how to tell if a bearded dragon is sick

How To Tell If A Bearded Dragon Is Sick?

Bearded dragons can suffer from various illnesses, and it’s crucial to recognize the signs early on to prevent further health complications. Here are some pointers to lookout for:

  • Behavioral Changes: Watch out for sudden changes in your pet’s behavior. A lethargic or unusually aggressive dragon could indicate an underlying illness.
  • Physical symptoms: Do a thorough inspection regularly looking for physical symptoms like abnormal feces, lack of appetite, or breathing difficulties.
  • Skin problems: If you notice blistering or discoloration in the skin around their mouth or tail, it could be an indication of a serious problem.

It is essential to regularly take your bearded dragon for check-ups with an experienced reptile veterinarian. By maintaining regular veterinary visits and closely monitoring your pet’s daily life, you can ensure their health and well-being.

One owner witnessed her bearded dragon experiencing severe reproductive issues, which almost led to fatal consequences. Timely medical intervention saved her dragon’s life.

Physical Symptoms of Illness

Central bearded dragon
Credit: P_1_B

To identify physical symptoms of illness in your bearded dragon, refer to this section titled ‘Physical Symptoms of Illness’ with sub-sections ‘Abnormal Discharge, Lethargy, Loss of Appetite, Discoloration, Sunken Eyes’. These symptoms may be indicative of underlying health problems and require immediate attention.

Abnormal Discharge

Bearded Dragon
Credit: Khairi Ruslan

Abnormal discharge in bearded dragons can be a sign of various health issues. Here are some possible causes of abnormal discharge in bearded dragons:

  • Respiratory infections: These infections can cause discharge from the eyes or nose, bubbles from the mouth or nose, unnaturally rapid or shallow breathing, open-mouthed breathing, decreased appetite, and lethargy.
  • Abscesses: These appear as hard tumor-like swellings anywhere on the body and can cause discharge.
  • Eye infections: Eye infections can cause discharge, crusting, and pus around the eyes. Mites can also cause eye discharge in bearded dragons.

If you notice abnormal discharge in your bearded dragon, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. A veterinarian can diagnose the underlying cause of the discharge and provide appropriate treatment. In some cases, prompt treatment can prevent serious or permanent damage to the eye or other organs.


Water Dragon Bearded Dragon at Riverside Brisbane 3D Anaglyph
Credit: Brian Westin

Lethargy in a bearded dragon can be a sign of illness or an underlying health issue. Here are some possible causes and signs to look out for Possible Causes of Lethargy:

  • Insufficient diet: A poor diet can lead to lethargy in bearded dragons.
  • Improper housing: Incorrect temperature and lighting conditions can cause a bearded dragon to become lethargic.
  • Internal parasites: Parasites can drain the energy from a bearded dragon, leading to lethargy.
  • Sickness: Lethargy can be a general sign of illness in bearded dragons.

Signs of Lethargy in a Bearded Dragon:

  • Reduced activity: A lethargic bearded dragon may show a decrease in activity levels and movement.
  • Unresponsiveness: Lethargic bearded dragons may appear weak and unresponsive.
  • Lack of appetite: A bearded dragon that is lethargic may have a decreased appetite.
  • Closed eyes: Lethargic bearded dragons may keep their eyes closed for extended periods.

Loss of Appetite

Bearded dragons can stop eating or lose their appetite for a variety of reasons. However, loss of appetite can be a sign of illness in bearded dragons. Here are some possible reasons why a bearded dragon may not be eating:

  • Illness: Lack of appetite, lethargy, and a drop in weight are all significant signs that a bearded dragon needs to be checked out by a good reptile vet. Some common illnesses in bearded dragons include metabolic bone disease, mouth rot, and parasites.
  • Temperature: If the tank temperature is consistently too low, bearded dragons will be unable to properly digest their food, and in turn, will lose their appetite.
  • UVB lighting: Without high-quality UVB light with the percentage tailored to the distance between the light and the highest basking spot, a bearded dragon will begin to suffer from metabolic bone disease, due to a lack of Vitamin D3 in its system.
  • Brumation: When seasons begin to change from summer into fall and then into winter, many bearded dragons may brumate, or hibernate. The bearded dragon’s appetite will decrease along with its activity levels. Most of the time this is normal and nothing to worry about.

If a bearded dragon is not eating, it is important to check the habitat temperatures to make sure they are in the proper ranges for the age of the bearded dragon. If the temperatures are correct, then check to make sure adequate UV radiation is provided.

If the bearded dragon continues to not eat or shows other signs of illness, it is recommended to take them to a reptile vet for evaluation.


