Is Your Bearded Dragon Sick?
Even while being well-known for their hardiness, there are still plenty of illnesses out there than can make your bearded dragon sick. You may have researched for days, weeks, or even months before buying your lizard. You may have the best lighting, cage set-up, vitamins, diet and a routine cleaning schedule that would make Mom proud. You may have regular stool and physical check-ups as advised. You may do all of these things, and still find your beardie acting abnormal.
Before we go into detail on specific symptoms and their meaning, let’s lay out a couple guidelines. First, for the purposes of this article I am assuming that you have the proper cage set-up for your dragon. This includes proper size, lighting, heating, diet, vitamins, humidity, hygiene, vet check-ups and so on. If your dragon is having an issue and you don’t have these basic needs met, the inadequate living conditions are more than likely the source of your problems. If you are unsure of what the proper living conditions are, the information can be found at my website below. Moving forward.
The problem with determining whether or not to take your lizard to the vet, is that bearded dragons tend to hide their ailments well. Many signs that will let you know something is wrong, are also signs that can be completely normal of a perfectly healthy beardie. However, if these symptoms persist for more than a couple days, you will want to have a veterinarian take a look at your pet. Here are some common issues that can be actions of a sick lizard, or one that is just having a bad day.
A lethargic beardie can be having an issue with internal parasites, or may be going into brumation(semi-hibernation). Regular stool checks 2-3x a year should help to prevent these pests.
Loose stool can also be due to internal parasites, but can also be from a change in diet or mood.
Dehydration is the biggest culprit of constipation. The second is impaction due to food items that are too large or indigestible. Try feeding them applesauce with a drop of olive oil, or giving them a warm bath for 30 minutes while rubbing their tummy gently from their chest to their vent.
Lack of Appetite
Again, a sign of internal parasites, brumation, maturing, or boredom with what you are offering. Try changing up your insects and vegetables to add variety and keep your lizard interested. If they still refuse to eat, get them checked out.
Pale in Color
This can be a sign of illness, or shedding. Giving them a bath will help to accelerate the shedding process. If it is indeed shedding that is causing the paleness, the skin should fall off within a day or so.
A black beard/throat is always a sign of stress. However, this stress can be caused by a number of things. It could be caused by illness, seeing “another lizard” in the glass, getting ready to have a bowel movement, or any type of outside distractions.
Glass dancing is a term that describes the act of frantically scratching at the glass of the enclosure. This can also mean a number of things. Your pet may be too hot, he may want to get out and play, “he” may be a “she” and thus digging for a site to lay eggs(even when not impregnated).
“So is my bearded dragon sick?” You ask.
The very best way to differentiate whether these symptoms are a threat, or nothing to worry about, is to pay attention to your pet. This goes for any animal, or person for that matter. If you have a strong relationship with your pet that involves daily interaction and observation, you will notice a problem almost immediately. Not only will this help to treat any ailments quickly, but you will be able to more accurately determine whether a trip to the vet is necessary, or if this is normal behavior. A stool sample at least twice a year, and a physical at least once a year is recommended. This will also help to quickly address any issues and keep your pet healthy, happy, and active for years.