Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection (RI)

Respiratory infection in bearded dragons are caused by an infection in the lungs and it is quite a common illness with beardie's. They can develop a RI for many reasons like incorrect temperatures, stress, a weakened immune system or virus. However, the most common cause is usually humidity that is too high or temperatures that is too low.

Bearded dragon respiratory Infection

Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection Symptoms

  • Mucus around the mouth and nostrils.
  • Visible breathing difficulties.
  • Wheezing or popping noise when breathing.
  • Sneezing or snorting.
  • Puffing up their throat constantly.
  • Loss of appetite when combined with other symptoms.
  • Lack of energy when combined with other symptoms.
  • Black beard for more than 6 hours combined with other symptoms.
  • Gaping constantly (mouth gaping while basking or after exercise is normal to regulate their temperature.)
  • Excessive amount of mucus in the mouth.
  • Pale color along with other symptoms. (Pale color can be associated with multiple diseases and illnesses.)
  • Pale color inside the mouth along with the tongue. (Can be associated with other illnesses and diseases.)
  • Droopiness along with sunken pads, combined with other symptoms.

Bearded dragon gaping

Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection Treatment


A respiratory infection can turn deadly fast if not treated correctly. Antibiotics are needed to cure it successfully. Beardies cannot cough, so it is impossible to loosen congestion without medication.

Until you can get to your vet, give your bearded dragon a warm soak (NOT HOT) every few hours. It will loosen the congestion and makes it easier to breath.

Raise the cage temperature with about 3 – 5 degrees to help dry up the moisture in their lungs. (Not too Hot). This will encourage the bearded dragon to bask with his/her mouth open and the heat will also helps to dry out moisture.

RI bearded dragons

Slightly elevate your dragon on a cushion or folded blanket/towel. His/her head should face downwards. This will help mucus that is in the mouth to drain out.

Bearded dragon respiratory Infection (RI)

Check the humidity, it must be under 40% at all times, if not, it could be the cause of the RI. Try lowering it to 30% by using a dehumidifier or by installing fans that blows in fresh air. If all fails, one can also use a hair dryer that is set on warm (not hot) to dry out the cage. Caution! A hair dryer might raise the cage temperature significantly, be sure to let it cool down before the dragon goes back in the cage again! 

Drip water on their neck to keep them hydrated, and do not force them to eat or drink anything, it could end up in the lungs.

How to Prevent Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection

To prevent RI's, you will have to do the following...

Make sure the temperature and humidity is at the correct levels at all times. In order to make sure it is correct, you will have to install a temperature and humidity gauge that will tell you the levels. You will, furthermore, have to clean the cage on a regular basis to get rid of bacteria that can cause respiratory infections along with other illnesses and diseases.

Bearded dragon respiratory Infection


  1. So, I noticed my bearded dragon opening his mouth while basking and I know this is normal but I only see one other symtom that concerns me. I'm noticing his beard moving in and out slowly like at the rate of breathing is this normal too? I've already lost my snake to an upper respritory infection. I'm 14 and can't pay or drive to a vet to fix him. Anything I can do for it if this isnt normal behaviour?

    1. Yes, this is normal as long as they are not displaying any symptoms of being sick otherwise. Do make sure that he/she is hydrated. otherwise if the humidity and temperature is correct you do not have anything to worry about.

  2. Not a vet but sounds pretty normal. My brardie has a RI right now and he gasps for air. No appetite. Sounds like your beardie is just relieving heat. As long as he doesn’t have the above symptoms. Mine is on antibiotics right now a dformuka.

    1. Very sorry to hear about your bearded dragon. Unfortunately, I have lost Beardies in the past, because of RI's. I am happy that he/she is antibiotics, and hope he/she makes a full recovery. Also, thank you for sharing your story.

  3. My lizard keeps making a coughing sound

  4. What do I give my lizard to help him feel better and get better

    1. Hi. Very sorry to hear that. He/She is in need of Baytril, which is an antibiotic used for RI's and other illnesses. He/she will also need to be placed in a very low humid and warm tank/cage as to try and dry his lungs. If he/she is eating, try to give her a bit of plain yogurt, no extras like flavoring of any kind, completely plain and not a lot either. The yogurt boosts their immune system to help fight infection. Make him/her comfortable with the head tilting down, described above. Also make sure that he/she is hydrated at all times. This will help if it is not to serious, but if it is very serious, he/she will really need a vet. Please do let know how he/she is doing.

  5. My boy died, I have a big empty whole in my hart.

    1. So sory to hear. Wish you al the strengt to get through this.

  6. Mine just pass away due to this illness he was a fighter took him to two vets one had him on one antibiotic the other one had him on two different ones cause I was told he had a 50/50 chance on surviving I raised the temps an he was still eating a little but he never recovered I walk in the room he pass in his sleep eyes where clothes mouth he was only one in a half he went way to early me an my wife didn't catch it till he started gaping his mouth open by then the doctor say he may have had it a while we just didn't know they hide things pretty well he just had a litter of baby's by my female I own 6 three boys an three girls all in separate tanks well five now just realized ho much I missed him already we did all we could we learn from this now the little things go wrong we go to a vet no matter what we invested way to much in to this to let this happen he was part of the family I hope this help u guys again was on two different antibiotic oral once a day a shot every three days an oral pain meds one a day u have to catch it early or it will be deadly that's my story thanks for listening good luck u guys

    1. Very sorry to hear. It is always hard to lose one. Unfotunatly they do hide their illnesses pretty well and most of the time we do not realize till it is to late. Thank you for sharing your story and all the strenght in the world to you.