Discoloration can be a sign of illness in bearded dragons. Here are some key points from the search results:

  1. Discoloration as a warning sign: Discoloration, such as yellow, black, or red spots on the skin, can be an indication that something is wrong with a bearded dragon.
  2. Causes of discoloration: Discoloration in bearded dragons can be caused by various factors, including stress, diet, genetics, age, and environment.
  3. Respiratory infections: Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, can lead to discoloration in bearded dragons. These infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites and can weaken the immune system.
  4. Mouth infection or rot: Black or discolored mouths in bearded dragons can be a sign of infection or mouth rot.
  5. Skin infection or injury: Rotting or discolored skin can indicate an infection or injury in bearded dragons. This can be caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, or burns.

If you notice discoloration in your bearded dragon, it is important to consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment for your pet.

Sunken Eyes

Sunken eyes in bearded dragons can be a sign of various health issues. Here are some key points from the search results:

  • Dehydration: Sunken eyes are a telltale symptom of dehydration in bearded dragons. It is important to ensure that your bearded dragon has access to clean water and is properly hydrated.
  • Illness: Sunken eyes can also indicate illness or diseases in bearded dragons. If your bearded dragon is showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy or loss of appetite, it is important to seek veterinary care.
  • Parasite infestation: Parasites can also cause sunken eyes in bearded dragons. Regular fecal examinations and deworming treatments can help prevent and address parasite infestations.
  • Weight loss: Sunken eyes can be a sign of severe weight loss in bearded dragons. Monitoring your bearded dragon’s weight and ensuring they are receiving a proper diet is important for their overall health.

It is crucial to address the underlying cause of sunken eyes in bearded dragons. Treatment may involve providing hydration, medication, and addressing any underlying health issues. If you notice sunken eyes in your bearded dragon, it is recommended to take immediate action and consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Behavioral Symptoms of Illness

Behavioral symptoms of illness in bearded dragons can vary, but there are some common signs to look out for. These symptoms may indicate that your bearded dragon is sick and in need of veterinary attention:

Respiratory issues

Respiratory issues, including pneumonia and respiratory infections, can occur in bearded dragons under certain conditions. Here are some key points about respiratory issues in bearded dragons:


  • Stress: Bearded dragons that are stressed are more susceptible to respiratory infections.
  • Improper feeding: Poor nutrition can weaken the immune system, making bearded dragons more prone to respiratory issues.
  • Poor habitat conditions: Cold, dirty, or humid environments can contribute to respiratory infections.
  • Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system can make bearded dragons more susceptible to respiratory infections.


  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Bubbles from the mouth or nose
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy


  • Improve habitat conditions: Maintain proper temperatures (above 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and night, with a basking temperature between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity levels (below 40%).
  • Remove excess moisture: Use a dehumidifier or fogger to control humidity levels in the tank.
  • Seek veterinary care: If the respiratory infection persists or worsens, it is important to consult a veterinarian who can prescribe appropriate antibiotics.

It is important to note that respiratory infections in bearded dragons can be serious and even fatal if left untreated, so prompt veterinary care.

Eye issues

Bearded dragons can experience a variety of eye problems, and it is important to identify and treat them as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage to the lizard’s health. Some common eye issues that bearded dragons can experience include:

  • Eye swelling: This can be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from infections to discomfort. Honey is a natural antibacterial solution that can be used to treat eye swelling, but if there is no improvement within a day or two, veterinary assistance may be necessary to give the dragon antibiotics.
  • Eye infection: This can be identified by eye discharge, which is a sign of an eye infection in bearded dragons. Any discharge from the eye should be taken seriously, and veterinary assistance should be sought right away.
  • Tear duct blockage: The tear duct is a special structure through which tears flow to the dragon’s eye. Blockage of the tear duct can cause eye infections, and it is often caused by unsuitable living conditions.
  • Vitamin A deficiency: This can cause eye problems in bearded dragons, including swollen eyes and difficulty shedding. A diet that includes plenty of leafy greens and vegetables can help prevent vitamin A deficiency.

Preventing eye illnesses is always preferable to treating them, and a preventive approach can help your dragon stay happy and healthy by minimizing a variety of eye problems. If you suspect that your bearded dragon may be ill, it is important to seek veterinary assistance right away to ensure that the problem is properly diagnosed and treated.

