Can my Bearded Dragon Make Me Sick and Can I Make it Sick?

Dr Callista Chinenye Emecheta is a Medical Practitioner and a Public Health enthusiast. Callista completed her Masters degree in Public Health in 2023 at the University of Northampton, UK.

Can my bearded dragon make me sick? Yes bearded dragons can present certain health risks to their owners. Pets often become integral parts of families, entwined with daily routines and interactions. Some pet owners allow bearded dragon’s close to their face or run around the house. Some bathe them in their kitchen sinks, let their toddlers touch them, or kiss their pets on the mouth.

However, this close contact between pet owners and their bearded dragons can make people sick through inadvertently leading to the transmission of various diseases. These illnesses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, and they can affect humans even if the bearded dragon appears healthy or if the contact is indirect, via other reptile handlers.

As pet owners we may not always be aware of the potential hazards that bearded dragons can pose. Despite the creatures being seemingly innocuous, there is a concrete risk of sickness, especially when they are allowed to roam freely in living spaces or are handled without adequate hygiene practices.

Bearded dragons have been identified to be carriers of bacteria, viruses, parasites and worms (Health protection surveillance Centre, 2013). It has been advised to treat them as contaminated even when they appear to be healthy.

The importance of maintaining a safe boundary and adhering to good husbandry and hygiene practices is vitally important to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases, which are transmittable from animals to humans.

Table: Risks and Safety Measures for Bearded Dragon Owners

Risk FactorSafety Measure
Salmonella infection from kissingDon’t kiss a bearded dragon
Tetanus from bitesEnsure up-to-date tetanus vaccinations
Secondary bacterial infectionClean and disinfect bite wounds promptly
Zoonotic disease transmissionPractice good hygiene; seek medical advice if ill
Can my bearded dragon make me sick and can my bearded dragon catch my cold

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Key Takeaways

  1. Close contact with bearded dragons can pose health risks.
  2. Bearded dragons can carry bacteria and viruses without showing symptoms.
  3. Show affection to your bearded dragon safely to avoid health issues.
  4. Implement strict hygiene practices to prevent zoonotic diseases.
  5. Feeding mice to bearded dragons can indirectly affect human health.
  6. Know the steps to take if bitten by a bearded dragon to prevent infection.
  7. Young children and bearded dragons require careful supervision.
  8. Expectant mothers should exercise caution when handling bearded dragons.
  9. Recognize symptoms of infections from bearded dragons for early intervention.
  10. Regular vet check-ups for bearded dragons help prevent disease transmission.

Health Risks from Bearded Dragons

Can I Kiss my Bearded Dragon?

While expressing love for your pet is natural, but it’s important to be mindful of how you do so, for both your health and that of your bearded dragon. Avoid kissing your bearded dragon or allowing it close to your face.

Bearded dragons can carry harmful microorganisms like salmonella, which can spread to humans if ingested. Physical displays of affection like kissing your bearded dragon can result in the transmission of these microorganisms from your pet to you. These bacteria can be inadvertently ingested by humans, leading to serious health issues.

Will a Bearded Dragon Make me Sick if it Bites Me?

Yes, a bite from a bearded dragon can make you sick. Although their venom isn’t harmful to humans, bites can lead to other health issues such as tetanus or bacterial infections. It’s crucial to keep tetanus vaccinations up-to-date and to treat any bites promptly with thorough cleaning and antiseptics to prevent complications.

Immediate Actions after Being Bitten by a Bearded Dragon

If a bearded dragon bites you, taking immediate and appropriate action is key to minimizing health risks. Should the bearded dragon cling to you, it’s important to detach its jaws gently to avoid further injury. Cleaning and disinfecting the wound properly is essential, and seeking medical advice is always recommended to ensure comprehensive care.

  1. Release the Jaws: If the bearded dragon bites and holds on, carefully pry its jaws apart. Avoid jerking or dropping the dragon to prevent skin tears.
  2. Clean the Wound: Use soap and warm water to wash the bite thoroughly.
  3. Disinfect: Apply an antiseptic solution to the wound to prevent infection.
  4. Tetanus Immunization: Visit a healthcare provider to get a tetanus shot if your immunization is not current.
  5. Medical Evaluation: Seek medical attention if:
    • The bite is deep or the skin is significantly torn.
    • Signs of infection appear, such as increased pain, redness, tenderness, or pus discharge from the wound.

