Bearded Dragon Health and Disease - Page 3

Swollen Beard

Bearded dragons will sometimes puff out their beards as a sign of dominance or as a defensive gesture. They will also stretch their beards when gaping, shedding or before a yawn. These are all behaviors that is nothing to be concerned about. However, a swollen beard that does not go away is a clear sign of trouble. A swollen beard can be caused by various kinds of illnesses and that is why it can be hard to determine the exact cause without seeking the help of a reptile vet.

Most commonly, “over-stuffing with food” occurs when they eat too much at a time and “store” food in their beards. Not a healthy thing, it can hurt the tiny blood vessels in the beard and cause more serious symptoms like blood clots or tiered veins. A well fed beardie will seldom gulp down too much at a time, but in some instance, beardies will gulp down their food too fast no matter what. If you notice this behavior, offer their food at a slower rate to allow them to swallow before eating more. Hand feeding will resolve this issue.

Food that is too big can also cause a swollen beard; always make sure to offer food that is no bigger than the space between their eyes.

bearded dragon swolen beard

Acts Lethargic

There are a variety of reasons for a bearded dragon to be lethargic. It can be the cause of a serious illness but also be nothing to worry about. Go through the checklist for basic causes and if still no solution, a vet visit should be next on your list.


Temperature problem – Like mentioned many times before. If the temperature of your enclosure is not right, you will be bound to run into various problems. Lethargic reactions are one of them. The basking area should be 95°F to 105°F, with a cooler region of around 80°F to 90°F.

Brumation – When the seasons change from summer to winter, your dragon might brumate (hibernate). Their activity and appetite will decrease and they might seem to go into their hides more often to sleep.

If Lethargic behavior goes along with other symptoms like diarrhea, paleness, jerky movements and so forth, it would be best to seek the advice of your veterinarian ASAP.

Wounds and Injuries from Fights

Wounds should always be treated immediately to avoid an infection. Serious wounds should be looked at by a vet since more advance treatment might be needed. In my opinion, it would be best to keep them separated and avoid fighting and biting completely, seeing as these wounds can lead to much more serious problems.

How do I Treat a Wound?

It should be cleaned with an anti-bacterial solution. Betadine works well and it must be diluted in water to the point where it looks like weak tea. If the injury is on the tail, the entire tail can be soaked in the solution for about 20 minutes. If not, the wound should be cleaned with a sterile wipe dipped in the Betadine solution. After soaking/cleaning, an antibacterial ointment should be applied to the wound. This should be repeated 3 times a day, or as the vet prescribed.

bearded dragon wound caring

These ointments can be purchased at almost any veterinary clinic and it is always a good idea to keep some on hand just in case your bearded dragon injures itself. If the wound is serious, antibiotics might also be needed to help with recovery. Treating bite wounds or injuries is normally not a costly visit at the vet and it can save you from ending up spending a lot more, dealing with an infected wound.

bearded dragon sick

Wounds that do not heal within 7 days calls for concern and a vet visit should become a top priority.

Stressed Out

Bearded dragons can become stressed out for various reasons. When stressed out they might have diarrhea, appetite loss, and darkened stomach or show aggression. If your bearded dragon is new to his/her new home, you recently moved or changed the environment; you are bound to see stress. In addition, bearded dragons are solitary animals that do much better on their own. Other dragons or pets in the room can also cause stress. 

bearded dragon care

What Can I Do to Calm My Bearded Dragon?

If your dragon had a sudden change of environment, it is best to give them time to adjust.

The right setup – Bearded dragons should have a proper hide inside their cage. Hides help them to de-stress and provides them with security and shelter. A dragon without a proper hide will be stressed out eventually.

bearded dragon health and disease

Take a bath – A nice Luke warm bath (NOT HOT) will also calm them down most of the time. (Water should be shallow enough for the beardie to sit comfortably in and lukewarm like that of a babies.)

Wrap them up – Beardies love soft, warm blankets. A stressed out bearded dragon can easily be calmed by wrapping them in a warm blanket. DO NOT close the head or apply pressure to keep them secure. If they do not want to be inside, it be best to let them out otherwise you just stress them out further. 

bearded dragon health and disease

Remove insects that are not eaten. Insects crawling around their cage at night will stress them out and in some instances can even bite them while sleeping.

A bit of attention – Your bearded dragon is not just a pet that should be left in the cage all day. They love interaction and to be handled. You would be stressed out as well if someone left you in a cage for days without taking you out! 

bearded dragon health and disease

Stretching some legs – Again, being confided in a cage all day is pretty stressful to any living creature. Time should be made to take out your dragon for a bit of free roaming around the house or in the garden. Obviously, safety comes first! Be sure to keep a close eye when he/she is out.

Proper environment – Without sufficient heat, uvb, cage setup and diet your beardie will be stressed most of the time. Be sure to provide everything that is needed to keep him happy.


In the wild, bearded dragons are normally active creatures. Dragons in captivity can obviously not be as active since they are confined to a cage. If your dragon is well cared for diet wise, it will most likely become obese. A fat dragon can look so cute; however, it is not great from them. They can get a sickness called “fatty liver disease” or kidney problems. Both can be deadly!

bearded dragon too fat

What Can I Do?

Protein is the main cause of obesity. Your dragon should only have protein 3 – 4 times a week; the rest of the time should be veggies, greens and fruit. If obesity is an issue, you can cut on the protein a bit and replace it with greens. This is only in the case of full grown dragons. When they are babies they do not get fat easily, because everything they eat is used to grow.

Take them out more often to exercise. Some dragons love to swim, a small shallow pool or bath tub with lukewarm water is a great way to lose some grams.

bearded dragon obese



Bearded dragons will shed all their lives, especially when growing and developing well. Signs of a shed are always a good indication, it tells you that your beardie is growing and getting rid of old skin... Read Full Article About Shedding



Brumation is almost like hibernation, but the bearded dragon’s body does not completely shut down. He/she may sleep for weeks or even months at a time. Brumation usually occurs in the fall or winter months when the temperature drops and light changes... Read Full Article About Brumation

My bearded dragon is too skinny, dehydrated and did not eat much lately, what should I do?

If the bearded dragon has not eaten in some time or it is suspected that a dragon was not fed much previously, solid food and protein should not be given!

Force feeding solid food and insects are stressful, even for a healthy beardie, doing it to a sick one, will stress it out too much and might cause more harm than good.

NO PROTEIN! When bearded dragons did not eat for a long time or they are severely malnourished, the kidney and liver function will slow down or in some instance even stop working...Read Full Article About Caring For a Skinny Dragon

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