Bearded Dragon Tail Rot: Signs, Causes & Treatment

Bearded dragons tail rot is a serious condition caused by an internal infection that can result in permanent tail loss.

Although some may be aware that bearded dragon tail rot is a disease, not many realize the potential harm it can cause if not properly treated.

If you suspect that your bearded dragon is experiencing tail rot, don’t worry! Our comprehensive guide covers all the necessary information on this disease – from its possible causes to effective treatment methods.

What is Bearded Dragon Tail Rot?


Bearded dragons can suffer from a condition called tail rot, which causes the tissue in the tail to die and turn dark. This is a common issue for reptiles, and it can be tricky to detect in the early stages. If left untreated, it can be dangerous and even fatal.

The necrotic tissue at the tip of the tail can turn blue, purple, or black due to a lack of healthy blood supply. Tail rot is typically caused by an infection, trauma, or wound on the tail.

A tail rot serious health issue and many owners fail to notice it until it’s too late. Aggressive treatment is necessary, as the rot can spread throughout the body and lead to internal infection and organ failure. In severe cases, the tail may need to be amputated.

To keep your bearded dragon healthy, always pay attention to its behavior and bring it to the vet if you notice any signs of a tail rot. By catching this condition early, you can ensure that your pet receives the care it needs to recover fully.

What Does Tail Rot Look Like on a Bearded Dragon


Tail rot can impact both the tail and toes of bearded dragons. The affected area gradually changes color to black, dries out and becomes fragile due to reduced blood flow.

Additionally, the affected area may lose sensation, indicating tissue death. If left untreated, the infection can spread up the tail and potentially affect the whole body.

Can Tail Rot Kill a Bearded Dragon?

Tail rot, if left unchecked, can lead to fatal consequences for your beloved bearded dragon. This infection has the potential to progress rapidly and spread to critical organs as it creeps up the tail.

However, you can take action to protect your pet by keeping a watchful eye on their tail and intervening early or implementing preventative measures. By addressing the issue as soon as possible, you can spare your little buddy unnecessary discomfort and suffering.

How To Identify Tail Rot In Bearded Dragons

How to treat Tail rot in Bearded Dragons? - Does my Beardie have tail rot? - Cookies Critters

For new owners, spotting a tail rot in its early stages can be tricky. But fret not, you can still detect it early enough before it gets severe.

Here are some signs and symptoms that can help you determine if your bearded dragon is suffering from tail rot.

Early Signs of Tail Rot in Bearded Dragons

  • Tail not shedding
  • Tip of tail turning black
  • Dry, brittle appearance

Note: As your pet sheds its skin, you may notice a gradual whitening or transparency of the tail’s skin. This is normal and shouldn’t be confused with tail rot

Physical Changes

Physical changes are the most effective way to determine if your bearded dragon is suffering from tail rot.

Tail Color Change

When a tail starts to change color, it could be the start of tail rot. This usually begins at the tip and causes the infected skin to turn a pale gray due to cell and tissue death, also known as necrosis.

Identifying this disease can be tricky because the initial discoloration is similar to what happens when bearded dragons shed their skin. But as the infection spreads, the skin becomes darker and you might notice scales falling off.

Dry Scales

As the infection sets in deeper, your pet’s tail may experience decreased blood flow. This can lead to the scales on the tail becoming dry and brittle, which can make them easily break and fall off.

Dry scales are usually dull and flaky, and can be easily dislodged when you touch them. Conversely, healthy scales look shiny and firm, with bright colors that stand out.

Tail Deformity

When your bearded dragon’s tail begins to decay, it can undergo noticeable changes in shape. The tail can become thin, uneven, and bony, with sharp bends forming in severe cases.

This is not the norm, as healthy bearded dragon tails are typically firm, straight, and wider, gradually narrowing towards the tip, with a thicker appearance throughout.

Tail Loss

If your bearded dragon’s tail falls off completely, it’s a clear sign that it has died. This is a distressing situation because it means that your pet has experienced significant suffering. It also suggests that your bearded dragon’s life may be in danger.

If you see any symptoms of tail rot, it’s important to act quickly and contact your veterinarian for immediate help. Losing the tail is the worst-case scenario, so it’s crucial to take swift action to ensure your bearded dragon’s well-being.

Behavioral Changes

It’s not normal for your bearded dragon to exhibit sudden changes in behavior, as it’s often an indication of sickness. If your dragon is experiencing tail rot, here are some behavioral changes that may occur.


If your dragon seems more irritable and impatient than usual, it may be a sign of distress or pain. Your dragon may hiss or try to bite, and may even show a black beard due to stress.

Loss of appetite

Decreased appetite or weight loss are also signs that your bearded dragon is not feeling well. However, it’s important to note that brumation can also cause a lack of appetite, so make sure to check the temperature of the enclosure to rule this out.

Discomfort or pain when the tail is touched

If you notice that your bearded dragon seems uncomfortable or in pain when its tail hits or touches an object, it may be suffering from tail rot.

