Bearded Dragon Health and Diseases

The health and well being of our bearded dragons are very important to us. The thing that we worry about the most when it comes to their care is whether they are healthy or not and how to know when they are sick. The thing about bearded dragons is they hide their illnesses to look healthy when they are not. So I made a list of diseases and illnesses, their symptoms and other signs that indicate a healthy or ill dragon.

How Do I know if My Bearded Dragon is Healthy?

Bearded dragons will be active most of the time and keep their heads up. They will also be alert when someone walks towards them or interact with them. It is always a good idea to monitor their overall appearance from day to day to determine if they are in good health. Bearded dragons are very good at hiding illnesses and thus need to be monitored more often to spot a disease before it is too late. Other signs of a healthy bearded dragon include bright and healthy color, healthy appetite, normal everyday behavior, and so forth.

bearded dragon health

What are the Signs of Pain or Discomfort?

Please look at the following signs to help you determine if your bearded dragon is in pain or uncomfortable, but remember if your dragon, is shedding, brumating or in breeding season they can also show unusual behaviors.

  • Lack of usual activity
  • Constant gasping
  • Lethargy (constantly tired)
  • Limping or struggling to move around
  • Reluctance to move around or a lack in natural reflexes (if not cold)
  • Unusual aggression, especially when handled.
  • Hunching
  • Restless/refuse to sleep at night
  • Jerky movements
  • No appetite, refusing food
  • Swollen limbs or other parts of the body
  • Sunken fat pads (the pads on the top of their heads)
  • Droopiness

Key Symptoms that is Serious and Requires Immediate Veterinary care! 

  • Sudden pale color that persists
  • Unusual fluid around the mouth.
  • Sunken eyes
  • Swollen eyes not caused by shedding
  • Vomiting (seek help immediately!)
  • Swelling inside or around the mouth.
  • Trouble breathing (gasping constantly)
  • Swollen beard
  • Constant diarrhea
  • Black beard that is not caused by mating or dominance and goes along with other symptoms.
  • Jerky movements

bearded dragon is sick

What Kind of Changes can be Associated with Shedding? 

  • Change of color. The old skin will become a whitish grey color and look pale in the places where the shedding takes place.
  • Activity levels will be different than normal.
  • Appetite loss or eating less.
  • Constant rubbing against objects.

What Kind of Changes can be Associated with Breeding Season?

  • Appetite – Loss of appetite or eating infrequently.
  • Change in Color – Might get darker or brighter, seldom will go pale.
  • Activity will increase and a beardie might seem restless at times or have sudden bursts of energy.
  • Behavioral change.
  • Urine and Feces might be different than normal with a change in consistency and color.
  • Males develop a black beard when other dragons are in sight.

bearded dragon disease

Bearded Dragon Diseases

Below we will have an overview of all the diseases/conditions that you should be aware of. I always recommend seeing a reptile vet when your bearded dragon seems ill. A checkup will cost less than treating a problem that escalated because it was not treated correctly from the beginning. 

Metabolic Bone Disease

This is one of the most saddest diseases that is so unnecessary because the cause of it is almost always due to a lack of proper care. When your bearded dragon does not get enough Calcium, Vitamin D3 or Phosphorus they will get Metabolic Bone Disease. It will vary from serious to mild depending how long it was left to progress. MBD cause the bones to weaken, this will lead to bones breaking, bending or become “sponge” like....Read Full Article About MBD.

Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection (RI)

Beardies can develop a RI for many reasons like incorrect temperatures, a weakened immune system or virus. However, the most common cause is usually humidity that is too high...Read Full Article About RI.


Impaction is a blockage in the digestive track and can be caused by various things like, unsuitable food, sand, bark and so forth.

Bearded dragons normally have a “poop” schedule and it is important that your bearded dragon defecate on a regular basis. If you notice that he\she has stopped defecating for a few days it could become a serious issue that can cause death...Read Full Article About Impaction.

Yellow Fungus

This is the illness that every bearded dragon owner fears! There is no cure and sadly it will lead to death at some point. Although it is fatal, with the right treatment and special care, your beardie can still live for a long time. Yellow fungus is an aggressive flesh eating fungal infection found mostly in reptiles also known as CANV. Many times the infection will start from within and work itself to the outer parts of the bearded dragon. It can affect the skin as well as the organs...Read Full Article About Yellow Fungus.

