Yellow Fungus In Bearded Dragons


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. The sad part, by the time that symptoms are noticed on the skin, there is a good change that the disease has already damaged the inner tissues. NOW, before you completely stress out, remember, there are other skin diseases and infections that could also effect the skin. If Yellow fungus is suspected, you SHOULD find a reptile vet ASAP and have tests done. I do recommend having 2 opinions from different vets to be sure.

A skin scrape will be done to rule out mites, parasites, skin conditions or any other kinds of bacterial infections. Blood work will also give an accurate prognosis and will also pick up any underlying diseases that your dragon could have.


What are the Causes of Yellow Fungus?

Dirty conditions – Bearded dragons that are exposed to dirty conditions are at risk of infection.

Crowding – When too many dragons are housed and handled together without proper quarantine measures. This is a contagious disease; new bearded dragons should always go through a quarantine phase until they are given a clean bill of health. In many instances, an infected dragon in a pet store, breeding facility or rescue center can carry the disease and infect many others.

Stress – It will lower the immune system of a bearded dragon drastically and thus makes them vulnerable to infections.

Bite wounds – When an infected dragon bites another dragon, the disease could pass on to the other.

Antibiotics – Although it is not a proven fact, many discovered that bearded dragons that are given constant dosages of antibiotics are more prone to develop Yellow Fungus. Antibiotics destroy their natural defense system if used too much, making them vulnerable to infections. As a general rule to keep a bearded dragon healthy, pro-biotics should always be given when antibiotics were administered.


bearded dragon yellow fungus


What are the Symptoms of Yellow Fungus?
 

Listed below are the most common symptoms that can be identified with the illness. Keep in mind that although each one may appear, in many instances, only one symptom will be noticed. Each symptom should be taken seriously, even if there are not any other symptoms as listed below. 


  • It will show up as a yellow, brown or greyish patch on the surface of the scales. Usually starts with a small spot that gets bigger. In addition, as time goes by, more spots may appear on other parts of the body. As the disease progresses, the colour of the patches will become dark, cracked or crusty. 
bearded dragon yellow fungus

  • Irregular shedding that leaves behind dull or discolored scales with a rough appearance. A bearded dragon that is shedding on a constant basis, even though it did not gain weight or grow can also be a reason to worry since it can be the early signs of yellow fungus.


  • Weight loss, poor appetite, sunken eyes, restless behavior that goes along with one or more of the symptoms mentioned.


  • Wounds that have discolored scales around them, are swollen badly or discrete a puss. 

bearded dragon yellow fungus


  • Wounds that do not heal in a reasonable time frame.

  • Body parts that turn black and break/fall off.


What is the Treatment for Yellow Fungus?
 

Unfortunately, like mentioned above, there is no cure for the disease. However, there are various treatments available to keep your dragon in a “healthy state” for as long as possible. Lets have a look at a few of them:
  • Anti-fungal drugs – Oral combination treatments of itraconazole and terbinafine and so forth.
  • Homeopathic medicines combined with conventional treatments. Example: Using Colloidal Silver water and Nolvasan. (Recommended by many)
  • Skin treatment with povidone iodine twice daily.


REMEMBER! You absolutely cannot apply the treatments mentioned above without consulting with your reptile vet first. Dosages will need to be worked out according to weight and the stage of the illness!


What-else Can I Do?

Start your Dragon on Probiotics!  This will strengthen the immune system and help them fight the disease. Other supplements like bee pollen and royal jelly that is added to the food will build the immune system as well since it is high potency.


yellow fungus bearded dragons

A dragon that is not eating? Mix supplements mentioned above (bee pollen and royal jelly), into organic baby food. Feed it to your dragon by dropping a little bit at a time on his/her snout. Most dragons will lick it off.


Give your dragon as much direct sunlight as possible. Natural UVB will also boost the immune system.

 

The correct diet! Your dragon is fighting a serious illness and his/her body needs all the nutrition possible to help combat deterioration. Cut all the “occasional foods” and only give staples unless advised otherwise by a veterinarian. (See food chart).


Avoid stress. Constant stress will significantly lower the immune system of a dragon. Keep your dragon as calm as possible and eliminate factors that will cause stress like hard noise, other animals in the same room and so forth.


Change the habitat. Only use newspaper or paper towels for substrate and change it every day. NO cage furniture that is made of wood or anything organic that will allow the fungus to grow. Plastic and rock and wood logs is fine. The cage with all accessories should also be cleaned with a disinfectant like F10 once/twice a week. This will kill any kind of bacteria that could compromise the already weakened immune system of your beardie. Remember to rinse items well after cleaning; no disinfectant should be left behind. A soft baby blanket inside the cage will do wonders. Beardies love soft, warm things, it calms them down.



bearded dragons yellow fungus

Have regular vet checkups to make sure that your dragon is thriving and coping with the disease.


