Common Causes of Death for Bearded Dragons

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The life span of a bearded dragon can be as long as fifteen to twenty years when kept in captivity. Even with this long life span in captivity, bearded dragons can get illness and diseases that can lead to death.

The best way to prevent your bearded dragon from becoming ill is to practice good sanitary habits while raising your pet, and take it to a reptile-qualified veterinarian.

There is still a chance of something going wrong, so it’s a good idea to be aware of common causes of death for a bearded dragon. Here are some of the most common causes of death for bearded dragons.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic Bone Disease is very common among captive-raised bearded dragons. It stems from a lack of calcium intake in the reptile’s diet.

Bearded dragons need calcium to build strong bones, and without enough of it the skeletal system becomes very brittle.

The results are sometimes deformed bones, bones that are easily broken, and in severe cases, death.

Make sure to offer your bearded dragon a varied diet supplemented with a good calcium and vitamin D3 powder that is dusted on the food. Rep-Cal Ultrafine Powder Calcium with Vitamin D3 is an excellent supplement that helps prevent Metabolic Bone Disease.

Bearded dragons also need UVA and UVB lighting which helps the bearded dragon synthesis the calcium for strong, healthy bones.

Impaction

Common Causes of Death for a Bearded DragonUnfortunately, many bearded dragon kept as pets today end up dying from impaction. Impaction happens when the bearded dragon swallows a very small item, or a bunch of small items, that causes a blockage in the digestive tract.

This is very common when loose substrates are used in the habitat. These substrates include ground ground walnut shells, sand, or other loose particle substrates.

Many times the bearded dragon may go after a food item, such as a cricket, and accidentally swallow some of the substrate. The substrate pieces then become trapped in the digestive system causing a blockage.

Unless it is caught very early on impaction will most likely result in the untimely death of the beardie.

The best way to avoid impaction is to not use loose particle substrate. Use Reptile Cage Carpet, newspaper, or ceramic tiles as a safer alternative.

Infections

There are a number of possible infections that your bearded dragon could get – from mouth rot to abbesses to inflamed joints.

The best way to control infections is to keep their enclosure as clean as possible to decrease the amount of germs and bacteria.

Remove any droppings and left over food pieces as needed, and sterilize the enclosure with Healthy Habitat cleaner twice a month, or more as needed.

If your bearded dragon begins showing any signs of an infection seek a veterinarian immediately.

Egg Binding

Egg binding, or dystocia, occurs when a gravid female bearded dragon cannot or will not lay the eggs she is carrying. This is due to either the lack of a suitable nesting site.

If the female carries the eggs for too long they can eventually become too large for her to be abler to lay, therefore they become “stuck”. If this goes on for too long it could result in the premature death of the female bearded dragon.

Symptoms of egg binding include swelling around the mid-section of the body, and continual, anxious movement.

If you suspect that your female may be experiencing egg binding, supply a suitable nesting site and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Vitamin Toxicity

Vitamin toxicity occurs when a particular type of vitamin builds up in the lizard’s body to an excessive level. The most common form of vitamin toxicity is from high intakes of vitamin A.

Bearded dragons metabolize vitamin A very slowly and high doses of it from supplements can cause high levels in their body. A good alternative is to use supplements that contain beta carotene instead of vitamin A.

Rep-Cal Herptivite with Beta Carotene is a very good vitamin supplement to use that does not contain vitamin A.

Beta carotene is much easier for the bearded dragon to metabolize into a basic form of Vitamin A. Any unused beta carotene will easily pass through the digestive system and not build up within the body.

Avoid other types of vitamin toxicity by not giving your pet more supplementation than is recommended and offering a balanced diet that includes plenty of leafy greens and a variety of feeder insects.

Following a few simple precautions can keep your pet bearded dragon alive for many years to come. Just remember to always take it to a veterinarian for check ups and exams each year, and keep the habitat sanitary.