Prolonged hiding and lethargy

If your beardie seems more reclusive than usual or is hiding for extended periods of time in unusual areas of their enclosure, it may be a sign that it’s not feeling well.

What Causes Tail Rot in Bearded Dragons?

There are several reasons why tail rot happens. Retained sheds and trauma are two of the most common.

1. Fights & Trauma 

Since their tails are long and drag behind them, it’s easy for it to get stuck between things or for something to fall on it. That is why it’s important to ensure your dragon’s enclosure is safe and free from loose objects that could injure their tail.

Tail rot can also be cause due to fights. Bearded dragons are naturally solitary creatures and may become aggressive and territorial when housed with another dragon, leading to fights and potential tail injuries. To prevent this, it’s best to house them separately.

In addition to tail injuries, bearded dragons may also develop foot rot if their feet become injured. Ensuring your dragon is in a safe and stress-free environment is key to keeping them healthy and happy.

2. Incomplete Shed

If your bearded dragon doesn’t shed completely, it may cause some skin to stick to its tail, constricting it and leading to tail rot. Tail rot often occurs from several retained sheds.

However, it’s not recommended to pick on the shed, as this could cause harm. Instead, you can ensure that your dragon is always well hydrated by giving it access to clean water and maintaining humidity levels between 30-40% in its enclosure.

To accurately monitor humidity levels, consider investing in a good hygrometer. Misting can also help maintain proper humidity levels, and a warm bath can aid in shedding.

3. Inadequate Diet

Your bearded dragon’s health depends largely on the quality of its diet and nutrition. To ensure that your pet can fight off infections, you will need to provide them with high-quality food and supplements, including calcium and vitamin D3.

These essential vitamins will strengthen their immune system and support healthy bone and cartilage growth. Without enough calcium, your bearded dragon’s tail rot can worsen. It’s essential to source live food, such as insects, from reputable breeders to avoid harmful parasites and toxins.

4. Incorrect Lighting

You must provide your beardie with full-spectrum lighting that includes both UVA and UVB light. This is crucial for their digestion and calcium absorption, even if you give them calcium supplements.

Without enough vitamin D3 from UVB light, your dragon won’t be able to properly absorb calcium and could suffer from weak bones, improper cartilage growth, and unhealthy eggs. It’s important to keep in mind that UVB lamps lose their effectiveness over time and should be replaced every 6 months. So make sure to give your dragon the nutrients they need to thrive!

5. Poor Care and Maintenance

A poorly kept cage can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause infections. It’s important to maintain the right temperature, humidity, and lighting for your dragon.

A low body temperature can cause tail rot, so investing in a reliable digital thermometer is essential.

6. Embolisms

Tail rot in bearded dragons can also be caused by blood clots or embolisms that impede blood flow. This can be avoided by ensuring that your pet has a healthy and nutritious diet, and by maintaining a stress-free environment.

How To Treat Bearded Dragon Tail Rot

We can’t emphasize enough, how tail rot is an extremely severe condition for bearded dragons. Make sure that you seek veterinary assistance promptly if you suspect your beardie is suffering from tail rot.

Delaying medical care can worsen the disease rapidly, and it could put your pet’s life at risk. Therefore, it’s important to act quickly.

Although we strongly suggest you visit a veterinarian for treatment, we do have some home remedies that may help if you detect the ailment in its early stages.

Home Remedy Treatments For Bearded Dragon Tail Rot

If you’re a bearded dragon owner dealing with tail rot, here are some home remedies that have proven to be effective. Give them a try and see if they work for your scaly friend!

Betadine And Water Soak

A popular and effective home remedy for treating bearded dragon tail rot is as follows:

  1. Begin by gently cleaning the infected tail area with warm water.
  2. Mix one part Betadine (iodine) with three parts warm water until it resembles dark tea.
  3. Completely submerge the infected tail area in the mixture and let it soak for five minutes.
  4. Use clean paper towels or cotton to carefully dry the tail.
  5. Apply Neosporin to the infected area, but make sure it doesn’t contain any pain relievers, as they can be harmful to reptiles.

Repeat this treatment twice a day for an entire week, but make sure you are being gentle with your bearded dragon. If you don’t see any improvement after a week, it’s important to seek professional help from a reptile vet.

Vinegar Treatment

Vinegar is a great remedy for bacterial infections because of its powerful antimicrobial properties. It works like Betadine treatment and can help your beardie heal.

To use vinegar as a treatment, just mix one part of white vinegar with two parts of warm water. Stir well and soak the infected part of your beardie’s tail three times a day.

If you prefer apple cider vinegar, mix a quarter cup of it with two parts of warm water and follow the same process. This natural treatment can work wonders for your beardie’s health!

Vet Treatments For Bearded Dragon Tail Rot

If your beardie’s tail rot doesn’t improve even after trying out the home remedies mentioned earlier for a week, it’s best to take them to a reptile veterinarian for a check-up. These professionals are well-equipped to perform thorough physical exams and diagnostic tests to assess the levels of bacteria and organ damage in your pet.

