11 Reasons Your Bearded Dragon is Not Eating

It can be quite concerning if your bearded dragon is not eating and there could be a whole host of different reasons for their loss of appetite. It may, however, come as a reassurance that these moments of sudden and short loss of appetites are not actually too uncommon.

But the main concern for any owner should be when there is a persistent loss of appetite in your beardie for an extended length of time.

You probably know your beardie far better than anyone else and you can, therefore, recognize when they have a change in behavior. Something must be wrong somewhere, and here is a list of reasons as to why your bearded dragon might not be eating.

Natural Reasons

Your beardies are naturally programmed to go through life cycles that cause them to show certain behaviors during specific stages of their life at specific moments.

Age, shedding processes and brumation are all-natural processes that cause the beardies to refuse to eat and should not be of immediate concern.

1. Brumation

You’ve heard of the term ‘hibernation’. Hibernation is a common behavioral concept among animals which implies a state of inactivity. For reptiles such as your beardie, the process is referred to as brumation.

This process usually occurs during the colder months of the year and can last for as long as three months.

During this period, the first step is to actually allow them to go through the process in peace.

Ensure food is available at any time they need it.

This is probably the time they need emotional support from you. Your dragons are emotional beings too.

By the time they’re past this stage, metabolic processes become more normal and their activity levels bounce back up rapidly.

Hence the need to have water and food available to them as needed.

2. Shedding

If your bearded dragon is shedding then you’ve probably observed your beardie going through one of the most irritable periods of the calendar.

Behaviors such as rubbing skin against the wall within the tank are typical of a shedding dragon.

However, shedding causes irritation in a beardie and also a reduced appetite.

Loss of appetite due to shedding can be resolved easily by bathing your dragon once or twice per day. Misting them with a warm bottle will also help keep them hydrated and prepare them ready for a meal.

3. Age

Another factor influencing appetite in your bearded dragon is simply their age. Growth phases in your bearded dragon have different nutritional demands.

At the earlier stages, when your beardies are just hatchers and juveniles, they tend to have more nutritional demands because they’re fast-growing and they’re undergoing vital developmental processes.

As beardies advance in age, behavioral changes such as eating patterns change.

This can result in a natural reduction in the amount they consume.

 Tank Environment

Physical factors such as heating, temperature, and UVB lighting could also influence feeding patterns in your bearded dragons in the following ways:

4. UVB Light Deficiency

The spectrum of light waves entering your beardie’s cages will have an impact on their feeding patterns.

Dragons, for the most part, will prefer light waves within the UVB region from an adequate lighting source within their tank. Without it, they simply won’t want to eat.

In fact, this lighting contributes to more than a healthy appetite.

Calcium absorption is increased due to the vitamin D3 content UVB light contains, essential nutrients for rapid bone development.

An in-built electronic sun blaster provides an adequate source of UVB light to meet the optimal UVB requirements of your beardie.

Additionally, this product does not generate flickering lights and it is easy to install so it is a must-have if you don’t already have something like it.

5. Humidity

Factors such as ventilation, temperature, and the amount of available water will all affect relative humidity within your bearded dragon’s tank.

In fact, the optimum humidity for bearded dragons is often a challenge to achieve.

Too much humidity favors the growth of:

  • Harmful Bacteria
  • Fungus

While lower humidity conditions cause your dragon to shed more frequently whilst also increasing the risk of dehydration. 

To measure relative humidity, a digital hygrometer should be used which allows you to monitor the humidity conditions within your beardie’s cage.

Inkbird ITH-10 Digital Thermometer

6. Heating and Temperature

Some bearded dragons like to get warm before they eat. This is usually because their digestive system works optimally at certain temperatures.

Hence, it is possible for your bearded dragon to refuse to eat unless the surrounding temperature is raised to that level.

The most effective means to regulate the temperature of your dragons’ environment is through the use of a heat lamps.

These allow you to easily adjust the temperature of your pet’s enclosure.

A basking rock could also be placed in your dragon’s environment to maximize on the availability of heat.