Is a Bearded Dragon Bite Dangerous to my Health?

While a bearded dragon bite itself may not be inherently dangerous, the risk of infection or contracting a zoonotic disease from the bite is a concern. Immediate and proper care following a bite can significantly reduce the risk of complications, making it less likely that a bearded dragon bite will make you sick. However, vigilance is necessary to ensure that what seems like a minor bite does not lead to more serious health issues.

bitten by bearded dragon
Bearded dragons can bite you! This is the result of a Pogona minor minor, very small bearded dragon. Large bearded dragons cause much deeper and larger wounds.

Is it Safe to Have a Bearded Dragon Around Babies or Children?

When it comes to babies and young children, caution should be taken when they are with bearded dragons.

Research has consistently shown that bearded dragons, like other reptiles, can carry pathogens such as Salmonella spp, Campylobacter spp, and Aeromonas spp, which are capable of causing illness. Babies and young children, with their still-developing immune systems, are at a higher risk of falling ill. A common scenario where a bearded dragon might make someone sick is through the contamination of objects, such as baby bottles, with these bacteria.

Moreover, the risk isn’t limited to direct contact; indirect exposure to these harmful bacteria from a bearded dragon can also make someone sick. Young children, who frequently put their hands in their mouths, especially after touching pets, are at an elevated risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that to prevent the possibility that a bearded dragon might make someone sick, infants and children under five should avoid all contact with reptiles (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019a).

Echoing this sentiment, the National Health Protection Surveillance Centre has issued warnings to parents against keeping reptiles as pets in homes with infants and young children. This comes in the wake of an infant contracting botulism from a family pet turtle, underscoring the potential dangers (Health Protection Surveillance Center, 2011).

are bearded dragons safe for toddlers
Shana Perry’s family and bearded dragon.

Are Bearded Dragons Safe When Pregnant?

Exercise caution with bearded dragons areound expectant mothers to mitigate any risk of contracting infections that could affect their health during pregnancy. Maintaining good hygiene and avoiding close facial contact with these pets can help reduce the chances of illness.

What can my Bearded Dragon Make Me Sick With?

Can I get Salmonella from my Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons often carry a specific bacterial infection known as salmonellosis. Although they may seem healthy, these reptiles often harbor and intermittently shed salmonella bacteria in their feces.

How can my Bearded Dragon Make me Sick with Salmonella?

You can get Salmonella from your bearded dragon through direct or indirect contact that leads to the accidental ingestion of the bacteria. This typically happens in the following ways:

  1. Feeding Mice: In both the United Kingdom and the United States, reptile owners have indirectly experienced outbreaks of Salmonella by feeding mice to their pets.
  2. Handling the Bearded Dragon or Its Environment: When you touch your bearded dragon or objects in its habitat, Salmonella bacteria present on its skin or in its environment can transfer to your hands.
  3. Fecal-Oral Transmission: Salmonella bacteria are often shed in the feces of bearded dragons. If these fecal particles are inadvertently transferred to your mouth, for example, by touching your face after handling your pet or its habitat without washing your hands, you can become infected.
  4. Close Contact: Engaging in close contact with your bearded dragon, such as kissing or allowing it near your face, increases the risk of Salmonella transmission (Mills, 2014). Instances have been documented, such as in Georgia, USA, where individuals contracted Salmonella infections, leading to hospitalizations after kissing their reptile pets (Mills, 2014).

Research indicates that more than 90% of reptiles, including bearded dragons, can be asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella and other pathogens (Jong et al, 2005). These organisms can reside on their skin and in their feces without causing any visible symptoms in the reptiles, making it challenging to identify infected pets just by observation.

Can Bearded Dragons Make You Sick with Salmonella?

Yes, bearded dragons can carry salmonella, a bacteria causing salmonellosis, even if they appear healthy. This poses a risk of making their owners sick through direct or indirect contact with the reptile or its environment. Proper hygiene is crucial to prevent accidental ingestion of the bacteria.

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection In Humans

If a bearded dragon makes you sick with salmonella, you might experience:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (possibly bloody)
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Severe dehydration, especially in children

What are the Chances of Getting Salmonella from my Bearded Dragon?

Salmonella is primarily spread through the fecal-oral route. Handling your pet or its habitat and then ingesting the bacteria can make you sick.

