Bath For Skittish Baby?

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Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby agkistrodang » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:06 am

Hello! I recently got a young beardie (3-4 months). She's definitely very skittish and does not want to be handled at all, but I am slowly gaining her trust. I've read a lot of posts about people trying to tame their skittish babies, but at the same time they talk about taking them out for baths and such? Am I missing something? How can you give your beardie a bath if you can't yet handle it?
The last time I handled her was moving her to a separate container for feeding, but she was so rattled from it that she wouldn't eat anything. Since then I have not tried to pick her up again, have just been doing all the usual basics of trying to earn her trust while feeding in her tank in the meantime, but have definitely not even attempted to introduce her to a bath. Should I be trying to bathe her? I know it can be important for hydration/digestion/shedding/etc, but she seems to be eating, pooping, and shedding just fine? She's got water available in her tank, and I lightly spray her salad for hydration. Of course, she is a baby beardie, so she completely ignores both of these. I had planned to start the whole bath thing once she had gotten used to being handled but apparently people are able to do baths even while the beardie is terrified of handling? Something here is just not making sense to me haha can anyone explain what I should do here?
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby kingofnobbys » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:58 am

Unless it's really soiled and stinky (covered in poo !!) I wouldn't bath it.

If you insist on bathing it , prepare a shallow bath at about 33 degC in shallow a 1.5L to 2L tub or spare baking pan , on the floor or the bed or coffee table. And make sure you are supporting it's legs / arms and body at all times , and don't let it's head go under water.

Best to bath it where it can't be freaked out by the sound of the taps running , or dash off and land on a very hard tiled surface.
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby agkistrodang » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:33 pm

Oh I'm far from insisting on bathing her. I had no plans to do so while she was still so skittish up until I kept seeing it repeated. I understand how to do a bath as far as temperature, water depth, tub placement, etc. I just don't get how people are doing this while their baby is still so jumpy. I have seen many people ask for help on taming their beardie but in the same post talk about giving them baths. Seems like it'd just be a traumatic experience all around. But it's good to know she's not missing out on anything right now, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't NOT doing something I should be.
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby kingofnobbys » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:27 am

agkistrodang wrote:Oh I'm far from insisting on bathing her. I had no plans to do so while she was still so skittish up until I kept seeing it repeated. I understand how to do a bath as far as temperature, water depth, tub placement, etc. I just don't get how people are doing this while their baby is still so jumpy. I have seen many people ask for help on taming their beardie but in the same post talk about giving them baths. Seems like it'd just be a traumatic experience all around. But it's good to know she's not missing out on anything right now, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't NOT doing something I should be.


Lot of NOOB beardie keepers think the hatchlings absorb water via their cloaca and even through their skin <=== wrong , only way a bath hydrates a bearded dragon is if it drinks the water it's in (via the mount)
Others want to "potty train" the hatchlings to poo only in the bath - likely so scared of the experience that they have an involuntary bowel movement through sheer terror , and of cause the NOOB thinks they are succeeding in training it to go in the water.

That said , I used keep water dishes in the beardie hatchling rearing tubs , never saw my hatchlings drink the water, but they often sat in it ( thermoregulating ) and they regularly pooed in the water (smart little lizards soon discover the submerged poo doesn't stink out their tank => so no more water dishes in the beardie tubs and tanks for my gang).
I've occasionally bathed my beardies even as hatchlings to help them with shedding or when they've soiled themselves, but it's been very rare .
CBDs: Puff (M)(RIP 10Dec2015 @ 3.2 yrs old (aneurism)),Rex (F)(RIP 16Mar2017 @ 4.6 yrs old,Toothless (M)(sudden unexplained death RIP 26Nov2017) @ 2.1 yrs old.Peppa (F) (born 15Nov2015).
EBTSs : George & Mildred (born july 2010).
EWSs : Lucky (M)(wild juvenile), cat attack rescue, fatal SI RIP 21Jul2010.Wriggles (F)(rescued injured),thought she was a big lizard, 7-8 yrs old, died in her sleep, RIP 2Feb2016). Fluffy (F) rescued 14Nov2017 about 4 yrs old . .
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby EllenD » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:54 am

Honestly, I think people often over-think handling their new dragons a lot. i've seen everything from people literally not touching their new dragons for months (which is totally counterproductive and after too much time goes by you miss your window of opportunity), to them actually doing the "Putting their hand inside the tank and just holding it there for 20 minutes" thing, which is actually a hand-taming technique to train pet birds/parrots that were not hand-raised but rather parent-raised and have no concept of human hands...

