Why Does My Bearded Dragon Smell?

Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet lizards out there. One reason for their popularity is that they stay small and easy to care for. That means you can have a bearded dragon in your home without it being a huge commitment. There are times you will notice that your bearded dragon smell. This will make you wonder since an odor is usually not a good sign, but why does my bearded dragon smell?

So, why does my bearded dragon smell? Bearded dragons don’t smell because the reptile itself doesn’t produce any odor. The smell that you’re smelling is usually from their enclosure that’s dirty or leftover foods.

Causes Of Bearded Dragon Smell

The smell that you’re thinking it’s from your bearded dragon is not them. Beardies are cold-blooded creatures, which means they have no sweat glands to regulate their body temperature. For that reason, they are unable to produce any odor.

Instead, the smell is usually from their environment. The odors could be absorbed by the bearded dragon, which makes them smell.

Below are some of the causes of odor from your bearded dragons.

Poop And Urine

The urine and poop that your bearded dragon produce will be the biggest cause of the bad odor.

Like most animals, bearded dragons’ poop and urine have a very strong smell to them.

The longer that it’s left in the cage, the stronger the smell will be. This is due to the bacteria growing, which causes it to smell.

However, if you remove the droppings quickly, the odor won’t attach to the reptile.

This is the reason why it’s important to spot clean the cage once or twice per day.

Also, cleaning the cage often will help prevent the spread of salmonella bacteria.

Usually, the person who complains that their reptile smell is those who let the urine and poop sit in the cage for a couple of days before cleaning it up.

Cleaning isn’t something that most people want to do, but it’s important for your pet’s health.

Unclean Tank

When the tank is not cleaned regularly, it will start to cause a lot of problems. An unclean tank will cause harmful bacteria to gather inside the cage.

This will cause the enclosure to smell and also the bearded dragon will smell.

To prevent the enclosure from giving off a bad odor, I recommend that you clean it once a week and a deep clean once per month.

By keeping the tank clean, it’s highly that it will not smell.

Leftover Food

Another reason why your bearded dragon may smell is due to the food that’s not eaten and left to spoil.

When food is left too long, bacteria will start to grow on it. This will cause the food to smell.

Not only will it make the enclosure give off a bad odor, but it will make your beardie sick too.

After feeding your beardie, remove any leftover food. Also, check for small pieces of food in the sand and around ornaments that the beardie may leave behind.

Cheap Or Dirty Substrate

After cleaning up leftover foods and keeping the enclosure clean as possible, and it still smells, it could be the substrate.

There are different quality substrates and some are good at absorbing the smell, while others are not.

The substrate is important for bearded dragons, as they spend most of their time on the ground. It should be of high quality and good at absorbing moisture and odor.

If you’re planning to get substrate for your beardie, buy only quality ones. Also, the substrate should replicate its natural environment as much as possible. This will make them feel at home and prevent stress.

The one I recommend is Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend. It replicates their natural habitat and creates an attractive desert environment.

There are others that are available, but the above is what I recommend since I use it myself.

Fungal Infection

Sometimes, if your bearded dragon starts to smell, it can be from a fungal infection.

A fungal infection is rare and your beardie will not have to deal with it. However, if the enclosure is dirty, the humidity is too high, or the space is shared with another beardie, the chances for a fungal infection increase.

Usually, when there’s a fungal infection, your bearded dragons will also exhibit other symptoms. Below are some of the things to look out for:

  • Not moving much
  • Lack of appetite
  • Around the eyes or mouth will be mucus
  • Excessive gaping, hiding, or puffing

If you notice any of these symptoms along with your beardie giving off a bad smell, a trip to the veterinarian will fix the issue quickly.

What To Do About A Bearded Dragon Smell

Once you know that your bearded dragon isn’t the cause for the smell, you can remedy the problem.

Below are some of the methods to get rid of the odor.

Cleaning The Tank

Ensuring that the enclosure is clean will prevent it from smelling.