The chances of getting Salmonella from your bearded dragon are notably higher if you engage in close contact behaviors such as kissing your pet or handling it and its habitat without proper hygiene practices.

Since Salmonella spreads mainly through the fecal-oral route, any activity that could lead to ingesting bacteria from your bearded dragon or its environment increases the risk.

The highlighted cases from the National Health Service, where individuals needed hospital treatment for Salmonella infections possibly contracted through close contact with their pets, illustrate the significant risk associated with such interactions (Mills, 2014). Therefore, maintaining strict hygiene, avoiding close facial contact, and properly cleaning after handling your bearded dragon or its habitat are crucial steps in reducing the likelihood of Salmonella infection.

How can I Tell if my Bearded Dragon has Salmonella?

Identifying Salmonella in bearded dragons is challenging because they can carry the bacteria without showing any visible symptoms. Unlike in humans, where Salmonella infection often leads to noticeable illness, bearded dragons might not exhibit any signs of being unwell despite being carriers. This asymptomatic nature of Salmonella in reptiles means that you cannot rely on changes in your bearded dragon’s behavior or health to determine if it is carrying the bacteria.

To definitively know if your bearded dragon has Salmonella, a veterinarian would need to conduct specific tests, usually involving fecal samples, to detect the presence of the bacteria.

If you are concerned about Salmonella or if your household includes individuals who are at higher risk of infection (such as young children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems), consult with a veterinarian for testing and advice on safe handling practices is recommended.

Regular veterinary check-ups can also help in monitoring the overall health of your bearded dragon and in preventing the spread of potential infections.

Some quick facts on Salmonella in Bearded Dragons

  • Over 90% of reptiles, including bearded dragons, may harbor salmonella (Jong et al., 2005).
  • Reptiles can carry multiple salmonella serotypes without showing symptoms, increasing the risk that a bearded dragon might make you sick.
  • CDC advises treating all reptiles as potential salmonella carriers due to intermittent shedding of the bacteria in feces.

Health Impact of Salmonella in Bearded Dragons

  • Most infected individuals recover within 4-7 days without hospitalization.
  • CDC reports about 1.2 million salmonella illnesses annually in the U.S., with 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths (CDC, 2019b).
  • In Australia, the estimated incidence is 185 infections per 100,000 population per year (Ford, Glass, Hall, 2014).
  • An outbreak linked to bearded dragons in the U.S. involved a rare salmonella strain, leading to 160 cases and 37% hospitalization rate in 36 states (CDC, 2014).

How to Prevent Getting Salmonella From Your Bearded Dragon

To reduce the risk of getting sick from a bearded dragon, practice the following:

  1. Wash hands thoroughly after handling your pet or cleaning its habitat.
  2. Avoid kissing or bringing the bearded dragon close to your face.
  3. Clean and disinfect the pet’s living area regularly.
  4. Educate all household members, especially children, on safe handling practices.

Understanding the risks and practicing good hygiene can help prevent salmonella infections, reducing the chances that a bearded dragon might make you sick.

Contact with reptiles can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Reptiles can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness.

Jacobson 2007; CFSPH 2013

Can my bearded dragon make me sick with Campylobacteriosis?

Campylobacteriosis, or Campylobacter infection, is a bacterial illness caused by Campylobacter bacteria, most commonly by Campylobacter jejuni. It’s one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in humans. The bacteria are usually found in the intestines of animals, including poultry, cattle, and sometimes reptiles like bearded dragons, and can contaminate food and water.

Symptoms of Campylobacteriosis Infection In Humans

The infection typically causes symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea (which may be bloody)
  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms usually start within two to five days after exposure to the bacteria and can last about a week. In most cases, people recover without specific treatment, except for rehydration to replace fluids lost due to diarrhea and vomiting.

In some cases, Campylobacter infection can lead to more serious complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves, leading to paralysis that is usually temporary.

What are the Chances of Getting Campylobacteriosis from my Bearded Dragon?

The chances of getting Campylobacteriosis from your bearded dragon, while not extremely high, are non-negligible, especially if proper hygiene practices are not followed.

Bearded dragons, like other reptiles, can carry Campylobacter bacteria in their intestines without showing any signs of illness. These bacteria can be shed in their feces and contaminate their environment, including surfaces they come into contact with, their enclosure, and potentially any objects within it.

