Bearded dragons are growing more and more popular as small reptile pets. These small lizards are surprisingly gregarious. They bond well with their owners and can be trained to come when called, play tricks, and enjoy being petted.
Taking care of your bearded dragon is an adventure for several reasons. First, bearded dragons are pretty new to the pet scene. Best practices for taking care of your beardie are still being developed.
Second, there may not be specific tools dedicated to taking care of your beardie. Third, there isn’t a lot of advice for bearded dragon owners present on the internet.
We’re going to help fix that third reason in this article. Keep reading to learn about how to remove a bearded dragon’s nose plug. Beardies occasionally get nose plugs as a result of regular skin shedding. Every part of their skin sheds, even the inside of their nostrils.
You can avoid a trip to the vet by just removing the nose plug yourself. Take a seat and keep reading to learn just how to do it on your own. Let’s get started.
Why Remove A Bearded Dragon Nose Plug?
First off, let’s define what a ‘nose plug’ is. It’s not actually a plug of snot or mucous. It’s actually just dead skin that the bearded dragon would normally slough off. Because it’s in the lizard’s nasal region, it gets stuck and eventually forms a plug that block’s the beardie’s nostril.
In the wild, dust and dirt may enter the nasal passages. Nose plugs form to keep the nostrils from accumulating foreign particles. In captivity, there aren’t frequent dust storms. Things are pretty clean compared to outside. Thus, nose plugs aren’t as necessary.
How to Remove Bearded Dragon Nose Plug?
Removing the nose plug from a bearded dragon is optional. They normally form in wild bearded dragons’ nostrils, and don’t pose much of a problem to the lizards.
In captivity, it can be an aesthetic decision to remove the nose plugs. Convenience for the lizard to breathe is also a factor.
We’ll discuss the steps to removing a nose plug from a bearded dragon. Before we describe how to actively remove the plug with tweezers, we’ll go over two non-invasive methods to ‘help’ the nose plug vacate the nasal cavity.
1. Give your bearded dragon a warm bath.
Bearded dragons are known to enjoy being wet. They especially like warm baths when they are shedding their skin. Unlike snakes, bearded dragons’ skin doesn’t fall off in one large shed. Instead, it peels off at intervals and can take weeks.
Nose plugs shed bits of dead skin, so a warm bath can soften them so much that they dislodge and fall out on their own.
2. Watch to see if your beardie licks its nostrils.
If your beardie has nose plugs but is actively licking its nostrils, wait and see before pulling the nose plugs out yourself. This indicates that the bearded dragon is aware of the nose plugs and is actively breathing through them by keeping them moist.
Sneezing is another way bearded dragons naturally remove their nose plugs. If your beardie gets dusty or feels like it has an obstruction in its nasal cavity, it will sneeze of its own accord.
The only risk for suffocation from the presence of nose plugs is when a baby bearded dragon has them. Since their nasal passages are so small, they may have real trouble breathing if they aren’t removed.
Help baby bearded dragons with plugged nostrils by putting them first in a warm bath. If that doesn’t remove the plug, try the active methods listed below.
3. Get the appropriate tools.
Tweezers are the best tool to remove the nose plug – or nose shed, as it is also called. They allow you to be precise when grabbing the shed. They also keep the area clean, since you aren’t grasping at something small with your fingers.
Prepare the area to keep your bearded dragon while removing the nose shed. Lay out a paper towel with the tweezers and a soft cloth. You can also heat a bowl of warm water to act as a bath for the beardie if the nose plugs are hard to remove.
Clean your tweezers prior to removing the nose plugs. After washing them with soap and water, rub them down with a cotton ball soaked with 70% rubbing alcohol.
4. Position your bearded dragon where it feels safe and calm.
If you have an unsettled bearded dragon, it is not the time to remove its nose plugs. You want a sedate and relaxed beardie. This will help you be accurate in removing the nose plugs and reduce any risk of injury.
We recommend setting your beardie in a plastic container lined with a cloth. You could also hold it in your lap instead, especially if it has a good bond with you.
Situate the beardie in an area with good light. Natural light or electric lighting is fine. The goal is to ensure that you have enough visibility to grab the nose plug only and not the skin surrounding the shed skin.
5. Gently remove the nose plugs, one side at a time.
Cup the bearded dragon’s head with one hand, while you gently clasp the edge of the nose plug with the tweezers in your other hand. Once you have a secure grip on the nose plug, carefully pull outward at a right angle, away from the beardie.
If successful, you should see a small white plug of skin that measures about 1 to 2 cm long. It may have striations and be convoluted; this is because the nose plug extends all the way up into the bearded dragon’s nasal cavity.
Repeat this process on the other side.
6. Watch your bearded dragon for irritation.
Your bearded dragon should be able to resume regular life activities after having its nose plugs removed – in fact, it shouldn’t have had any problems with basic life functions anyway.
If your bearded dragon’s nostrils start having drainage or if it starts scratching at its face, it may be a sign of a sinus infection or other problem. This may warrant a trip to the veterinarian.
Checking the condition of your bearded dragon’s nasal passages and skin is just another aspect of being a responsible beardie owner. If you’ve noticed your beardie experiencing plugged nostrils and want to help them feel better, kudos! You’re now equipped to address the issue yourself through both active intervention and passive assistance.
Keep up to date on the condition of your bearded dragon, and it will be sure to stay happy and healthy for years to come!