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Bearded Dragon Health

Is My Bearded Dragon Dying? 8 Signs Of A Dying Bearded Dragon

Have you noticed that your bearded dragon who has been fit and healthy suddenly display odd behaviour?  Is your bearded dragon showing signs of brumation but this time seems different?  Is your bearded dragon dying?  What are the clear signs your bearded dragon has died?

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I have kept bearded dragons for many years now.  I have found that bearded dragons are amazing little characterful creatures, each with their own personalities.  But at the same time they are all very similar when it comes to growth and development, seasonal and cyclical changes. These patterns make it easier for us to quickly identify when something is up with our beardies.

Is My Bearded Dragon Dying Or Sick?

Often it’s something to do with our husbandry which is fixable.  For this reason its always a good idea to go back to basics and check the heating and lighting are on point. Replacing basking and UVB bulbs where necessary. Consider removing loose substrates as these can sometimes exacerbate health problems. Think about if there has been any changes to their habitat, this can have an on their stress levels which will in turn affect their behaviour. Review their diet, has something changed, are you over supplementing?

Take a look at categories relating to health, habitat and diet.

However, there does come a time in the life of your bearded dragon though where they will complete their life cycle and unfortunately die. If your bearded dragon is dying this can be a really difficult time for you and your family.

My First Experience With a Dying Bearded Dragon

My first experience of a dying bearded dragon was many years ago when one of my bearded dragons suddenly became very lethargic and uninterested in anything. His skin became dull and he stopped eating.  All the signs pointed to brumation although it was a little early for him. I wasn’t convinced that’s what was happening though. I did a google search of what might be happening but my search was fruitless.  All I kept getting was posts about bearded dragons being sick but I didn’t think he was sick.

I took him to the vet where she gave him a welfare check and weighed him. She reassured me that he was physically well but he was old. One week later he died aged 9 years old.  When another of my beardies (who was also healthy and of similar age) began presenting in the same way several months later I knew that she too would soon pass, and unfortunately she did.

Is My Bearded Dragon Dead or Dying? – What Else Could It Be?

There is so much information available on caring for your bearded dragon and how to tell if your bearded dragon is sick.  There is however nothing that really explains that your bearded dragon doesn’t have to be sick to die since it can just be a natural event. To put it simply it can just be old age.

The Bearded Dragon Life Cycle

Bearded Dragon Shedding

The life cycle of bearded dragons involve periodic changes in their behaviour and appearance. Many of which follow a cycle, for instance shedding and brumation. These changes are often easy to identify because when a bearded dragon is shedding they may go off their food and/or become less tolerant of being handled. However, it is obvious they are shedding because along with these behaviours their appearance will have dulled and their skin begins to flake away.

If you want more in depth information on shedding see how to care for your shedding bearded dragon.

Bearded Dragon Brumation

It’s not so easy to tell what’s going on if they’re about to go into brumation but they will often appear lethargic and uninterested. They may go off their food but will still appear healthy looking and shouldn’t lose weight. These two points remaining healthy and not losing weight are extremely important, and will often distinguish brumation from everything else.

The first time they go into brumation can be worrying, especially for new owners but subsequent brumation will follow a similar pattern.

If you’re unsure that brumation could be affecting your bearded dragon take a look at what is bearded dragon brumation? 

Illness and Disease

Illness and disease will change the behaviour and appearance of your bearded dragon. A sick bearded dragon will exhibit some similar signs to a dying bearded dragon and if left untreated in most cases will eventually die. If you’re in any doubt or think your bearded dragon is sick get them to a specialised vet or herpetologist. The longer you leave them untreated the longer your bearded dragon will suffer needlessly before eventually dying.

See article my bearded dragon looks sick for a more in depth look at disease and illness that can affect bearded dragons.

If your bearded dragon is not experiencing any of the aforementioned events.  Or if you are familiar with your beardie’s behaviour, you may be beginning to think that their behaviour appears to mimic brumation but this time it’s different………….

Could it just be Old Age?

In the wild the average lifespan of a bearded dragon is 3 – 4 years and in captivity the average age is around 8 -10 years. Although some have been known to live to 14+ years.  If your beardie’s age is similar or above and all has previously been well with your beardie it is possible that they have just naturally reached the end of their life.