Key factors that can influence the risk include:

  • Hygiene Practices: Not washing hands thoroughly after handling your bearded dragon, cleaning its habitat, or coming into contact with its feces can increase the risk of transmission.
  • Environmental Contamination: If the bearded dragon roams freely in areas where food is prepared or eaten, there’s a higher risk of contaminating these areas with bacteria.
  • Individual Susceptibility: Young children, elderly individuals, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems may be at a higher risk of infection and developing more severe symptoms.

How can I get Campylobacteriosis from Bearded Dragons?

Transmission can occur through consuming undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, contaminated water, or through contact with the feces of infected animals, including pets like bearded dragons that may carry the bacteria without showing symptoms. Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly after handling animals and ensuring food is cooked properly, can help prevent Campylobacter infections.

The possible risk of infection from pet lizards through their handling, contamination, or contact with wild lizards has been established by several studies.

  • A study carried out in 2013 established 9 cases of human infection with new subspecies of campylobacter fetus (Patrick, Gilbert, Blaser, Tauxe, Wagenaar, and Fitzgerald, 2013) following contact with reptiles directly or indirectly.
  • A study from Taiwan detected Campylobacter fetus in the fecal samples of tested wild and domestic reptiles (Wang and Shyu, 2013).
  • A more recent study in 2016 detected the presence of Campylobacter jenuni (the specie responsible for about 99% of human campylobacter infection) in the faeces of lizards from central Australia. 33% were positive and out of these, 60% were attributed to captive lizards (Whiley et al, 2016).

These studies establish a potential for transmission of campylobacter directly from contact with reptiles including lizards. Also a potential for spread to food production farms when established vectors like flies and rodents come in contact with bearded dragons.

How can I Tell if my Bearded Dragon has Campylobacteriosis?

Identifying Campylobacteriosis in bearded dragons can be challenging because they can carry Campylobacter bacteria without showing any signs of illness. Reptiles, including bearded dragons, are often asymptomatic carriers of various bacteria, including Campylobacter, meaning they can harbor these bacteria in their intestines and shed them in their feces without exhibiting any symptoms of sickness themselves.

Since bearded dragons do not typically show signs of Campylobacteriosis, the only way to definitively determine if your bearded dragon is carrying Campylobacter bacteria is through laboratory testing, which would involve collecting and analyzing a fecal sample by a veterinarian.

If you are concerned about the possibility of your bearded dragon carrying Campylobacter or any other pathogenic bacteria, or if you want to ensure the health and safety of both your pet and your household, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. They can provide guidance on proper husbandry practices to minimize the risk of bacterial transmission and may recommend periodic testing to monitor for the presence of harmful bacteria.

How can I Prevent getting Campylobacteriosis from my Bearded Dragon?

To minimize the risk, it’s important to:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling your bearded dragon or anything in its environment.
  • Keep the bearded dragon’s habitat clean and perform regular disinfection.
  • Avoid kissing your bearded dragon or bringing it close to your face.
  • Ensure that the bearded dragon does not have access to kitchen counters, dining tables, or areas where food is prepared and consumed.

By maintaining good hygiene and handling practices, you can significantly reduce the chances of getting Campylobacteriosis from your bearded dragon.

Can my bearded dragon make me sick with Aeromonas?

Aeromonas is a genus of bacteria commonly found in fresh and brackish water that can cause a variety of diseases in both humans and reptiles (Ebbani and Fratini, 2005).

Symptoms of Aeromonas Infection In Humans

In humans, Aeromonas infection can lead to gastrointestinal issues, typically after ingesting contaminated food or water. The symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which can be bloody), and abdominal cramps.

While the infection can cause acute, severe diarrhea in children, in adults, it often leads to chronic diarrhea. Moreover, Aeromonas has the potential to cause severe wound infections and even life-threatening conditions like necrotizing fasciitis, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems.

What are the Chances of me Getting Aeromonas Infection from my Bearded Dragon?

The chances of transmission depend significantly on your interaction with your pet and its environment. Frequent and close contact, poor hygiene practices, and inadequate cleaning of the habitat increase the risk. Especially vulnerable are individuals with compromised immune systems, who should exercise extra caution.

How do I get Aeromonas Infection from my Bearded Dragon?

