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? Has your bearded dragon’s beard turned black and they died suddenly? What are the clear signs your bearded dragon has died?
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 wrong with them.
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. 9 years is a reasonable age for a bearded dragon to live.
Is My Bearded Dragon Dead or Dying? What Are The Signs?
Signs of A Dead Bearded Dragon
The following list gives some clear signs of a dead bearded dragon;
- The eyes are closed but not completely closed – they may have lost their shine too.
- Their mouth/jaw looks unnaturally limp, possibly partially open too.
- There is no movement and they will be unresponsive to any attempt to stimulate them.
- They are limp when handled. Although in the first few hours they may be 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). Their skin may appear to look waxy and may lose its flexibility.
The biggest test will be one of stimulation. If you’re not sure, pick your bearded dragon up gently and try to feel for any breathing. During brumation they may breathe quite slowly so be patient. If they’re breathing, put them gently back down where they were – if they’re breathing then they’re not dead. If you don’t think they’re breathing, attempt to stimulate them by gently rubbing them on their tummy or somewhere soft. If they respond to the stimulation, put them gently back down where they were. Response to the stimulation can be simply opening an eye to look at you.
Brumating bearded dragons will still respond to some stimulation, whereas one that has died will not.
Signs Of A Dying Bearded Dragon
The following signs can be present with a bearded dragon that is dying. The list isn’t exhaustive and many of these things can be signs of other illnesses, so get those ruled out first.
- 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.
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 just old. Not long afterwards my beautiful bearded dragon died peacefully.
Is My Bearded Dragon Dying Or Is It Sick Instead?
Quite often a bearded dragon that appears to be dying isn’t, and it’s something to do with our husbandry which is fixable. For this reason it’s 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 (noting that UVB lights should be changed at least once every year at most). Consider removing loose substrates as these can sometimes exacerbate health problems. Think about if there has been any changes to their habitat as this can have an affect on their stress levels which will in turn affect their behaviour. Review their diet, has something changed, are you over supplementing?
If your bearded dragon’s beard has turned black and you’re wondering if they’ve died, it’s possible that they have. But check this post too.
There does come a time in the life of your bearded dragon though where they will complete their life cycle and unfortunately die of natural causes. If your bearded dragon is dying this can be a really difficult time for you and your family.
The Bearded Dragon Life Cycle
Bearded Dragon Brumation (A Dying Mimic)
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? The linked article also gives you some things that you should check before allowing your bearded dragon to brumate if that’s what is going on.
Illness and Disease (Another Dying Mimic)
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 the article entitled 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 – like it was for me.
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 they’re shedding they’ll usually go grey in patches, if they’re dying they’re more likely to go grey (or just very pale) all over.
If you want more in depth information on shedding see how to care for your shedding bearded dragon.
Could They Just Be Dying Of 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 bearded dragon’s age is above 8 – 10 years and all has previously been well with them, then it is possible that they have just naturally reached the end of their life and are dying of old age.
But, if you think they are dying, and they are not being their usual self, even if they are 8 or above, there could still be a simple explanation and a trip to the Vet is usually a good idea. They may just be overloaded with parasites and a quick dose of medicine will perk them right up again. Just because they’re old doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dying – so rule out the illnesses before losing hope.
Do Bearded Dragons Die With Their Eyes Open?
Sometimes bearded dragons do die with their eyes open. It largely depends on what they were doing at the time. If they were sleeping when they died then they’ll probably have their eyes closed, but if they were awake they may well have them at least partly open.
Is A Dead Bearded Dragon Stiff?
Not always. You can’t rely on whether or not your bearded dragon is stiff to tell if they are dead. The stiffness is caused by a process called rigor mortis, whereby the muscles of the deceased stiffen after a period of time shortly after the bearded dragon dies. This is usually around 6 hours after they have died. However, the stiffness wears off again after a time, usually around 24 to 48 hours later. So if you have found your bearded dragon dead and he/she has only been gone for a couple of hours they won’t yet be stiff. Likewise, if they’ve been dead a couple of days they too won’t likely be stiff. But if they dare stiff then this is, unfortunately, fairly solid evidence that they are dead.
Is A Dead Bearded Dragon Cold?
Bearded dragons are ectothermic creatures, which is also known as cold blooded. This means they do not generate their own body heat but instead rely on the heat from their environment. This means that a dead bearded dragon will be exactly the same temperature as an alive one. You cannot use a bearded dragon’s temperature to determine if they are dead or not. To clarify, a bearded dragon that is too cold for too long will die. But if you’re thinking that your bearded dragon may be dead, but can’t be sure because they are still warm, then unfortunately that will not help. If they die underneath their basking lamp they will remain warm, but will still be dead. You will need to rely on other signs that we list above to determine this for sure, not their temperature.
If your bearded dragon has died we feel your pain and we’re genuinely sorry for your loss. We have lost many to old age in our time and it never gets any easier.
Expect to feel the pain of the loss and don’t be too hard on yourself. Grief will come in different ways for everyone and needs to be dealt with differently by everyone. Reach out to someone who’ll understand that the death of a pet is a significant thing. Cry on their shoulder if you need to. Be sad, but remember the good times you had. It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all – and so it is with our gorgeous bearded dragon pets too.
Comments and Online Vet
We’ve been overwhelmed by the comments we’ve received on this post and thank everyone for their contributions and questions. Do feel free to read through the comment section for more information on what to do if you think your bearded dragon might be dying. And if you need to, there is a vet available you can chat to using the small ‘chat head’ at the bottom of the page.
My bearded dragon Spike turned 14 this year, her colouring is going gray, she is starting to slow down and is eating very little, I pretty sure it’s her time, how can I make sure she is comfortable and how long from the start of symptoms to death?
14 is definitely a good age. If she doesn’t look uncomfortable (not black bearding with pain for example) then she’ll probably just eat when she wants and she’ll definitely slow down. Feed her when she wants, let her sleep when she wants and keep her warm. Of course, I’m assuming you’ve ruled out things such as shedding as I imagine you’ve seen all that before. The only other thing to bear in mind is that parasite infestation can make them slow down and reduce eating too, so sometimes a faecal test is worthwhile. But if you’ve done that or are satisfied it’s just her time, then keeping her warm and letting her choose her own pace with everything is about the best way forward.