What Are The Signs: Is My Bearded Dragon Dying or Dead?

Signs Of A Dying Bearded Dragon

  • Their skin looks grey or dull looking – but they are not shedding.
  • They become lethargic, uninterested and  unresponsive – but they are not in brumation.
  • They have stopped eating.
  • Their eyes appear sunken or droopy.
  • They may spend more time in the cool end.
  • If they are attempting to move they may drag themselves along –  This can be distressing to witness.
  • They appear to have “given up”.
  • Their breathing will become very shallow.

Signs that a Bearded Dragon Is Dead.

  • The eyes are closed but not completely closed.
  • Their mouth/jaw looks unnaturally limp.
  • There is no movement and they will be unresponsive.
  • They are very limp when handled. Although in the first few hours they may be very stiff.
  • It will look like they are sleeping but their appearance is different to how they would look normally when sleeping. See photo below.
  • Breathing will cease, although this may difficult to tell.
  • They may have a yellowy colour to their skin and eyes that wasn’t present before. They may look slightly un-natural. Their beard and underside may stay black (though this doesn’t always happen).

What does a bearded dragon look like when they are dead?

Below is picture of one of my beautiful bearded dragons after he died. He was showing no signs of illness, was previously healthy but been acting as though he was beginning to brumate. This time however it just seemed different.  This was not his normal brumation  behaviour.  I took him to he vet and explained that he just didn’t seem “right”. The vet gave him a welfare check and weighed him and reassured me that he was not sick he was old. Not long afterwards my beautiful bearded dragon died peacefully.

Is My Bearded Dragon Dying? Image of dead bearded dragon
R.I.P Beautiful Boy.

If you feel that this post has not answered your question please feel free to join our Facebook Group – Bearded Dragons Rock for assistance from us and others who may have experienced similar things. We’ve been overwhelmed by the comments we’ve received on this post and thank everyone for their contributions and questions.

Is My Bearded Dragon Dying? 8 Signs Of A Dying Bearded Dragon 1

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  1. Hi, Im really concerned about my beardie, he is very lethargic. He wont eat even though he sees and follows (with his head) food if its put in fromt of him. His eyes are sunken in, and he isnt very responsive. He pooped twice about a week before he started doing this and it was somewhat runny. He sits under his basking lamp and doesnt move for days, he fell off the rock today and down to the bottom of his tank, we set him back up there and made sure he was alive.

    1. Hi Jonah, this doesn’t sound like a well beardie. You haven’t said how old he is or what set up you have eg lights and heating etc. But with what your describing I would strongly suggest a vet appointment asap.
      Please let us know how you get on.
      Claire and Steve.

  2. Hi really concerned about my Beardie , we’ve had him a little under 5 months now , we’ve recently moved house , and since moving he’s gone from eating like 4 locusts to 2 a day , he’s spending more time laying down and always up the cooler end of the viv , we have changed to a 150w bulb as we used to be in a flat and now a house , when we bathed him yesterday he seems more lively just seems less active during the day till early evening , he does nibble on the fruit and greens we leave in the pot for him , could someone advice please 🙁 first time having a beardy .

    1. Hi Sian,
      From what your describing it sounds like it could be several things, Temperatures, brumation and stress from the move. Being a new beardie mum can be scary when they seem perfectly normal then for what seems like no reason change their behaviour.
      Around this time of year bearded dragons will enter various degrees of brumation, they will go off their food, sleep more and spend more time in the cool end. Brumation can can last for a few days to weeks.
      As you have recently moved he could be stressed due to the change. Some bearded dragons are more sensitive to change and will require time to adjust. Keep his vivarium the same as it was before the move, this can help him feel more secure make sure he has somewhere to hide too.
      Temperatures are important and vary slightly to age, the young require a slightly hotter basking area than adults. It is also possible that the new bulb is too hot which could also explain him spending more time at the cool end becoming more active in the evening. Correct UV light is extremely important too.
      You haven’t said how old he/she is but if they are still young 4 locusts wont be enough.
      I would go back to basics and recheck your husbandry, and make adjustment where necessary.
      We have a number of other articles that should help you I would suggest taking a look at Brumation, How much to feed and when, and heating and lighting. Alternatively bearded dragons the essential guide covers everything you will need to know about caring for your beardie.
      Hope this is helps.
      If your have any other questions or we haven’t covered something please let us know 🙂
      Claire and Steve.