You can get an Aeromonas infection from your bearded dragon through direct or indirect contact with the bacteria that may be present on the reptile or within its environment. Here’s how the transmission typically occurs:

  1. Direct Contact with the Bearded Dragon: Handling your bearded dragon can lead to the transfer of Aeromonas bacteria from its skin to your hands. If you then touch your mouth, nose, or any open wounds without washing your hands first, the bacteria can enter your body and potentially cause an infection.
  2. Contact with the Habitat: Aeromonas bacteria can also reside in the bearded dragon’s habitat, including the water bowl, substrate, and decorations. Touching these items and then touching your face or food without proper hand hygiene can result in ingesting the bacteria.
  3. Exposure to Contaminated Water: If your bearded dragon’s bathing or drinking water is contaminated with Aeromonas, and this water comes into contact with your skin (especially if you have cuts or wounds) or is accidentally ingested, it can lead to an infection.

How do I know if my Bearded Dragon has Aeromonas?

Detecting Aeromonas in bearded dragons is not straightforward since they often do not exhibit visible signs of infection. The most reliable method to determine if your bearded dragon has Aeromonas is through a veterinary examination, which may include laboratory tests like fecal cultures. If you’re concerned about Aeromonas or other bacterial infections, consulting a veterinarian experienced in reptile care is essential for advice on prevention and, if necessary, testing and treatment options.

How can I Prevent getting Aeromonas Infection from my Bearded Dragon?

Preventing an Aeromonas infection from your bearded dragon involves implementing good hygiene and handling practices to minimize the risk of bacterial transmission. Here are some key steps you can take:

  1. Wash Hands Thoroughly: Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your bearded dragon, its food, or anything in its environment. This is the most crucial step in preventing the spread of bacteria.
  2. Clean and Disinfect Regularly: Keep your bearded dragon’s habitat clean by regularly removing waste and disinfecting the enclosure, water, and food bowls, as well as any toys or decorations. Use a reptile-safe disinfectant and rinse the area well to remove any chemical residues.
  3. Avoid Cross-Contamination: Designate specific tools for cleaning your bearded dragon’s habitat, and do not use these for any other purposes. Keep your bearded dragon’s habitat away from the kitchen or areas where food is prepared and eaten.
  4. Handle with Care: Be mindful when handling your bearded dragon, especially if you have open cuts or wounds. Consider wearing gloves if you need to handle your bearded dragon while you have a wound.
  5. Safe Food Handling: Wash any fruits, vegetables, or other food items you provide to your bearded dragon to minimize the risk of introducing Aeromonas or other pathogens into its environment.
  6. Monitor Water Quality: If your bearded dragon has a water dish or pool in its enclosure, ensure the water is changed daily and the dish is cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  7. Educate Household Members: Make sure everyone in your household understands the importance of handwashing and proper handling techniques to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  8. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular health checks for your bearded dragon with a veterinarian experienced in reptile care to ensure it remains healthy and to address any potential issues early.

How can my Bearded Dragon Make me Sick With Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)

Your Bearded Dragon can make you sick sith Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) by feeding mice to your reptile.

When considering feeding mice to your bearded dragon, be aware of the potential health risks, including the transmission of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) from mice to humans. While bearded dragons may be able to occasionally consume small animals like mice, it comes with risks to pet owners.

Mice can potentially carry zoonotic diseases, such as Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Mammarenavirus (LCMV), which can be transmitted to humans.

In both the United Kingdom and the United States, reptile owners have indirectly experienced outbreaks of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus by feeding mice to their pets.

Symptoms of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Infection in Humans

LCMV infection can manifest in a range of symptoms from none to severe neurological conditions. Notably, the infection progresses in two distinct phases for those who show symptoms:

Phase 1: Initial Symptoms (lasting up to one week)
FeverElevated body temperature
NauseaFeeling of wanting to vomit
VomitingExpelling stomach contents
HeadachePain in the head region
Loss of AppetiteReduced desire to eat
RashesSkin eruptions or discolorations
Phase 2: Advanced Symptoms (following a brief recovery period)
HeadachePersistent, severe headache
FeverContinued elevated body temperature
Stiff NeckDifficulty in moving the neck due to stiffness
ConfusionReduced clarity in thought and awareness
DrowsinessIncreased need for sleep or lethargy
Neurological AbnormalitiesSigns of impaired brain function or nerve damage
Special Considerations for Pregnant Women
  • First Trimester: Infection can lead to fetal death and pregnancy termination.
  • Second/Third Trimester: Risk of birth defects in the fetus.
  • Although rare (<1%), meningoencephalitis associated with LCMV can lead to temporary or permanent neurological damage.
  • Reports of arthritis and nerve deafness have followed LCMV infection.
Epidemiological Note
  • Outbreaks of LCMV, as well as Salmonella, have been documented in the United Kingdom and the United States, indicating the potential for transmission through sources like contaminated food or pets.

