

So why not make things easier for everyone involved and ensure your beloved scaly friend gets exactly what he needs to stay healthy and ensure a longer period of adorable dragon encounters?

infectious stomatitis

Infectious stomatitis, also known as "mouth rot", is a real problem for bearded dragons, although it is more common in iguanas. All those cuts and food stuck in the teeth can make your lizard look a little swollen on the inside of the mouth and gums. Also, you can make it look like they ate a lot of cottage cheese! *Ugh* And if they have abrasions, that's an open invitation to mouth rot.

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (7)

Your crafty dragon can get into trouble just rubbing against its shell (ouch!). Be sure to check with X-rays to find out exactly how bad your case of mouth rot is.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical antibiotic to treat mouth rot.

Treat the condition immediately with appropriate medications as it can be fatal if left untreated.

fungal infections

If you notice yellow stuff starting to sprout, it's time to panic - this little guy can be quite susceptible to yeast infections! That's right, the fluffy one with the beautiful scales could be infected with a nasty yellow fungus. You'd better take good care of them as you handle them so you don't contract from them too. Approach at your own risk! To top it off, the yellow fungus is considered to be quite contagious. Therefore, if your lizard companion is present, you should make an appointment with the veterinarian immediately.

Scale rot in bearded dragons: prevention and treatment (8)

The worst thing you can do is let it spread its presence all over your body; it will only make things worse (for both of you). So you better keep an eye out for those pesky yellow mushrooms and make sure your dragon stays away from them!

(Video) Saving a Bearded Dragon from SCALE ROT & SWOLLEN FEET DAY 2 home#stayrad @ChuckNorrizBeardedDragons

final thoughts

Bearded dragons are prone to scale rot, a condition caused by bacteria that cause scale rot. Scaly rot can be prevented by keeping the environment clean and ensuring the dragon has a healthy diet. If your dragon develops scale rot, it can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.


Is there a cure for scale rot? ›

Treat The Affected Area

If your snake has scale rot, you can help them by gently cleaning the affected area. You can use a chlorhexidine solution or a trusted reptile wound solution to gently clean the affected scales twice each day. Alternatively, you can soak the affected scales in a diluted betadine solution.

How long does scale rot take to heal? ›

Your reptile's scales should start to look normal after a couple of sheds. However, more severe infections probably will take several months to clear up. Keep in mind when treating your animals, scale rot is painful for them. Handling may lead to a bite from a normally placid animal.

What antibiotics treat scale rot? ›

One of the ways to treat scale rot is to use a betadine solution. Betadine is a liquid antibiotic that is readily available online and in pet stores around you. Immerse your snake in a betadine solution bath, twice a day for 20 minutes until the condition clears.

Can bearded dragons grow their scales back? ›

This question has a simple answer: their skin can't grow! It's inelastic. Bearded dragons shed as they outgrow their skin.

How do you get rid of a bad scale infestation? ›

We suggest neem oil for an organic and natural treatment and prevention method, but for serious infestations insecticidal soap may be more powerful. Simply spray the entire plant down from top to bottom (with either mixture), and wipe the foliage clean with paper towels.

Will scale go away on its own? ›


Scales are generally not one of those insect pests that will just go away eventually if you leave them alone. Control is almost always necessary. The least-toxic, effective insecticides to control scale are oil sprays. These insecticides contain oil in a form that will mix with water.

What does scale damage look like? ›

Scale damage is dependent upon the level of infestation. In addition to yellowing leaves, plants affected by scales may experience premature leaf drop and discolored blemishes on fruit, leaves or twigs. If heavily infested with armored scales, twig dieback may also occur.

Can you wash off scale insects? ›

Small colonies and individual scale insects can be controlled by simply wiping them off the plant with a damp cloth or sponge. Where this isn't feasible, or practical, you can control them by spraying affected plants with an insecticide.

How do I stop my bearded dragon from having tail rot? ›

Provide A Safe Enclosure

If you have more than one bearded dragon, arrange to house each pet in its own enclosure. Protecting bearded dragons from each other is one of the most effective ways of preventing tail rot. Ensure that there's nothing in the enclosure that can cause injury to your pet.

What antibiotic is good for skin fungus? ›

Common names for antifungal medicines include:
  • clotrimazole (Canesten)
  • econazole.
  • miconazole.
  • terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • ketoconazole (Daktarin)
  • nystatin (Nystan)
  • amphotericin.

Can you pull dead skin off bearded dragon? ›

One thing you must never do though, is pull skin off, or peel skin. I've witnessed many reptiles, not just Bearded Dragons, get damaged skin/scales due to keepers “aiding” the shed process. This does cause them pain and can lead to infections, so don't do it.

