You are minding your own business in your home when out of nowhere you are greeted by an unpleasant smell, and after looking for the source of it, you realize… it is coming from your pet’s enclosure! And now you are left wondering if a bearded dragon’s poop should smell that bad?
Poop will always have a somewhat unpleasant odor, and your bearded dragon’s feces are not the exception to this rule. However, certain factors may cause your pet’s poop to smell worse, including digestive issues caused by some foods, stress, or even infections by viruses, bacteria, or parasites.
In this article, we will discuss everything that can cause your bearded dragon’s poop to be smellier than usual and when you need to worry about it. We will also tell you when to get your pet to a veterinarian and what things you can do to get rid of any lingering smell in the enclosure. So, let us get started!
Is It Normal For Your Beardie’s Poop To Smell Bad?
Since bearded dragons excrete a compound called urea through their feces, which is generated when protein is broken down by the body, their poop will always have a minimal unpleasant odor that should not linger after being cleaned up.
So, don’t get worried if your beardie’s poop has a slightly foul smell, as long as it smells the same every time they have a bowel movement, and the feces seems normal in both shape and color.
What Could Cause Your Beardie’s Poop To Smell Bad?
When your beardie’s poop starts smelling more unpleasant than usual, it could be due to different factors, such as:
If your bearded dragon ate something that didn’t agree with its stomach, its poop might be unusually foul-smelling.
However, certain foods may naturally cause your bearded dragon’s poop to get smellier than usual, and this is the case when you feed it too many crickets, for example.
Keep in mind that all bearded dragons are different; therefore, the way their digestive systems react to certain kinds of foods may vary.
The same type of food that may be great for one bearded dragon may produce digestive problems in another beardie.
So, to be able to know which foods are best for your pet, you must keep track of your beardie’s diet and poop schedule.
Furthermore, besides establishing what specific meals sits well with your bearded dragon, it is imperative you also make sure your pet receives proper and balanced nutrition with added multivitamin supplements and calcium.
Bearded dragons should eat a wide variety of foods, including insects, fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, with portions that are adjusted to their age and nutritional needs.
You can also feed commercially prepared foods to your beardie from time to time.
In some cases, bearded dragons that are under constant stress may experience gastrointestinal disturbances that can cause their poop to be foul-smelling.
Increased stress levels may happen for many reasons, including poor husbandry, keeping your beardie in an enclosure that is too small for them, inadequate or unsatisfactory environmental conditions, and/or being exposed to a new habitat, among others.
Make sure to keep your beardie as stress-free and happy as possible, also check that the enclosure size and all husbandry conditions are adequate and that they are properly fed and hydrated.
Also, make sure your beardie does not experience stress caused by the presence of another bearded dragon or any other animal near their enclosure.
If your bearded dragon starts having consistently foul-smelling feces, it might be due to a parasitic infection.
Parasites are very common among bearded dragons, even when in captivity.
Oxyurids (pinworms) and coccidia are the most frequent parasites that affect beardies and can produce several gastrointestinal problems. Signs of infection may include:
- Bloody stools
- Anal bleeding
- Foul-smelling feces
- Weight loss
- Refusal to eat
- Failure to thrive
Even though a parasitic infection may be left untreated in some cases when the number of parasites is low; this is not the case when the infection is severe or if your beardie is having some health issues.
When one or more of the signs of parasitic infection appear, and after the diagnosis is confirmed by a veterinarian, treatment should be done with deworming drugs.
A repeat stool analysis is recommended two weeks after the treatment was completed to see if all the parasites were eradicated.
Keeping the tank clean is of utmost importance to prevent your pet from getting infected by parasites again.
Bacterial Or Viral Infection
Viruses or bacteria that affect your beardie’s gastrointestinal system can produce your pet’s poop to have an unpleasant smell, among other symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloody stools, or lack of energy.
Your bearded dragon may get a viral or bacterial infection after eating contaminated foods, such as unwashed vegetables or leafy greens. So, make sure to always wash and sanitize all foods before feeding them to your pet.
When To Worry About The Smell Of Your Beardie’s Poop
If you notice a change of smell in your bearded dragon’s poop, the first thing you need to do is to check your pet’s diet.
Have you been feeding it a new food? Did you change the brands of foods? Are you getting your insects from a new provider?
If the answer is yes, then try to get it back to its old diet and see if that improves the issue. If not, then you should check that there is nothing that could be stressing your pet.
Make sure the environment and all husbandry conditions are appropriate.
After making sure your pet’s diet and enclosure settings are on point, then you can start ruling out other causes that could be making your bearded dragon’s poop have an unpleasant odor.
If you suspect your beardie may have parasites, you can take a stool sample to the vet to have it tested.
If, on the other hand, you think your bearded dragon may have a viral or bacterial infection, you should also take your pet to the vet for testing and further evaluation.
Besides having foul-smelling feces, if you start to notice another abnormality or health problem in your beardie at any point, do not hesitate and take it to the reptile vet as soon as possible.
How To Get Rid Of The Smell Of Your Beardie’s Poop
Under normal circumstances, the smell of your beardie’s poop should quickly dissipate after picking it up. If that didn’t happen, there are some things you could do to get rid of the lingering smell, such as:
Spot-Cleaning The Enclosure
If you are having trouble keeping your pet’s tank free of unpleasant odors, you should aim to remove your bearded dragon’s feces from the enclosure as soon as they poop.
You need to do this consistently in order for it to work. The more the poop stays in the enclosure, the worse it will smell.
Additionally, spot-cleaning will help prevent viruses, bacteria, and parasites from spreading and potentially making your beardie sick.
After picking up the poop, you should immediately clean the area with warm soapy water to fully eliminate the smell.
Deep-Cleaning The Enclosure
If nothing seems to work to make the bad odor go away completely, then you should consider performing a thorough cleaning of furnishings using a commercial reptile-safe cleaner to further disinfect the enclosure and eliminate all remnants of poop and any lingering smell.
To do this, first, you need to remove all items and decorative elements from the tank and soak them in hot soapy water.
Then, you can spray everything with a reptile-safe disinfectant. Good options include:
- Fluker Super Scrub Brush with Organic Cleaner
- No Scent Reptile – Professional Pet Waste Odor Eliminator and Cleaner
- Zoo Med Wipe Out
Lastly, you need to use a paper towel to wipe away the disinfectant. Deep cleaning should be carried on once every month.
Additionally, all furnishings should be fully replaced at least once per year.
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