One of the most unexpected parts of owning a bearded dragon is that the smells can be very difficult to deal with. You might have jumped at the opportunity to get a bearded dragon after hearing that they don’t really stink, but you could also be surprised by just how much their cage can stink.
If you’re already alarmed, don’t be. Even though the smell can be very hard to deal with, there are things that you can do to help keep the cage from stinking up in the first place! All it takes is a little bit of forethought and your beardie and their cage will always smell brand new!
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Why does my bearded dragon’s cage stink?
If your bearded dragon’s cage smells, it’s probably not from the lizard itself, because they literally don’t have any kind of smell at all! So, if you noticed that your beardie’s enclosure stinks there’s probably the reason behind it. Below are the most common things that could be causing the smell:
Your bearded dragon might have pooped or peed in the cage:
The natural waste that your bearded dragon (feces and urine) produces, is the main cause of bad smells in bearded dragon cages. Beardies do not have a scent of their own, but their feces and pee do.
Because they’re in an enclosure, the odor can quickly accumulate, forcing it to spread to your dragon. It’s recommended to spot clean your bearded dragon’s tank 1-2 times each day to remove any waste.
Bearded dragons do not pee liquids; instead, they produce “urates,” that are crystallized uric acid. Urates are a dry, chalky substance that is usually discharged towards the end or to the side of their stool.
Bearded dragons developed this method to keep themselves hydrated in their native environment (dry, arid, deserts). So, rather than urinating liquids, which causes them to lose valuable water, they excrete urates.
It’s essential to keep your tank clean to avoid unpleasant odors. The majority of bearded dragon owners who claim that their bearded dragons “smell” don’t have well-kept enclosures. If your dragon’s feces has a very foul odor, you should have it tested for parasites by your veterinarian.
You haven’t cleaned it properly:
A dirty tank will make your bearded dragon smell. So, Enclosures should be spot cleaned for feces and pee daily, disinfected and cleaned once a week, and deep cleaned once a month. This ensures that your bearded dragon does not develop an unpleasant smell because of its surroundings.
Bacterial or fungal growth can cause odors if tanks are not kept clean. Salmonella development on the skin of bearded dragons is particularly susceptible to excrement Salmonella.
They can crawl on their poop if you don’t clean it up, causing Salmonella to spread to their skin. What’s worse is that it can affect humans too, so make sure you carefully wash your hands before and after handling your pet.
The substrate may be causing a smell to come from your cage or bearded dragon. Cheaper ones may have been chemically treated and so they have a strange smell that your bearded dragon may pick up.
To avoid smells and other digestion/gut impaction difficulties, you should invest in a high-quality, safe substrate for your bearded dragon. We recommend a higher quality substrate like Zilla Reptile substrate flooring liner.
To avoid creating a bad odor, the substrate will need to be cleaned and replaced regularly. Cleaning the substrate regularly will also help to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
Not cleaning after feeding time:
Leftover food, especially greens, can quickly rot and create a stench if not eaten by your dragon. Not only can eating bad food make your dragon sick, but leaving bugs in their cages can also stress them out.
Because beardies are prone to be bitten by crickets, it’s preferable to remove any food scraps after 15 minutes of feeding time. Flies and other insects that carry parasites can be attracted to leftover food.
Do bearded dragons stink?
Bearded dragons don’t really have a smell. The body of a bearded dragon creates hardly any waste, and they do not sweat as humans do. For this reason, they don’t release any bad-smelling fluids.
When humans need to cool down their bodies during sports or when it is too hot outside, they begin to sweat.
Bearded dragons on the other hand are cold-blooded, which means they need an external heat source to keep their body systems running. That would be the sun and warm stones that bearded dragons prefer to lie on in the wild.
So, a bearded dragon will lie in the sun or on a warm stone to elevate its body temperature. Bearded dragons get away from the sun and away from very hot environments. The bearded dragon’s body temperature will slowly decrease in shaded and chilly areas until it wants to warm up in the sun again.
Bearded dragons also have a sweating mechanism that is very similar to humans. Because bearded dragons in Australia’s dry forests can’t afford to lose a lot of water, they simply open their mouths to regulate their body temperature.
Why does my bearded dragon smell bad?
So, why do my bearded dragons have a terrible odor if they are supposed to have none? While it is true that they have no smell, this does not mean that they constantly have no bad smell.
We’ve already gone over the fact that a bearded dragon will smell like the area it lives in. Obviously, that doesn’t mean putting a bouquet of flowers in your bearded dragon’s terrarium will make it smell like roses. I’m talking about unpleasant smells, which are caused by waste, leftover food, and an unclean substrate.
If your bearded dragon spends the entire day moving in that old, unclean substrate, it will soon smell like the dirty substrate. So, to stop this from happening, you can bathe your beardie and properly clean its tank.
Does my bearded dragon smell bad because of its tank?
The main reason for your bearded dragon’s terrible smell is because its tank isn’t clean enough. Because they are made of organic substances, uneaten foods, excrement, urates, and even dead bugs will all release odors. The body of a bearded dragon should not smell, but its waste will.
