All of us are concerned about the health of our pets and make every effort to ensure their health. As far as bearded dragons are concerned, they are generally considered robust animals that do not get ill frequently: as long as you provide them with habitat, environment, and diet as per their needs. Despite being hardy, they can, however, develop a variety of diseases and other health complications, just like any other animal. Since beardies are a bit different from other pets (like dogs, cats, etc.) in terms of their behavior and body language, knowing your bearded friend’s feelings is not easy most of the time. So it may be difficult for most beardie owners to detect that their bearded friend is sick. So we have created this comprehensive guide to help you learn the signs bearded dragons generally exhibit when they are ill.

Common Signs Of Sickness In Bearded Dragons

Here are 13 common signs of sickness.

1. Constipation Or Impaction

Constipation or impaction is the most common and easy-to-detect symptom of illness in bearded dragons. Normally an adult bearded dragon defecates once daily to once in seven days, while baby beardies poo 1-3 times daily. So you should be concerned if your adult bearded friend doesn’t defecate for seven days or your baby beardie doesn’t poo for a couple of days. The wrong substrate, wrong diet, the incorrect temperature inside the enclosure, and wrong feeder size are a few common causes of impaction or constipation in beardies. You should take this symptom seriously and act promptly, as it can be life-threatening.

Related article  How Do I Make My Bearded Dragon Poop?

2. Abnormal Poop

The color, consistency, and texture of poop itself are very good indicators of beardie’s health. Generally, a healthy beardie’s feces are tube shape, solid, and a mixture of brown and white colors. Any change in the poop color, texture, or consistency (loose or pasty, reddish or black, etc.) indicates something is wrong. It can be simple indigestion or something severe.

3. Off-Feed

Lowered feed intake or feed rejection is another easy-to-detect sign that a bearded dragon exhibits when he is stressed or disturbed. Lack of appetite or change in feeding routine is generally the first sign to appear during many issues and cannot be associated with a particular disease. However, generally, a bearded dragon refuses to eat, when

  • He is stressed because he is recently adopted and is not familiar with the new home and people.
  • He is stressed due to another reptile inside the tank or larger pets (dogs, cats, etc.) around him.
  • Can’t digest the previously eaten food due to improper UVB light or temperature, as both are necessary for digestion and metabolism.

Related article Will A Bearded Dragon Starve Itself?

4. Diarrhea

Diarrhea indicates that you are feeding the wrong feed to your beardie. In addition, if the diarrhea is of red or orange color, it indicates a heavy parasite infestation. (Remember that bearded dragons normally contain parasites in their guts; however, red or orange-tinged diarrhea indicates that the parasitic count has risen to a dangerous level).

5. Aggression

Generally, a bearded dragon (who is appropriately tamed and socialized) is friendly and calm when you approach or try to handle him. However, any sudden change in behavior or presence of aggression signs (like hissing, puffing, biting, etc.) shows that something is wrong with your bearded friend. For example, he may be ill, uncomfortable, or stressed due to unsuitable habitat, environmental setting, or other factors.

6. Weight Loss

Unexpected and rapid weight loss, without any apparent reason, is never a good thing. Being unique animals, bearded dragons may reduce their diet and lose weight due to many reasons, some of which are normal while others are abnormal. It’s okay to lose weight and lower feed intake if your beardie prepares for brumation. However, if brumation is not the case and their feed intake is normal, and still they are getting weak day by day, there is undoubtedly something amiss, and you need to see things deeply.

7. Bloat Or Swollen Belly

Normally bearded dragons puff up to look bigger and show aggression when they are afraid of something or want to warn others to keep away. However, this condition remains for a short duration. If you observe that your beardie’s belly is inflated continuously, it could be due to impaction or egg-binding, and both conditions are life-threatening and need immediate action.

8. Respiratory Issues 

Though it’s not common, still bearded dragons can develop some respiratory issues, especially when they are malnourished and stressed and when the temperature inside the enclosure falls below the normal limit frequently. Coughing, audible gasping breaths, wheezing, and rapid, shallow, or open-mouthed breathing are common signs of bearded dragons when they have respiratory issues.

9. Change In Skin Appearance

The change in the color and appearance of the skin can also help you detect many problems that your bearded friend may be suffering.

  • Overly Wrinkled: It’s ok to have a few wrinkles on its skin if your bearded dragon is healthy and has enough fat pads. However, if your beardie is thin and doesn’t have enough fat pads, then wrinkled skin means he is underweight, and you need to improve his diet. In addition, if the weight of your beardie is normal, then wrinkled skin means he is dehydrated.
  • Skin Discoloration:  Any change in the normal color of skin (especially the darkening of the skin) should be taken seriously. In addition, the yellow coloration of the skin indicates a fungal infection that can be deadly.

10. Darkening / Discoloration Of the Inside of the Mouth

If you see any change in the color (or darkening) of mucosa inside the mouth, it may indicate a bacterial infection called “mouth rot.” Unhygienic conditions and lowered temperature inside the vivarium are the significant causes of mouth rot.

11. Swelling

Inflammation or swelling in any part of the body should not be ignored, as it can be due to trauma, insect bite, or infection. Especially if the tail or limbs are swollen, it may be due to fracture, MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease), or tail rot.

12. Cloudy & Sunken Eyes

Eyes are a great indicator of beardie’s health. Like humans or other animals, a healthy bearded dragon has bright, alert, and discharge-free eyes. Though eyes may be slightly cloudy during brumation, however, dull and cloudy eyes of a non-brumating beardie and any kind of discharge from the eye indicate an eye infection. In addition, sunken eyes mean your bearded friend is very weak or severely dehydrated.

13. Lethargy Or Fatigue

Some beardie can be more active than others, so it’s crucial to know your bearded dragon’s personality and energy level. If your bearded friend appears lethargic, less active, or lazy than usual, it could be due to many possible reasons (both management and medical issues).

Closing Lines

Every pet owner must know the general symptoms of illness so that the disease can be treated in time. In the case of bearded dragons, things are a bit complicated as compared to other pets due to their unique way of communication. We hope this article will help you a lot to interpret the illness signs at early stages, and you will be able to find its cure before it’s too late.