Common Causes of Death for Bearded Dragons

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.


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.


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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  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.

      • missy says

        I purchased a 4 year old bearded dragon for a friends birthday. I had it at my house for about a week and he came to pick him up last night. This morning he gets up to a dead dragon. Im blown away with this. All that I can think is maybe moving him was stressful? I’m going to purchase another and take it directly to his house. I’m hoping this will be OK. I love animals and I feel so bad for this Lil guy. What did we do wrong?

    • 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 , beardie’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??


      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.


      DAMN IT…….LEARN!!

      • marie says

        okay well maybe they didn’t have the money or didn’t have a reptile vet near them wow how rude can people be. I mean people learn from mistakes just point them out nicely like oh well you could have taken them to a vet and they could have helped not telling them to never buy a bearded dragon again.

        • kevin says

          No kidding. At least he tried to give the beardy a home. I’m sure he realizes he made a mistake and won’t do it again. Taking care of a reptile is a learning process, especially with a beardy when you start doing research and get a bunch of conflicting information on what to do and not to do. It’s unfortunate and sad that this beardy died but chill out man. Glad this site exists to give good information.

      • Jess says

        This comment is very rude, you have absolutely no idea what is going on and why he wasn’t taken to the vet. I am experiencing prolase as we speak and I am devastated but can not take my beardie to a vet at the moment because it’s forth of July weekend and no one is open. So therefore you have absolutely no idea what’s going on so to be that rude was uncalled for. I am beside myself at the moment doing everything I can to get my bearded dragon through so she makes it to see a vet.

  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


    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?

  7. Leeann says

    We found our beautiful girl 10 years old has passed away today soooo upset we
    Don’t know how he died she had her mouth open her chin black , a bit of sand in her mouth, I’m so upset to think something happened and we may have been able to help her , any ideas on why she passed away :(

    • says

      Hi Leeann, We are very sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved bearded dragon. It is very difficult to diagnose a possible cause of death without knowing certain conditions (i.e., terrarium set up, diet, etc). The best way to find out a cause of death is having a vet perform a necropsy (an autopsy for animals). This could highlight a possible medical condition that led to the passing. Your bearded dragon was in “advanced” years being 10 years old, though.

      Again, we are very sorry for your loss!

  8. Kai says

    Really upset, come home from college today, gone upstairs to see my almost 4 year old beardie and get her out as I normally do and she is not responding, eyes sunken and stiff…I believe she has passed :( She hasn’t been wanting to eat for days now and also hasn’t had a poo for about a week, Last night she was also not really doing much (she is normally quite active). does that mean she had impaction? I used a sand substrate that was supposed to be safe for beardies :( really upset and I have no idea what to do with her now, really upset and would love some answers

  9. Meghan says

    Ok I got home today to find my versus head down in his tree. I picked him up and gae him a bath / dried him and put him in his tank. His lighting was normal, tank clean, food and water provided and when I woke up today he was laying on his log, where I put him, not moving and his tongue sticking out. He was 1 1/2 years old and dearly loved. I just want to know what I did wrong. He was going into brumation and this was te first time he went into it and I’m afraid I might have killed him by a careless mistake please answer. I would like closure,

  10. Meghan says

    Ok I got home today to find my berdie head down in his tree. I picked him up and gave him a bath / dried him and put him in his tank. His lighting was normal, tank clean, food and water provided and when I woke up today he was laying on his log, where I put him, not moving and his tongue sticking out. He was 1 and 1/2 years old and dearly loved. I just want to know what I did wrong. He was going into brumation and this was te first time he went into it and I’m afraid I might have killed him by a careless mistake please answer. I would like closure,

  11. brooklyn says

    my bearded dragon was 8 months old when he died I walked in the room to see he laying in a circle I thought he was sleeping later I came back picked him up he and droopy eyes and a discover skinny discolored stomach. I kept the cage up to date changed his water and feed he crickets with vitamin c or d no clue. What did I do wrong please help.

  12. Kaos says

    I have an 8 month old Beardie, and she had been adjusting well to her new home…but now, she’s not interested in eating, doesn’t move much, and when she does…she just scoots around, pushing herself, instead of walking. She has plenty of everything she needs, why is she acting this way? Is she dying? =,o(

  13. Karen toth says

    We received a free bear die from a pet store she was said to be 8 months old….we set up her home exactly how we were told by a reputable reptile keeper. She didn’t eat much and one day maybe 3 crickets a day… We found her dead about a month after she captured my heart.
    Then, I fell for a tiny baby dragon so active and as big as my finger!!! All through the winter she ate like a hippo…bugs not salad I offered but not eaten. 3 months later..she molted twice. Tonight I am broken hearted for I lost my little sunshine. She was up on her stick .

  14. Noemi says

    Hi emma our breaded drangon looks like she has anxiety. She keeps on moving all over her cage. Then she looks at her reflection and moves her head up and down. Why is she acting this way? Pls help

  15. Nera says

    My female beardie just past away yesturday… We are all so devastated… it’s the first time one of my beardies died…. I brought the poor girl to the vet one week and a half ago to have her checked b/c she wasn’t eating at all. She was still moving and all, but not as much as she used to and was lethargic… The vet suggested to inject her with vitamines and stuff… From that day on, my beardie was never the same… she was always tired and rarely moved and still wouldn’t eat. We were also told to force feed the girl, she fought hard, but we still force fed her as recommended by the vet (the vet sold us some stuff to force feed with)… The 6 hours before my girl died, she vomit x3 times when my parents tired to force feed her… When I came home, she moved away from the hot side of the tank and with her mouth opened… She barely moved… SO I gave her a warm bath, took her out and held her for a while… Then noticed she was gone…

    Looking back, I think the UVB lights I gave her were not effective anymore, as they were more than 1 yr old.. which could have caused some damage.. But any thoughts of what could have happened? Or the cause of death? She always ate normally and was always very active.