After analyzing the severity of the condition, the vet will offer two treatment options – either to amputate the tail or to prescribe antibiotics and topical medications.

Antibiotics And Topical Medications

If your bearded dragon’s tail is showing signs of rot, your vet will likely recommend antibiotics as the first line of treatment.

Unlike home remedies or over-the-counter medications, the antibiotics prescribed by your vet are specially formulated to be safe and effective for reptiles. They’re also much stronger, so they can target the infection more effectively.

In most cases, your beardie will need to eat the medication in a powdered form. However, there are also topical treatments that can be applied directly to the infected area.

The cost of treatment will depend on the type of medication prescribed and the length of the treatment course. On average, you can expect to pay between $50 and $70, but your vet will be able to give you a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

Tail Amputation

Tail amputation is a serious measure that is only taken when your bearded dragon’s life is at risk. In most cases, home remedies and antibiotics are not effective in treating moderate to severe tail rot infections. Therefore, removing part or all of the tail is often the only solution that can save your pet’s life with high success rates.

To ensure the best outcome, your veterinarian will begin by taking X-rays of your beardie to determine the extent of the tail that needs to be removed. Your pet will then be sedated, and the surgery will be performed.

Following the procedure, your veterinarian will prescribe painkillers, antibiotics, and provide you with some tips on how to care for your bearded dragon during their recovery.

The cost of bearded dragon tail rot surgery ranges from $100 to $300, which may seem costly, but this procedure is essential to saving your beloved pet’s life. Remember that tail amputation is only considered when all other treatment options have been exhausted.

How To Prevent Bearded Dragon Tail Rot

If you want to keep your bearded dragon healthy and happy without breaking the bank, it’s a good idea to learn how to prevent tail rot. We’ve put together some helpful tips that will help you prevent bearded dragon tail rot.

1. Buy Your Bearded Dragon From Reputable Breeders

Are you aware that some pet stores sell bearded dragons that are already suffering from tail rot? Unfortunately, many young bearded dragons are housed together in pet stores, which can lead to aggression and biting, leaving some vulnerable to infection.

Shockingly, some pet store owners knowingly sell sick bearded dragons to customers without disclosing their condition just to increase their profits. This practice is unacceptable and unethical.

To avoid supporting this harmful practice, it’s important to do your research before buying a bearded dragon. Look for the most reputable breeders in your area who prioritize the health of their pets.

If you’re based in the U.S., we’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled a list of the best bearded dragon breeders to help you find your new pet with peace of mind.

2. Provide A Safe Enclosure

Bearded dragons can grow quite large, so it’s vital to provide them with enough space to move around in their terrarium.

Despite their popularity, bearded dragons aren’t very sociable with their own kind. If you have multiple dragons, it’s best to keep them separate to avoid any conflict that could lead to tail rot.

Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure the enclosure is free from any potential hazards that could harm your pet. This includes any decorations or fixtures that you add to the enclosure to replicate their natural habitat.

Lastly, you’ll want to ensure that the terrarium provides the right environment for your bearded dragon to thrive. This means keeping the temperature, humidity, lighting, and heating at optimal levels. A happy, healthy bearded dragon is a joy to own, so taking care of their needs is a must!

Here is a list of best bearded dragon terrariums.

3. Proper Cleaning Of The Enclosure

Keeping your bearded dragon in an enclosure that is teeming with feces, rotting food, and old substrate can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria. Therefore, it is vital to regularly clean your bearded dragon’s tank.

There are various types of substrate for bearded dragons. Some substrates require regular cleaning, while others need to be replaced every two weeks. It is important to select a substrate that you can easily maintain.

Apart from cleaning or replacing the substrate, we strongly advise washing the enclosure each time you clean or replace the substrate. To achieve this, you can use a mixture of one-part bleach and 32 parts hot water, which will effectively kill most of the harmful bacteria.

4. Provide A Proper Diet

Keeping your bearded dragon healthy is key to preventing tail rot. To achieve this, you must provide your pet with a balanced diet that contains the necessary vitamins and minerals to maintain a robust immune system.

As an omnivorous creature, your bearded dragon requires a combination of vegetables, fruit, and animal protein for optimal health. You should also supplement its diet with calcium to promote healthy bone growth and development.

Allowing your bearded dragon to hunt for its food is an excellent way to enhance its physical activity while also satisfying its natural instincts. This provides more than just a tasty meal; it offers an opportunity for play and exercise, too.

By following these simple guidelines, you can keep your bearded dragon healthy and happy.

Pay Attention to Shedding

Get familiar with the shedding process, and make sure to watch how your pet is molting. As youngsters, these little guys have the tendency to shed often because of growth, so make sure you’re taking notice.


Bearded dragon tail rot is a serious health concern caused by injury or restricted blood flow to the tail. While there are home remedies like antiseptic soaks and topical antibiotics, it is important to seek professional advice from your veterinarian to ensure proper treatment before the condition gets worse. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet to help your bearded dragon recover from this condition.

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