Bearded dragons are Australian lizards that have spiny scales around the body and the spikes that form a collar around their throat puff up from time to time actually gives them the name “bearded dragons”.
They have a broad head, a long tail, and stout legs. Their cage needs to be spacious and should provide adequate heating and lighting to keep your dragons comfortable and give them a habitat similar to that in the wild. It should provide enough space for movement.
As for why a bearded dragon’s tank smells, there are many reasons among which you have to see whether the smell is coming from your dragon or the tank itself.
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Why does my bearded dragon cage smell:
It is important to observe all the possible reasons why your dragon’s cage might smell? These reasons could be the cage might have rotten food or crickets lying around or you might not be using the right kind of substrate. Each of such issues will have to be dealt with its own proper treatment.
These reasons could be:
- Feces and urine
- Leftover food
- Cheap or dirty substrate
- Fungal infection
Feces and urine:
This is the biggest cause of bad odor in bearded dragons. Its feces and urine have a strong smell and bad odor. If your reptile passes urine and feces you should remove the droppings quickly, so that the reptile’s body will not catch the smell. Otherwise, the reptile and the cage both will be affected by the bad smell.
Read more about bearded dragon poop.
Another problem with bearded dragon’s smell is the rotting leftover food. As the food rots quickly and it can easily change into a bad odor. You should try your best to regularly clean out the food that hasn’t been eaten for more than 24 hours.
That bad odor easily absorbs into the skin of the reptile and may be a reason for the bearded dragon’s smell.
Read more on how often to feed a bearded dragon.
Cheap or dirty substrate:
One of the reasons for your dragon’s bad smell is the use of cheap and dirty substrate. Substrate and flooring play an important role in causing bad odor. Loose substrates are known for trapping odors because they tend to be very absorbent hence using substrates like sand can be problematic.
You could try your best to quickly take out droppings or urine but that just wouldn’t be enough as many other particles would have already been affected by the waste.
It has been observed that in unclean environments the chances of fungal infections are highly likely. If the humidity level is too high, it may also cause fungal infections inside the cage. You could determine that your bearded dragon has caught a fungal infection by giving him a warm bath for up to 20 minutes and if he allows, try to scrub him with a toothbrush and extra gentle baby soap.
If your dragon smells it could mean that he has a fungal infection in which case you need to immediately take him to the vet for some proper treatment.
Can I put baking soda in my bearded dragon’s cage to resolve the smell?
No, baking soda is toxic for bearded dragons. It may cause respiratory infections and may even cause death. It is better to wash your cage with a diluted bleach mixture. Then wash it again with warm water to remove the traces of any chemicals from the bleach.
If this does not resolve the smell, then maybe the substrate inside the cage should be replaced with an ideal non-particle base. The furniture inside the cage and the humidity level should also be managed to resolve the smell.
How to clean the bearded dragon’s cage?
A bearded dragon cage smells bad due to the rotting food, loose substrates/ paper towels, and their poop that have parasites in it. Food and feeders left behind will begin to rot quickly and this will contribute to the bad smell. The fungus begins to grow in that area and may cause a bad smell.
You should thoroughly clean that tank (if it is made of glass) every few weeks with a diluted bleach solution to kill all the bacteria.
Make sure to clean everything inside the cage with warm soapy water after the bleach, so that there will be no chemicals left over for your dragon to eat.
Here are some more tips to clean the bearded dragon’s cage:
- Arrange another box or cage
- Take out the debris from the cage
- Scrub the sides and the bottom of the cage
- Dry off the cage
- Place the dragon back in its cage
Arrange another box or cage:
Make sure you have another box or cage where you might put your dragon in. This will keep them warm and safe as they are cold-blooded animals and they cannot maintain their body temperature.
Take out the debris from the cage:
Take out the branches and roots from the cage. Also, try to dump out all the waste material from the cage. If the cage is equipped with tiles on the floor, wash them with warm soapy water.
Scrub the sides at the bottom of the cage:
Try to clean the floor deeply. Try to clean the corners of the cage also. Make sure that every side of the cage is clean.
Dry off the cage:
Once you’re sure that the cage is completely dry, try to put all the materials back. Put back some fresh, clean branches and plants and place a clean food bowl. Try to maintain an old habitat where your bearded dragon was living.
Place the dragon back in the cage:
When you are satisfied with all the surroundings of the cage, let your dragon back inside.
Best reptile odor eliminator:
The best reptile odor eliminator options depend upon the setup of the cage. Have a look at these odors:
For particle-based substrate habitat:
If you are using some type of sand, then Reptifresh odor-eliminating substrate is best. In this odor, you have to just mix it with regular substrate and fill the dragon’s cage. If the cage is large enough, two bags of such odor eliminator can maintain a fresh smell.
But it is necessary to change it after every six months as the entire year is quite long to let any loose substrate sit.
For non-particle based substrate:
If you are using a non-particle-based substrate, then Zilla reptile terrarium substrate liner is considered the best odor. Safe for bearded dragons of all ages, it is made up of highly absorbent material and easily manages the odor. It may also be used to clean the cage properly.
For in-between cage cleanings:
If the cage is set up with a non-base substrate but the odor is still coming from the cage, you may manage that with a no scent odor eliminator that contains zero harmful chemicals. These odors are used to combat the odors coming from urine and waste.
This product is environmental-friendly, natural, and biodegradable. You have to spray the odor into the cage to eliminate any kind of bad smell.
The bearded dragons may cause a bad odor in the cage but there is also a possibility that due to urine, rotten food, and fungus the cage itself generates a bad smell. It may be vice versa. We have to look at the factors that are causing this and try to keep the cage neat and clean to avoid any bad smell.