A dirty tank will encourage bacterial growth, which will lead to odors. If you spray the tank or bathe your dragon, make sure to dry it afterward because moisture promotes bacterial growth. A loose substrate, such as sand, can also be another source of the strong stench.
Sand should not be used since it can cause not only impaction but also bacterial development when it’s wet. When your bearded dragon poops, the waste will be absorbed in the sand, making your dragon stink when he walks over it and picks up the smells.
Certain bearded dragons have a stronger smell than others. If your bearded dragon stinks, give it a wash every day or every other day and gently scrub its skin with a brush. But, most importantly, look for the root of the problem and try to resolve it.
Remember to not use any soap. Make a chlorhexidine soak for your dragon if it stinks because of germs or other microbes on its skin. To make a pale blue bath, add some chlorhexidine. Using a toothbrush, clean your dragon as well.
This should make your bearded dragon feel refreshed. If the smell lingers, wait until your dragon has shed completely. Also, if your bearded dragon’s feces smell particularly nasty, check for parasites. Parasite-infected bearded dragons have very bad poop.
Your bearded dragon’s tank will not stink if you spot clean it daily and give it baths. A healthy and pleasant-smelling bearded dragon requires a clean environment.
How to get rid of the smell in the tank
Adjust the humidity level appropriately:
Bearded dragons are native to Australia’s harsh deserts. So, they shouldn’t really be exposed to high levels of humidity in the first place.
However, if the humidity in the cage is higher than it normally is, then the germs could grow quicker, resulting in a smellier environment. The humidity should be around 35-40%.
If the humidity in the area where your bearded dragon’s cage is kept is too high, then you can use a dehumidifier. This should reduce humidity and minimize bacterial and odor problems caused by moisture.
Always use a thermometer and hygrometer in your bearded dragon cage. See our list of good hygrometers for bearded dragons.
Have a good cleaning routine:
For the sake of your beardie’s health, stick to a regular tank cleaning routine. This will also keep your dragon’s or tank’s odors at bay.
- Spot cleaning daily
- Once a week, do regular cleaning.
- Once a month, do deep cleaning.
Spot cleaning should be done every day, especially after mealtime to remove leftover food and before bedtime to check for poop and urates. Newspapers and other sheet-like substrates should be changed daily. Loose substrate can easily be scooped and sifted just like cat litter.
Clean regularly, at least once a week, use a mild disinfectant spray with no harmful chemicals like this one by No Scent to thoroughly clean the substrate and the nooks and crannies inside your tank. Wipe off the hard surfaces of your tank using a cloth or sponge. This is to keep bacteria from forming on their surfaces.
Once a month, do a deep cleaning by removing all the equipment and thoroughly cleaning the tank with an approved disinfectant or regular old soap and water. Scrub your tank’s surfaces with a good sponge. Make sure it’s thoroughly dry before reconstructing it.
How to clean the tank properly!
Clean the substrate:
It’s simple to change paper towels routinely if you use them. Cleaning a reptile carpet may differ depending on whether or not your dragon has pooped on it. Some bearded dragon owners teach their dragons to poop in water, either in a tiny water dish in the tank or in a bathtub.
If your bearded dragon’s reptile carpet isn’t too dirty, you could just spot clean it with a vinegar solution every few days. Mix 50% vinegar with 50% water to make a vinegar solution. Pour it into a sprayer and spritz it on the areas that need to be cleaned. After that, you can use a sponge or a paper towel to wipe it down.
If the reptile carpet has feces on it, soak it in water with soap and hang it to let it dry. It’s always a good idea to have a spare carpet on hand for when you need to clean another one. Soak the carpet in a bleach solution to clean it. You might also think about replacing it completely every 2-3 months.
Clean accessories of the cage:
Take out all tank decorations to clean, including branches, hammock, ramps, and other items, for deep weekly cleaning.
You can scrub the accessories with a toothbrush or a sponge after washing them in hot soapy water. Wash the branch with water and soap, wash it with high pressured steam or bake it in the oven to remove bearded dragon feces. Heat kills all parasites when baked at 250-300 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Boiling is also a good way to clean wooden objects.
You can also buy a steam cleaner to clean your dragon’s accessories with nothing but hot pressure steam. Make sure it reaches a temperature of roughly 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit (121-149 C).
Another approach for cleaning the accessories is to soak them in a large bucket of bleach solution. Fill the tub with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Allow them to soak for an hour before rinsing thoroughly to remove any residue. Before putting it back in the tank, let it off-gas for a few hours.
Clean the inside of the tank:
You’ll also need to sanitize the inside of the tank every week. You can begin washing the glass after you’ve removed all of the decorations and bedding.
There are only a few choices for cleaning the inside of the tank. To begin, use a non-toxic chlorhexidine solution, which is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Make sure you mix the chlorhexidine solution.
Another alternative for cleaning the inside of the tank is to use a steam cleaner, which uses hot pressure steam to remove all parasites. It’s also non-toxic because you’ll only be using water.
If your bearded dragon stinks, it’s probably because their habitat or cage is filthy. Keeping a good cleaning plan can help prevent this from happening. This will not only keep your beardie from smelling, but it will also keep it healthy!