Why do bearded dragons scales turn black? ›

Takeaway: Bearded dragons' beards turn black due to stress, illness, or a desire to mate. It's a natural response and in many cases is not indicative of a serious problem. To determine the cause, pay attention to many factors, such as your dragon's behavior, appetite, and environmental stressors.

Why are some of my bearded dragons scales black? ›

Chromatophores are designed to capture light which then causes a change in the lizard's pigmentation. As the chromatophores expand, the skin's pigmentation darkens. This process causes the bearded dragon to turn black under the skin.

What kills hard scale? ›

Acephate, imidacloprid and dinotefuran are three commonly used systemic insecticides that are effective against scale.

How do you get rid of scales naturally? ›

How to get rid of scale naturally. The best way to get rid of scale is with oil, says Kevin. “You can use white oil or what they call horticultural oil. Or you can use the botanical type of oil - there's one called eco-oil, which is more natural, or you can use neem oil.”

Does rubbing alcohol get rid of scale? ›

A sure but tedious method for killing scale insects is to dab them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. This method is 100% effective, as long as you are diligent. Hot water is another way to kill these pests.

What causes scale infestation? ›

Scale on your indoor plants can appear seemingly out of nowhere, but these little insects can come from several sources. Perhaps you used contaminated potting soil, left your plants outside in the warm weather months, or reused a dirty plant pot.

How do you know when scale insects are dead? ›

Using a hand lens is an easy way to determine mortality. Simply flip the scale over and look at it. If it is plum it is probably alive. If it is shriveled or dehydrated then it is dead.

Does soapy water get rid of scale insects? ›

Wash the plants or spray them down with an insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol (<70%) spray or use a horticultural oil (white, botanical or neem oil). These treatments have the effect of breaking down the scale's external cuticle or blocking up the spiracles so that they cannot “breathe'.

What is the best spray for scale insects? ›

To effectively get rid of scale insects in large areas, use Dominion 2L. Dominion 2L is a systemic insecticide, meaning it will get absorbed into treated plants and translocate through the plant tussue. This will effectively kill any insect pest that will feed on the treated plant, while keeping your plant safe.

How long does it take for the scale to go down? ›

All in all, it can take anywhere from one week to several months to see noticeable weight loss results. It all depends on your daily activity level, your exercises, and how much you eat each day.

Does neem oil work on scale? ›

Insecticidal Removal of Scale Insects

Then start with organic controls like horticultural oils, neem oil, canola oil, and botanically-derived plant oils. Insecticidal soap is another effective option.

What causes scale? ›

Scales may be caused by dry skin, certain inflammatory skin conditions, or infections. Examples of disorders that can cause scales include: Eczema. Fungal infections such as ringworm, tinea versicolor.

How do you know if you have a scale infestation? ›

As mentioned, scale insects cluster together, so keep an eye out for shell-like bumps on the stems or leaves of your plant. Another common sign of a scale infestation is a sticky substance on the plant. Scale insects suck the moisture out of your plant and secrete a substance called honeydew.

Does scale live in soil? ›

Scale can hide in the soil of a houseplant, so if you have by recurring infestations, try carefuly removing the top inch of dirt from the pot and replacing it with fresh potting soil.

How do you clean a dirty scale? ›

Clean the scale & pan by wiping it down with a damp cloth. You may also add soap to the cloth, then wipe away with a clean cloth. The cleaning process is similar with a washdown safe bench scale, except you can pour water over the scale, or use a hose to remove dirt, oil & debris.

How do you make insecticidal soap for scales? ›

Can I make my own insecticidal soap? Certainly! By mixing 2.5 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2.5 tablespoons of pure liquid soap with 1 gallon of distilled water, you'll have a whole gallon of insecticidal soap for safely spraying plants in flowerbeds or the vegetable garden.

What damage do scale insects cause? ›

Scale insects feed by sucking sap from trees and shrubs through piercing-sucking mouth parts. Sap feeding by scale insects may cause yellowing or wilting of leaves, stunting or unthrifty appearance of the plants, and eventually death of all or part of the plant when infestations are heavy.

How do you treat reptile mouth rot? ›

Treatment for mouth rot usually includes a course of antibiotics and a cleaning of the reptile's mouth with an antiseptic. Surgery to remove badly damaged oral tissues may be necessary in severe cases. Animals that are unable to eat and drink while they are recovering will need fluid therapy and nutritional support.