All the very best,
Claire and Steve.
We appreciate this information about the dying process. Our 13-year old bearded dragon is now in the not moving, not eating, giving up stage. Is it important we keep him hydrated during this time? Or are we just needlessly prolonging his life by keeping up with the spritzing & twice weekly baths? He has been quite limp, not even opening his eyes in the water for about two weeks.
From your description it sounds like your beardie is completely unresponsive and could have already have passed… Are there still signs of life? Is he still breathing? Does he respond to stimulus, such as being handled?
If there is signs of life then its is important to keep him comfortable and hydrated. Do not force fluids, keep bathing especially if he drinks while soaking.
Spritzing will provide no hydration benefits unless the droplets drip down to his mouth and he licks them off.
If you feel that he suffering then I would advise talking to your vet to discuss the best way forward.
Claire and Steve
Yes, he is still breathing & he did drink a bit while soaking. We will continue the baths. He is very peaceful. Much better now than last year when he was just dragging himself around & had so much trouble eating. I read these old beardies often just don’t come out of brumation. I think that is where we are here. He has had a great life with our family & when he is ready “he’ll take his leave and go.” Thank you.
You are absolutely right many older bearded dragons do appear to be in a constant state of brumation, and as they age they become “tired” everything slows done and they constantly sleep, eat less, poop less and less reactive etc. (For others reading this comment) These signs can be down to incorrect husbandry especially heating and lighting and/or illness. So it is always important to rule these out first.
Im glad that he is peaceful.
You have done a great job to get him to the grand age of 13 and it sounds like you are doing all the right things for him, keep doing what you are doing to keep him comfortable.
Thank you for your comments all the best
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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 bearded dragon book. 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 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 diarrhoea 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.
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.
Ok, thanks again. I was considering the t5 uv. I’ll check out your Facebook first though. Cheers
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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 .
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 a good book about bearded dragons will cover 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.
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!!??
This sounds like a case of brumation, but there’s a few things you probably should get checked before deciding that’s definitely what’s happening. Check our Bearded Dragon Brumation article for more information.
All the best,
Steve and Claire
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.
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.
Please help I don’t know what to do with my dragon. I have had him for a year and a half. He isn’t eating, he’s becoming black under his chin and on his tail, he just sits there with his eyes closed and very subtly opening his mouth and closing it every once in a while, and he isn’t being active anymore. He gets crickets, blueberries, collard greens, and I have some adult bearded dragon pellets. I use the repti calcium with D3 by zoomed. I have the long 10.0 uvb on the back and the basking bulb is on top of the tank(100W). It stays about 94°in his tank. Just the other day he seemed fine and was eating and everything. I am currently without a job so I really just don’t know what to do.
Thank you, anything helps. https://m.imgur.com/a/sbUXhFT
Some pictures of the situation.
Going on what you’ve described and the picture you linked, It looks to us that he may be brumating.
He also looks like he is also in the process of shedding. Both brumation and shedding can cause bearded dragons to eat less, become less responsive and be generally grumpy. Take a look at signs of brumation and our shedding article for some more information.
You mentioned that the temps sit around 94f is that basking or ambient temp? If its basking then this is too low, try to increase to around 100-106f. You could do this by lowing the heat source slightly, alternatively increase the bulb wattage. Also replace the UV light if you haven’t done so within the last year. UV bulbs degrade over time and wont be emitting the adequate UV required to keep him healthy.
you also mention you used calcium and D3 which is important but be careful not to over supplement, a light dusting to a bug a few times a few should be enough along with a varied diet.
Hope this helps let us know how you get on and if you have anymore question feel free to leave us a comment.
Claire and Steve.
My bearded male named Louie is not himself for a few weeks. He is 2 years old. He doesn’t look good at all. Limp when I hold him. Doesn’t eat sleeps forever it seems. Doesn’t move when placing him on my bed or in his tank. His eyes are bulging. I don’t know what to do.
I’m 13 my bearded dragon is the same way he is 7 and has a back bone disease and he only moves a couple steps and stops when he is out the cage but in the cage he doesn’t move at all he is always grey I think he is dieing but I don’t know
Welcome to the website – I think it’s probably worth getting your beardie checked at the vet to see what’s happening for him. It sounds like he might need some additional UVB lighting and extra calcium in his diet perhaps. But a vet check is definitely the best answer on this one.
Hope that helps,
Steve and Claire.
Have a little look at Bearded Dragon Brumation and see if anything in there helps. It’s that time of year when bearded dragons begin to brumate so this could be what’s happening for him. He is of an age now where brumation is the mostly likely answer here – but there’s some things to look out for. That post will give you some tips 🙂
Hope that helps,
If you have any further questions please feel free to get back to us!
Wishing you and Louie all the best,
Steve and Claire
My breaded dragon isnt eating his locuses whst could be up eith him he is only young
The best bet for this one is to have a look at My Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat – it gives some good tips on what could be going on.
Hope that helps,
Let us know if you have any further questions,
All the best,
Steve & Claire.
I’ve had my boy for about a year, his previous family say
I’d he was about 5 years old, but since they couldn’t even remember his name I’m not sure if they just didn’t forget his birthday too.
So my question, is it possible to determine how old my little guy is? He’s been super lethargic, not interested in food unless I hand feed him, and not basking. I’m kind of scared he may be at the latter end of his life, and I’m absolutely NOT ready for that. I adopted him after my son left for college, and I just can’t imagine my life without my beardie baby.
It’s very difficult for us to guess how old he is, once they’re adult they don’t really seem to change all that much. However, if you’ve had him around a year and you think he’s around 5-6 years old then it’s fairly likely something other than dying is happening.
With that in mind, there’s a few things to check. 1st, have you changed his UVB bulbs within that year. If not, you’ll need to do that as they degrade over time and are generally recommended to be changed once a year at a maximum. Also, check to make sure that his temperatures are correct (warm enough) as too cool can make them very lethargic and put them off food. Check our article Bearded Dragon Heating And Lighting for more information about this. Heating and lighting errors are often the biggest cause for lethargy.
It may be that has parasites, so a faecal sample is going to be needed to check for those. These can make them very lethargic and off their food, as well as make them lose weight. A vet checkup is the best way to check this one – have a chat with your local Specialist Reptile Vet for more information.