Give your bearded dragon tons of love and attention! A sick pet will feel stressed and nothing better than the comfort of his/her owner to make them feel better. 


bearded dragon health

Is Yellow Fungus Contagious?
 

Yes, it is highly contagious for reptiles and can easily spread from one to another. Any dragons that were in contact with an infected one should also be quarantined and watched closely for any signs of infection. A vet visit is a must; tests will catch it in the early phase before it attacks the internal tissue or rule out the disease all together and give you peace of mind.


A bearded dragon with YF should be kept far away from other reptiles and you should wash your hands before and after handling your sick pet!


What About Humans, Can We Get YF from an Infected Dragon?

Reports of healthy people contraction YF from a reptile are almost nonexistent due to the fact that our immune systems are much stronger than reptiles. However, those with poor immune systems should be careful when dealing with reptiles suffering from YF. Example: People with HIV/AIDS, those who had organ transplants or those receiving cancer treatment. Best to have a talk with your MD about YF if you have one of these illnesses.


How Long Will My Bearded Dragon Live?

The majority of infected dragons will die within 12 to 18 months, depending on the severity of the disease. However, it is reported that many lived up to 5 years fighting it successfully as healthy dragons.


It is impossible to make an accurate prognosis because various factors will determine how long he/she will stay healthy. This includes the types of treatments, diet, general care, attention and so forth.


How Will I Know When it is Time to Put My Dragon to Sleep?
 

When the Yellow fungus enters the aggressive stage, it will infect every part of the body. The dragon can lose limbs, eyelids, lips and parts of his/her face. In addition, it will lead to poor appetite or a dragon not eating at all, severe weight loss and constant Lethargic behavior.

Considering the extreme pain they must feel as the disease progress in full, euthanasia should definitely be a consideration! Yellow Fungus does not kill quickly, the bearded dragon will suffer to death and in all honestly, no one, should allow it to go that far, it is cruel!

As long as the bearded dragon is still active, alert, eats well, do well with the treatments, grow and have a general healthy appearance; euthanasia should not be an option. However, when signs of severe discomfort like mentioned above occur and deterioration starts to take place, it would be time to make a vet appointment to arrange putting your pet to sleep before it gets too bad for him/her.


What Can I Do to Prevent My Bearded Dragon from Getting Yellow Fungus?

  • Proper sanitation and general hygiene are the major risk reducers. Keep them and the cage clean by bathing your beardie at least 3 – 4 times a week and cleaning the cage one/twice a week.
  • Remove waste like poop and old food as soon as possible.
  • Change the substrate frequently. Do not use substrates like bark, it is common for any kind of bacteria and parasite to grow and thrive in these.
  • Use proper disinfectants and cleaners like F10.
bearded dragon yellow fungus
  • Wash your hands when you handled other reptiles!
  • Do not allow other reptiles near your healthy one; you never know what kind of diseases the other might have. If you get a new bearded dragon or a reptile, it should have a quarantine period of 2 weeks to rule out any underlying illnesses, or, until your vet has given it a clear bill of health (Recommended)
  • Invest in probiotics! This will strengthen the immune system. Any kind of antibiotic or parasite treatment will not only kill the infection/parasite, but also damage the immune system. If your bearded dragon had antibiotics, probiotics is a must!


Keep your dragon healthy with the correct setup, diet and general care. Feel free to browse this site, if you are unsure about the correct bearded dragon care.



yellow fungus bearded dragons

Pictures of Jesse provide by Becky Cordy

41 comments:

  1. Thanks for the detailed post about YF, Indeed a horrible sickness.

    Jesse looked happy even though she was sick, so sorry for the loss

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    1. Your are welcome Andrea.

      Yes, indeed a horrible disease for a bearded dragon to have.

      Jesse's mommy loved her a lot and took proper care of her till the end. Some of her rescued beardies are true miracles that came from very bad situations. Cassie is one of them and you can find her page here:

      https://www.facebook.com/The-story-of-Cassie-the-little-beardie-660587277326915/?fref=ts

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  2. thank you for your comment, I really tried everything to save Jesse, it was a long 6 months but once it went septic, I had no choice but to put her to sleep, she was in so much pain and the morning I took her in, I got the look from her saying its time. I sure miss my girl, been 2 1/2 years now.