Strange behavior

Bearded dragons can exhibit unusual behaviors when they are sick or distressed. Some of these behaviors are normal, such as digging or defending themselves, but they can signal the need for intervention and help. Other behaviors, such as constantly gaping mouth, are undoubtedly signs of sickness. Here are some abnormal and undesirable behaviors of bearded dragons:

  • Lethargy
  • Wobbly walking
  • Lack of movement
  • Moving the front legs only
  • Twitching or jerking movements
  • Looking upwards for no reason (“stargazing”)
  • Soaking too much
  • Hiding
  • Angry behavior, such as hissing and biting

If a bearded dragon is lethargic, sleeping longer, walking with less energy, or refusing to chase prey as usual, there are many possible reasons for this. Some are completely normal, and some signify a bigger concern, such as parasites or a poor diet.

Other signs that a bearded dragon may be sick include lack of energy, lack of appetite, jerky movements, limping, swollen body parts, aggressiveness, change in mood or behavior, wheezing, gasping, coughing, discharge from the eyes, ears, nose, or mouth, and rapid weight changes.

Sick beardies may also seem weak or grumpy, and they may hide and/or stop basking. Shaking, dizziness, head tilting, and loss of balance are also red flags. If a bearded dragon is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important to seek veterinary care.

Bathroom issues

Bearded dragons can experience bathroom issues due to various reasons, including constipation, impaction, and diarrhea. Here are some tips to help with bathroom issues in sick bearded dragons:

  1. Monitor your bearded dragon’s bathroom schedule. Bearded dragons tend to have a very regular bathroom schedule, and if they don’t go to the bathroom as usual or have diarrhea or another change in their feces, then it may be a sign of sickness.
  2. Give your bearded dragon a warm bath. Bathing your bearded dragon should help it relax and poop in the water. Water stimulates pooping in bearded dragons. Prepare a bath with a water temperature of approximately 90-95 degrees F (around 32-35 Celsius). Massage your bearded dragon’s belly gently while sliding fingers towards the vent.
  3. Practice good husbandry. To keep your bearded dragon healthy and to help it recover from illness more quickly, it is important to keep its home clean. On a daily basis, you should clean up the animal’s tank by removing old food, feces, and other messes. On a weekly basis, the whole tank should be cleaned and the bedding, dishes, and other items in the tank should all be cleaned with a disinfectant.
  4. Review the diet. An improper diet can affect a bearded dragon’s digestive system and cause them to become constipated. Make sure you are offering the correct greens and properly sized bugs.
  5. Take your bearded dragon to the vet. If your bearded dragon hasn’t had a bowel movement in a couple of days or a week, or if you notice any other signs of sickness, it is important to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Muscle twitching or seizures

Bearded dragons can experience muscle twitching or seizures due to various causes, including metabolic disorders, low calcium levels, neurological disorders, infection, brain trauma, and gastrointestinal distress.

The symptoms of muscle twitching or seizures in bearded dragons can include trembling, muscular twitching, full-body spasms, leg twitching, tail twitching, and head bobbing. If your bearded dragon is experiencing muscle twitching or seizures, it is important to identify the underlying cause and seek veterinary attention.

For example, if the cause is metabolic bone disease, the condition can progress and cause severe lethargy, loss of appetite, and even seizures. If the cause is a calcium deficiency, your bearded dragon’s bones will weaken, and the muscles they support will also begin to diminish.


Bearded dragons can become aggressive for many reasons, including feeling threatened, improper or new enclosure settings, poor handling or diet, sickness, and prior abuse or neglect.

Aggressive behavior is often a sign of stress or anxiety, which can be caused by many things. Signs of aggression in bearded dragons include hissing, open mouth display, puffing up the beard, black beard, stress marks, staring, and head bobbing.

Unusual behaviors in bearded dragons are usually signs of distress or sickness, such as lethargy, wobbly walking, lack of movement, twitching or jerking movements, and looking upwards for no reason (“stargazing”). If your bearded dragon is exhibiting aggressive or abnormal behavior, it may signal the need for your intervention and help.

It’s important to note that some behaviors may be normal for bearded dragons, so it’s essential to consider the overall context and look for patterns of abnormal behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms or have concerns about your bearded dragon’s health, it’s best to consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Digestive Symptoms of Illness

To identify digestive symptoms of illness in your bearded dragon, explore this section on how to tell if a bearded dragon is sick with a focus on digestive symptoms. This will help you spot and treat digestive issues early. The sub-sections in this part include diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.