      1. my bearded dragon is about 2 years old and she has been very unresponsive to me and has been sleeping in the coldest spot of her tank and she stopped eating and pooping as much, she’s alive becouse she sea me but after a couple seconds she closes her eyes again to sleep all day ! what should i do to help her she is so young!!??

  3. We inherited our friend’s bearded dragon. He’s 2. When they gave him to us they said he eats 24 crickets a week and some fruits and veggies every day.
    Since we got him he’s only eating about -2 a week and no fruits or veggies. Still active enough, didn’t seem to enjoy us handling him like his previous family.
    As of last night his beard is black, he didn’t eat this week. He moved a little but I didn’t see it happen so I don’t know what his movement looked like. He’s hanging out in the shaded area. His skin looks dull.
    Is he sick?

    1. Hi there,
      You don’t say how long you’ve had him – but if it’s recent then he could well be stressed from the move. He’ll need some time to settle in, as nothing will be familiar for him. This is probably why he’s not enjoying being handled at the moment. Bearded dragons, despite popular opinion, are creatures of habit and like familiar people and surroundings. You could try to make his vivarium as similar to his previous one as possible.

      But at this stage, I’d approach him very gently and only occasionally until he gets used to you. You can try hand feeding him some bugs to help gain his trust. Also make sure your lighting and temperatures are correct. You can get further information on those requirements at Bearded Dragon Heating and Lighting.

      Hope that helps,
      Let us know how you get on – feel free to join the Facebook group which is great for new owners.
      Claire and Steve.

  4. I have had two bearded dragons for about a month now, and they are in separate cages. All of their lighting and temperatures meet all the requirements. I have a male and a female that are 5 months old, and they both have been eating the same thing; Dubia Roaches, Crickets, and the occasional small superworms as a treat, and for veggies, they get kale, collard, and mustard greens. They always have varied toppings; Zucchini, apples, carrots, red bell peppers, and yellow squash. They are always dusted with a light coat of Calcium with D3, and they always have a hardy appetite. I make sure that the prey is no larger than the space between their eyes. I came home from work earlier today to find my male had thrown up his Dubia Roaches from earlier that morning, and that he was severely twitching with his entire body. There was also a fresh poop next to him, that was slightly more runny than usual. I have had bearded dragons in the past, and I have never had this issue. Can you please help me? I thought I was doing everything right.

    1. Hi Harper,
      There’s not much advise I can give here – by the sounds of it you have everything spot on already. This means the best course of action will be a vet appointment as the only things I can think of are parasite infection (perhaps) or possibly some form of anatomical abnormality that would require x-ray investigation… Blood works would be good to check to make sure he’s not hypervitaminosed but I doubt that anyway…

      Sorry I can’t be more help on this one,
      Please stop by and let us know how you get on,
      All the best,
      Steve and Claire

      1. Hi, I bought a bearded dragon about a week ago and he was not in the best condition, kinda low fat pods, skinny and small for his age, he is almost a year, pet store wasn’t completely sure. And recently I noticed his head will vibrate/ tremor randomly and it’s making me nervous. He also is a bit clumsy and rolled over a bit, but instantly got back up. I have a 10.0 UVB compact bulb and a 45 gallon tank, 100 watt basking bulb, High basking log, hot end 83, basking spot 100, cool end 75. I dust crickets in calcium and he eats quite a few, and offer him fresh veggies but he doesn’t seem to like them. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I’m just really worried.

        1. Hi Charlie, You could up the basking area a few degrees as hes still fairly young. I wouldn’t worry to much about him eating greens at that age they require the protein from the live foods to grow quickly. Still offer them and make them varied. See our veggies article for the best foods high in calcium.
          Sunken fat pads tends to suggest dehydration. He doesn’t sound like a well dragon, the tremors and randomly flipping onto his back suggest something fairly significant neurologically. It /could/ just be a lack of calcium but it suggests something more sinister. Unless you’re wanting to rescue him and are prepared to spend a lot of money on vet bills and read up plenty of advice I’d probably suggest returning him to the pet store, but I certainly understand if you want to rescue him.