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    1. So sorry to hear about Jesse, although long ago, I am sure you still miss her a lot.

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  3. I lost my beardy I had for a Lil over 2 years due to a lightening bug... It was very traumatic for me and our family size we loved strailia so much. Now I have a male who was a rescue.. The woman that gave him to us suspected that he wasn't cared for properly.. He seems to not be able to see very well I've taken legs off crickets just so he could catch then.. He is really skinny but urine is white.. He bobs his head frequent and also his beard turns black quickly so I am wondering how I can help him.. I have him in 75 gallon tank and the pet center told me he will Polly do better cause they suspected he was in a Lil tank and couldn't move much and didn't have much muscle.. Anyone have any suggestions?

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    1. So sorry about the loss of Strailia, I can only imagine how traumatic it must have been. They are like kids, take up a huge part of our heart.

      If he is too skinny you should not give him too much protein (crickets) at a time. This could damage his liver and kidneys. I suggest feeding him baby food (butternut) mixed with a supplement like "critical care" or "Carnivore Care" at first and slowly introduce his protein. He should also be given his greens and veggies. Also, be sure that he is properly hydrated by giving daily baths.

      The 75 gallon is fine for him. If he does not have one, be sure to add a hide. It will help him to get rid of stress.

      Males will head bob for many reasons, no need for concern. The black beard should not not be permanent and go away when he sleeps or calm down. If it is a consistent black beard that does not go away, it calls for concern.

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  4. do you have to separate 2 newly bought beardies for a little while until tested or just put them together?

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    1. Best to separate them for at least 2 weeks until you are sure that both are free from illnesses. Yellow fungus is not the only condition that can spread from one to another, thus, best to put any new reptile in quarantine until cleared.

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    2. I just lost my second bearded to yellow fungus. She died on my shoulder. She fought a good fight. I miss both my beardies. RIP. Delilah and Taboo

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    3. So sorry to hear about your loss. It is a horrible illness without a cure, always sad to seem them go too soon.

      RIP Delilah and Taboo, you will never be forgotten.

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  5. Me and my boyfriend only had our baby beardie for not even 2 months and we had no idea he was sick, he was just a baby and he was so strong for us and never showed us he was in any pain until it was to late , 23 brought him to the vet and she told us it was to late and so with that we put him to sleep and I miss him more than anything in the world ��❤️ It was last night that I said my last goodbye to my baby spike��

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    1. Sorry for some spelling errors

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    2. So sorry to hear about Spike. Yes, they do hide illness quite well until it is too late.

      I am sure he loved the little time he had with you. They always stay in our hearts, mostly good memories.

      Hugs.

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  6. Can canv be spread by air? I have two beardies in the same room. Separately kept in individual tanks. But one is healthy and the other has Canv!

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    1. It is better to keep them in separate rooms. Does not spread by air but, if you accidentally touch one and do not wash your hands properly, you can contaminate the healthy one.

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  7. The antifungals KILL the yellow fungus so yes there is a cure but sadly most people do not get their pet seen till it has progressed so far that treatment is not fast enough. By the time you seem the first small sign it is already much bigger underneath, so when people say "ya I noticed this spot a month ago and it just keeps getting bigger and seems painful so I brought him in" it is likely too late.

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  8. Do you know if this could be hereditary?

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    1. Hi. Fortunately they cannot inherit the disease. But it is contagious.

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  9. I just found out mine has it. I'm so sad. I have a question about his tank. When he dies do I have to throw EVERYTING away? Tank and all???

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    1. Hi. It really depends on the type of tank it is. Glass just needs to be cleaned properly to get rid of the bacteria. It's best to replace wooden cages, also best to replace the contents of the tank.

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  10. Sorry for everyone who has lost a beardie to yellow fungus, I rescues a beardie that was found outside, and within a month I had to put her to sleep. I still miss Jesse so bad at times, I tried everything to save her but nothing worked. Giving antibiotics when they have yellow fungus will spread it so fast, as I found out with Jesse, I tell everyone who has a beardie with YF please do not give antibiotics if you can. big hugs to you all. Jesse's mommy.

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  11. I just adopted a beardie from a pet store after his skin biopsy came back positive for YF. Iggy is in the early stages and still very happy. I follow a strict routine to keep him happy and healthy but every time we get a small win, the fungus resurfaces elsewhere. It's so heartbreaking but I couldn't let his story end in a store and not a home. I'm always praying for a medical breakthrough :(

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    1. Hi. So sorry to hear about your iguana. Best of thoughts to you.