If he’s shedding (or about to be) he will become lethargic and off his food. Check our article about Bearded Dragon Shedding for more help on this one, which will give some hints for what to look for and what to do.
Finally, it’s very possible he’s just beginning a brumation cycle. Check Bearded Dragon Brumation for more information on that – it can mimic illness and many people who experience their dragon’s brumation for the first time think they’re dying. It’s scary for you, but it’s normal for your dragon, so don’t be afraid. The brumation article also goes into depth about different things that mimic brumation and what to look for to rule those in or out.
Hope this helps and best of luck! Let us know how you get on.
All the best,
Steve and Claire.
I was wondering what your thoughts might be on my beardie, Steve’s, current development. I’ve had Steve for almost 5 years now, raised him from a tiny little thing. I’ve been meticulous in his care. He had recently been bound up a little (he got into the superworm tub and over ate, he’s glutton) for a few days. Finally during his bath yesterday he used the bathroom; I cleaned him up, drained the tub to get rid of everything and filled it back up so he could soak a little longer. He ran around in the water so much after not being bound up anymore.
When I took him out and dried him off he seemed perfectly fine. I went to give him a few nighttime blueberries (one or two, I’ve done this since he was 6 months) I noticed he had a muscle twitching on his side just in front of his hind legs. Tonight while holding him I noticed the twitching again and this time it was also on his chest between his front legs.
No swollen legs, no movement problems, he’s eating well and very active. He’s never had an illness before, perfectly healthy. I’m worried this may be a sign of MBD? Everything I read says it is, but his bulb is fine and he gets an hour every day outside in the warm Florida sun.
Or did he possibly strain himself too much when he tried to have his bowel movement?
It sounds like you’ve done everything right by Steve (this is weird… lol) but there are a couple of questions to think about to see if it might still be MBD. Certainly from the point of view of UVB you sound like you’ve given Steve plenty. But he’ll also need enough calcium in the first place.
So, with that in mind, have you been supplementing his diet with any calcium powder? They don’t need much, but they do need a little.
Secondly, some of the foods that are high in calcium are also, unfortunately, high in oxalates. Spinach is a prime example – it has loads of calcium, but then ruins it all by also being very high in oxalates. Oxalates are a natural protection for green leafy plants against being eaten as they make it taste bitter. Dragons love this of course, but the oxalates bind in the body to form calcium oxalate which cannot be stored or used. It ends up forming kidney stones. So, even if he’s had plenty of calcium, if he’s also had a lot of high oxalate containing greens he may still have the onset of MBD. We have a table of suitable vegetables for bearded dragons, along with some data about oxalate and calcium levels at What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat? – have a look there for some more help.
Having said all that, it is still completely possible that his gluttony (ours are as bad!) has caused some constipation / impaction which is putting pressure on his spinal cord. In this case it sounds like it is probably quite mild, but we have seen gluttonous dragons with complete hind leg paralysis due to eating too much or too big.
If he’s twitching on his chest it makes this scenario a bit less likely. The ultimate answer is unfortunately going to require a Vet visit for some blood tests to check his calcium and vitamin D3 levels and possibly an X-Ray to see if he is impacted and having spinal cord compression.
If he just strained himself the problem should self resolve within a few days, so keep your eye on him and if he’s no better then it’s worth that chat with the vet.
Hope that helps,
We wish you all the best – let us know how you get on.
Steve and Claire
Hi there !
I have owned my two beardies for about 9 years now and they are turning 12 soon!! However this past year I can tell they have become very old and grown weak. They have gotten very skinny because they don’t eat much. They lie around w lot and I check in on them everyday and neither has died but I am still worried. My one dragon recently passed a stool with blood and what looked like to be stones. Last time we went to the vet he suggested my lizard was just constipated but I feel like it’s more now. I do not want my lizards to be dying in pain. Any advice, pointers or diagnosis would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
12 years is definitely a ripe old age for a bearded dragon so you must be doing something right! We believe our two rescue dragons are around 10 years old and they can be quite lethargic and lazy at times too. Sometimes this can simply be due to a lack of stimulation. Ours always perk up considerably when we take them outside. Have a little look at our article “Can I Take My Bearded Dragon Outside” for some tips and tricks on that.
Stones are a possibility, either because they’ve ingested them and they need to be passed, or because they’ve built up in the kidneys from calcium oxalate. It’s difficult for us to comment on this one because we’ve not seen them. However, in our experience a dragon in pain will show you signs of it. They may walk stiffly or awkwardly, keeping their tummies bent to the left or right, depending on which side the pain is. They almost certainly will black beard and be very lethargic. The black beard is the biggest giveaway of pain in this situation. There are other reasons for blackbearding too of course, but if they’re not trying to show off, scare someone away or get warm then the black beard is often pain related.
Try some gentle stimulation, spend time with them, hand feed if you like (we do, cos ours are so lazy too) and if the weather permits – some time outside will perk them up and may get them to move their bowels a little more often too. You can also try bathing them to help their bowel movements and give them some stimulation too. Guess what, we have an article for that too – Should I Bath My Bearded Dragon can give you tips on bathing them 🙂
We wish you all the best and hope they perk up!
Let us know how you get on,
Steve and Claire.
Hi, so we have had spike for 3years, never have had a problem with him eating his veggies or bugs. A couple weeks ago he seemed lethargic and weak, thought he was starting to go into brumation. He wouldn’t eat or drink. I bought him 10 crickets(which in fact I actually got 12). He only ate 10 of them, and went back to being lethargic and week, not really moving around tank at all. I was just in the shower when my husband came and said he is dead, I told him don’t do anything till I get out. So I came to the tank and he took him out and he moved his tail slightly. My husband wasn’t convinced so he turned him on his back and that’s when his tail started whipping and I yelled at him to put him back right. I noticed he did have a big bowel movement which wasn’t there earlier. His beard is black, his eyes are lightly open and he opens his mouth slightly and closes it. I’m just lost, his poop looked normal had urate with it so I’m just so confused. I guess just keep an eye on him, and call vet in morning. They are an hour away.
It’s hard to say what’s happening for your beardie and it’s definitely good that you called the Vet – hopefully he’s perked up a little bit by now?
