Your bearded dragon may poop on you for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they’re either comfortable with you or nervous around you.
Both are contradictory reasons that vary with the amount of time you’ve had your dragon, including their individual behaviors.
Most dragons will indicate to you when they’re about to poop and will often poop at regular times if on a regular feeding schedule. The best way to prevent unwanted accidents is to keep a feeding routine.
Read on to learn how to decipher the reason your dragon keeps pooping on you and how to prevent it.
Why does your bearded dragon poop on you?
Stress or fear
They have yet to trust you; therefore, they get nervous when you pick them up. This reaction may be the case if you notice them tense up when you hold them.
Stress and nervousness can trigger bowel movements within any animal, bearded dragons included.
Try to minimize stressful experiences for your dragon by slowly introducing them to new experiences.
When you bring a new dragon into your home, let them get used to their surroundings for a couple of days before attempting to handle them.
In addition, help them get used to you by feeding them by hand and petting them while they’re in their enclosure.
Contrary to the previous reason your dragon is pooping on you, they may be super comfortable with you. They may feel relaxed and simply just release a bowel movement on your lap.
It isn’t the best feeling to have a stinky puddle of bearded dragon poop on you, but it doesn’t always mean that there’s a problem (other than the fact that you have to clean it up).
If you find that they willingly climb onto your hand without much effort on your part, or that their belly is completely relaxed when you handle them, they likely just enjoy your presence.
Your dragon may have just needed to defecate, and you were coincidentally holding them when they felt the need to do their business.
Bearded dragons don’t necessarily know when or where is the appropriate time to defecate.
By not letting your dragon rest after eating, you’re opening them up to potential stomach issues because they haven’t had the chance to digest their food yet.
Quick note: Bearded dragons usually take more than 24 hours to digest food. Therefore any poop after eating could be from a stomach ache or from days prior to this feeding.
Became a habit
Does your dragon seem to only poop on you and nowhere else? If so, there’s a chance you’ve taught them that you’re the safest and best place to do so.
This can happen when you don’t give them enough time to relax after eating, or they don’t like the state of their enclosure. Furthermore, they may find their enclosure too small or too dirty.
Many dragons know to avoid running through the bacteria in their cage, including their own feces or leftover food (this is not always the case, though).
Therefore, they may find their living situation as a place where they feel comfortable enough to poop. The next available spot may end up being on their owner’s shoulder.
Make sure your dragon has the proper amount of space and a clean cage as often as possible.
Are there any health concerns?
There can be health concerns if you don’t clean up the feces properly.
You could be infected with Salmonella with symptoms that can include vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, fever, and more.
Fortunately, this is unlikely to happen unless the feces and/or bacteria are ingested and is a more common issue with children than adults.
Therefore, if you have any children interacting with your bearded dragon, it would be in everyone’s best interest to teach the kids how to clean up properly and for them to also be supervised at all times.
What to do if your bearded dragon poops on you?
Put your dragon back into the enclosure
You don’t want them coming into contact with bacteria. If they come into contact with their feces, just rinse it off with warm water (no soap).
You also want them to be in a safe place and out of the way so you can clean up the mess. This can also help teach your dragon that if they poop outside of the enclosure, they will end up in it.
Clean up immediately
The bacteria in the poop will not only get them sick, but it could also make you sick as well. Make sure to use soap and warm water to remove it from your skin and other surfaces.
You may also want to take one part water and one part vinegar to disinfect the surfaces the feces came into contact with.
After cleaning up the mess, it’s safe to handle your dragon again (unless they’re showing symptoms of feeling ill).
If they poop on your clothes, it’s best to remove them and wash them with warm water and vinegar if the garment allows it.
How to avoid getting pooped on by your beardie?
Allow time to relax after eating
Give them a chance to digest their food and avoid handling them right after eating.
Let them bask under their heat lamp for a while after eating and wait a couple of hours before picking them up again.
They don’t digest their food this quickly, nor will they poop until a few days after their meal. Although, this will prevent stomach issues and unusual and unwanted bowel movements.
Activity before a big meal
This is especially a good idea when you’re about to feed them insects, as digestion under the heat lamp will be important.
Smaller meals with fruits and veggies (based on their bowel movements) are usually safe to have your dragon out with you.
Observe their bathroom habits
You may notice that they’re more likely to poop at certain times of the day or week. In addition, certain foods could contribute to these habits as well.
Learn to plan around those habits to prevent accidents. An example of this is if you notice your dragon only poops once every few days, plan to bathe them on the days they tend to defecate.
This will create a routine for your dragon and condition them to poop when you want them to.
This is because the water helps them produce a bowel movement. Therefore, the regular routine will let them know that that is when they’re supposed to go.
a warm bath
Doing this often before handing your dragon for long periods of time can induce defecation and keep them hydrated.
Make sure to take them out immediately and clean any poop within the water. This works best with the previously mentioned tip.
Though some dragons are more unpredictable than others, giving them a bath when they haven’t pooped in a while can help minimize any unwanted incidents.
You do not need to bathe them every time you take them out, though having a regular bathing schedule can prevent unwanted accidents.
On another note, they may start to only poop in the bath.
However, combining putting them back in the enclosure whenever they poop along with bathing them when they haven’t defecated in a while can help them associate the enclosure with a bathroom spot.
Identify bathroom behaviors
Examples of these behaviors may include: lifting their tails, digging around before finding a spot to defecate, and/or lifting their bodies higher off the surface they’re on.
Some bearded dragons will also poop in specific spots and avoid those spaces the rest of the time.
Some may also choose specific times and go somewhere outside the enclosure they like to poop in.
This helps you know when to act quickly by moving them to a spot easier to clean and removing them after they poop.
You can also put them back inside the enclosure if you have the chance.
It’s not an enjoyable experience to be pooped on by your bearded dragon. This unwanted behavior may also deter you from wanting to hold them.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these behaviors and hopefully prevent them from happening again.
Observe their bathroom habits to know when to avoid holding them, and try to keep them on a similar if not the same feeding schedule on a regular basis.
Before you can stop the behavior, you must find the root of the problem.
Next, you’ll need to recognize their behaviors and bathroom habits in order to respond quickly and adjust to the situation.
Bearded dragons can learn to only poop inside their enclosure, though it may take time and effort to train them.
Putting them in the enclosure immediately after an accident can help teach them that playtime is over if they poop outside of their home.