Bearded Dragon Health and Diseases - Page 2


Bearded dragons can easily get dehydrated and keeping them hydrated is very important for a bearded dragon’s health. Take extra care to keep them hydrated, especially when they get sick and during the warm summer days.

What are the signs of dehydration?
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Wrinkled skin
  • Yellow colored urine
  • Lack of energy
  • Droopiness

There are a few ways to see if your bearded dragon is dehydrated, but the most reliable one is to pinch their skin where the skin is generally loose very gently, if the skin goes back to place immediately, then your bearded dragon is hydrated but if the skin holds its shape it means that the bearded dragon is dehydrated. 

bearded dragon sick

How Can I Hydrate My Bearded Dragon?


Give him/her a bath on a regular basis for at least 15 minutes at a time. For dragons that is severely dehydrated, I do recommend bathing them twice a day to speed up the hydration. Pedilite can also be added to the bath water. 

bearded dragon health

A spray bottle is a good investment and your beardie will appreciate a mist up to four times on a daily basis, especially if you live in a warm climate.
Drip some droplets of water on their nose, most dragons will lick it or even drink from the source. 

bearded dragon drinking water


Eye Problems

Bearded dragons can hide their illness extremely well and symptoms usually appear when the situation is already dire. The eyes are usually the first indicators that something is seriously wrong and should never be left for too long before a veterinarian is called upon. Eye symptoms literally can be the cause of many illnesses and thus a detailed list cannot be included.

Swollen or Puffed Out eyes


When bearded dragons shed around their eyes, it can be a little swollen or puffed out to help them get rid of the dead skin around the eyes. In this instance, there is nothing to worry about. Swollen eyes can also be caused by an overdose of vitamin A and it can cause eye damage. Carrots and veggies that contain vitamin A should be avoided.
Constant swollen eyes can also be a good indication of kidney problems or fatty liver disease. A blood test done by the vet will determine the cause and treatment will be prescribed. If the puffiness or swollen eye sockets does not clear, a vet visit should be top priority to avoid damage.

Sunken/Droopy Eyes


Sunken eyes can result from dehydration and should always be the first to treat. (See dehydration). It can also be an indicator of an infection or serious illness. If hydration does not solve the problem, vet care should be sought ASAP!
Droopy/ Sunken Eyes that go with a black beard is a serious indication that your bearded dragon is very sick and needs veterinary treatment like yesterday! 

bearded dragon health and illness

Mouth Rot

This is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and mouth of a bearded dragon. This is caused by unsanitary conditions and low temperatures.

What are the Symptoms? 

  • Lack of appetite
  • Inside or outside of mouth is discolored or blackened. It can also be a white/yellow substance in the mouth tissue.
  • Advance mouth rot symptoms are swollen mouth, loose teeth and restlessness.

How Do I Treat It?



Treatment consists of various antibiotics, ointments and instructions on how to clean the rot. Treatment will be determined by the severity of the mouth rot and the stage of the infection. It is not advisable to treat this by yourself since it can spread quickly and even cause death.
Special care will be required regarding cleaning the rot and your beardie will most likely need to follow a special diet. Only a vet can determine the best treatment.

Tail Rot


It is caused mostly by tail trauma, stuck shed or humidity levels that is too low.

Tail trauma – When the tail was bitten by another dragon or injured. An infection will build up and cause the tail to rot. Injuries should always be treated with a weak Betadine solution and antibiotics. An ointment prescribed by a vet should be applied.

Stuck shed – Multiple sheds on the tip of the tail that did not come off will cut off the circulation in the tail. It will result in a thick dark colored tissue that will turn hard.

Humidity – Although a dragon should have much lower humidity levels than many other reptiles (around 30 -40%), too low is not good since it will dry out the tip of the tail and lead to tail rot. If the humidity is too low (below 30%), try misting the cage until levels rise.

Tail rot will work its way up to the body if left untreated and infect other parts of the body. It can be deadly if not treated. Seek veterinary care ASAP to have the issue resolved. Amputation might be required and the safest if the tissue has completely died.

bearded dragon tail rot

Upon waiting for a vet visit you can bath your bearded dragon frequently and scrub the infected part gently with a soft toothbrush.
After amputation, the tail should be cleaned twice a day. It can be done by soaking the wound in a Luke warm Betadine solution for at least 15 minutes at a time. A reptile antiseptic ointment should be applied straight after. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to fight off any infections. Continue cleaning until the wound has dried out completely and formed a hardened layer of pre-skin. 

bearded dragon tail rot
bearded dragon tail rot


Swollen Limbs or Tail

A swollen tail or limbs could be a sign that it is broken or fractured. This usually happens when your dragon has hurt himself, but can also be caused by MBD (Metabolic bone disease). In addition, bacterial infections could also cause severe swelling.

bearded dragon swolen limps

Treatment: Get your beardie to the vet ASAP for an x-ray and treatment, do not attempt to fix it yourself!