It is important to regularly monitor your bearded dragon’s environment in order to make reasonable adjustments.

The Etekcity thermometer is a versatile tool with in-built infrared technology which allows you to measure the surface temperature of various objects with absolute ease.

Bearded Dragon Lighting Setup Thermometer

Health Issues

Health issues such as mouth rot, stress, vitamin deficiency, and infections can all contribute to your bearded dragon’s refusal to eat in the following ways:

7. Impaction

If your Bearded Dragon is not eating well, there is a possibility that it could be due to impaction. Impaction occurs when your beardie’s digestive system becomes blocked.

If your terrarium has a grainy or loose particle substrate then this could be the issue.

Beardies are renowned for consuming non-edible objects such as sand substrates which bung them up.

This causes severe lack of appetite

It has also been suggested that some food items such as mealworms, can also cause impaction. It is therefore important to know about the best types of worms to feed your beardie to avoid such problems.

Impaction causes a lot of pain in your beardie and will likely cause them to lose their appetite. To prevent this problem from occurring it is advisable to use a safe non-particle substrate.

This prevents your beardies from accidentally eating small pieces of debris within their environment.

If your dragon is already suffering from impaction then I, first of all, recommend a good bath. Ensure though, to remove ions such as chlorines and chloramines from the water.

This can easily be achieved with Reptisafe water conditioner.

Bearded Dragon Diarrhea Zoo Med Reptisafe

8. Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamins play a major role in appetite and food digestion. Vitamins such as B2 and B5 play a major role in digestion. Hence proper nutrition would contribute a great deal in helping your beardies digestive system.

Vitamins such as these can be consumed through vegetables or even supplements.

Take caution though when using supplements that you don’t overdo it. If you are at all unsure then you should always consult your beardie’s vet for advice.

9. Parasites and Infection

Parasites within your beardie’s digestive system could be causing undetected diseases and illnesses in your beardie.

They can be hard to detect, however, if you see tiny red, yellow, orange, or black moving dots on your dragon, this can be a strong sign of parasites.

Competing for nutrients absorbed from your dragon’s food, parasites can cause your beardie to become malnourished.

They usually exist within the substrate of your beardie’s terrarium. Hence the need for a terrarium cleaner that will serve as a disinfectant.

Bearded Dragon Tank Cleaner Wipe Out

10. Mouth Rot

The very thought of this condition is horrid to imagine however it can be fairly common amongst bearded dragons.

This painful condition, caused by an infection, can cause beardies to avoid chomping away on their meals.

There are a few ways you can detect whether this is the cause of your bearded dragon not eating.

First of all, you may see some swelling, particularly in the head of your beardie. Other symptoms include loose teeth and bleeding gums.

Fortunately, however, the condition is quite easy to cure.

A vet will be able to provide great help and for any health-related concerns, this should always be your first action to take.

There is plenty of information about mouth rot in a beardie and how to cure it.

Ensure to take a look if you think this may be the problem.

11. Stress

Can you imagine working all day and coming back to your house and there’s no bedroom, no mattress and no place to rest? It probably wouldn’t go down too well.

Bearded dragons are very active animals and much like you, they also get exhausted.

This situation gets worse when there’s no resting place available.

Prolonged fatigue will undoubtedly lead to your dragon refusing to eat even when there’s food provided.

Having a hide or shelter for your beardie is as important as having a mattress in your bedroom. It will provide an adequate resting place for your beardie and will then restore their appetite.

Hide for Bearded Dragon Croc

Conclusion

Certain natural processes could be why your bearded dragon is not eating. Hence, the first key to understanding their loss of appetite is knowing what stage of their life cycle they are in.

It could be that there is no cause for concern. However, there may be other reasons why your beardies won’t eat.

Reasons such as stress, impaction, or infection are all contributing factors to a beardie’s loss of appetite.

Whatever the underlying issue, if you are concerned about your beardie’s health then you should always consult a vet as soon as possible.

Rule out any long term issues you may not be aware of and see your beardie bounce back to its usual self.

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bearded dragon eating problems

  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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