As bearded dragon owners, we all want our pets to be healthy and happy as much as possible.
So, when something like a broken nail comes to our attention, we want reassurance that the problem will be resolved quickly and easily.
If you have noticed that your bearded dragon has one or several broken nails, don’t panic.
This article is all about nail regrowth in bearded dragons, as well as the causes of broken nails and what you can do to prevent and heal these minor injuries.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons’ Nails Break
There are many reasons why your bearded dragon might break a nail, and not all of these reasons are to do with your dragon’s general health. In fact, several causes of broken nails in bearded dragons are down to external factors.
For example, one of the main causes of bearded dragons breaking nails is the kind of carpet you might have in your home.
Long carpets, especially those with large loops, are dangerous for your dragon’s nails because it’s so easy for them to get caught and pulled out.
Many well-meaning owners use pieces of carpet as substrate in their dragons’ enclosures, increasing the likelihood of broken nails.
For this reason, we strongly recommend against putting any kind of carpet in your dragon’s terrarium.
However, it’s not just carpets that can cause broken nails in your reptile.
If you ever pick your dragon up to cuddle it or handle it for another reason, there is a chance that its nails could get stuck in your clothing. One wrong move at that point could result in a broken nail.
Bearded dragons can also break nails by digging too aggressively.
Dragons might dig for several reasons, including laying eggs or trying to deal with a terrarium that is too hot, but regardless of the reason for the digging, broken nails can be the result.
Finally, if you own more than one bearded dragon, you should be prepared for the possibility that they may fight with each other.
This is especially likely if you have two males as they tend to be more aggressive than females, although fights can occur between female bearded dragons as well.
If you own two bearded dragons, we recommend keeping them in separate tanks and supervising them if you let them both out at the same time.
This way, you’ll be able to minimize fighting and broken nails, as well as other (potentially more serious) injuries that can occur as a result of these interactions.
Will Bearded Dragon Nails Regrow?
If you have noticed that your bearded dragon has a broken nail, the first question you probably have is whether it will regrow.
Luckily, in the vast majority of cases, bearded dragon nails do regrow and end up as long and healthy as they were before.
In fact, the chances of your dragon breaking a nail at some point in its life are fairly high, so if this happens, you don’t need to panic or assume that something is wrong with your bearded dragon’s health.
What you should do, however, is examine the break and assess the likelihood of complete regrowth based on the condition of the nail. We’ll be covering this in the subsequent sections of this article.
What Are the Chances of Regrowth?
The statistical chances of your bearded dragon’s nail regrowing to its former state depends on the extent to which the nail is broken.
For example, if the break is very minor (just the end of the nail has chipped off), it’s extremely likely that the nail will grow back quickly and look as good as new in no time.
If the nail is broken further down, it’s still highly likely that it will regrow, but it will take longer.
Nonetheless, you can still expect your beardy to make a full recovery, so as long as the nail has broken above the root, there isn’t much to worry about.
What if the Nail is Torn From the Root?
An important factor to consider when trying to assess whether your bearded dragon’s nail will eventually grow back is to look at where it’s broken.
As we have said, if it’s broken above the root, there’s probably no cause for concern, and you can be sure that it will grow back. But what if the nail has been ripped out at the root?
In this case, the nail may not grow back. Now, the best thing to do if you think your bearded dragon’s nail has been ripped out at the root is to book an appointment with your vet. This is for several reasons.
First of all, it can be difficult to tell if the nail has just broken low down or if it’s actually been completely ripped out.
In the first scenario, it’s likely that the nail will regrow, although it may take a while considering how much regrowing the nail will have to do.
However, if the nail has been ripped out entirely, it may not fully grow back, in which case, you will need to discuss with the vet how to move forward with your dragon’s recovery.
Your vet will also be able to clean the area, bandage it if necessary, and maybe prescribe forms of pain relief if the nail has been torn out at its base, which is why it’s important to seek veterinary attention for your dragon even if you’re 100% sure of the diagnosis.
Preventing A Bearded Dragon’s Nails from Breaking
Whether it’s a ripped out nail or a minor break, nail damage isn’t fun for your bearded dragon. So, as an owner, you’ll naturally be anxious to prevent this potentially painful injury from happening.
The first thing to do is to make sure that your bearded dragon’s tank has enough branches and rocks to keep its nails trimmed and worn down.
This might sound counterintuitive because it may seem as though these additions to your dragon’s tank would cause nail damage rather than preventing it.
However, ensuring that your bearded dragon’s nails are naturally worn down is key to preventing broken nails because it prevents them from getting too long and getting caught on things.
With that being said, you should also ensure that the substrate you put in your dragon’s terrarium is safe for digging.
Whereas you want your dragon to be able to wear its nails down on the ground’s surface, you don’t want anything in the substrate that could catch on nails and cause injuries.
That’s why we recommend excavator clay as a substrate for your beardy’s enclosure. It’s firm enough to wear down a dragon’s nails naturally without providing anything for those nails to catch and break on.