Bearded dragons may experience diarrhea due to various reasons, including their diet, parasites, bacterial infections, stress, adenovirus infections, and other illnesses. The symptoms of diarrhea in bearded dragons include abnormal poop, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, and sudden defensiveness due to irritability. Here are some ways to treat diarrhea in bearded dragons:


  • Identify the cause: Once you have identified the cause of diarrhea in your bearded dragon, you can take appropriate steps to treat it.
  • Give your bearded dragon a soak: Soaking your bearded dragon in warm water can help soothe and treat diarrhea.
  • Keep your bearded dragon hydrated: Make sure your bearded dragon has access to clean water at all times and encourage them to drink more water.
  • Consider using a dewormer or parasite treatment: These treatments can help clean out your bearded dragon’s system, but it’s important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication


Constipation is a common problem among captive bearded dragons and other reptile species. Here are some possible causes and treatments for constipation in bearded dragons:


  • Not having their husbandry needs met
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating large amounts of something that is not digestible


  • Basking temperature adjustments
  • Gentle massages
  • Warm baths
  • Natural laxatives
  • Increase hydration
  • Increase exercise

It is important to note that if the constipation is severe or if there are other symptoms present, such as lethargy or loss of appetite, it is best to consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.


Vomiting in bearded dragons is not a normal behavior and can be a sign of underlying issues. Here are some possible reasons why a bearded dragon may be throwing up:

  1. Improper husbandry: The most common reason for bearded dragons to regurgitate is due to improper husbandry, such as incorrect temperature, lighting, or humidity levels.
  2. Salmonellosis: Salmonellosis is a gastrointestinal disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, fever, and more in bearded dragons.
  3. Overeating or drinking too quickly: Bearded dragons may throw up if they eat or drink too much too quickly.
  4. Impaction: Impaction occurs when a bearded dragon ingests something that causes a blockage in their digestive system. This can lead to vomiting.
  5. Parasites: Parasites can also cause vomiting in bearded dragons.
  6. Infectious diseases: Certain infectious diseases can result in vomiting in bearded dragons.
  7. Stress: Bearded dragons may throw up due to stress, which can be caused by changes in their environment or handling.

If your bearded dragon is throwing up, it is important to consult a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. They can help determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Next Steps

To continue ensuring your bearded dragon’s good health, take the next steps by consulting a veterinarian, recording symptoms, and creating a comfortable environment for your bearded dragon. By following each of these sub-sections, you can determine if your pet is sick and help them recover as quickly as possible.

Consulting a Veterinarian

As pet owners, it is essential to seek professional advice from a veterinarian. Seeking guidance from a qualified animal doctor is crucial for maintaining the health of your pet.

It is recommended to consult with a certified vet when your pet shows concerning symptoms or if you are uncertain about their overall well-being. They can provide detailed information about vaccinations and preventative care plans suitable for your animal’s lifestyle.

During the visit, make sure to provide as much detail as possible to help the veterinarian accurately diagnose the issue. Answer questions thoroughly and offer additional information that could be helpful in determining your pet’s condition.

Vets often have multiple approaches to managing an ailment and may suggest more than one treatment option based on the severity and specific characteristics of the case.

Creating a Comfortable Environment for Your Bearded Dragon

Creating a comfortable environment for your bearded dragon is essential for its well-being. Here are some tips to help you set up the best habitat for your pet:

  1. Tank Size: Provide a spacious enclosure for your bearded dragon. A 75-gallon tank is recommended.
  2. Substrate: Use a safe substrate such as reptile carpet, newspaper, or paper towels. Avoid using sand, as it can be dangerous if ingested.
  3. Temperature: Maintain a temperature gradient in the tank. The hot side should be around 95-100℉, while the cool side should be around 75℉. Use a basking lamp to create a warm spot for your dragon.
  4. Humidity: Bearded dragons thrive in low-humidity environments. Aim for a humidity level between 30% to 40%. Adequate ventilation and placing the water dish away from the basking spot can help maintain the desired humidity level.
  5. Lighting: Provide proper lighting for your bearded dragon. Use a UVB tube light to provide essential ultraviolet radiation for their health. Additionally, use a 75w UVA basking light to create a warm basking spot.
  6. Enrichment: Create a habitat with climbing and hiding opportunities. Add logs, hides, caves, and branches for your bearded dragon to explore and bask on. Reptile hammocks can also be used to create elevated basking spots.
  7. Decor: Personalize your bearded dragon’s tank with decorations. You can choose a simple or elaborate theme, depending on your preference. Some essential items to include are a basking log or rock and a hideaway for your dragon to retreat to.

Remember to regularly clean and maintain the habitat to ensure a comfortable and hygienic environment for your bearded dragon. Monitoring temperature and humidity levels is crucial for their overall health and well-being.