Poisonous animals are one of the greatest examples of natural selection we have. A phenomenon that started as a mutation, provided the reptiles with one of the most useful and powerful defense mechanisms to crawl the earth.
Now, the reptile class consists of species that could take down 100 times their weight as soon as contact is made. However, reptiles are not the best examples of poisonous species when we have amphibians in the competition. Several amphibian species, like the poison dart frog, are much more evolved to be poisonous even to reptiles that predatory animals actively avoid them in the wild.
Bearded dragons are not poisonous, they are instead venomous. There are 8 species of beardies, each with a pair of venom glands rooted in the upper jaw. Except for the pogona barbata (eastern bearded dragon) which has 2 pairs on both the upper and lower jaw. Although, how the venom glands are utilized is not finalized, the venom itself is administered via saliva contrary to the fang method in other reptiles.
In this article, I’ll be discussing the nature of bearded dragons, their venomousness, and just how disastrous it is to their prey. Let’s get into it.
What Is The Difference Between Venom And Poison?
When an animal is considered a poisonous species, it is fully saturated with enough toxin to cause damage to any living organism that consumes or comes in physical contact with it. On the other hand, a venomous organism can be consumed without detrimental consequences but can inject poison (venom) into other organisms as a form of defense.
Take for instance the puffer fish; upon contact with this animal, the prey’s neural pathway immediately becomes unable to transfer signals and is paralyzed. Venomous animals like the bearded dragon and the black mamba snake have glands that produce venom that is administered when they attack their prey but do not cause damage by contact.
Bearded dragons have been prey to bigger animals in their habitat without the food chain thrown into a mess for centuries. If birds and wild cats feed on bearded dragons without risking their lives, that’s how you know that beardies are not poisonous at all.
Are Bearded Dragons Venomous? Much Deeper Analysis
There are 4 main types of venom classified based on how they attack the biology of prey. For bearded dragons, their venom is haemotoxic. This means that it damages the circulatory, muscle tissue, and nervous systems. Once they administer a bite, the venom seeps into the bite wounds and instantly destabilizes the cells in or around the area.
For the regular beardie prey like bugs or other small animals relative in size, the venom could immediately cause them to enter a state of paralysis. If a bearded dragon bites you, the consequence is much milder because of the concentration and intensity of the venom in comparison to your body size. So, you’ll instead feel an uncomfortable stinging that will fade away with time.
Usually, the stinging sensation remains for about a day or two before it is fully healed. There is no cause to worry when this happens because as I mentioned earlier, bearded dragon bites cannot do serious damage to your body.
4 Things To Do When Your Venomous Bearded Dragon Bites You
If you have been bitten by your beardie, there’s no need to fear the worst. Their bites are not awful to deal with, but they surely will sting. Below are 4 steps to soften or help the situation:
1. Separate Your Beardie From The Lock Of Pain
When bearded dragons bite, they will hold onto their prey for roughly 3 minutes before they let go. If you have been bitten by your beardie, you’ll want to safely separate the dragon from its grip to prevent more injuries. You can do this by pressing down the sides of the dragon’s mouth to forcefully open its jaws and release the grip they have on you.
Remember to calm down; bearded dragons are docile but vigorous with their prey or opponent. If you try to pull your hand out of its grip forcefully, you can trigger the beardie to shake, twist, or turn which would cause further damage.
2. Massage The Bitten Area With Ice
Ice helps to reduce the swelling and pain caused by the venom in your beardie’s saliva. If your bearded dragon leaves puncture marks after a bite, you’d be surely in need of relief from the stinging. Usually, it never gets worse than a few scratches and tiny puncture marks when beardies bite. This is because, to begin with, they even lack actual teeth. So relax, there’s no big deal about it.
3. Visit a Doctor if Infected
It’s highly unlikely, but if the spot where the bite occurred happens to be infected, you should see your doctor immediately before it escalates. At the doctor’s, you’d be given painkillers and antibiotics to manage the spread efficiently.
4. Earn Your Beardie’s Trust
Your bearded dragon should not be biting you out of the blue for no reason. If they are showing this much of a sign of aggression, that means that they are defending themselves and are threatened by the situation you may have put them in. To win your beardie’s trust, you will need to be patient and calm. Give your pet the room to fully assimilate that you mean no harm so that it doesn’t lash out and bite you when it feels threatened.
Why Does My Bearded Dragon Bite Me?
Beardies are pretty chill creatures, so if they are lashing out and biting at every chance, there is something wrong somewhere that you need to fix! Perhaps your beardie is stressed by its environment. Ensure that the temperature, humidity, and UVB light are kept in check for your beardie to thrive.
If you have pets running around that could frighten your beardie, it can cause it to be on edge and defensive in its environment. Added to this, beardies will bite if they are not handled with care. They are relaxed animals that do not require to be prodded, petted, or handled already.
So, If you come around and roughly pick up your beardie, it just may turn around and bite you out of exhaustion. At the end of the day, bearded dragons are individual creatures and will act separately depending on their personality. So, it’s pretty normal for some beardies to be feisty and others not.
Do Bearded Dragon Bites Hurt?
Beardie bites do not hurt much at all. All you’re getting from the action is a pretty strong pinch that could be gone and over within the next two days. The pain can be described as a sharp and then fading pain that could cause itchiness as it heals. The venom of the bearded dragon plays a major part in causing the injury to swell and look more serious than it is.
At the end of this article, we have deduced that bearded dragons are venomous. However, their venom is only powerful enough to weaken their prey. It’s a common misconception that bearded dragons do not have venom and all that they have is thick saliva to help them capture prey properly. Even if there are no detrimental venomous glands to the bearded dragons, they are still descendants of reptiles that roamed about the earth with venom to take down the biggest prey, and surely have a representation of the mutated gene in their genetic information. Way to go, beardies!