Internal parasites

What are the symptoms of parasites?

  • Runny poop
  • Lack of appetite
  • Poop with a really bad smell
  • Rusty or orange color in the urinate that is not related to the diet
  • Traces of blood in the stool.
  • Traces or undigested food in the stool.

Take note: Not all of the above symptoms will be present and some symptoms will only occur when the situation is bad. 

What is the cause of parasites?

Feeders – Insects that are kept in unsanitary conditions will contract parasites or worms and it will be passed on to your dragon. Crickets are one of the main culprits since they do tend to die and rot up the enclose much faster. Always keep feeder container clean and be sure to buy your feeders from a trusted supplier. If possible, breed them yourself in a clean environment.

Dirty cage/terrarium – Be sure to clean your bearded dragon’s home on a regular basis. Unsanitary conditions are the perfect breeding ground for parasites. Clean soiled area asap to prevent bacteria from growing, hence the reason why newspaper, tile and paper towels works so well. Easy to keep clean. Remember never to clean with strong chemicals! 

bearded dragon parasites

Good bacteria turning bad – A bearded dragon has a good number of good bacteria (gut flora) that is beneficial for their digestive system. These organisms are kept in check by a healthy immune system. However, stress, starvation, an improper diet, dehydration and incorrect temperatures will cause the good bacteria to die and make room for bad organisms. These will reproduce and cause severe problems.

Any treatment for Parasites?

If you suspect parasites, you should take your bearded dragon to the vet as soon as possible. A fecal sample will be taken to confirm and medication will be prescribed to get rid of it. It will not cure by itself without medication and thus a vet visit or proper medication is the only way to cure it.

Pro-biotics for reptiles are “good bacteria” and should be given on a regular basis to prevent parasites and digestive track problems.

bearded dragon illness

Mites & Parasites on the skin

Bearded dragons have a thick skin with scales. Mites and parasites will target the places where the skin is sensitive and thin. They will try to suck the bearded dragon’s blood and then transmits diseases and sicknesses among your bearded dragon. The most sensitive places on a dragon is the eyes, ears, mouth and stomach.

What can I do to treat and prevent mites or parasites?

You will have to purchase a mite or parasite spray to get rid of the problem. Follow the instructions on the product label. 

bearded dragon is sick

Keep the enclosure clean! A dirty enclosure makes room for all kinds of parasites to breed. If your dragon have these, the enclosure will have to be cleaned every day until your dragon is completely free from these and all mites or parasites is killed. 

bearded dragon health

Bath your dragon at least 2 times a day. Bathing them regularly will make it hard for the mites or parasites to survive. You can use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub them, it will get rid of the parasites/mites much faster. Again, do it gently, you do not want to injure the soft scales of your dragon and cause an infection. 

bearded dragon health and wellness

Do not leave feeder insects in the enclosure after feeding. Some feeders like crickets are common parasite carriers and can infect your enclosure.


  1. Hello,

    In the last week, our 8 month old beardie has become very lethargic and weak, with swollen joints, and jerky movements/tremors. He/she is not eating well, was dehyrdrated, and back right leg swollen and pale. I took him to the vet, they said he had coccidia and started him on Albon. After reading online, I am thinking he also has metabolic bone disease. When we bought him, we were told to limit his diet to 4-8 crickets a day and that was it. I think he is also malnourished because of this. We were also not told about UVB lights which I have now purchased, or supplementing his diet. I am worried it is too late. I am bathing him everyday for 20 minutes, cleaning his cage everyday with clorhexamine solution, giving antibiotics, encouraging food (greens, crickets, squash, worms), and administering probiotics. The nearest certified reptile vet is three hours away. Any further advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Do you have a Facebook profile? If so, you can add me and I will recommend a Facebook group that will be able to give more accurate advice to get him healthy. On there you can send us pictures and the group will be able to help more accurately.

    4 - 8 crickets a day is by far not enough food for him/her. They should eat at least a minimum of 30 + or as much as they want to eat within 5 - 10 minutes. Should also get calcium supplements every second day if MBD is expected, preferably liquid calcium. If he is at a point of not eating at all, you should force-feed him a supplement called critical care. Baby food is also an option, butternut and sweet potato are the best.