close up of bearded dragon face

Is Bearded Dragon Saliva Poisonous? [Why It’s Dangerous]

Bearded dragons are not venomous, but their saliva does play an important role in their health. Saliva helps them to digest food and break down large pieces of food into smaller sizes. It also helps them to metabolize their food faster and more efficiently.

Saliva also helps helps bearded dragons to shed their skin properly and plays an important role in thermoregulation by helping them to maintain a stable body temperature.

Although the saliva of bearded dragons is not toxic or venomous, it can still pose some risks to humans and other animals. Therefore, it is important to take precautions when handling and cleaning up saliva from bearded dragons.

Role of Saliva in Bearded Dragon’s Health

Digestion and Metabolism

Bearded dragon saliva is important for digestion and metabolism. As herbivorous reptiles, bearded dragons rely on fermentation to process their greens. The saliva helps break down the food, making it easier to digest.

Salivary glands are essential for metabolizing fats and proteins. Without the right amount of saliva, bearded dragons will struggle to absorb these essential macronutrients. So if you notice string-like saliva or chalky white poop, this could be a symptom of a health issue.

Role in Shedding and Skin Health

Saliva plays an important role in shedding for bearded dragons. Its enzymes break down the proteins that hold the old skin together, allowing the dragon to shed more easily.

Saliva also helps keep the dragon’s skin moist and pliable, which makes it easier for them to shed. It also helps keep the skin clean and free of bacteria and fungi that can cause infections.

Role in Thermoregulation

Bearded dragons are known for their ability to thermoregulate (or control their body temperature). It is believed that the pale yellow color of the dragon’s skin helps with thermoregulation by reflecting heat and light. When a bearded dragon is exposed to extreme temperatures, it can expand the spiny pouch on its throat in order to dissipate heat.

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It is thought that saliva may also play a role in thermoregulation, as it has been observed that dragons with higher levels of salivary proteins have greater thermal stability.

Potential Risks to Humans

While the chances of being harmed by a bearded dragon’s saliva are low, there are still potential risks to humans.

The most common risk is from possible allergic reactions to proteins and other substances in the saliva. This can cause localized skin irritation or even anaphylaxis in some cases.

There is also the risk of bacterial infections that can be transmitted through the saliva. The most common of these is Salmonella, which can cause serious illness in humans. It’s important to handle bearded dragons with caution and be aware of the potential risks associated with their saliva.

Risk of Salmonella

Bearded dragons are known to carry the salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illnesses in humans. This is why it is so important to practice good hygiene when handling your pet, by washing your hands after contact with them and not eating, drinking or smoking while handling them.

Recently, the CDC has announced that 44 people have been infected with Salmonella Uganda from contact with bearded dragons. This highlights the need for extra caution when it comes to these reptiles.

Risk of Allergic Reaction

While the saliva of a bearded dragon is not toxic, it can still pose a risk to humans. Allergic reactions may occur when someone is exposed to the saliva. Proteins found in the saliva of bearded dragons, known as serum albumin (SA), can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Too much SA in the body can be harmful.

Allergic sensitization to SA can occur by inhalation as well as ingestion. SAs are found in dander and saliva, and can be transferred through contact with the animal.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include skin irritation, rashes, hives, swelling of the face, itchiness, and difficulty breathing.

If you experience any of these symptoms after coming into contact with the saliva of a bearded dragon, seek medical attention immediately.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections other than salmonella may also be caused by contact with bearded dragon saliva. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms related to a bacterial infection after coming into contact with a bearded dragon’s saliva.

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Possible Effects of Bearded Dragon Saliva on Other Animals

Bearded dragons don’t produce venom in their teeth like cobras, nor do they have toxic saliva like a Komodo dragon. However, bearded dragons do have the ability to paralyze small prey animals.

Studies on related lizard species indicate that their saliva is filled with powerful prey-killing enzymes. These enzymes can be very dangerous to other animals, potentially leading to death.

It is important to be aware of this risk when handling bearded dragons or their prey. If you have other pets, it is best to keep them away from your bearded dragon and its food. It is also important to take precautions when handling the saliva of a bearded dragon, as it can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people.

Handling Bearded Dragon Saliva

Bearded dragon saliva is generally harmless to humans and other animals. However, it’s still important to take proper precautions when handling it.

Since bearded dragons can carry salmonella and other bacteria, it’s important to practice good hygiene when working with them and their saliva. This includes wearing gloves, washing your hands with soap and warm water, and using an appropriate disinfectant after handling your bearded dragon or its environment.

You should also avoid eating or drinking around your pet, as this can lead to the spread of salmonella or other bacterial infections.

How to Handle Bearded Dragon Saliva Safely

It’s important to handle bearded dragon saliva safely. When handling your bearded dragon, always make sure to wear protective clothing such as gloves and a face mask. It’s also important to keep their enclosure clean, and regularly disinfect it.

If you’re cleaning a wound or injury, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. If you’ve been bitten by a bearded dragon, seek medical attention immediately. To reduce the risk of infection, make sure to clean the wound with soap and water, and apply an antibiotic cream.

Cleaning and Sanitation Guidelines

Cleaning and sanitation guidelines should be followed when handling bearded dragon saliva. This includes regular cleaning of the vivarium or cage, dishes, and other supplies that may come in contact with saliva. It is best to use bleach or alcohol to sanitize any items related to the bearded dragon.

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It is important to keep the bearded dragon area clean, as salmonella can spread through indirect contact. You should also be sure to wash your hands after handling the bearded dragon or its supplies.

If you clean the supplies indoors, avoid cleaning them in the kitchen, where food is prepared, as this could increase the risk of contamination. Reptiles and amphibians might have salmonella germs on their bodies even when they appear healthy and clean, so it is best to take precautions when handling them.

First Aid Measures in Case of Exposure

Bearded dragon saliva is generally safe for humans, but it is still important to take precautionary measures in case of accidental exposure. To prevent infections, it is essential to clean and disinfect any wound caused by the reptile’s bite.

If the saliva comes into contact with the eyes, they should be immediately flushed with water. The person should also seek medical attention to ensure that no further complications occur.

Key Points

  • Although bearded dragon saliva is not toxic to humans, it can still pose a risk to our health.
  • Their saliva may contain salmonella bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause illnesses if ingested.
  • It may also contain enzymes that can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
  • It’s important to be aware of the potential risks of bearded dragon saliva and to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your pet.
  • Always practice good hygiene when handling your pet and its environment, and seek immediate medical attention if you think you may have been exposed to its saliva.