14 Signs of an Unhealthy Bearded Dragon

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Unhealthy Bearded DragonMany times bearded dragon owners may come across special health needs of their pets. There are also times when your bearded dragon might be showing signs of an unhealthy condition without you really knowing it.

Unfortunately, our bearded dragons can not tell us what is wrong with them.

That’s why it is very important to pay attention to tell-tale signs that something might be amiss. These signs could give clues as to any unhealthy conditions the bearded dragon is going through. There are times when it shows signs of an unhealthy state that it can be remedied by simply changing its habitat or food. Some serious conditions will require a visit to a reptile veterinarian.

Here are fourteen signs that you should keep an eye on that could mean an unhealthy bearded dragon.

Eyes Are Not Bright, Clear and Alert

If the bearded dragon’s eyes seem to have a film on them, or seem to not move towards any motion, it could mean it is having some complications. A film over the eyes could simply be a shedding issue, or it could be something more serious. If it’s a shedding issue, try giving the bearded dragon a bath in warm water. Let it soak for about 15 – 20 minutes to help loosen the skin. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, seek a veterinarian.

Acts Very Lethargic

A bearded dragon that seems “lazy” and doesn’t move much could mean a couple things. One problem could be the temperature of the habitat. A young bearded dragon needs a basking area temperature of between 110 to 120° F, with a cooler region of around 80 to 90° F. Often low habitat temperatures coincide with loss of appetite as well.

Soft, Runny, or Foul Stool

This could be a sign that it has an internal parasite, or an inadequate diet. Have your veterinarian perform a fecal exam to find out the cause of the abnormal stool.

Swollen Limbs or Tail

This can often be the signs of a fractured, or broken limb/tail. Fractured limbs, or tail, could also be a sign of Metabolic Bone Disease. Get a veterinarian to perform an exam immediately.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite can be due to temperatures being too cool, or too hot in the lizard’s habitat. It could also be a sign of stress. Check the habitat temperatures to make sure they are in the proper ranges for the age of bearded dragon you have. If it is due to stress, allow it to adjust to the new surroundings if you just brought it home.

Hanging Mouth Open

If your bearded dragon sits with his mouth open, this could be due to temperatures being too warm. Many times they will open their mouth as a way of cooling off. Check habitat temperatures and adjust them accordingly.

Inside of Mouth is Blacked or Discolored

A discolored, or blackened mouth could be the symptoms of mouth rot. Mouth rot is a bacterial infection that affects the mouth and gums of bearded dragons. It is typically caused by unsanitary conditions and low temperatures, and must be treated by a veterinarian.

Discolored Stomach

If the stomach of your pet darkens, or becomes black, it could be due to stress. This can happen most commonly with bearded dragons that have recently been brought home, or changed habitats. Give it time to adjust to the new surroundings. Stress can also be caused by feeder insects left in the habitat overnight, or incorrect temperatures.

Boney / Malnourished

This is usually a direct sign that the bearded dragon is not eating correctly. This could be due to stress, improper temperatures, or a sign of a more serious condition. Check habitat temperatures, and vary the diet to provoke eating.

Disfigured Tail or Limbs / Brittle Bones

Tail or limb disfigurement can be a sign of a broken bone resulting from a drop, or impact of some type. This can often times be the sign of Metabolic Bone Disease. Have a veterinarian perform an exam immediately.

Obesity

Bearded dragons in the wild are very active creatures. Captive-raised bearded dragons do not have the room typically to be as active as in the wild. With an abundant amount of food, couple with less activity, can lead to obesity. You can combat obesity by supplying it with plenty of leafy greens, and taking it out for regular exercise.

Jerky / Shaky Behavior

There can be many reasons why your bearded dragon is showing jerky, or shaky behavior. The most common reason is due to calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies. Bearded dragons need calcium for strong bones and vitamin D3 in order to absorb calcium. Providing your pet with sufficient UVB rays is important too reducing the risk of these deficiencies.

Bloody / Damaged Snout

A bloody damaged-looking snout is most commonly caused by snout rubbing. This generally happens when it is kept in an enclosure that is too small. As it searches for a way out of the enclosure it will rub it’s snout until it’s bloody and raw. This can be remedied by ensuring the bearded dragon’s enclosure is adequate and has the proper diet. Taking it out of the habitat occasionally can also help with snout rubbing.

Sunken Eyes

If your bearded dragon appears to have sunken eyes, it could be the signs of an infection. This can also result from dehydration. Give it a bath in warm water. It should lap some of the water after you set it in. Always supply your it with fresh water daily. Be sure the water container is relatively shallow so it can not drown. Misting your bearded dragon several times a day will also help. It will lap up drips of water from its nose as you mist it.

There can be many signs that point to an unhealthy, or unhappy bearded dragon. It’s always important to keep an eye on any issues, and take it to a qualified veterinarian for periodic exams.