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your dragon’s nails don’t break is to feed your pet a high-calcium diet. Calcium, as many bearded dragon owners are aware, is a key element in this reptile’s diet.
It is essential for bone development and the prevention of metabolic bone disease, but it’s also crucial for nail health. If your bearded dragon doesn’t get enough calcium, its nails will become brittle and will break more easily.
To make sure that your bearded dragon is getting enough calcium in its diet, you should feed it plenty of nutritious, leafy greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, parsley, kale, watercress, swiss chard, turnip greens, and bok choy.
Should You Trim Your Bearded Dragon’s Nails?
A common question asked by bearded dragon owners is whether it’s necessary to trim their pets’ nails.
Ideally, you should try to ensure that your bearded dragon is getting natural nail trims from the rocks and branches in its enclosure.
However, if your bearded dragon’s nails still seem a little long for comfort, you should absolutely go ahead and trim them yourself.
Your dragon may not love the experience, but it will certainly prefer having its nails clipped to getting a broken (or worse, ripped out) nail.
If you decide to clip your bearded dragon’s nails yourself, you should always use a pair of clippers designed specifically for reptiles. Never use scissors or regular household clippers on your bearded dragon’s nails.
They won’t cut them properly and they could cause more damage than they prevent, especially if your dragon is moving around and resisting.
Some bearded dragons remain calm and unagitated while having their nails trimmed. If your bearded dragon has a calm disposition, you might even consider using a nail file instead of clippers.
This process is often slower, but it means that you can ensure that your dragon’s nails aren’t too sharp, minimizing the possibility that they might get caught and break.
If your dragon’s nails are far too long, though, a file isn’t the best method to shorten them as it’s not just a question of sharpness and will just make the whole process take longer.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable trimming your dragon’s nails yourself, you can take your pet to your vet and ask them to trim the nails for you.
There may be an additional cost on top of the cost of the consultation depending on which vet you visit, but if doing it yourself isn’t an option, it’s definitely worth the money to ensure the health and happiness of your reptilian friend.
How To Encourage A Bearded Dragon’s Nail To Regrow
Preventing broken bearded dragon nails is one thing, but helping the nail to regrow once it’s been broken is a different task that requires a lot of care and attention.
If the nail hasn’t broken too far down, it may not seem like a big deal, but the break can still impair your dragon’s ability to dig and move around as normal, which can be distressing for your pet.
Therefore, you should take steps to help your dragon’s nail to regrow as quickly as possible.
As we mentioned in our section about how to prevent a bearded dragon’s nails from breaking, the best thing you can do for your pet’s nail health is to focus on the amount of calcium in its diet.
Of course, you don’t want to introduce too much calcium, since this in itself can cause problems.
However, it’s possible that your dragon’s nail broke because of a calcium deficiency, and if this is the case, you should definitely increase the calcium in your pet’s diet.
The best way to do this is to increase the amount of leafy greens you feed your bearded dragon on a daily basis.
If your bearded dragon is severely deficient in calcium (which can be determined by your vet) you may also need to introduce some form of calcium supplementation.
In fact, there are experts who suggest that calcium supplementation should be a part of every bearded dragon’s diet.
To assess the suitability of calcium supplementation for your pet, you should speak to your veterinarian.
If you do use a calcium supplement to encourage the regrowth of your dragon’s nails, make sure it is from a reputable brand.
How Long Does it Take for Bearded Dragon Nails to Regrow?
How long it will take for your bearded dragon’s nail to regrow entirely depends on the severity of the break and the overall health (including dietary calcium intake) of your dragon.
Generally speaking, when a bearded dragon breaks a nail, and it has not been pulled out at the root, you can expect the nail to grow back within a few months.
The exact time period will vary depending on how much calcium your dragon is getting in its diet, as this is the main deciding factor of your dragon’s bone and nail health.
The closer the break is to your dragon’s toe, the longer it will take to fully regrow. If the nail has been completely torn out at the level of the root, it may not always grow back.
Only your vet will be able to give you an indication of whether the nail will regrow and how long it will take in these situations.
Thank you for reading our bearded dragon care guide concerning broken nails.
These injuries are not uncommon in bearded dragons, but they can still be painful and inconvenient for your beloved pet, which is not something you want as an owner.
Remember, the main causes of broken nails in bearded dragons are insufficient calcium and environmental factors, such as long carpets, inappropriate substrate, and a lack of rocks and branches in the terrarium.
If your bearded dragon has a broken nail, and you want to help it to grow back quicker, the best thing you can do is increase its calcium intake, maybe including a reputable calcium supplement.
While healing times vary from dragon to dragon, broken nails in bearded dragons have a good chance of growing back within a relatively short period of time, as long as the nail has not been torn out at the root.
In these situations, you should consult your veterinarian to discuss the likelihood of regrowth and how to progress with your beardy’s healing journey.