Stools and Diarrhea

A healthy bearded dragon poop should be solid, but still soft. A soft, watery stool could be a sign of an improper diet, internal parasites or worms. Dragons that are stressed out will also have runny poops. In addition, food like lettuce and cucumber holds no nutritional value and can cause diarrhea.
A bearded dragon’s urine comes in the form of a white solid substrate at the end of their poop. Urinate should be white at all times, if yellow it can be a sign of dehydration. (See dehydration) Urinates that stay yellow can also be an indication of liver or kidney problems and should be attended to immediately if not improving. Reddish or rusty colored urinates are also a good indication of parasites or worms. 

bearded dragon poop

Loss of Appetite

A loss of appetite can be due to a wide variety of issues and the cause is usually hard to pinpoint exactly. One should go down the checklist and make sure that all the basics are covered, if nothing helps, an underlying illness can be the cause and veterinary care should be the next option.



Temperatures: Heat plays a very important part in the overall health of your bearded dragon. Without proper heat your bearded dragon will not thrive well at all. They depend on the heat for digesting their food and to gain energy. Check your temperatures to make sure they are in the proper range for the age of your bearded dragon.

UVB – Without a proper source of UVB radiation, again, your bearded dragon will not thrive well. Be sure to check that your UVB light is working properly and positioned at the right distance from your pet.

Stress – A stressed out dragon will not eat. Stress can be caused by an introduction to a new environment or changes to the current environment. If you most recently got a beardie, it will take some time before he/she will calm down and get used to the new home. If appetite loss occurred after changes to the cage/terrarium, try reversing the changes. Beardies have personalities just like humans and some do not like any changes in their environment and thus will stress out.

Brumation – In winter time, most bearded dragons will go into brumation (winter sleep) if the temperatures drop drastically. Before this happens, they will have a loss of appetite.

bearded dragon brumation

Not hungry – If you bearded dragon had a decent meal the previous day, there is a good change that he will not be hungry the following day. Appetite loss is a concern after 3 days of not eating.


When you feed your bearded dragon food that is too large it can cause problems with their spinal cord. When food pieces are too big, it puts pressure on the spine and they cannot digest their food fast enough. If this pressure lasts too long, permanent damage will occur. This can cause some big health problems for your bearded dragon. The types of problems you can expect are long-term paralysis or even death. If you think your dragon has eaten something too big and seems to struggle to stand properly, you should take him/her to the vet ASAP, they can fix the problem with medical treatment if it is attended to immediately.

If you are wondering how big your bearded dragon’s food needs to be, it should not be bigger than the space between their eyes.

bearded dragon food size

If you notice that your dragon extends the back legs when they bask, it is normal for them to do so, try to touch their noses or bodies to see if they move their legs to the normal position. If not, something might be wrong and veterinary care should be a priority!

My dragon ate something too big and seem paralyzed, what should I do while I contact a vet?

Get him/her into a position where the stomach will hang down instead of pressing against the spine. You can do this by folding a small towel/blanket into a donut shape and let him/her lay on it with the stomach positioned inside the hole. If your hands are free, hold the dragon with both your hands, back and front legs secured in your hands, leaving a small space in between for the stomach to hang down. 

Damaged or Bloody Snout

This is caused by “snout rubbing” and happens when your dragon is kept in an enclosure that is too small. Beardies will try to “escape” the small space and thus rub their snout until it is raw. In addition, some beardies will still rub their snout even when in a bigger cage as a sign that they want to get out to go stretch their legs or want some attention. 

Jerking or Shaking

The most common cause for jerking or shaking is due to vitamin deficiencies. Calcium and vitamin D3 are the glue that holds them together and plays an important part in their well being. Without it, you will get a sick pet in no time. Too much is not great as well and will also cause problems.

Beardies need calcium for strong bones and vitamin D3 to absorb the calcium. UVB rays also help them to absorb and create these vitamins and thus a good idea to make sure that your light is always working correctly.

When jerking or shaking occurs, you should seek veterinary help ASAP! 


Purging up food is a very bad sign and whenever your bearded dragon vomits, it should be seen as an extremely dangerous symptom. Veterinary care is a must! 

bearded dragon vomiting

Purging up for humans is nothing much because we have membranes that stop any liquid from passing into our lungs. However, a bearded dragon does not have such a membrane and fluid will go directly into their lungs causing death if not removed. A reptile vet will most likely prescribe medication that will dry up the fluid or give an injection that will expand the lungs.

If your bearded dragon has vomited, keep him/her “face down” on a cushion or rolled up towel that is slightly elevated until you get to the vet. This will help drain out some of the fluid.

Take Note:

Sometimes bearded dragons will gulp down their food too fast and a cricket or worm might be purged out straight away. This is not harmful as long as there is not any fluids with it. However, when food is vomited out after feeding time passed (after 10 minutes), then it is a dangerous kind of purging up. To the naked eye, it might seem that the vomit does not contain fluids, but it does and pieces of it can also enter the lungs, making it even more deadly.

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