My experience suggests that black bearding like this, along with lethargy often means they have pain somewhere. You mentioned that he’s had a big bowel movement and it’s possible he still has some more to pass. Ours certainly seem to black beard when they have a bellyache. The main one of ours is such a guts that she’ll eat anything you put in front of her and she doesn’t know when to stop. Then a couple of hours later her beard goes black and she goes lethargic and looks like she’s about to die. Then she passes a motion and perks up again. This may be what’s happening with your boy.
But, a vet check is definitely a good idea if he hasn’t perked up by now.
Let us know how you get on
All the best,
Steve and Claire
I have two beautiful dragons. They are sisters been together their whole life. They got into a bad fight and looked like two alligators rolling around. I separated them but they didn’t act right so I put them back together and then they seemed great. They both started eating again and was great. But for some reason one has just went to sleep and not wake up. She eats with her eyes closed. The only time I can get her to really move around is when I put her in her tub.. she is now hand fed and now she wont even eat her crickets or anything. I thought brumation but she wont come out of it. The vet said she was fine. She will move between warmth and coolness. But she just seems so week. I am worried about her. Please I will send pics of everything. Just give me some idea of where to start.
Does she act differently and perk up when shes away from her sister? if this is the case it could suggest submissive behaviour as a stress response. I would try again to house her alone and maybe increase the temperatures to try and stimulate her, If separation is not an option consider a bigger enclosure and maybe two basking areas. Keep spending time with her to encourage interaction. Feed her away from her sister. It does seem like an extreme stress response by what you’ve said. Its also not uncommon for bearded dragons to take advantage of another if they sense they are weaker. Which looks like this is the case here, she is probably afraid to bask because the dominant sister will not allow her close to get sufficient warmth. This will make her slower less responsive and cause digestion problems. Having said that it could be brumation, brumation can last a while and if she’s not getting sufficient heat this may have forced brumation. I would definitely try and separate again and see if anything changes.
Hope these suggestion help
Good luck let us know how you get on .
Claire and Steve
We took our Beardie to the Vet on Friday because she had been lethargic, unresponsive, pale and not eating, amongst a lot of other things, for a little over a month. (which after reading your list about how to tell if their dying just seemed to check things off really).
It was discovered that she has a lump on one of her organs, and that even if we pursue the treatment the prognosis isn’t good. About 10% roughly of her surviving the ordeal, and that’s without factoring in the risk of surgery.
Anyway, as of yesterday, she’s perked up quite abit, she ate almost her entire bowl of veggies and had two cockroaches today. I was just curious about if this is normal Beardie behaviour when they’re nearing the end? Do they get perkier for a short time?
Ultimately, I don’t want her to suffer for any longer than she needs to. And maybe I’m just looking for hope where there is none, and that maybe it was just a mistake and the lump just passed or something of the like. But I’d really like some info on their behaviour up until death if that’s okay?
It’s very difficult to speculate on your individual situation in this case. I do know that anecdotally people and beardies can often rally for a few days before they die. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your dragon is dying. You may be correct and that something may have changed.
What I can tell you is that our recent rescue dragon, who’s aged around 10 years old, looked very much like she was about to die. Her beard went very black, she became lethargic and pale and didn’t want to interact with us at all. She had the pallor that suggested she was dying. She’s had some issues recently with her bowels and some prolapse following an egg laying session. However, she recovered well and is looking and behaving a lot better now.
So I guess, in your case, you can’t really tell. If she’s happy at the moment and has perked up then make the most of it! Keep her nice and warm and make sure her UVB is up to scratch. Warmth is the key thing here. If she’s unlikely to survive the operation then it’s a case of keeping her comfortable until she cannot be kept comfortable any more and then you’ll need to have the conversation with the Vet about putting her to sleep.
Sorry I can’t really be any more help than that though – I’d say be guided by your Vet here as they have much more information than I do.
We wish you all the best and hope for a positive outcome for you both.
Steve and Claire.
Our beloved bearded dragon named Sister Pickles sadly passed away on September 1st at 6:30am. She was a major part of our family and we are devastated as she was healthy two weeks ago. Sister had reversible kidney problems that was relieved after following a strict diet from the herp specialist and thrived. This was back in January. During this time, her right wrist was swollen to the point that her little hand was bubbled up (had an appearance that there was a bubble on her hand). The herp specialist said that wouldn’t go away because it was cosmetic however her swelling around the wrist area did resolve after being on a diet of being fed every three days a purée of collards, arugula, yellow bell pepper and strawberries. I sprinkled a dash of Repashy brand calcium supplement on the purée and fed her via syringe. She was on a prescription calcium supplement prior to Repashy which did wonders as her blood panel indicated kidney elevation. Essentially she was doing great. Fast forward to a week ago, the swelling in Sister’s right wrist started to show again and this time she was limping during her “tummy time”. We became very concerned st this time because she stopped eating her Phoenix worms which we fed her 20% each month as a part of the 80/20 rule and her color was looking full (as if she was losing her color). We took her to the vet immediately and had an entire work up which included radiography and blood panels etc. The results of her radiograph showed her lungs to appear as whitish instead of dark and there was an “unknown” mass in her lower extremity (abdomen). Her right wrist which started to swell did not show cancer but the herp said it may be bacterial as to why the swelling returned. She was immediately placed on subcutaneous injection for dehydration as she was dehydrated because her saliva was stringy and was placed on two antibiotics of ceftazimide injections every 3 days and flagyl. The herp said to give her soaks daily (usually we have her soaks every other day for 15 mins. which Sister loved. Her terrarium was perfectly established at maximum 110 on hot side and 88 on cool side – no substrate. We always used paper towels. Her bowel movements changed in color to a black tarry and sticky appearance and while her urates were white, they were accompanied with a slimy worm-like plug. Her last poop was on Wednesday. After that poop, she was dropping little white urates (about once to twice a day). So Sister was given her antibiotics at the herp’s office and we were told that the office would call is with her test results as her initial injections were provided at the herp’s Office. This happened on Thursday. On Friday evening, the herp called and said Sister May have n infection which is treatable or cancer due to the mass however she said the mass may be fatty in nature. Meanwhile we should follow the course of her prescribed antibiotics. This happened Labor Day weekend here in the states. Sister began to look like she was ballooning – and her beard turned blacker than before but she had a lot of strength and would move around in her large and pristine terrarium. I was told to make sure she gets hydrated and did SAFELY with giving her small syringe of water diluted with pedialyte which she loved. It looked as though her dull color was changing to her normal color so we were greatly relieved. Then while she was given her 3rd course of flagyl, she got puffier and her color returned to the dull color. I never gave her the other antibiotic which would have been her 2nd injection. We rushed her to the herp’s And her body looked like a water balloon – she weighed 722.0 grams so she was a quintessential German Giant. I sprayed water gently on her face but she didn’t blink – this was prior to rushing to the vet’s which we knew we had to rush to the hospital. She passed at home in her terrarium on her soft blanket. The vet placed her in an incubator to tell us 45 minutes later Sister didn’t make it. We cried so hard – it was terrible but we’re still waiting to hear how she passed and so suddenly. She never vomited nor expelled blood nor had anything abnormal excreted from any orifices in her body. What happened? We are still trying to fully grasp her sudden passing. She looked peaceful and are having her cremated for a private ceremony. Can you help us to learn if her passing was due to the antibiotics or cancer? She tried to digest some critical care which she was carefully given via syringe but the herp said it was aspirated. It was Avery small amount I had give her earlier and she was fine at that time as monitored her very closely. Was her digestive tract not working efficiently to process the food due to the abdominal mass discovered in her radiograph? The herp initially said the flagyl would act as a stimulant to make her poop and wanted a sample to test for parasites. We are heartbroken and devastated as Sister would have turned 4 next month on October 25th. We await your reply.
