Often when people are thinking about getting a bearded dragon as a pet, they are interested in knowing more about any possible dangers that may come with owning one. Are there any potential threats, or things that may go wrong. A common question is do they have teeth?
Bearded dragons do have numerous small teeth that help them to eat small insects such as crickets, mealworms and many other types of bug. However, bearded dragons very rarely bite humans, and there are some clear steps you can take to avoid this from happening.
Bearded dragons are usually a very relaxed animal, and rarely aggressive. Their main response to danger is normally to freeze and fluff up their neck, and they rarely will resort to biting.
However, it is important to know a little about the teeth of bearded dragons for you to help support their care, and keep them healthy and happy.
Bearded Dragon’s Teeth
Bearded Dragons have mostly acrodont teeth. In lay-man’s terms acrodont means that the teeth do not have roots like human teeth.
Instead they are fused to the bone.
Their teeth are triangular in shape, and they vary in size. The teeth towards the front of their mouths are smaller, and they get larger the closer towards the back of their mouths.
Bearded Dragons do have a few teeth that have roots and these can fall out. These are all located at the front of their mouths. All their other teeth are fused to their jaw-bone.
Their teeth help them eat a range of insects. Bearded dragons often live in the wild where food is scarce, and subsequently they are well-suited to eating a wide range of foods. Their teeth give them good flexibility in chewing different foods effectively.
Their Teeth Do Not Regrow
The majority of the bearded dragon’s teeth, namely all the ones fused to the jawbone, will not regrow.
This means that if you notice that your bearded dragon is losing teeth then this is a problem. It is not some natural cycle.
Their teeth do not just fall out on their own. There will be some sort of underlying issue.
Reasons They May Lose Their Teeth
There are many reasons whey a bearded dragon may start to lose some of its teeth. Here are some of the main ones:
- They are suffering from gum recession. This is called gingivitis. If your bearded dragon is suffering from this, then please be aware that this is permanent, and the gum’s will not renew themselves. This type of gum disease over-exposes their teeth and makes them much more vulnerable
- Your bearded dragon may be banging their head. This can be a reasonably common issue amongst this type of lizard. Head-banging can be brought on by stress, or by a lack of interest in the surroundings. Creating a more stimulating environment is one thing to try if you see your dragon doing this. Head-banging can lead to tooth damage amongst other things
- Eating too much soft food. Bearded dragons require a mixture of hard and soft food. Hard foods can be things such as crickets and roaches.
- Fighting with other bearded dragons! This can be an issue if you have more than one bearded dragon living together. They can be quite fiercely territorial, especially the males. If you have two males living together, fights can break out regularly, and tooth loss is one side-effect of this. However, there are ways in which bearded dragons can live with others, and they are not necessarily a solitary animal. Just be aware!
- Tooth loss could be a sign of other illnesses or a weakness of their immune system. Sometimes losing teeth is just a bi-product of a deeper underlying issue
But How Can You Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Losing Teeth?
I would recommend that you check your bearded dragon’s teeth about once every couple of weeks, or at least every month.
However, there are some other signs that you can look out for that may be a tell-tale sign that they are suffering from tooth issues:
- Pain on eating food. This is normally witnessed as a reluctance to eat, or they become slower than normal.
- Swelling around the mouth area.
- Changing color of their teeth. If humans have issues with their teeth they normally go brown or black. Not so with bearded dragons! Their teeth can go green, yellow, brown or black. Each of these different colors could mean something unique. It is best to contact a vet if you see any of these color changes.
- Red gums. This is the main sign of gum disease, and this can be very dangerous for a bearded dragons teeth, making them much more vulnerable
- Increased mucus in their mouths.
- Loss of weight. This is linked to a lack of appetite, or pain in eating. If you see signs that your dragon is losing weight, or worse, is anorexic, then check their teeth.
What Can You Do To Prevent Tooth Damage To Bearded Dragons?
The main thing is to check your pet’s teeth regularly.
Setting up a schedule of a check say every two weeks or once a month, will help you to keep on top of the issue. It only takes a minute and is definitely worth your time.
Many bearded dragon owners also get their pet’s teeth cleaned once a year by a vet. This is something you can consider.
Giving your bearded dragon a good range of both hard and soft foods is generally good for teeth health, as well as being an excellent source of different nutrients.
Be aware of any other issues that may be causing teeth damage, and respond accordingly. For example, if they are banging their head on the glass, then consider adding more stimulating resources to the terrarium.
Do They Bite?
This is a major concern of many pet owners. Of course anything with a mouth can bite.
However, bites from bearded dragons are reasonably rare. They are not normally aggressive, and take other measures in the face of adversity or threat.
If you ever do get a bite from a bearded dragon it is usually for one of the following reasons:
- It is scared or threatened. Usually if you show your pet love and respect this will never happen. Also, it is quite unusual even for mishandled pets. However, it is possible, so just show the level of care that you would like to see in return.
- It is hungry or thinks you are food. If your dragon is extremely hungry and suddenly gets a juicy pink finger put in front of its mouth it may well bite it. Ways to avoid this are make sure your dragon is fed a balanced diet at regular intervals.
- If it is handled in a way that invites a bite. For example, you shouldn’t wiggle your fingers in front of the mouth of any lizard.
What Should You Do If You Get Bitten?
The worst thing you can do is to pull away from the bite, as this can really tear the skin and make the injury much worse.
Although it does not seem a natural response, the best thing to do is wait for the bearded dragon just to let go. This is easier said than done, however, especially if it is a child being bitten.
Does Their Bite Hurt?
Their bite is reasonably painful, and may break the skin (though it also may not). It is like a sharp nip, and is definitely best avoided.
How Can You Tell They May Bite?
Bites very rarely come out of the blue, and there are several warning signs. You will usually see at least one of these:
- Your bearded dragon starts to hiss. If it does, just back off!
- They fluff up their throat. This is an attempt to look bigger, and is a strategy that many animals use. By looking bigger they attempt to scare off any dangers or predators.
- They change to a darker color, particularly around the throat area. This is often connected to puffing their throat out, and will happen at the same time.
If you notice any of the above it is best to just leave the lizard alone. If you are handling it when it happens, then just replace it back into its habitat.
Are Bearded Dragons Poisonous?
No. However, they do possess a venom that is injected in their bite. However, studies have found that this venom has no adverse effects on humans.
Bearded do have small triangular teeth that help them to eat a variety of foods, some hard and others soft. Tooth care is definitely something to be aware of if you have a bearded dragon as a pet.
However, being bitten by a dragon is quite rare, and if you take certain pro-active steps it is unlikely to happen to you. Keep your dragon healthy and happy and they are an amiable pet that offers next to no aggressive to others.