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Comments

  1. Hank e. says

    My bearded dragon has passed away and I don’t know why. It has been molting slowly for a few weeks and I came home today to see it on its belly on his sand and i noticed that his right side of his belly was very green and his bottom head and neck were black if u have any information on his cause of death it would be greatly appreciated please email me back. Thank you

    • says

      Hi Hank, very sorry to hear about the loss of your bearded dragon. It’s very difficult to nail down what the possible cause of death was without a medical examination. You mentioned sand so my best guess would be possible impaction, especially if your beardie was a baby or juvenile. Impaction is caused by a blockage in the digestive system due to swallowing small particles (sometimes large particles) over time.

      Sand is a very bad culprit of this because the bearded dragon inadvertently swallows sand particles when going after feeder insects and other food. Over time, these sand particles collect in the digestive tract and create a blockage which usually leads to death.

      The best advice I can give is to take your bearded dragon to a veterinarian and have a necropsy (animal autopsy) performed to determine the cause of death. This service can generally cost anywhere from $50 – $100, depending on the veterinarian. It’s up to you to figure out whether that cost is acceptable.

      Again, I’m sorry to hear of your loss and thanks for your question.

  2. Jason says

    My baby bearded dragon has a block dot on the same two spots of is nec is that.also sometimes when he eats his eyes pop out a little what is that I need info.

  3. rocky says

    this list is bs. mouth open? seriously? this is a sign of happiness. its a sign that they are basking, almost as if saying “ahhhh…pure bliss”

    • Dani says

      I found this pretty informative actually.

      I think the author means constantly having an open mouth is a sign the habitat is too hot. And that’s pretty accurate.

  4. Kiersa Howard says

    Irecently noticed that my beardie has one back leg and 1 front leg that are gray in color I am worried that there might be something wrong as I have not noticed this before during shedding season. I have been looking online but haven’t found anything similar any information is greatly appreciated

  5. says

    I’m scared that this is fungial infection but so far, it hasn’t spread anymore than this in the last couple of days.. I think it could possible be a burn because I was using a heat pad for him on his basking side but I also had a black rock on the same side.. He was sleeping on it last night with just his back two legs in it so I feel that could be it but I’m not sure.. I made an appointment for the vet because I don’t wanna be wrong about what it is but if it’s just a burn than I don’t really wanna go to the vet for nothing. I don’t know what to do.. Please help ASAP! Thank you.

  6. says

    My Bearded Dragon has something going on I have never noticed. I have had him about 2 yrs. and he was a yr already when I got him. When I first got him he was malnourished and small for his age so I rushed out and got him all the necessities! He has a 75 gallon tank, UVB light, basking lamp with some driftwood and a rock to get
    on to bask, and a container of water big enough for him to crawl into (he can fit all the way if he curls his tail around his body). He is around 2 ft.
    which is triple size he was when we got him and has gotten completely healthy and eats about 50-100 crickets once a week with a mixture of kale, squash, and change of a dab of treat (strawberries, bananas, or blackberries) about twice a week. He has had this for the last 2 yrs and has grown great, become very loving and protective but friendly, and has had no health issues. Now to the problem: yesterday, I picked him up and noticed right where the split is at the base of the tale, he has something hanging out of that split and it looks fleshy. No idea what it is, but very concerned due to he has never been ill! Not to be gross, but could it be his genitals? I have no idea. It has been like that for two days now and I have no idea what to do. His heat lamp went out 4 days ago so my hubby just rushed out to get another one so when he gets back I can put him in some warm water in the tub and then put him under the heat lamp to see if it will go away. Just no ideas. Eyes and all else seems fine. Please someone help ASAP!!!!! ANY IDEAS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED TO HELP BLACKJACK! Thanks! Amanda :’(

    • says

      Hi Amanda – I’m very sorry to hear about the issues your bearded dragon, BlackJack, is going through. Without a picture it is difficult to diagnose what the problem actually is, but it sounds like he is suffering from a prolapse. It’s similar to hemorrhoids in humans. Basically, the end of his intestines is sticking out of the vent (or anus). BlackJack should be seen by a qualified reptile vet as soon as possible. If it is a prolapse surgery may be required if it is severe. In the mean time the best advice I can give is to give him warm baths a couple times per day and limit his food to soft foods that are easily digestible like finely chopped fruits and worms such as wax worms and Goliath worms. Try to avoid feeding crickets and meal worms because of the hard chitin shell.

      The causes of prolapse are difficult to determine. It could be a sign of impaction or maybe a parasite. It could also be linked to genetics. A vet will be able to determine the cause better than I can.

      Good luck with BlackJack and keep us posted on his well-being!

  7. says

    Thanks for this list. I don’t know where our dragon would fall in the list. He has some lethargy and hasn’t eaten in the last three days. He is shedding. We have given him water by dropper and baths. He is pooping. Overall, he looks healthy. I don’t know how to submit photo. Temps are good. He usually eats crickets, waxworms and carrots. He has not liked any other fruit or veggie offered.
    Any tips would be appreciated.