          I suspect you’re in for a hard time ahead. Read up on the various articles here and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help. I’d suggest joining the Facebook Group too so that you can get more ‘real time’ answers to questions.

          All the very best with whatever you decide – please let us know how you get on!
          Steve and Claire.

      2. My bearded dragon is a rescue and came with his sister, who was also a rescue. Both of them had amputated limbs. The female’s limb is all healed up, but the male’s tail is missing a big chunk, and the people we got them from said that they went to a vet and that the tail should be good, but the end of the tail is completely withered and black, with what looks like grey around the black. This is an update from the previous post.

        1. Hi again Harper,
          I think you need a second opinion from your own vet urgently. This sounds like an advanced case of tail rot. The black portion is probably dead already and the grey area is potentially dying. This can (if it hasn’t already) lead to sepsis (systemic infection), which will lead to organ failure and death. This may explain the sudden vomiting and twitching too.

          Definitely an urgent vet appointment required!

          Let us know how you go,
          Steve and Claire

  5. I’ve noticed my bearded dragon hasn’t been eating as much. He seems to have no energy and sleeps away from the heat.He doesn’t want to drink much or poo either unless u bring him to water. I think he is going blind. He is around 7 years old is it just old age ?All these things happened to my other bearded dragon and a few weeks later she died.

    1. HI Sarah,
      It is possible that he could be dying especially if you have experienced similar signs before. However he could just be in brumation or just having an “off Day”. Shedding can also have a similar effect on mood. You could recheck the temperatures, they maybe too cool which will make him less responsive. Basking area should be between 100-110F / 38-43C.
      A warm bath can also stimulate him and this is also a good opportunity to check him over. It’s quite likely that he will drink whilst bathing.
      Give theses a try let us know how you get on.
      All the best Claire and Steve.

  6. Hi, looking for some advice. I had my Beardie from 10 weeks old and he is now close to 5 months old. For the last 3 days things have been a bit concerning with him but it could be explained. So he normally has a large appetite, 20+ crickets a day with a few greens. I dust crickets 3-4 times a week. He was sleeping from about 7:00pm till about 8:00am, he poops once a day at least all seems fine. Iv read most your comments and my set up fits with all your suggestions. So for the last 3 days things have changed. His sleep pattern is concerning me the most. For some reason he has been sleeping much earlier, by 3pm he want his sleep but he still appears to be waking at his usual time. Along with his sleep pattern his appetite has reduced as well by at least half. It’s very strange because when he wakes up and warms up etc he seems completely normal. Eats a few greens n calci worms, basks for a while, he will have a few bursts of activity around the tank but then by about 1-2pm he goes a bit grumpy and shows the black markings under his belly and seems less interested in basking also. I have made a huge change recently in that I upgraded his tank from a 2.5ft tank to a 4ft tank. Almost everything from his old is now inside the new tank along with a few extras. He now has a large piece of stone/slate for basking. The thing that confuses me is before I upgraded his tank he seemed a bit grumpy but when I moved him over he seemed to thrive and really love it, pure white belly and beard, more energy but as iv said that only lasted a couple days and now he is as iv explained above. I just don’t know to try, he was born 30th June so surely too young for brumation? His temps all seem spot on, his uv is a t8 10% tube that covers half the tank on the basking side, it’s a new bulb as well. What do think? Am I over reacting? Could it still be the tank? Is his uv tube not covering him enough? He looks well but 17-18 hours of sleep seems like a lot, thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. P. s sorry for your loss, your pic above makes me feel sad but he looks like he had a good life.

    1. Hi Trev,
      A couple of things spring to mind here – firstly though, yes, in our opinion he’s too young to be brumating, so something else is going on.

      We don’t recommend stone or slate for basking because it can absorb too much heat from the basking lamp. In the wild it’s highly unlikely you’d find a bearded dragon (or any reptile) basking in the heat of the midday sun on a rock. They’d be on branches or indeed hiding in the shade. Of course, you do need something for them to bask on, but we recommend something that doesn’t get too hot. A solid piece of wood allows the bearded dragon to get the heat on its back, but not so much on its belly. It may be that the stone/slate you have is too hot.

      We generally recommend three quarters of the tank to be covered in UV light, but it’s doubtful this is causing him too much concern as you have at least a half of it covered.

