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I have no intention of doing this myself, but I saw some photos on Facebook of someone's bearded lizard with painted toenails and I was curious. Apart from the look of the thing (I'm not in favour, personally, but it's clearly opinion based!) I was wondering if this was safe or not. Could it damage your lizard?

Personally I see at least two possible hazard areas:

  • the nail varnish itself being toxic and either being absorbed through the nails or swallowed
  • the nail varnish flaking off and posing a choking hazard, particularly for a smaller reptile like a gecko

If toxicity is a problem, are children's nail varnishes less toxic? And if it is all right to use nail varnish on a reptile, how would it be safely removed? Leaving it to flake off could be a problem if the lizard eats it, but I would think any commercial nail varnish removers would be more of a problem than the nail varnish itself.

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It would be nice to get some answers that address the second bullet point as well as the first, if possible. In particular I am curious about how this applies to other reptiles not just bearded dragons. –  starsplusplus Feb 19 at 15:59
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1 Answer 1

I see bearded dragons dressed up, and with painted nails all the time, so I wouldn't say it's terrible. But I wouldn't say it's a good idea either. At this point, I haven't come across anything that suggests any harmful side-effects of doing it, so if the bearded dragon is healthy, it should theoretically be okay.

The problem with it, is that bearded dragons like to test things with their tongues, so they'll probably test the new "stuff" on their feet before it's dry and, as you said, if they see the chips lying around they'll probably try at least one. At 100ºF, I'd say the nail polish would chip pretty quickly.

If you wanted to paint your bearded dragon's nails, I'd suggest that you at least use children's nail polish, as they're generally made to be less toxic than the stuff made for adults. There is non-toxic nail polish made for dogs and cats, so if it's possible to get a hold of that, I'd say that's the best option.

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