When it comes to cleaning, there are three layers of cleaning. This include:

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning will need to be done a few times per day. You should spot clean after your beardie finishes their food. Also, try to clean their urine and poop right away after they are done doing their business.

Regular Cleaning

You should clean their tank once a week. This involves a quick cleaning of their substrate, removing excess food, and cleaning the glass of the tank.

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning should be done once a month. You should remove your bearded dragon when cleaning their tank.

The task will involve changing the substrate, taking out all the ornaments and cleaning them thoroughly, and disinfecting the enclosure.

By cleaning the tank, it will help reduce the risk of bacteria and infection.

All of this will prevent the enclosure from smelling.

Lower the Humidity Level

Your bearded dragon’s natural habitat will mostly be dry and hot. This means the humidity level will be low.

If the humidity is higher than normal, bacteria will start to inhibit the enclosure.

The humidity for a bearded dragon should be between 35-40%.

A good method to keep the humidity level at the correct range is to use a hygrometer or thermometer.

If you live in an area that humidity is high, it’s a good idea to use a dehumidifier in the room where your bearded dragon is at.

The humidifier will help lower the humidity and keep it at the correct level.

Getting Higher Quality Substrate

The substrate that you use in the enclosure plays an important role in preventing odor and the overall health of your bearded dragon.

The low-quality substrate will usually not last very long and will need to be replaced frequently. Also, it won’t be able to absorb moisture very well.

For that reason, I recommend that you get a higher-quality substrate. It will last much longer, keep the enclosure from smelling, and will prevent your beardie from getting sick.

Remove The Food Right Away

Food is one of the main reasons why your bearded dragon smell. Any food that’s leftover will eventually rot and be contaminated with bacteria. This will cause the enclosure to smell and could cause your bearded dragon to become ill.

Live feeders such as crickets and worms could escape and hide in the substrate and ornaments. Eventually, they will die and starts to rot.

If you’re feeding them live feeders, make sure to count how much you’re giving them. After they are finished eating, check to see if there’s any leftover.

For fruits and vegetables, after they are done eating, check the substrate and surrounding area for leftovers.

Check For Fungal Infections

Your bearded dragon can smell if they have fungal infections. This can be caused by their environment or the food they eat.

If your beardie has fungal infections, they will have discolored or scaly-looking skin. Also, they may not move around much and have a loss of appetite.

For any of these signs, you should take your pet reptiles to see a veterinarian right away so they can administer medications.

Bathing A Bearded Dragon

When you’re bearded dragon smell, an option you have is to give your beardie a bath. However, you’ll need to be very careful as it can cause them a lot of stress.

Below are  the steps to bathing your beardie safely:

  1. In a tub, fill it with lukewarm water. The water should be no higher than their shoulder.
  2. Pick up your beardie and place them slowly in the tub.
  3. Once the reptile is in the water, leave them alone for a minute.
  4. Then pour the water onto their back and gently rub it along their entire body.
  5. Let your bearded dragon play in the water for a couple of minutes.
  6. Pick them up from the water and place them into a towel. Pat your beardie until dry.

Commonly Asked Questions

Do bearded dragons shed smell?

There is a common myth that bearded dragons smell very bad when they shed their skin.

Many animals will go through the process of shedding old skin cells often. When they shed, there will be partial living cells, which will release an odor.

On the other hand, for most reptiles, which includes bearded dragons, the skin doesn’t fall off until it’s completely dead. For this reason, when beardie shed, they don’t smell.

Do bearded dragons sweat?

In the wild, bearded dragons don’t sweat in order to regulate their body temperature. They use a combination of behaviors and physical attributes to keep cool in hot temperatures.

However, in captivity, it is recommended that you create a more natural environment for your pet by providing a cool area where he can rest and escape from the heat if needed.


Bearded dragons themselves don’t smell. It’s usually their environment that causes the enclosure and your beardie to smell. By keeping the enclosure clean at all times, your beardie will not smell.