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  12. how can u tell if a yellow birded dragon has yf

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  13. If you suspect they might have YF please please take to a reptile vet to be checked. As there isn't a cure, they can prescribe medication to slow it down.

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  14. I feel absolutely horrible now. My dragon isn't even 6 months old, and he has yellow fungus... I killed him...

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  15. I'm curious to know and can't find information anywhere specific to what I need to know. My boy Loki and my Girl Lori passed Lori on January 12th of this year and Loki on July 9th of last year from Yellow Fungus. I've been told the fungal spores will remain long after the dragon has passed. so my question is how long can the spores survive without a dragon host and How can I kill the spores??? I want to decontaminate my Car so Mr. Lionel can safely ride in it it's been since January since Lori has been in the car but I'm extremely paranoid about giving Lionel or Mr. Ashley Yellow Fungus

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    1. You have to disinfect your car with an anti-fungal, such as F10 solutions and clean it properly with a strong cleaning agent, like ammonia. After which you air out the car, so as to not cause harm to your animal/s, because of the chemicals.

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  16. You totally need to throw away items like wood and such. Rocks, tile, glass and plastic items can be clean using a 1part ammonia 10 part water solution.
    Then I recommend using F10 disinfectant.
    Soaking the items in ammonia solution for hours is great. Then airing it out. It will kill everything!

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    1. Yes, this is true, and thank you for sharing. Airing everything out is a very important part. I prefer to use a bit more than a 1/10 ratio of ammonia, just to be safe. You can always air something out for a bit longer to get rid of the chemicals, but you cannot cure yellow fungus.

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  17. Vericonizole is a great antifungal that has had good results for my beardie. His skin has cleared up twice. I don't know if it is common for their skin to clear up but then the fungus return or not. I just got the news that he was clear again today and am hoping he stays that way.

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    1. I am happy that you have fpund something that works. It is such a terrible disease.

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  18. If yellow fungus is sensitive to 38c 100f bearded dragons can be at a 100f to 105f for an hour at a time that is long eniough for the animal to be that temp all the way through at least that is what I am trying because I put down a male that I think had it and he was with my females in the early stages a female I had died after a long time she seemed to have shedding problems so I was giving her daily baths witch was a mistake because moisture is what the fungus needs to grow
    I read that people are unlikely able to get it because of our temperature is 98.6
    I am washing cages with straight vinegar then rinse with water I also have a hand steamer that I clean cages with
    I had a egg from the sick female that hatched and looks fine but I separated it from other babies I have now
    I put the other beardies is the window with just the screen and have a heat lamp in back of them just trying to boost metabolism also giving probiotics and bee pollen and royal jelly
    I am hoping for the best but can just wait and see what happens

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    1. So sorry to hear about your dragons. Unfortunatly there is no cure, but it can be treated. I personally did not know about the raised teperature to treat it. I will have to do some researh and then update the post once again.

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  19. My girl kora died of yf a while ago I have decided it’s time to get a new beardie. How can I clean the cage and stuff so that the new beardie can’t get yf also. She has been on my couch and bed and stuff would a steam cleaner fix it. I’m not sure what to do.

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    1. Sory to hear about your beardie. Everything that can be should be cleaned with an ammonia solution. Wooden cages should be replaced along with everything that is made of or contains wood should be replaced. Plastic and glass should be cleaned with an ammonia solution. Blankets and so forth should be washed in hot water with extra soap. Everything should be sprayed with disinfectant like f10 before being washed. Sofa's and so forth should be sprayed with disinfectant left for a few hours and then you can steam it. Make sure to air everything out before giving the new guy access. Chemicals can cause harm if not cleaned and aired out properly.

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  20. I just got my rescue from people who did the minimum to keep my Dexter alive. I see his stress marks are fading but he has some areas I think are YF. He's eating, gained weight, clean and seems happy. I'm doing the iodine baths and using antifungal cream. I pray I got to him in time to clear it up. I love my boy so much already. A reptile vet where I am is hard to find or costs more to be seen for a checkup than my cats when sick. So I'm doing my best. I really hope I don't lose him. He stole my heart the first day he fell asleep on me.

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    1. Sorry to hear. The only way to know for sure it is yellow fungus without going to the vet is to keep track of the yellow spots. If it gets bigger it means it is growing so it is most likely YF. If it stays exactly the same without change it might just be a birth mark of sorts. I do recomend keeping him away from other animals especially dragons and to take all the precautions listed above just in case it is YF. I really hope it is not and best wishes.

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  21. So sorry about Jesse passing with yellow fungus. RIP till we all meet again.

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    1. Thank you. Her beardie mommy will appreciate it.

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