      He’s possibly just stressed with the change of tank. He’s still quite young and they can get a bit stressy. As he’s pooping fine it’s not likely to be anything too sinister with that.

      We’d recommend a softly softly approach at this point in time – handle him gently and let him regain his trust of you and his (new) surroundings. If he doesn’t show improvement in a week or so it would probably be worth a vet visit for a checkup and parasite check. And, although they’re stressy, consider changing the basking spot to something that doesn’t absorb the heat so readily 🙂

      Hope that helps,
      Please let us know how you get on!
      All the best,
      Steve and Claire

      1. Thank you so much for the fast response. I’ll get the slate out tomorrow morning and put his tree bark back in there. Just need to cut it down as the lamp is closer in his new Viv. It could be just the basking spot, the more I think about it, its a large piece of Slate that consumes the whole area under the lamp so if it was a problem if him with no place to go. I feel bad now, thanks though. About the uv light, does it have to be directly over his basking area. With the new tank the basking bulb sits outside the Viv on top of a little mesh cutout so I had to put the uv tube at an angle. I was worried the heat bulb would cause problems being to close to the tube. Anyway, thanks again and thanks for what your doing for all Beardie owners. It is a great help

        1. Hi,
          I’m really worried about my Beardies. I got them last week, two females both sisters aged 5 months. One is quite big and I assume normal for her size and she is eating normally. But the other is quite small and at first wasn’t really eating although this has improved slightly. I feed them silkworms, super worms, and locusts sometimes on live food days. And every morning before I go to school I put kale, parsley and rocket in their food bowl for them to nibble on until I get back. The smaller one is waving at me a lot but she doesn’t mind being handled, whereas the bigger one has started waving today she’s done it a few times already and she is not really used to being handled just yet. The bigger bearded dragons tail and back legs are a white kind of dull colour. And the back and head are colourful. Yeah yeah was the same with the smaller one but now the normal colour seems even. I’ve also noticed that they tend to not drink that often . Only a couple times a day, is that normal? This morning, I spotted a poo coated with white stuff along with their wee and a normal looking poo, the white poo looked slightly runny. I looked it up and I think it might be because I left veggies from yesterday morning in their until this morning on accident. Temperatures seem good. They also sometimes sleep under the newspaper in our viv, however they haven’t done that for a couple of days. It my first time having a Beardie and I’m worried please help thank you.

          1. Hi Sienna,
            It sounds like you have a lot of reading to do to make sure you’re giving your dragons the best health and environment you can. We would highly recommend getting yourself a good book (we’ve written one ourselves – here). Free information is also available of course from this website. But you do need to do your reading because your dragon’s rely on you knowing what you’re doing.

            The specific aspects of your questions though – bearded dragons (even sisters) shouldn’t be housed together if one is bigger than the other. They don’t know they’re sisters and they’ll compete for everything from warmth, UV light and food. They’ll eventually fight and will end up, most likely, with the smaller one being seriously injured or even killed by the bigger one.

            The food you’re giving them sounds great – no problems there. Make sure you know about calcium supplements though.

            The waving as you may know is a sign of submission. Given that you’ve only had them a week this is fairly normal. Handle gently and quietly until they get used to you. You can try hand feeding them if you don’t do that already as that will help get them used to you.

            The colours sound like they’re shedding their skin. You can see much more information about shedding in our article here.

            The white stuff in their poo is perfectly normal. It’s called Urate and is hard and white because they’re adapted to living in the desert and their kidneys reabsorb almost all of the water that they drink. If the poo is a little bit runny it’s generally because they’re well hydrated and don’t need that water at the moment. They’ve got plenty of hydration from the vegetables and insects. This is of course only true if the poo itself is well formed but comes out with a bit of water. If the poo itself is runny then that’s diarrhea and that’s a problem.

            You don’t mention anything about their enclosure or heat or lighting. Please have a look at Bearded Dragon Lighting Guide for vital information about UV and temperatures if you don’t know about that already.

            Hope all that helps,
            But please, get yourself a good book, read all the articles here and various other places on the internet. And even join our Facebook group for more help as it’s needed 🙂
            Good luck! Give us a yell if you need anything else!
            Steve and Claire.

