Bearded dragons are beautiful, unique creatures that make great pets. But if your bearded dragon has stopped eating, you may be worried about their health. Don’t despair – there are many possible causes why a bearded dragon might not be eating, and solutions to help get them back on track.
In this blog post, I’ll explore some of the reasons why bearded dragons lose interest in eating, and what you can do to help them regain their appetite. So, if this is a problem you’re dealing with, here are the answers you need.
What Is a Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons are large lizards native to Australia, and they make popular pets due to their friendly personalities. They come in many different colors and sizes, and as pets, they can live up to 8–12 years or more with proper care. There are a few different types of bearded dragons – such as the Pogona vitticeps, or central bearded dragon – but they all share similar characteristics and needs.
A healthy diet is essential for your bearded dragon’s wellbeing. A balanced diet of insects and vegetables will give them all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active. If a bearded dragon isn’t getting enough nutrition, it can lead to serious health problems such as metabolic bone disease, caused by a lack of calcium and vitamin D.
What Do Bearded Dragons Typically Eat?
Bearded dragons are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant- and animal-based foods. Their diet should consist of high-quality proteins such as worms, crickets, and other insects, as well as a variety of vegetables and a small amount of fruit.
In addition to this, you should provide your bearded dragon with supplements. Supplements such as calcium and multivitamins are essential for your bearded dragon’s health, as they help to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.
A balanced, healthy diet for a bearded dragon might look like this:
- Protein: mealworms, crickets, waxworms, silkworms
- Vegetables: dandelion greens, collard greens, turnip greens, carrots
- Fruits: apples, bananas, blueberries (all fruits should be given in moderation due to their high sugar content)
- Supplements: Calcium, Vitamin D3, and a multivitamin
Why a Proper Diet Is Important for Your Bearded Dragon
A healthy diet of protein and vegetables is essential for the health and wellbeing of your bearded dragon. A balanced diet will provide all the necessary nutrients to keep them active and happy, as well as to prevent health problems. In addition, providing a variety of foods helps to ensure that they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet.
Common Reasons for Loss of Appetite in Bearded Dragons
There are a few common reasons why bearded dragons stop eating. Let’s explore these further:
Health problems such as parasites, bacterial and fungal infections, respiratory issues, impaction, and stress or anxiety can all affect a bearded dragon’s appetite. It’s important to have your bearded dragon checked out by an experienced reptile vet if any health concerns arise.
Incorrect temperatures, lighting issues, lack of hydration, and poor enclosure design can all make it difficult for a bearded dragon to feel comfortable enough to eat. To avoid appetite suppression, bearded dragons need a high amount of UVB lighting to replicate sunlight and help absorb vitamins and nutrients.
Be sure to keep the temperature consistent in their enclosure and give them a fresh, clean water dish every day so they can remain hydrated. The average adult beardie will sup around 2 teaspoons (roughly ten MLs) throughout the day.
Just like humans, as bearded dragons age their appetites may change. Younger dragons tend to have higher metabolisms and need more food than older dragons.
On the other hand, aging dragons may become more selective with their food and show less enthusiasm toward it. If your older beardie has this problem, try hand feeding them, using tongs to feed them, or feeding them varying food groups at different times each day.
Changes in Routine or Environment
Changes in routine or environment can cause a bearded dragon to become stressed and disinterested in their food. It’s important to keep things as consistent as possible in their enclosure and try not to make any drastic changes if possible.
In the next section, I’ll take a closer look at the health problems and environmental factors that could be causing a lack of appetite in your bearded dragon.
Health Problems That Can Cause a Bearded Dragon to Stop Eating
If your bearded dragon isn’t eating, they could be suffering from a number of ailments. Here are some of the most common causes of a bearded dragon’s loss of appetite:
Parasites, such as worms and mites, can cause a wide range of health problems in bearded dragons. They can interfere with digestion and lead to dehydration, weight loss, and lack of appetite. Signs of parasites in your bearded dragon may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or soft stools
- Parasites visible on the skin and in your beardie’s mouth
Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Bacterial or fungal infections can lead to inflammation and irritation of the digestive tract, which can cause a bearded dragon to stop eating. Signs of bacterial and fungal infections may include:
- Diarrhea or bloody stools
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Mouth Rot (Infectious Stomatitis)
If you have a bearded dragon not eating due to mouth rot – caused by a bacterial infection – you may notice their sudden loss of appetite. Signs of mouth rot include:
- Difficulty closing the mouth, along with excessive drooling
- Pus discharge from the mouth and nose
Respiratory problems such as pneumonia, gout, or infections can cause a bearded dragon to become weak and disinterested in eating. Signs of respiratory problems may include:
- Open-mouth breathing
- Wheezing or noisy respirations
- Discharge of bubbles from the mouth and nose
- Discharge of fluid from the eyes and ears
Impaction is a condition caused by the accumulation of indigestible items in the digestive tract, such as sand or gravel. This can cause irritation and blockage of the intestines, leading to a decrease in appetite. Signs of impaction may include:
- Regurgitation of food
- Zero interest in eating
- Loss of movement and mobility
- Lump on back
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can be caused by several different factors, such as changes in environment or routine, improper temperatures, or overcrowding. Stress and anxiety can lead to decreased appetite in bearded dragons. Signs of stress and anxiety may include:
- Darker coloration
- Running along enclosure walls (known as glass surfing)
- Unusual behavior, such as eye bulging and frequent sneezing
Illness or Injury
If your bearded dragon is suffering from an illness or injury, they may stop eating. If you suspect your bearded dragon is sick or injured, take them to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.
