So you have a bearded dragon as a pet do you? Affectionately known as beardies, these reptiles are omnivores, which means that they eat animals, fruits and plants.
The question is, how do you look after your beardie and keep it happy and healthy?
It can be a very worrisome situation if your pet won’t eat. Sometimes they can be just fussy eaters or they could be stressed and will not eat. Here are a few reasons why they are not eating.
A juvenilebeardie will eat more meat based protein that an adult beardie, the ratio isnormally around 70% meat for juveniles and 30% fruit and plants.
An adult beardiewill eat roughly 30% meat based protein and 70% fruit and plants.
The beardeddragon is classed as an adult after it has reached 8 months old.
When abearded dragon sheds, it can be very irritable for them and therefore their appetitedeclines.
Sheddingcan be caused by a few things, normally it is just a natural growth and development,but it can be caused by environment changes, health or just maturity.
A babybearded dragon will shed weekly, whereas a juvenile will shed around every 3 –4 weeks. The adults will shed about twice a year.
Anotherreason they will slow their eating habits down is that they are going into Brumation which is a formof hibernation in reptiles, this happens in the extreme changes of temperatureor it could be seasonal this can last up to 3 months long.
In this periodtheir activity is minimal, consequently their eating habits will change andsometimes they will not eat at all. Normally when they come out of Brumationthey will start to eat as normal.
Your beardie may stop eating if you simply just move their cage to a different area. This could result in different temperatures and different lighting etc. this could also throw them into turmoil.
So always keep a check the correct temperature and lighting to keep them comfortable
Your bearded dragon could simply be sick or be suffering from parasites, there are signs that you can look out for if you think your beardie is sick, such as sunken eyes, which could mean they are dehydrated, diarrhea or constipation.
They could have wrinkly skin which could also mean they are dehydrated. Look out for skin discoloration, they’re color may change and they can also suffer from a disease called tail rot which can be very serious.
If you areworried at all about your beardie then please take it to your local veterinarianor if you have one in your area, a Herp vet.
What to do if your beardie won’t eat:
Always makesure that they have food and water available to them at all times, thereforethey can eat if they need to.
Beardiesneed a variety of food to keep their digestive system working correctly and helpto keep your pet in tip top condition.
Variety is very important, just like humans they can get sick of the same food day in and day out, we also want a different array of foods. Therefore keep them interested in the different tastes and colors.
If your bearded dragon stops eating greens, then give them a different colored green vegetable or fruit.
Or youcould even wet the food with a little unsweetened apple or mango juice to givethem a different flavour and texture.
If this does not work maybe you could try hand feeding them, they quite like the contact of being hand fed.
But word of warning, sometimes they will get so spoilt and will only eat this way and not from their bowl or cage.
You shouldonly do this in extreme circumstances, that is if your beardie is malnourishedor really sick, and only from instruction from your local professional.
Firstly you will need a small syringe. Then you can source some healthy options of baby food, but only certain types that are beneficial for a bearded dragon.
The other choice is you can puree your own vegetables which are your pet’s favorite (which is the better decision).
Another approach is to soak your beardie’s pellets in some apple juice to feed them by syringe.
To feed them by syringe gently squeeze the side of their mouth to force the mouth open, then insert the syringe carefully and push the food in slowly as not to choke and startle them.
Feed them crickets
Another wayto entice your beardie to eat is to feed them live insects, it will give themincentive to catch and eat the insect as they would in the wild. Crickets are agood option for them to hunt and catch.
A goodpractice is to feed the crickets a day prior with some of your ripened fruitand vegetables, therefore your dragon will get the nutrients when eating thecrickets.
Stand your ground
Sometimes your beardie is just plain stubborn and is not eating because they want something better.
So an option is (as long as they are not sick and underweight) just wait it out, still give them their fresh food and water three times a day, until they start eating again.
If you think your beardie is dehydrated then you can force feed them fluids, it is best to use bottle water rather than tap water as it has less chemicals.
Or another option is to give them some Gatorade for example but watered down 1:1 to replace sugars and salts. Or even watered down juices.
- A healthy mature bearded dragon with plenty of fat stores can go without food for up to 2 months.
- A healthy bearded dragon can live for 12 – 14 years in captivity.
- If your bearded dragon loses its tail it will not regrow like other lizards.
- Never feed your beardie fish, it depletes their niacin levels.