Bearded Dragon Not Eating
Is your bearded dragon not eating? But, bearded dragons love to eat. However, they can become very picky eaters if you give them too much of a good thing. Many beardie owners have reported that after feeding their pet tasty roaches for a while, their bearded dragon scoffs when placing crickets in his tank (vivarium). He would rather starve than eat the crickets. After all, they aren’t as tasty as roaches or silkworms. It appears that your bearded dragon is not eating.
Too Much of a Good Thing
I have experienced this with my own beardie. Too much of a good thing…so I learned that some food is to be given occasionally as a treat (butterworms, locust, pinkies, whatever he likes the best) and to give the staples (crickets, fruits, and vegetables) for the usual feedings. My beardie has never “starved himself to death”. Despite my affirmation that he was never going to eat crickets again…he did.
This is funny and almost akin to a spoiled child at the dinner table. Too much spoiling makes a beardie rotten too! To prevent this problem with your adult dragon – keep the “treats” to a minimum. Concentrate on suitable vegetables as the staple food. Followed by crickets. Running up with fruit. Provide superworms, butterworms, roaches, and other insects only a few times a week and in small amounts. The cure, once you have the problem, is to just leave the crickets in the vivarium and walk off. When the beardie sees he has no choice but to eat the crickets, he reluctantly eats his food. If you beardie is healthy, this will solve the problem of your bearded dragon not eating.
BEST OPTION: Do NOT get into the habit of feeding your bearded dragon the “treats” as his regular diet. Feed the vegetables, crickets, and fruit in this order of priority.
NOTE: Feeding juvenile bearded dragons are different from feeding adults. Refer to Raising a Baby Bearded Dragon? – Read This First!
Since beardies are omnivorous (eating both animal and plant foods), it’s a great idea to constantly feed your beardie a variety of food including the correct vegetables which are essential in a bearded dragon’s diet. Many beardies may not like to eat their veggies but you have to persist until they do start eating them…sounds familiar huh, Mom? For more information about what to feed your bearded dragon, refer to What Bearded Dragon Food to Give and How to Feed.
There are a few other reasons than being plain picky, which may result in your beardie not eating.
More Than One Bearded Dragon?
Do you have more than one beardie? If you do and you’re keeping them together, they may be stressed out. Bearded dragons are not highly social creatures within their own species. So to get along in a relatively small enclosure, all beardies must “like” each other. If not, stress occurs. The solution, as inconvenient as it may be, is to isolate your beardies by putting them in separate vivariums. Refer to Is Keeping Multiple Bearded Dragons a Good Idea?
NOTE: Do NOT put males together. Male bearded dragons are territorial and will fight each other, resulting in beardies with wounds. Even possible death!
Is Your Bearded Dragon Shedding?
Is your beardie shedding his skin? During this period, many lose their appetite and don’t eat as much. Allow him time to shed. You may give him a bath to speed up the process but do not help with pulling off the skin or you may damage the beardie’s scales.
NOTE: During shedding, make sure that the beardie is shedding his skin in vital areas such as the toes, in-between the toes, the tip of his tail…all small areas where the skin has not completely shed off could cause loss of circulation, resulting in loss of limbs.
Check out this awesome video that explains it all!
Is the temperature in the tank correct? Check the temperature gradient. Beardies need 8 to 12 hours of strong UV light. They need the heat to digest the food ( 95 F° for adults and 110 F° for juveniles). If the tank is not hot enough, your beardie will not have an appetite. Make sure one side of the tank is cool (85 F°) so he can go cool off. This is how beardies thermo-regulate their bodies. Refer to Creating a Dragon’s Lair – Make Your Dragon Feel At Home.
Is your bearded dragon impacted? Has your beardie taken a poop over the past 3 days? If the answer is no, give him a warm bath and gently massage his belly. He’ll defecate after a few hours and things should return to normal after that. If he does not poop within this time-frame, take him to your herp veterinarian immediately. He has an impaction that is not passing and needs a vet’s help. If impaction continues, he could become paralyzed and even worse, die.
Is your beardie getting enough vitamins, minerals, and calcium? Another reason for a lack of appetite could be a nutrient deficiency. Add calcium and multivitamin dust to the food you feed your beardie. Refer to What Bearded Dragon Food to Give and How to Feed.
Is your bearded dragon beginning Brumation? During this time, beardies stop eating. This is normal and expected. Most beardies go through the brumation cycle for about 1 to 3 months. This is similar to hibernation where they rarely eat and do not move often. You will have to let nature take its course. After the cycle, your beardie will start eating normally. Refer to Essential Facts about Brumation and Bearded Dragons for more information about Brumation.
There are other reasons your pet may not eat. Parasites, bone disease, food poisoning, and other health issues are all possible reasons. These can only be diagnosed by a professional herp vet. If your beardie has not eaten for 6 to 7 days, bring him to the vet and find out the root of the problem.
As a beardie owner, you need reference guides. Learn as much as you can to successfully keep your beardie around for an optimal time. It is such a rewarding experience! Responsibility and knowledge are key to successful Bearded Dragon management.
There are several excellent guides available. The list to the left provides you with several choices. They are a great investment for both you and your pet, taking the guess-work out of the equation.
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