How do you treat scale rot in blue tongue skink? ›

Signs of scale rot include blisters, ulcers, or scabs on the ventral area. Mild cases can usually be treated by placing the skink in a sterile paper towel setup, soaking in dilute chlorhexidine or betadine, and applying topical SSD cream or triple antibiotic ointment.

What happens if a snake loses a scale? ›

A fish can lose one scale, but a snake can't, this is because a snake's scale is continuous folded skin, therefor if a snake damaged a scale it is the same as a human getting a cut or damage. A snake cannot replenish a scale also, it will just leave scar tissue, again similar to humans.

Do snake scales grow back? ›

Snakes periodically moult their scaly skins and acquire new ones. This permits replacement of old worn out skin, disposal of parasites and is thought to allow the snake to grow.

Can you use hydrogen peroxide on bearded dragon? ›

You can easily treat wounds on bearded dragons using hydrogen peroxide as long as it is diluted and of low strength. However, do not use it for open wounds or bigger cuts.

What does bearded dragon mouth rot look like? ›

Infectious stomatitis (mouth rot) is not seen in bearded dragons as often as it is in other lizards, such as iguanas. It is a bacterial infection of the gums and/or jawbone that appears as pinpoint hemorrhages on the gums, gum swelling, or excessive thick mucus production.

How do you prevent mouth rot in bearded dragons? ›

Simply keeping your reptile healthy is the best way to prevent mouth rot in reptiles. Make sure your reptile's diet is a quality and healthy one. Keep the terrarium environment clean with weekly disinfecting sessions and daily checks for dirty spots or uneaten food.

Do reptile scales grow back? ›

During lizard tail regeneration, scale replacement or neogenesis occurs when new scales of similar shape and organization form in the regenerating skin (Bryant and Bellairs 1967; Alibardi 1994, 1995).

Why do reptiles get mouth rot? ›

Mouth rot is mostly caused by opportunistic bacteria infecting reptiles with weakened immune systems, with viruses complicating the severity of infection as well. Specifically, Gram-negative bacilli have been implicated in stomatitis manifestation.

How do lizards get mouth rot? ›

Mouth rot, or Ulcerative Stomatitis, is an infection of your lizard's gums and mouth caused by small cuts and food stuck in his teeth. If left untreated, the infection could kill your reptile. Snakes and lizards are especially vulnerable to the disease.

What causes scale rot in bearded dragons? ›

Lack of Vitamin C or A

A deficiency of Vitamin C can cause poor wound healing or rot in reptiles. Having a Vitamin A deficiency weakens the immune system and increases the chances your pet has of contracting a fungal or bacterial infection, even when their enclosure is well-kept.

Can I put Neosporin on my snake? ›

The short answer is YES. You can use antibiotic cream such as Neosporin on a snake's wound including ball pythons as long as it has ZERO pain killers. According to Margaret A. Wissman (an avian/exotic/herp animal veterinarian since 1981) “for superficial wounds, apply a light layer of antibiotic ointment.”

Can you use Betadine on reptiles? ›

Betadine Solution is a must have for Reptile First Aid and Wound care. Betadine can be used to treat and clean minor wounds, blisters and burns on reptiles! We reccomend using this product in conjunction with the Derma Gel Spray or Derma Gel. Soak the animal in the solution for 10-15 minutes.

Do reptile scales fall off? ›

In the case of lizards, this coating is shed periodically and usually comes off in flakes, but some lizards (such as those with elongated bodies) shed the skin in a single piece. Some geckos will eat their own shed skin. Snakes always shed the complete outer layer of skin in one piece.

Can a snake survive without its head? ›

If a mammal loses its head, it will die almost immediately. But snakes and other ectotherms, which don't need as much oxygen to fuel the brain, can probably live on for minutes or even hours, Penning said. "Severing the head isn't going to cause immediate death in the animal," Penning told Live Science.

Can reptiles lose scales? ›

Reptile scales can also be found in many colors to aid in camouflage or serve as warning to other organisms of their venomous nature. Although most reptiles shed their scales periodically, snakes shed their skin in a single piece.


1. Beginners Guide To Treating Scale Rot In Ball Pythons - Benjamin's Exotics
(Benjamin's Exotics)
2. Reptile Scale Rot
(Reptile Rangers)
3. How to Treat TAIL ROT in Bearded Dragons
(Grant wlsy)
4. How to Treat Mouth Rot in Lizards!
(Snake Discovery)
5. STOP Bearded Dragon MOUTH ROT Before It Happens!!Clean Lizard Mouth!
(Animal1 Guy)
6. SKIN PROBLEMS / reptiles
(Planetanimal animal rescue)


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