What are the Chances of Getting Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) from my Bearded Dragon?

The chances of getting Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) from a bearded dragon are generally considered low, but not impossible. LCMV is primarily associated with rodents, such as mice and hamsters, which are the natural reservoirs for the virus. Transmission to humans typically occurs through contact with the urine, droppings, saliva, or nesting materials of infected rodents.

While bearded dragons themselves are not natural carriers of LCMV, they could potentially become indirect vectors if they are fed infected rodents or come into contact with bedding or other materials contaminated with the virus from infected rodents. For instance, if a bearded dragon is fed live or frozen mice that were infected with LCMV, and a person then handles the bearded dragon or its feces without proper hygiene, there could be a risk of transmission.

How can i Prevent Getting Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) from my Bearded Dragon?

To prevent the potential transmission of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) from a bearded dragon, consider the following preventive measures:

  1. Feeder Rodent Selection: Ensure that any feeder rodents (live or frozen) come from reputable sources with good breeding and handling practices to minimize the risk of LCMV.
  2. Personal Hygiene: Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling your bearded dragon, its enclosure, or anything within its living area. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infections.
  3. Enclosure Hygiene: Regularly clean and disinfect your bearded dragon’s habitat, including all decorations, feeding bowls, and surfaces. Use reptile-safe disinfectants and rinse thoroughly to remove any residue.
  4. Avoid Face-to-Face Contact: Refrain from kissing your bearded dragon or bringing it close to your face. This reduces the risk of direct transmission of pathogens.
  5. Quarantine New Pets: If introducing new reptiles or feeder rodents into your home, quarantine them initially to observe for any signs of illness before introducing them to established pets.
  6. Use Protective Gear: Consider wearing gloves when cleaning the enclosure or handling waste materials, especially if you have cuts or open wounds on your hands.
  7. Educate Household Members: Make sure all family members, especially children and those with weakened immune systems, understand the importance of hygiene when interacting with the bearded dragon.
  8. Monitor Health: Keep an eye on the health of your bearded dragon and feeder rodents. Seek veterinary care for any signs of illness.
  9. Proper Food Handling: If feeding your bearded dragon live prey, handle the prey as little as possible and wash your hands afterwards. Ensure any vegetables or fruits provided are thoroughly washed.
mice pups spread disease in reptiles
Mice pups, pinkies, spread disease and are not required in the diet.

Can I get Pinworms from my Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons, can unfortunately be carriers of pinworms. However, no you cannot get pinworms from your bearded dragon. Pinworms are host specific and not known to transfer from reptile to human, but they can transfer from human to pet.

Pinworm is the most common worm infection in the United States. Humans are the only species that can transfer this parasite. Household pets like dogs and cats cannot become infected with human pinworms.

Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention

Can I Make My Bearded Dragon Sick?

Reverse Zoonoses: Can Humans Make Bearded Dragons Sick?

Reverse zoonoses occur when diseases are transmitted from humans to animals. While common in some species like chimpanzees and pigs, documented cases in reptiles, especially bearded dragons, are scarce. Yet, the potential for humans to make bearded dragons sick exists due to shared bacteria that can cause illnesses in both humans and lizards.

Health Issues in Bearded Dragons Linked to Bacteria

To ensure the health and safety of your bearded dragon, consider the potential illnesses they may face and how these conditions can be prevented. Especially in the context of diseases that might be transmitted from humans to pets. Here’s a guide on the potential conditions and the preventive measures you can take:

