Indications of an upcoming shed:
Prior to a shed, you will notice that the beardie starts to change color. The overall color will get dimmer and duller. At some point your beardie will shed the area around the eyes. You may walk in to find your beardie has suddenly turned into some wild, bug-eyed monster. Lying quietly, its closed eyes are puffed out 2-3 times their normal size. This is quite natural - they are puffing them up with air as a way to loosen the old skin. In a few days you will notice them rubbing their closed eyes against any handy surface as they begin to loosen and rub the skin off.

If you do not regularly bathe or spray your beardie with water, you may wish to do so during pre-shed and shed periods. In the wild, the natural humidity in the air and the free access to water helps the oily fluid build-up between the skin layers and keeps the old skin soft and supple as it peels off. In our much drier captive environments, the loosened pieces may dry out too quickly, resulting in a much slower shed. Spraying with plain tap water is all you need to do; the expensive vitamin and moisturizing sprays are not necessary and not any better than plain water in a spray bottle.

Generally speaking, don't pull the skin off if it isn't ready to come off. Beardies will rub themselves against things to help loosen and rid themselves of skin. Mostly, they just sort of look like they are wearing raggedy clothes, with strips and patches of skin hanging loose and flapping around. If the skin is ready to come off, you can help it do so by gently pulling at it. If the skin is not ready to come off, there will be resistance, and the skin you remove will be damp. Pulling of skin that is not ready to come off can damage the new scales that are still developing.

Sometimes the toes and tip of the tail need help to shed completely. Gently working at them over the course of several days, loosening the skin and spraying them with water will help. If shed is left on, it can constrict the toes and nails, killing the tissue by strangling the nerve and blood supply that feeds it.

Sometimes the skin in and around the nostrils may not come off. After the next bath, work at this area gently to remove any such retained shed. It looks horribly uncomfortable when a beardie has a piece of unshed skin protruding out of its nose.

Pre-Shed Behavioral Changes:
Going into shed is apparently not a real fun thing for beardies. Most get rather cranky during this time, with some becoming hissy or snappy, objecting to being held or touched. The best thing to do is to respect their ill-feeling as much as possible. Some beardies will greatly reduce their food intake during a shed, others stop eating altogether until after they have shed. Offer a nice warm bath to help keep the skin moist and offer fluids for beardies that are off food.

Problem Sheds:
A problem shed is a shed that isn't happening like a normal, healthy shed should. Adult beardies normally shed in pieces, a problem shed would be where it is taking too long, or where skin is retained in problem areas, such as around toes, spikes, and tails. A problem shed is a sign of an even greater, underlying problem. When a problem shed occurs, or one that is too slow to start or finish, you need to figure out why it is happening and correct the problem.

First, analyze the environment, diet, etc. Are their any signs of Pain & Discomfort?

Correct the problem (adjust heat, lighting, photoperiods, diet, etc.).

If the beardie has started, but not properly completed a shed, you can help it along. Soak them in a tub of warm water (95-99 degrees F) for 10-15 minutes, then begin gently rubbing their skin. Make sure the skin is removed from their toes, spikes, and tails.

If there is still retained shed in these problem areas, wrap the wet beardie in a warm damp towel, then wrap that in a dry towel. Sit down with it for 5 minutes or so, then expose a small area of the crest, or a foot, and begin to gently work at the retained skin.

If there are several layers or one very resistant layer, rub some mineral oil into the area while the beardie is still wet from the bath. This will help lock the moisture from the bath into that area. Do this for a couple of days (bath followed by the mineral oil worked into the skin); this should get enough water wicked up between the layers of skin to make them very easy to remove.

Shed Aid Products:
Honestly, they are pretty useless. Well, that is not exactly all true. The primary ingredient, by volume, is water. Water is very useful to humidify and loosen resistant skin and help it shed off appropriately. The water from your sink, tub or garden tap works just as well as the very expensive water and minuscule amount of vitamins, emollients and other nonessential and unhelpful ingredients in the shed aid products. Buying them may make you feel better, but if the shed problem is due to illness or improper environment, the products may be dangerous in that they lull you into thinking you are doing what needs to be done.

If your beardie is having a problem shedding, troubleshoot the environment and the animal's overall health status. Fix the physical and social environment and get the reptile healthy, and problem sheds are simply not an issue.

Where'd it go?
"But wait!" you say. "Where is all that shed?" Some beardies will occasionally eat some of their shed. This is not a problem as long as the beardie is maintained in a clean environment.


Primary source of info from Melissa Kaplan's website,

This information should be used only as a reference tool and should not be used in place of vet assistance. My views and opinions are the result of hours of dedicated research. But remember, I am not a professional. If you have a sick beardie and don't know what to do, don't play God, take him to the vet immediately.
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