We’re sorry for your loss of Sister Pickles, it is a hard time for you and your family.
It looks like you’ve done everything you could but Sister Pickles still died. This is a very sad time and I can understand that you’d like some answers as to why. The best person to answer this is going to be your Herp Vet. It sounds like they’ve tried to do the best they could for Sister and it doesn’t sound like they or you have done anything wrong. You describe in detail your husbandry and care regime which sounds spot on.
Sadly, I can’t give you any answers, Sister’s medical history sounds quite complex. You mentioned kidney issues in your post and then an abdominal mass. It is possible that she had other things going on as well. A post-mortem would be the only thing that might give you some answers but this in itself can be distressing for you and your family as it would involve operating on Sister after she has died.
As hard as it can be, sometimes the best thing is to grieve for her with your private cremation ceremony and know that you and your Herp Vet did all you could and provided her a happy life for the short time that she was with you.
Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
Steve and Claire.
Hello, my bearded dragon is about 8 months old. We’ve had her since May, she’s always had a problem eating her greens but usually we can get her to eat. These past few weeks she hasn’t ate much and was showing signs of “rot mouth”. We took her to a vet and he put her on antibiotics, baby food and some nutrition stuff all to be fed by syringe. Well now she is barley move, won’t open her eyes and is under her hammock most of the time. I’m afraid this made her worse and she may be dying. This will be hard for my son and I, we grew really close to her. Any suggestions on what I should do?
I can’t say for sure whether in this case your bearded dragon is dying – although I’d hope not. Unfortunately at aged 8 months or so they can still be quite fragile and reactions to antibiotics vary. However, she may just be feeling quite off colour as a result of the antibiotics.
She may also be feeling quite poorly as a result of the mouth rot. Has the antibiotics helped with that at all? You don’t say how long ago the antibiotics started and whether she’s finished the course.
As with most of our replies here, the first things to check are your husbandry – particularly temperatures and UVB lighting. BEARDED DRAGON LIGHTING can give you some good pointers for what the temperatures should be in the tank and how long lights should be on etc. If she’s not warm enough she’ll struggle to fight off any infection and feel horrible.
Hopefully the vet gave you some good advice on how to syringe feed – notably how to avoid your dragon aspirating on the liquidized food. They’re quite clumsy eaters and syringe feeding does need to be done gently and with great care to avoid them breathing it in. But I suspect that’s not been a problem as it sounds like you’ve got that down pat.
I’d also suggest giving your Vet a ring again and asking them for some more advice. But in this case it may just be a case of perserverance until she starts to feel better. Check those temperatures though to make sure.
Hope that helps – please do let us know how you all get on and if you have any further questions we’ll try to help.
All the best,
Steve and Claire.
Thank you for your response, but I am sad to say Angel passed away this morning. I truly believe taking her to the vet made things worse. Maybe, I wasn’t syringe feeding her right, but we tried to get her better. Thanks again for your advice. I doubt we will get another one, they are harder to take care of then we thought, but if we do I am glad to know there’s a place to get advice from.
We’re so sorry to hear that. I don’t think you did anything wrong with your syringe feeding. Dragons can hide their illnesses well until it’s too late and it sounds like Angel may have been ill before you knew about it. I believe the timings are just unfortunately coincidental when it comes to the vet – I doubt it made her worse, though it’s not impossible of course.
Personally I think you’ve just been unlucky. Bearded dragons aren’t difficult to look after once you know what to look for. It’s probably too early for you at the moment having only just lost Angel, but don’t rule out another one just yet. They’re fabulous little pets and can live for 10-14 years in captivity.
I’m not sure where you got Angel from but I suspect a pet shop. If so, you cannot blame yourself. Pet shop advice is usually horribly wrong for Bearded Dragon care. You did the best for Angel that you knew how. We’ll be here to help you if you decide to get another in the future.
So sorry for your loss.
Steve and Claire.
Hello, I own a Beardie named Charlie. I got him when I was 10 just about, and now I’m nearly 19. Charlie is 10-12 years old now and I’m not proud to admit that I haven’t been the best caretaker over the years, feeding him only once a week and at that a diet of exclusively mealworms. The last few months I’ve been attempting to make it up to him and give him rigorous care, such as feeding him daily, making sure his tank is all right, and taking him out frequently to pet him and let him roam.
This last week he’s been acting very strange. When in his tank he does not move from his basking spot ever, and when I take him out, typically he’ll just close his eyes and sit still. He hasn’t been eating at all. When presented with worms or grasshoppers he simply closes his eyes and sits still. He does roam sometimes and seems to be moving perfectly; no signs of bone disease, though his head seems to twitch sometimes for seemingly no reason. He does seem to adore being sat on my shoulder or belly and pet lots, though, so that’s nice. His body also has a strange intermittent pattern of yellow and red, making me think he hasn’t shed properly.