  16. Carly says

    Hi my three month old bearded dragon was having breathing problems yesterday but cleared up after being fed water with a syringe. Today she experienced the same problems again but it didn’t clear up. Ten minutes later she passed away. I don’t know what caused the death. Please help.P.S she was eating, pooping and drinking water regularly

  17. Sean says

    Set mine loose in the desert here in Central New Mexico about 2 years ago. Couldn’t care for him anymore. Unfortunate, but true. I wonder if he survived, and how long? Might’ve made a nice meal for a predatory bird, I’m afraid.

  18. Ana says

    Today my sweet girl passed away. She was 3 1/2 years old. When she was a year and half old she became impacted. Several x-Rays and doc visits she was good as new! About a week ago she started walking funny and wouldn’t put pressure on her back right leg. I set a apt and took her in Thursday. She was still eating and moving around but I knew something was wrong. I was given MELOXICAM. And told he thought she had gout. This isn’t the original doc who saved my sweet girl….. I was told to give .03ml every 24hrs.. After first dose she slept.. Well Friday she didn’t walk or eat.. Saturday the same and today I decided to give her Critial Care(did this in 2012 also) she still wasn’t waking and I planned to call him tomorrow to get her seen. She passed away about 4 hrs ago. I feel so stupid for not researching this medication first. Looks like FDA says it is to be used in dogs only.. DOGS!! I’m just devastated and wanted to put a warning out there.. I told them I would drive her the 2 hours for a proper exotic vet but they ensured me even though my original doc is gone that they could see and treat her… She was one of my own!

  19. kierstin says

    My 3 year old beardie passed away yesterday morning; he was acting strange the days before. I had given him a bath and cleaned EVERYTHING in his tank three days before, then gave him a mix of veggies (collard greens, mustard greens, turnip leaves, and butternut squash), he barely touched it. The mix smelled a little weird, so I’m not sure if i gave him some bad food? The next day, his beard was fully black, so I decided not to touch him in case he was going to get defensive. My mom gave him around 12 live crickets (usually he has more, but she wanted to spark his appetite). Normally, they’re all gone in ~45 seconds, but he didn’t even move! I noticed later he had eaten maybe 5 or 6 of them, but the rest were just running around his tank. I told my mom if he didn’t eat anything the next day, we should take him to the vet as soon as she got home from work. That afternoon, I took him out even though his beard was still black and he was not nearly as active as usual… he kept falling asleep on me. The next morning, he was back on his log (beard still black), and I checked on him later around 11:30 AM to find him in an unnatural position in his bowl, eyes half open and his mouth slightly open. I thought I saw him move, so I gave him a quick spray of water but he didn’t even blink, and he was completely still, and I realized he had died. This was very upsetting, and he has already been buried. I am trying to find some reason as to why he could have died.

  20. Nicholl Perez says

    hey, so i came home today and found my 4 month old fancy bearded dragon dead. He was perfectly fine, i have everything he needs a proper diet, fresh veggies, live crickets bathed in calcium, and all the lighting needed. i dont carry a UV light but i always take him out to the sun for a few hours and i leave him water. i cannot figure out what could have been the cause of his death, he was a little slow the past days but i thought that he was maybe in the brumming stage i guess i was wrong. GIGO had a nice small funeral(me and some background music) at my house and was buried in my backyard. He was awesome RIP

  21. Kathleen says

    my sons five-year-old, very healthy, bearded dragon died earlier today. We noticed yesterday that his beard was very black. He had a seizure, vomited up a lot of blood, and then bled a lot from his mouth and died within an hour. We are shocked,we are stunned, we are heartbroken. He was very healthy so this comes as a complete shock. We didn’t even have time to get him to the vet. What could cause a death so quickly?

  22. Sheri says

    I have a 4 year old bearded dragon. She has always since day one never really pushed herself off her belly. She just has always kinda crawled around the cage. I have recently noticed that when she goes to move her legs to get around her legs are shakey. She very rarely eats live insects anymore and only wants greens. I have always given her calcium powder on her food since day one. I have taken her to the vet and they say she is fine maybe just fat. The reptile store also says she is fine just fat but she is not that fat. I feel sorry for her because I don’t know what is wrong with her. I have always cleaned her cage and put new bedding down that the reptile store told me to use. If anyone knows what is going on with her please let me know.
    Thank you.

  23. says

    I own(ed) a wonderful little spirited dragon named Joe. He was allowed outside and with many hours of patience and some near misses he could have a life in the yard during the warm months. He died. He didn’t look good yesterday and I put him on the “infirmerary” I created for him in my warm bed. I was out of the house for 5 hours or so and when I came back he was dead. I am heart broken. My concern is this? Could he have eaten something in our yard ie a lightning bug? Also he ate my neighbors tomato and cucumber plant leaves. Lost to pieces with a broken heart. I live in Pa which is considered a warm temperate climate. Lynn

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