ConditionCausesHow Bearded Dragons Contract from HumansPreventive Measures
Ulcerative Dermatitis (Scale Rot)Bacterial and fungal infections. Aeromonas spp. and Pseudomonas spp. can worsen the condition.Direct contact with contaminated surfaces or humans carrying these bacteria.– Practice good personal hygiene, especially handwashing before and after handling your bearded dragon.
-Regularly clean and disinfect the habitat.
– Avoid handling your bearded dragon if you have open wounds.
AbscessesLocalized bacterial infections.Bacteria transferred through cuts or open wounds.– Keep the bearded dragon’s living area clean to reduce the risk of bacteria.
– Monitor for any injuries on your pet and seek veterinary care promptly.
– Use gloves if you have any cuts or wounds when handling your pet.
Infectious StomatitisBacterial infection of the oral cavity, potentially spreading to the jaws.Contaminated feeding equipment or direct contact with infected humans.– Ensure all feeding equipment is sterilized and clean.
– Avoid feeding your bearded dragon with your hands if you have cuts or sores.
– Regular oral health checks by a veterinarian.

Can my Bearded Dragon Catch my Cold?

Can my bearded dragon get sick if I have a cold? The risk of bearded dragons catching a cold from humans is low, as viruses causing the common cold in humans are not known to infect lizards (Marschang, 2011). However, maintaining good hygiene is essential to prevent any potential transmission of human illnesses to bearded dragons:

  • Avoid sneezing or wiping nasal discharge on your bearded dragon.
  • Always wash hands before and after handling your bearded dragon.

Doctor’s Tips on Good Hygiene Practices

The simplest of practices can go a long way in protecting you from a totally preventable illness. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and enjoy your bearded dragon.

  1. Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after coming in contact with your bearded dragon.
  2. Don’t eat while handling your pets.
  3. Wear gloves when you clean its cage and always wash her your hands afterwards. Use a hand sanitizer if you can’t wash immediately.
  4. Don’t ever clean your bearded dragon’s food containers or other accessories in your kitchen sink.
  5. Dispose of its droppings down a toilet rather than a sink or a bath.
  6. Don’t let your bearded dragon run around the house, especially your kitchen.
  7. Don’t keep your bearded dragon’s housing in your kitchen, dining area of bedrooms. For a number of the states in Australian, the location of the reptiles house in your home forms part of the rules of having a licence to keep reptiles.
  8. Never kiss your bearded dragon.
  9. Keep your baby away from your bearded dragon if you do decide to have them anyway.
  10. If your baby has touched your bearded dragon, wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. I’d recommend a bath even as they like to play and cuddle with pets.
  11. Salmonella can also be on your clothes, take precautions before holding an infant.
  12. Do not eat, smoke or drink around your bearded dragon or perform any other activity that will involve hand to mouth.

Conclusion: Can my Bearded Dragon Make Me Sick?

While bearded dragons make fascinating and rewarding pets, it’s essential to recognize and mitigate the health risks they may pose to their owners. Understanding the potential for disease transmission, particularly through actions such as kissing bearded dragons, close facial contact, or improper handling of feeder mice for reptiles, is crucial for maintaining a safe and healthy environment for both you and your pet.

Will my bearded dragon make me sick if I implement proper hygiene? By implementing good hygiene practices, such as thorough handwashing and regular habitat cleaning, and by seeking prompt medical care for any bites or injuries, pet owners can significantly reduce the risk of infections. Remember, responsible pet ownership involves not only caring for the well-being of your bearded dragon but also protecting yourself and your family from potential health hazards.


Can kissing my bearded dragon make me sick?

Yes, kissing or getting too close to your bearded dragon’s face can potentially make you sick. Bearded dragons can harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella, which can be transmitted to humans through saliva and close contact.

What should I do if my bearded dragon bites me?

If your bearded dragon bites you, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antiseptic, and cover it with a sterile bandage. Seek medical attention to address further issues, or if you’re not up-to-date on tetanus shots.

Is it safe for my children to play with a bearded dragon?

Children can play with bearded dragons under adult supervision, but they should be taught to wash their hands thoroughly after handling the pet or its enclosure. Young children, in particular, should avoid close facial contact with the reptile.

References and further reading

  1. Birgitta, J., Andersson, Y., and Ekdahl, K. (2005). Effect of Regulation and Education on Reptile-associated Salmonellosis. Emerg Infect Dis. 11(3), 398 – 403.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Pet Bearded Dragons. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019a). Healthy Pets, Healthy People. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 18). CDC – Enterobiasis (also known as Pinworm Infection).
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, April 19). CDC – Enterobiasis (also known as Pinworm Infection) – Epidemiology & Risk Factors.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019b). Salmonella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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