Bearded Dragons are often mistakenly called "Beginner Reptiles" or "Good Reptiles for young children", and these label certainly did not come to be because Dragon's husbandry is easy, lol. These labels came to be placed on Bearded Dragons because of their docile nature and their wanting/needing, or at the very least tolerating interaction with people.

I grew up in a bird-breeding family, and I myself bred several species of parrots for about 20 years. With birds it's quite simple: If they are pulled from the nestbox by the age of 2-3 weeks old, totally separated from their mothers and/or fathers, and totally hand-fed and hand-raised by a person or people from that age forward, then they are pretty much going to be fine with people for their entire lives, barring any neglect or abuse. If a baby bird is not hand-fed/hand-raised, or even if they are pulled from the nextbox too late (say later than 4 weeks at the very oldest, 3 weeks is really the accepted cutoff), then they are not going to innately trust people and you're going to have to really work with them, every single day, until you get them to trust and accept you, and often times these birds cannot ever be tamed (take for example the American Budgies/Parakeets you can buy at Petco and PetSmart, they are raised by their parent birds in large warehouses in groups of thousands, and they never even see a human being until they are about 8 weeks old, when they are pulled away and put in a cardboard box and shipped to the pet stores, so imagine how difficult it is to tame them)...

In contrast, Bearded Dragons that come from mass breeding vendors (all Bearded Dragons that are sold at any Petco or Petsmart come from mass-breeding vendors) and that are not ever handled by people or have any interaction with people before being shipped to the pet shop, well the 2 that I've brought home from Petco at about a month or so old were sleeping on my chest the very first night in my house...Now that's not anything I did, nor is it anything that anyone did, as I was told by the Animal Manager at my local Petco, their current Northeast vendor ships all of their babies as soon as they reach 4" long or 4 weeks old, whichever comes first, which accounts for how tiny they are at Petco. And these babies have never been handled, touched, talked to, etc. until the day they are packaged up. But in-contrast to birds, Bearded Dragons just naturally have a docile nature.

Now you have brought home a Dragon who is 3 or 4 months old, so this could create a bit of skittishness, especially if he was mishandled by anyone prior to you bringing him home...That being said, yes, he's going to be jumpy and flighty, trying to jump out of your hand and such, but the easiest way to handle this situation is for you to JUST SCOOP HIM UP FROM UNDERNEATH!

Seriously, that's what you need to do. Usually in this situation, at least half the issue is the nervousness of the new owner. You need to talk to him softly as you approach his tank, tell him what you're doing, keep talking to him softly as you put your hand in the tank, and the entire time while you show him your hand, so he associates your hand with your voice and he knows that the hand belongs to you, and then after he sees your hand, JUST SCOOP HIM UP AND PUT HIM AGAINST YOUR CHEST AND HOLD HIM AGAINST YOUR CHEST WITH YOUR HANDS. Then sit down on the floor, carpeting is best, that way if he jumps out of your hands he won't have far to fall. Make sure you do this in a room with a closed door and nothing that he can get underneath, you may have to block off an area around you on the floor in a secure room. Then just literally scoop him up and start handling him.

He's most likely not going to bite you, I've only been bitten once by a Dragon, and that was an adult who I was syringe-feeding Critical Care at the Rescue I work at, and it was actually my fault for getting my hand too close to his chompers, lol. And this was a big, male, adult Dragon who weighed over 500 grams. It didn't feel good but it didn't really hurt, it did break the skin, barely, I didn't bleed or anything, and that was it. So your juvenile Dragon is most likely not going to bite you in the first place, he's just going to be a bit jumpy. Use both hands to keep hold of him, and once he settles down then try stroking the top of his head, neck, back, etc. (in the direction of his scales, no against), under his beard (some like this, some don't), the entire time talking to him. You obviously need to do this every day, several times a day, but that's what you have to do, just go for it.

Sitting and waiting for weeks and not touching/handling your new Dragon is not the best way to get him "used to you", some people won't agree with me, but again, I've owned 5 Dragons total, 3 were my own that I purchased as 1-2 month old babies, the other 2 were sub-adult, male rescue dragons who were sick and neglected (the one I just took in 3 weeks ago today is a stubborn little guy, but we're getting there, lol). And all 5 of them I just picked up from the first second and there ya go.