        2. Hi Trev,
          Don’t feel bad, you reached out for some advice and you’ve looked into it all 🙂 The best bet when it comes to the UV Lamp is to join our Facebook group if you’re on Facebook. You can post pictures on the group and get some feedback. From your description it sounds like you’d need a 12% T5 HO lamp as it’s mounted outside above a mesh, but without seeing pictures it’s hard to tell exactly.

          Hope that helps,
          Steve and Claire.

          1. Ok, thanks again. I was considering the t5 uv. I’ll check out your Facebook first though. Cheers

  7. Hi there. I recently got a bearded dragon from a friend. He’s about 3 years old and his name is Rex. The first 2 days I had him he was fine. He was eating and drinking well. He was also basking regularly and moved around quite a lot. But on the 3rd and 4th day, he wasn’t eating at all or drinking. He also didn’t move from his basking spot at all. I put his food in a little cap and fed him from my hand. That was the only time he had eaten. I’m also worried about his arm. I don’t know what happened to it but on the 3rd day I had him I noticed he wouldn’t walk on it or when he did he limped. I’m concerned about him. Do you think I should take him to a vet?

  8. My beardie is about 3-4 months old. He used to be super energetic. But for the last couple days, he’s experienced multiple seizures, can hardly open his mouth to eat (I have to use a syringe to feed him/give him water), and it seems like with every seizure he has less and less energy. I’m ordered a bunch of stuff on Amazon that will hopefully help him absorb more calcium and help him heal, but they’re not set to arrive for another week. Do you think he’ll be able to make it long enough to get the things he needs to heal?

    I would take him to a vet, but I live in the middle of nowhere and the nearest vet is two hours away and I don’t have a car. I’ve given him a couple of hot baths and it seemed to give him more energy yesterday, but today it didn’t seem to help at all. I’ve fed him sugar-free applesauce, squashed pumpkin, and kale to try to help him get a little more energy. Is there anything else I can/should do? I’m really worried about him.

  9. I have a very old bearded dragon (will be 13 this spring!), named Frits. In his younger days he had a healthy appetite but also had long periods of brumation. Since a few years the time of brumation increases, and he eats less He just had a 6month brumation, I thought he wouldnt wake up anymore. But now he suddenly awoke and is his happy self again. He only sleeps more, he’s really skinny and doesn’t eat at all. He does drink when I bathe him. When I hand feed him he looks away, clearly uninterested in the bug I’m offering him.
    I’m at loss at what to do. He’s so old and maybe its just his time. But it’s hard to see him refuse food while he’s so skinny. Should I do something else or just let him be?

    1. I’m wondering what happened.
      Mine is also 13 and has just eoken from her usual 6month brumation.
      Exactly same as what you describe, skinny, no interest in food, no perky movements, more like dragging herself.
      It’s really worrying.

    2. Hi Mieke, the older dragons are naturally less active in turn requiring less food.
      It’s possible that due to his age he’s approaching his time however it’s not necessarily what’s happening here it’s unusual for a bearded dragon to brumate for that length of time. I would suggest that you recheck the temperatures and change your bulbs if they’ve not been changed in the last 12 months. If the basking and ambient temperatures are too low this will impact on his health.
      Take a look at some of our other articles these will give more in-depth information.
      Hope this helps
      Best wishes Claire and Steve

  10. My beardie, Rango, has been really grumpy lately.

    His brumation period is about to start and he’s an adult so he doesn’t shed as much.
    For about 2 days his beard has been greyish and then turning black. He’s eating regularly, as well as drinking. I’m really worried that he might be sick.

    1. Sorry to hear that Rango is not feeling too good.
      when a dragon suddenly starts to behave in a way that is not “normal” for them we always suggest check and recheck the husbandry, as often their behaviour is a reflection of somethings not right. So if you haven’t already done so make sure the temps are correct and change the UV bulb if its not been done in the last 12 months.
      Although you have said he doesn’t shed much it is possible he is about to, it can make them grumpy take a look at our article on shedding to see if this could be the case.
      It is also possible that he just having an off day in the same way that we do, but if he doesn’t perk up in a few days and if you’re still worried we would advise that you seek advice from a specialist bearded dragon vet

      We hope Rango is feeling better soon
      Claire and Steve

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