I hope to reintroduce vegetables to his diet soon, but I’m worried he may be reaching his end. I’m taking him to a vet with a stool sample in a few days. What do you think could be wrong with him, and is there any further action I should take? His tank has UVB and a heat lamp, and sits at a steady 80-85 degrees.
Hi Jonathon and Charlie,
Our rescued bearded dragons are a similar age to Charlie and they don’t do all that much when they’re in their vivarium.
I can’t begin to speculate on what the discolouration might be without seeing a photo as there’s so many things it could be, most of which are completely benign but others are potentially serious… It doesn’t sound like a shed problem though as I’d expect that to look dull and grey.
Your temperatures, if you’re referring to the basking temperature, are too low. They should be around the 100 to 110 Fahrenheit. You’ll probably want to check his UVB bulb too – they need to be changed around every 6-9 months to ensure they continue putting out enough UVB.
My suspicion from what you’ve said is that he’s probably not digesting all that extra food properly (due to the temperatures) and isn’t used to being fed that much so he’s feeling quite full and bloated – leading to him wanting to bask and digest all that food. I’d be introducing vegetables straight away – but don’t expect him to eat too much of them and don’t give him too much if he’s not used to it. Ours ended up with quite runny diarrhea for a few weeks due to never having had veggies before. You could try gutloading his insects for a few weeks before introducing vegetables directly as this will be easier on his stomach.
Have a quick look at some of our articles such as HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED MY BEARDED DRAGON AND WHEN? for information on his diet. Also check BEARDED DRAGON LIGHTING for some help with the right temperatures. Finally, WHICH INSECTS CAN BEARDED DRAGONS EAT? can give you some help on how to gutload your insects for him.
But, to reassure you somewhat, I don’t think he’s necessarily reaching his end yet – he just sounds like you’ve made major changes recently and he’s not quite adjusted to it all. It’s very good that you’ve organised a vet appointment and a stool sample. See what the vet says – they’ll be able to advise on that yellow and red pattern on his body, which is hopefully nothing sinister.
We’d very much like you to join our Facebook group and keep us posted on how you get on – you can post pictures of Charlie on there too and someone (if not us) may be able to give you some idea as to what those markings are. If you don’t feel like joining that’s fine of course, though we’d love you to return here and reply to this comment to let us know how you and Charlie are getting on.
Hoping for positive news from the Vet!
All the very best,
Steve and Claire.
My bearded dragon is 3 years old. She laid eggs about a week-2 weeks ago. She’s been eating normally. And I’ve misted her everyday. However, she’s been spending a lot of time under her rock, which I will bring her out to feed her and mist her. Yesterday I noticed her eyes are slightly sunken in and the fat pads on her head are sunken. She hasn’t lost any weight in her stomach. But I immediately put her into a warm bath and she drank. She pooped a very small amount today and it was all one color-like a grayish tan- and a bit runny. I’ve been misting her and checking on her constantly since then. Her eyes are still alert. But she has refused the veggies I put out for her today, as well as the superworms. Yesterday she only ate 3-4 dubia roaches and maybe a cricket. Is she just dehydrated?
There’s a few things that could be going on from the sounds of it. Firstly, since you’re on the page about bearded dragons dying, I’d like to say that at aged 3 years she shouldn’t be dying… So with that out of the way, what could be going on here?
1/ She’s probably exhausted. Egg production requires a lot of energy and laying the eggs requires even more energy. She’s probably been digging and the exertion of actually pushing out the eggs is energy intensive too.
2/ She’ll be lacking calcium and possibly protein as the egg production will have used up a lot of those resources.
She’ll need to be kept warm and have plenty of UVB light available, so make sure your heating and lighting is up to scratch. Bearded Dragon Lighting will give you some tips on that.
She doesn’t require misting, although there’s nothing specifically wrong with it occasionally. But misting does not help them stay hydrated unless the misted droplets run down towards their mouth and they drink it. They don’t absorb any water through their skin or cloaca. Should I Mist My Bearded Dragon? will give you some more tips on this 🙂
At the moment we don’t have any articles about bearded dragons that have just laid eggs, although we are putting one together. EDIT – We do now – How To Look After Your Bearded Dragon If She Has Eggs. The main thing is, make sure her heating and lighting is up to scratch and if necessary you can hand feed her if she’s feeling exhausted. She’ll take a few weeks to get her energy back and the fat pads will take a little while to come back up too. Feed her a diet high in calcium and additional protein for a few more weeks. Which Insects Can Bearded Dragons Eat? can help here, as well as What Vegetables Can Bearded Dragons Eat? That last one also has tables at the end to help you decide which vegetables have the best calcium ratio. You may also want to dust her veggies and live food with a good calcium supplement for a few weeks to help her restore her calcium levels.
Hope that helps but feel free to reply back if you have any further questions.
All the best,
Steve and Claire.
So I came here because one of my three year old bearded dragons has been quite unresponsive. He runs around the cage and moves a lot but he stays statue still out of the cage. I figured it may be a bit cold since my air unit but I took him out into the summer sun and he still didn’t have anything to do. His eyes are a bit crusty and he hasn’t shed in a while. I give him food but he doesn’t eat, only the other bearded dragon who roams around like normal. As I am typing this he moved about an inch to crawl into the blanket a bit more but that’s all. Now that I think about it his eyes haven’t opened in ages
We presently have several bearded dragons. Some love to be out of the vivarium, but one puffs herself up like a balloon and freezes. She hates being out of the vivarium unless she’s firmly attached to one of us. This isn’t uncommon. Some love it, some hate it. Just be guided by your beardie.
With regard to your other questions it sounds like he might be having a bit of a shedding issue. Have you considered giving him a bath? This can help with their shedding dramatically as it softens the skin up and lets it shed off easier. If the bathing and shedding doesn’t liven him up a bit he may have parasites or be otherwise unwell. Try the baths for a week or so but contact your vet if it doesn’t help, as he may have something else going instead. For guidance on how to bath your bearded dragon have a look at our article linked. Also you can check out how to care for your shedding bearded dragon which goes into some good detail about sheds.