Injured bearded dragons can stop eating for a few days to a week, but if the issue is not addressed, it can become a chronic condition that needs further medical attention. An injured bearded dragon’s diet may need more attention and they may require special foods or supplements to help them heal properly.
How to Care for An Injured Bearded Dragon Through Their Diet
If your bearded dragon stops eating because of an injury, such as broken bones or an infection, you’ll need to provide a special diet tailored to their needs. You may need to give them small, frequent meals throughout the day, including proteins and carbohydrates. Integrate soft food such as baby food, applesauce, or mashed sweet potato into your bearded dragon’s diet that’s easy for them to digest.
You should also provide additional vitamins and minerals through supplements to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet to help them heal. Foods such as live insects, leafy greens, and fruits (in moderation, due to the amount of sugar) are great sources of protein and vitamins. You can also supplement their diet with calcium or multivitamin powders to ensure they’re getting enough nutrients while they recover.
Environmental Factors That Can Cause a Bearded Dragon to Stop Eating
Incorrect temperatures, lighting issues, lack of hydration, and poor enclosure design can all make it difficult for a bearded dragon to feel comfortable enough to eat. Let’s take a closer look at each of these environmental factors:
Bearded dragons need a basking area with a temperature of 100-110°F (38-43°C) during the day, with a cooler area no lower than 76°F (24°C). If the temperatures in their enclosure are not adequate, they may become stressed and lose interest in eating.
Bearded dragons require different temperature ranges depending on their age. If the temperatures in your bearded dragon’s enclosure are not correct, they may become too cold or too hot, which can make them disinterested in eating. For basking areas, use a heat lamp, and make sure your beardie can easily move between this area and a cooler, shaded one.
Bearded dragons require a specific type and amount of light, including both UVA/UVB and visible light. If too much or too little light is provided, your bearded dragon may not feel comfortable enough to eat. They need around 12-14 hours of consistent UVB lighting per day.
It’s important to provide your bearded dragon with plenty of fresh, clean water throughout the day. If they become dehydrated, they may not have the energy to eat. A good rule of thumb to make sure your bearded dragon is hydrated enough is to give them a shallow bowl of water that they can drink from every day at regular intervals.
The size and layout of your bearded dragon’s enclosure are also important. If the enclosure is too small, overcrowded, or lacks hiding spots, it can cause stress and anxiety in your bearded dragon, making them reluctant to eat.
Poor enclosure design can cause a bearded dragon to feel uncomfortable or stressed, which can lead to a decrease in appetite. Be sure to keep their enclosure well-ventilated, and make sure there are plenty of hiding places and surfaces for basking.
Are You Overfeeding Your Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons can sometimes become overweight if they’re overfed, which can lead to a decrease in appetite. If your bearded dragon is overweight, it’s important to limit their food intake and make sure you’re providing them with nutritious, balanced meals.
It’s also a good idea to check with your veterinarian for any dietary recommendations specific to your bearded dragon. Remember to feed adult bearded dragons once a day, and younger beardies 3-5 times a day.
How to Make Sure You’re Feeding Your Bearded Dragon the Right Foods
Bearded dragons require a diverse diet, including both insects and vegetables. Make sure you’re providing them with the right types of insects such as crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.
Try to feed your bearded dragon a fresh assortment of insects and veggies every day to make sure they’re getting all the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Eating? Diagnosis and Treatment
If your bearded dragon isn’t eating, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause. Bearded dragons can suffer from a variety of health conditions that may make them unable to eat, such as parasites or respiratory infections. Your vet can help diagnose and treat any underlying issues so your bearded dragon can get back to eating normally.
Treatment Options and Follow-Up Care
Once your vet has determined the cause of your bearded dragon’s lack of appetite, they can discuss possible treatment options. Depending on the condition, these may include antibiotics, dietary changes, or other medications. Follow-up care is also important – be sure to monitor your bearded dragon carefully and follow any instructions given by the veterinarian.
Bearded dragons are unique and fascinating pets, but they require special care and attention to ensure their health and wellbeing. To keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy, make sure you provide them with a proper enclosure, the right types of food, plenty of water, and lots of love!
With the right diet and care, you can have a healthy bearded dragon for their entire life cycle. Whether you have a juvenile bearded dragon, a baby beardie, or even more than one dragon, if symptoms of dietary issues are caught early, there’s no reason for their lack of eating to develop into a serious health problem.
So, keep an eye on your bearded dragon’s eating habits, and remember to always consult your vet as soon as you notice any changes that concern you.