  8. Arianna says

    I’ve had my bearded dragon for about 2 years and it hasn’t grown at all, It has mouth rot and has lumps all over, It won’t eat and only opens one eye): It also just lays there and does nothing. I’m super worried about it and I don’t know what to do! I need help! Thank you.

  9. Vicki says

    My beardie is alert and looks healthy minus being very skinny and eats very little. His tank temp is at 90 and I thought to make it warmer. But then he spends a lot of time under his basking rock where it is cooler, not coming out all day. I soak him twice a week and he poops regularly while in his bath. He drinks water everyday from an eye dropper while on my lap. He used to be a great little eater but now he eats two crickets and stops. Or three worms and stops. Anything else I can try to stimulate his appetite?

    • says

      Hi Vicki! Thank you for visiting Bearded Dragon Care 101 and for leaving your question.

      It can be tricky in determining a bearded dragon’s appetite woes. They are all individual just like humans, the difficult part is they can’t communicate what’s wrong. Let’s go over a couple things you can try.

      You mentioned the basking temperature, but you didn’t mention the age of your bearded dragon. If your bearded dragon is less than 6 months old the basking temps should be 95 – 110 degrees F. If your bearded dragon is 6 – 18 months old then the basking temps should be 95 – 105 degrees F, and an adult basking temps should be around 90 – 93 degrees F. The cooler regions should be kept anywhere from 80 – 88 degrees F depending on age (the younger the bearded dragon, the warmer). You can read more about temps here – http://www.beardeddragoncare101.com/bearded-dragon-care-sheet/4/

      You should also make sure the bearded dragon is receiving sufficient UVB/UVA radiation. This can be accomplished using a fluorescent bulb especially made for reptiles or a Mercury Vapor Bulb. MVBs gives off heat and UVB/UVA radiation. You can read more about proper lighting here – http://www.beardeddragoncare101.com/bearded-dragon-care-sheet/3/

      Both temperatures and proper radiation can affect appetite. It is important to supply these in correct amounts to maintain proper beardie health.

      Also try offering different food items. Try some sweet fruits like cantaloupe, strawberries, or blueberries that are cut into small pieces for him to swallow. Try different insects like dubia roaches, wax worms, Goliath worms or even night crawlers. Maybe he needs a change in food offered. You mentioned offering him water. If you are using tap water make sure to use a water conditioner that eliminates chlorine and ammonia.

      I hope this helps, Vickie, and if you have any other questions please feel free to contact us any time.

  10. Tim Cline says

    Tee hope you can help me or give me you advise we bought Spike from an individual almost 3 yrs ago we have no idea how old she is , she is at least 12to 14 inches long including tail , came home 3 weeks ago and she had laid 18 small eggs we were floored did the research to find this is not uncommon as I am sure you know , after that she was eating a lot and we gave her xtra calcium from what I read that was needed .. in the last 3 or 4 days she has turned a very odd shade of yellow and her eyes are terribly sunken , don’t want to loose our scaley friend … what do you think could be going on with her ?

    • says

      Hi Tim, Sunken eyes are typically due to an infection of some kind or dehydration. Try giving her a luke warm bath a couple times per day. Watch to see if she laps water as she is sitting in the bath. You should also mist her several times per day using a misting bottle (spray bottle). Mist her all over for 4 – 6 minutes and also observe if she is lapping the water droplets of her nose as you do it. Make sure to use bottled water or a water conditioner if using tap water for the baths or mistings. You can also offer water via an eye dropper and just slowly drip water on her lips and nose. Be careful around the nostrils though!

      Monitor her feeding and overall activity levels. If she stops eating and begins acting lethargic it could be either a sign of brumation (kind of similar to hibernating) or could be a sign of illness.

      I would recommend monitoring her closely the next couple days and administer the baths, misting, and rehydration. If this doesn’t improve her color, sunken eyes, or activity levels then seek a reptile vet ASAP.

      Thanks Tim and please keep us posted on your bearded dragon!

  11. John gatlin says

    Hello my dragon has recently gone off his food and laid there with his eyes open right under his basking spot all day for about two days today I noticed his beard is black I’m not sure what this could be he has always been very energetic and ate we’ll he is about nine months old eats greens drinks in the tub poops normal but then three days ago this started happening o and he has all the UVB he needs I don’t know will a dragon brumate in the open

    • says

      Hi John, generally a darkening beard could be a sign of aging, or it could be a sign of stress. Has anything changed recently – rearranging of terrarium, moving terrarium to different location, change in feeding times, etc.?

      Sometimes bearded dragons can just lay around and not move much at times. Most of the time they snap out of their laziness and go back to “normal”. I would recommend to keep a close eye on him in the next few days. Monitor his eating and pooping. If his demeanor doesn’t change in a few days you may want to call a reptile vet and have a conversation about what’s going on.

      Good luck and keep us posted on any developments.

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