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Comments

  1. Jennifer Croft says

    Just found our 4month old beardie dead this morning. We have followed all the feeding tips and lighting requirements and everything. He just started shedding a few days ago. We found him on the floor of his cage (reptile carpet) on his belly with his neck crooked way up in the air. And he was dead. Almost a bluish coloring around his mouth. I can not for the lufe of me figure out how he died or what happened.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer, so sorry to hear about your baby beardie! It’s really difficult to positively determine the possible cause of death sometimes. The best advice I can give is to recommend that you take your beardie to a herp vet and have a necropsy perform (an animal autopsy). The procedure generally costs around $100, but it may give you some answers.

      Again, I am sorry to hear of your loss.

    • Ash says

      My three year old beardie died unexpectedly yesterday morning. I wanted to get a necropsy, but my parents said it was too expensive and not worth it; I honestly just wanted to know that it wasn’t something that I did to cause it. He has already been cremated, so I will never know if I accidentally killed my friend. He had no outward signs of illness and he was pooping and eating regularly. I loved him so much and I want to get another rescue (he had been adopted), but I am afraid I will kill another wonderful animal.

  2. E B says

    So sorry to hear that. It almost sounds like the stargazing symptom from adenovirus. Again, as comment above states, they won’t know for sure unless necropsy. But if it was Adenovirus, there was nothing you could have done it affects mainly young dragons and not much is known about it.

    so sorry.

  3. Kalun says

    My beardie (4-5 years old) died yesterday, but the only thing that had made me feel better is knowing it was not my fault, my beardie prolapsed (pushing to hard while needing a poo) I have to bury him today , about 2 days before he was dead he had a sack hanging out of hit bottom, it too him just under 3 days to die , beardie’a can still move up to a day after dying

    • Tracey says

      Hi my draggon was 6 years old ive hand reared him since he was 3 months old he has been eatin and drinkin fine he was full of life but i moved him out of a room into another since i moved him the past wek he has been ok untill this morning wen he was all black and had died please help

    • Brian says

      “about 2 days before he was dead he had a sack hanging out of hit bottom, it too him just under 3 days to die , beardieā€™a can still move up to a day after dying”

      I am STUNNED. You see a SACK HANGING OUT OF HIS BOTTOM and you don’t take “him” to a Vet??
      First off, I believe you had a Female. NOT a male. I could be wrong, because I was not there to “sex” the dragon.
      ANYHOO……It took him 3 days to die?? HOW CRUEL CAN YOU BE? and to boot you say you feel better because it’s NOT YOUR FAULT??

      GOD HAVE MERCY!!

      Prolapses CAN BE FIXED.
      You could have AT THE VERY LEAST taken this dragon to the vet and had the poor thing put out if its PAINFUL MISERY.

      I HOPE YOU NEVER OWN A REPTILE or ANYTHING LIVING AGAIN.

      DAMN IT…….LEARN!!

  4. neil says

    i just got in from work to find my dragon had died sometime today….he hasnt been eating at all over the past few weeks… he has had mites for over two years and i had tried everything to get rid of them including using a medicated spray with more than four week period inbetween application, bathing in the bath and shallow water but with no avail. I found that the spray i bought at the reptile shop made him very lethargic and he looked ill so i didnt use it for about a a year and them recently the mites became quite dominant around his eyes in particular and i thought i would try it again so i sprayed him about a 2 weeks ago and after that he just stopped eating and drinking i bathed him and even tried to syringe droplets into his mouth last night because his eyes were all sucked into there sockets….after he had drank some of the water i had given him and layed in the water for 20minutes he started to move about. I gave him all manners of fresh finely chopped veg this morning …fresh water and wax worms…..i went to work @ 10 am and came back @ midnight to find him with his jaw wide open i almost thought he was yorning but then i realised his eyes were weird and that he had died……..i am devastated as he was a good pet and my son loved him…..Rest In Peace Mr. D 08/08/14

  5. Xavier says

    Hye

    I just found One of My 15 baby beardies dead. He still had his Full Colors, NO hardness or whatsoever.. Only .. It seems like it’s skull was scooped/eaten out.. The eyes were missing.. Weird… anyone any ideas what caused this?

  6. erica says

    Hello, I have a year old Dragon and she is having problems walking. I fear her back legs are going paralyzed.. she has tention in her arms, none in her legs.. what can I do?

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