Hope that helps,
Please pop back and let us know how you both get on
Hello, my beaded dragon is almost 9 years old. I have had him these whole 9 years and he has always been the sweetest boy with no aggression. But the past 6 months he was been extremely lazy, always sleeping and only coming out in the morning to eat a little bit. There has also been a few times where he’s gotten really upset and puffed and his beard was black, and lunging at me when I go close to his cage. Every once in a while he will have really runny stool, though I have taken a stool sample to the vet and there are no parasites. Has anyone experienced a similar situation or have any idea what is happening?
I have a couple of suggestions that may be the cause. I am assuming that he is otherwise healthy. You may just want to double check your heating and lighting these often cause behavioural changes ,you could try and notch the temps up a degree or two temporarily to see if that perks him up.
But this could be a stress response. Has something changed in or around his viv? Eg moved house or the room he was in or changed the vivarium, got another pet etc
Another suggestion is that his eye sight may be failing, this can happen with age. First signs are they don’t seem as coordinated and missing their food. They can become more recluse because they feel vulnerable. If this is happening he may see you as a threat and lunging in an attempt to protect himself. This too will stress him.
Join our facebook group and post your question someone may have the answer 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/groups/beardeddragonsrock
Hope that helps
Claire and Steve.
We have a female dragon between 10-11 yrs old – got her as a baby. Past few months she has been losing weight and eating and moving less and less. She is now refusing food altogether. I’ve tried butternut squash baby food, which is her favorite and she won’t even lift her head. Her eyes are partially closed. She has been on floor in cooler area of her cage for weeks. Extremely lethargic. Also wonder if she is going blind because for several months she had trouble getting crickets that were right in front of her. We don’t have a reptile vet in our area. I don’t want her to suffer so I’ve made an appt with my dog’s vet to have her put to sleep. I have tried everything I know to do and she is not bouncing back, only getting worse. Do you think I should give her one more chance or is it time to let her go. Hard on family as she has been a family member for over 10 years. Thank you.
Hi Stacey, This is a difficult one and one I cannot answer for you, I am assuming she was healthy and has not had underlying issues previously. From your description it does appear she has given up and given her age it could be just that. Regarding her eye sight, yes is it possible that her eye sight is failing this does happen in older dragons and could contribute to her symptoms of reduced movement and not eating. The only advice I can suggest is that you get a faecal test done to rule out parasites as this could cause these symptoms too, it’s definitely worth having a conversation with the vet to determine if this is a good idea. Although your vet isn’t a reptile vet and there’s not one nearby, your current vet will probably have contacts they can speak to about your beardie.
I hope this helps, Sorry we can’t give you a more specific answer.
We wish you all the best, please let us know how you get on.
I’m looking for some advice with my beardie please. He is 8 years old, I have his tank at 100 degrees in the hot area, about 90 slightly over and about 80 on the cool side. He has a basking area and a 1 month old uvb tube bulb. He has stopped eating and has drastically lost lots of weight within the past couple months. He 100% stopped feeding himself. He doesn’t really move much except when I put him in his basking area he flops out and sometimes onto his back. I’ve found him many times on his back with his eyes slightly open and black beard. He always seems to be grey with droopy eyes. 1 month ago I brought him to the vet, he did a blood test and found Ali was low in calcium. My vet said to force feed my guy twice daily and give a calcium supplement and bath. Ali has not improved at all but my vet said I shouldn’t see an improvement for months and I should keep force feeding and giving calcium supplement he supplies.
Can you please give me some advice and if you think Ali is just dying of old age? Or if you think my vet is wrong (I don’t really trust him tbh)? Ali really doesn’t seem to want to live anymore and I don’t want to keep forcing food and calcium on him and watching him suffer… thanks, Emily.
Firstly let me say I’m sorry your dragon is ill at the moment, and to be fair he does sound quite ill at this point in time.
Given that the vet has done blood work and discovered that his calcium levels are low, it’s quite likely that he has MBD – this will mean that his calcium levels in his bones are quite depleted and it will take a while for the supplements to restore this, so I agree with the vet that it will take quite some time, patience and perseverance to help him recover.
I’m concerned that you’ve discovered him on his back a number of times. This is never a good sign at all. Flipping on to their back is a common symptom of Atadenovirus because it affects their neurological system. However, unless your Beardie has been in contact with an infected individual fairly recently it’s very unlikely to be this since Atadenovirus tends to kill dragons quite quickly. The blood work may well have looked for this too and found it negative.
Given that flipping on to their backs is a neurological symptom, there could potentially be other electrolytes out of balance, but again the blood work would probably have flagged this. It’s possible therefore that your Beardie has given up on himself, because in nature they don’t want to make themselves vulnerable in this way to predators.
Prior to changing the UVB 1 month ago, how old was the previous UVB bulb? UV lamps should be changed every 6 to 9 months as their UV production decreases dramatically after this age and you won’t be able to tell. In addition to the correct UVB he needs supplemental calcium and Vitamin D3 regularly and a balanced diet that doesn’t contain too many calcium blocking agents ( we have a list of good vegetables in our “Bearded Dragon Diet” section ). You may want to look into some Reptoboost for him while he’s ill. The vet may have already recommended this by the sounds of it as they’ve asked you to bath him regularly.
You may want to ask the vet to do a faecal test to check for parasites if he hasn’t done that already, although if the vet is an exotic / reptile vet then he’s probably already done this too.
It’s not necessarily an indication that he’s specifically dying at this point, but he is definitely very very sick. It is possible that with love, attention and medical help he can recover, but it’s not going to be easy.
Personally, I’d be recommending persevering for a few more weeks at least and keeping in touch with the vet. It may be worth another blood test in a couple of weeks to see if his calcium levels have improved at all. If they have but his symptoms haven’t resolved then something else may be going on. At which point the discussion with the vet needs to be had about the potential prognosis and what course of treatment will be the kindest thing.
Apologies that I can’t give you a definitive answer, this is a very difficult situation for you.
We wish you all the best and hope that he pulls through. Please let us know how you both get on.
Steve and Claire.
P.S. You could have a quick look at our article “My Bearded Dragon Looks Sick” for some other possibilities as to what might be wrong, but I think you’ve covered most of the likely scenarios with your vet.