So the answer to your question as to "How are people who have skittish Dragons giving them baths if they can't even handle them?" is simply that THEY ARE HANDLING THEM, LOL. Just because they're "skittish" does not mean you shouldn't handle them and interact with them. In fact, it means just the opposite in my opinion, the more skittish they are, the sooner and more often you need to handle them...again, letting a "skittish" dragon go for days or weeks without being handled is counterproductive, and probably at least half due to your own nervousness, not the dragon's...So just go for it!
"Dance like nobody's watching..."
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby dezismom » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:07 pm

I agree with ellen...a Beardie who is skittish needs to be handled. He won't act like he loves it, but do it, anyway. I have handled adult Beardies considered untamable, from the moment I met them. I think they respond to a persons fear or nerves...I reach down gently, talk quietly, then grasp the lizard with both hands. One hand is around his chest area, the other is around his pelvic area, to make him feel stable. That way, he can kick his feet, without scratching me. When I first got Dezi, he definitely did not want to be held. I waited until he was asleep at night: when a Beardie is sleepy, they are very slow to react. I held Dezi on my chest, where he could hear my heart, smell my scent, enjoy the warmth. He snuggled right into me! When he started to be more aware, and decided to get away, I did not force him, but placed him back in his viv. During the day, I picked him up constantly, holding him close to a surface to keep him from falling very far, and then placed him on my kitchen counter, where I hand fed him crickets and worms. (Keep your body between the Beardie and the counter edge, to block any falls!) He learned to associate me with his food, and we became best friends! He is three years old, now, and a total snuggle baby! So, do not be shy about handling a skittish dragon; keep on holding him until he relaxes.

There is a secret Beardie hold technique, that calms them down like magic...I have used it to calm down even the most aggressive adults, who had black beards, teeth bared, truly terrified due to previous abuse issues. It is only a temporary fix, but helps when they are stressed. I hold the dragon pressed between my palms, like I am praying. Apply gentle pressure. Holding him head up, I gently shake the lizard, in a back and forth motion. This appears to "hypnotize" Beardies, instantly relaxing them into a calm state. People are amazed by this "magic" hold, but it is simply a behavior modification that I was shown by a serious expert in Beardie rescue. Works every time, with every Beardie...it gives them the time to reset their fear, when they just space out, relax, and are more calm when they come out of the trance just a few moments later.

Your baby does not sound like he needs serious behavior modification; just needs to become accustomed to you. If you are unsure or nervous, you need to relax! He feels that nervousness. Try the night time approach, and you can wrap him in a flannel cloth or soft cotton for his comfort and yours, like a burrito. (Do not ever use towels, they can snag the toenails and a panicked Beardie can even rip a nail off that way.) The cloth sometimes helps a Beardie who is new to handling to feel more protected. However, I prefer skin on skin cuddles, to encourage bonding.

Dezi demonstrates his favorite snuggling position
[Click image to enlarge]


Bathing a Beardie is not neccesary, unless he is really dirty. (poo on him) I also bathe Dezi if he is in a big shed, to help loosen his itchy dead skin. Also, if he has not pooed in a while. I suspect that a bath makes him so nervous, it stimulates him to excrete quickly, as a preparation for running away from a potential threat...this is common behavior in many wild animals. Dezi hates baths, but some beardies actually enjoy them. Until your baby is completely comfortable with handling, I would not attempt bathing him.
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby agkistrodang » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:15 pm

At the time of posting I'd only had her for about a week, brought her home on the 8th, and have been trying to take things slowly to give her time to adjust. I hadnt been trying to take her out of her tank because she was too terrified to eat if I did, and I do not want to risk skipping meals with a baby. In the past week or so, I had gotten her used to my hands, she would allow me to pet her and she would eat from my fingers.
Well you guys were so adamant that I decided to try and handle her this morning, held her on my hand inside of her tank for a minute or so, and put her down. She's been terrified of my hand ever since, and she will hardly even eat with me in the room.
I'm not a beginner or a small child. This is my first bearded dragon, but I am actually a herpetologist. I've worked with a variety of reptiles of all types (can you guess from my username what kind is my current focus ;p ). I say this to emphasize that I do know how to handle reptiles and supported her correctly without hurting her, and that I'm far from nervous of a nip from a lizard this small. I just want to make sure I'm covering everything, so I join one of these forums whenever I get a new reptile pet to make sure I'm not making any mistakes.
My main instinct when I bring a new reptile home is to give it time to adjust before forcing myself upon it? I've been working on getting her used to me, as I said, using the typical advice found on this website and many others, most of which state that beardies need a few weeks to settle in? I'm not just sitting her in a room by herself for 2 months to 'let her get used to me.' Now I'm afraid I'm going to have to start all my progress over because she is acting just as scared as the day I brought her home :C
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby dezismom » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:36 pm

Please forgive me, if I sounded patronizing in any way! I do not know how much experience a person has had, so I tend to try to explain everything as if the person has no experience. When I was a director of a wildlife sanctuary, I advised a person to place the baby squirrel they found close to a light for heat (they had no heating pad) and I assumed they would know to check on the squirrel with their hand to make sure the lamp was not too close. They almost cooked that poor little thing! I was so mortified, but that was when I started really going into great detail, when giving out advice concerning the care of animals. Not everyone has the intuitive knowlege that I seem to be blessed with...or the experience.

I am sorry that your baby reacted poorly to handling. Each one is so individual, and giving advice over the internet is so tricky, at best! I wish I could visit and hold each one, talk to the people in person, see their set up, etc. That would be so much more effective. But I try my best, and hope it is better than no information at all. When I was a new owner, I joined this site just as you did, to get as much info as possible for my sweet boy. It was a great help! The people here are very sincere in their concern for all Beardies, and have always responded to my own questions quickly and with great compassion! But not all the advice was what worked for DeziLu. So, I tried things, but if it did not work as well as I had planned, I moved quickly on to another solution... Poor Dezi was my first Beardie, so he has been my little trial and error guy. Luckily, he holds no grudges!!

Did you try waiting until she is asleep, when her metabolism is slow? (I call it the "ambush snuggle" ha, ha,ha!) that has been successful for many new owners with shy beardies...but by all means, do not do anything that you feel uncomfortable with, or that your intuition tells you will make matters worse. You know your baby better than anyone else does! If you have experience working with other herps, use the taming methods you are most familiar with.

Beardies do not hold onto past insults; that is one of their charms-- also, they are quite intelligent. So I do not think that You will have lost all the progress you made...the time you spent with her was not in vain! Just stay the course, be patient, and continue to offer her food by hand--that is a big builder of trust. That she takes food from your fingers is a great sign!

Is she getting a good sleep at night? No lights, noises, etc to keep her from a proper sleep cycle? Lack of sleep can cause a nervous or grumpy animal. Some books say that a red heat lamp does not keep them awake--other sources claim a red one is no better than a white one, and that a blue light is okay. I decided to go with the heat lamp that does not put out any visible light, just to be on the safe side. Dezi seems quite satisfied and comfortable with that.

Let us know how you do! Perhaps you will come up with an entirely new approach to taming shy beardies, and will share that with us...reading about your experience will help others in a similar situation.
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby agkistrodang » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:19 pm

It's all good C: I'm sure there's a lot of people who don't know anything, especially with beardies being as popular as they are. She calmed down a bit by dinner, but would still flinch if my hand got too close. Will keep working on it, she'll get there. She seems to sleep fine, the room she's in is not noisy or bright. I don't think she's abnormally skittish, just a typical nervous baby. At least she's not missing anything important re: bath time. Which, to be honest, I wasn't really worried about as all that necessary but I just wanted to be sure. I get a little paranoid about the little things haha

Anyway, heres the kid. Excuse her shedding, she's usually a little more impressive :p her names Tequila Sunrise
[Click image to enlarge]
[Click image to enlarge]


And just because, here's my boys, Lusus (don't judge it was 2011) and Pazuzu (excuse the mess he left on his dinner ledge)
[Click image to enlarge]
[Click image to enlarge]


I could add the ones I was responsible for at the nature center I worked at, or the reptile rescue I volunteered at, or the reptile ecology lab I work in...but this thread would get kinda long :p can you tell I have a reptile (and amphibian and insect if you count my work kids) problem?
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Re: Bath For Skittish Baby?

Postby lizardmom25 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:23 am

agkistrodang wrote:It's all good C: I'm sure there's a lot of people who don't know anything, especially with beardies being as popular as they are. She calmed down a bit by dinner, but would still flinch if my hand got too close. Will keep working on it, she'll get there. She seems to sleep fine, the room she's in is not noisy or bright. I don't think she's abnormally skittish, just a typical nervous baby. At least she's not missing anything important re: bath time. Which, to be honest, I wasn't really worried about as all that necessary but I just wanted to be sure. I get a little paranoid about the little things haha

Anyway, heres the kid. Excuse her shedding, she's usually a little more impressive :p her names Tequila Sunrise
[Click image to enlarge]
[Click image to enlarge]

Love you menagerie! Your crested gecko is adorable and looks a lot like mine. We have a reptile problem at our house too. We currently have 2 leopard geckos, a crested, and a beardie. I want a snake, but hubby says that's where he draws the line. He can handle the bug colonies and lizards but snakes and their food, nope.
And just because, here's my boys, Lusus (don't judge it was 2011) and Pazuzu (excuse the mess he left on his dinner ledge)
[Click image to enlarge]
[Click image to enlarge]


I could add the ones I was responsible for at the nature center I worked at, or the reptile rescue I volunteered at, or the reptile ecology lab I work in...but this thread would get kinda long :p can you tell I have a reptile (and amphibian and insect if you count my work kids) problem?
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