UPDATE FOR 2021: If anyone is here reading this comment, we now have an article dedicated to bearded dragon flipping on their back. It gives you a lot more information than this reply, and is more accurate too.
I’ve had my bearded dragon for 10 years. He is shared by my entirely family, and currently he lives at my mother’s, and I am only there a couple times a month. Today I visited, and he is in really rough shape. He will not open his eyes or move. He looks like skin and bones. He is breathing and seems to respond when he is handled, but he will not take any food or even open his eyes to see there is food. Could this be the natural end for him? Is there anything I can do to help him?
Sorry to hear your dragon is struggling at the moment. It’s hard to know if it’s the natural end for him without knowing his full history. So I’ll ask some questions and if you manage to get back to this comment thread please feel free to answer and I’ll try a bit more for you.
Has he been well recently up until the last few months?
Is his temperature and lighting schedule correct? For example, he should be sitting around the 38 to 40 degrees Celsius mark in his basking end and around 28 degrees Celsius in his cool end. Lights should be on for 12 hours a day, off overnight for 12 hours – with no red lights at all. You can see more information about this in our quick reference in the Bearded Dragon Heating And Lighting Guide.
Have you changed his UV bulb recently and is he getting enough Calcium supplement? He may not be getting enough supplement if he’s not eating of course, but the UV bulbs are definitely very important. Has his diet recently changed and has his diet been appropriate in the past? More information on diet can be found at https://www.beardeddragonsrock.com/category/bearded-dragon-diet.
Sorry for all the questions, and I’m not trying to suggest you haven’t done the best by him all these years, just trying to ascertain first if all these things are set up right. If they are all correct and nothing has changed except his condition then unfortunately it could well be the natural end time for him. He is of an age where that has to be a suspicion.
In terms of trying to help him, I suggest a trip to the vet at the very least with a stool sample if he’s pooping to check for parasites. Even the best kept dragons can get parasites from the live food they eat and parasites can make a dragon very lethargic and off their food. By the sounds of it he is losing weight so I’d not be thinking this is brumation as they shouldn’t lose weight when going into brumation.
The vet may suggest some pureed food syringed gently for him for a few days to get his strength back, as well as some Reptoboost supplement to help him regain strength, but I’d suggest doing all of those things only under vet supervision as you don’t want to make things worse.
He’s not mega-old at 10 years of age, but he is around the average life expectancy so it is possible that he’s dying. But I wouldn’t want to say for sure without him having a vet check if you can.
Hope that information helps, please let us know how you get on and we wish you and your dragon all the best.
My bearded dragon was brought home in 2011 for Valentine’s Day, 8 years later he’s always been in excellent health and has always had so much energy. Recently though, his top has become a pale yellow , and his neck and stomach have become black all the way down to his tail. I’m really worried about him, and the vet said to wait a day or two before bringing him in . Any thoughts?
Without knowing more information than what you’ve mentioned my thoughts would to rule out the following….
1 Is heating / lighting right? Have UV bulbs been replaced?
2 Has he had a poo recently and was it normal looking? He may need a fecal sample to be taken to check he’s not got parasites.
3 Has anything changed with in his environment recently including food?
4 Have any new animal / reptile been introduced recently? If so this could suggest disease.
But It sounds like your husbandry is on point especially as hes always been in good health.
The key point is that he is 8 years old (thats assuming he was a baby when you got him so could be older) and by what you’ve described suggests the possibility this unfortunately this could be his time.
Definitely worth having the vet check him first as it could be something else that’s perfectly treatable. Hopefully they’ll give you more answers. We wish you luck and we will hope for the best x.
I got my Beardy when I was 18 years old. I am now 32 years old and worried the end may be near for my little guy.
He rarely wants to eat, but will eat when I hand feed him. Rarely drinks …and hates being misted.
He stays in one spot for days and it’s never under his basking spot.
If the end is indeed near… is there anything I can do to make it less…idk… bad??
Hi Brian, The average life expectancy for a bearded dragon in captivity is around 10 years, your beardie has superseded that by 4 years.
To have a bearded dragon of that age you are that you are defiantly doing everything right! Sadly though it does seem most likely that this his time, its heartbreaking to witness and you feel so helpless. I have no helpful suggestions other than just keep doing what your doing.
We wish you all the best and our thoughts are with you x
Why did my pregnant bearded dragon die? She just had 1 litter a month ago waiting on them to hatch. She ended up pregnant again. She had about two more days before laying these. We moved her in her tank where to laI’d twice before no problems. And we found her dwad with her eggs still in her. We didn’t have her light on her for one day. What would have caused her death
Firstly I’d like to say that we’re sorry for your loss – it can be hard to lose a pet in this way.
Secondly, to answer your question, unfortunately that’s something that only an exotic vet performing a post-mortem examination is going to be able to conclusively answer for you. Even then they may not be able to conclusively answer it.
Pregnancy and egg-laying are very very physically demanding times for Bearded Dragons and it may simply have been too much for her to have a clutch of eggs so close together. The amount of calcium required to produce the eggs for example may have reduced her blood calcium levels to the point where she ended up with a heart arrhythmia that killed her. Or, she may have become egg bound and haemorrhaged internally trying to pass them.
They’re a couple of suggestions but as I said initially, the only person who can really tell you would be an exotic vet after a post-mortem examination.
Once again, sorry for your loss.
Thank you, I fear the same is about to happen with our oldest Male dragon unfortunately=( we rescued him from a friend who could no longer take care of him when he was jst about 1 1/2 yrs old. That would have been 9 yrs ago this fall. The last couple weeks he hasn’t shown interest in anything and when he walks it was almost like twitching but now has went kind of jst dragging ( I know he doesn’t have MBD because he gets the same treatment our other 3 bearded dragons get. Proper vitamins, uvb+uva lighting ex ex.) And then today I noticed his eyes are looking as if they are starting to droop. Which is exactly why I started searching the web for answers. Thankfully I found this after 3 hrs looking! I jst wish there were something I cld do for him. He jst seems so sad and its killing my kids =(
We’re so sorry to hear that, although the symptoms do sound like he has MBD, in your case I agree that it’s probably not. Most dragons with MBD have it because their owners aren’t aware of what it is and something is off with their husbandry. That doesn’t sound like that’s the case with you, you sound like an experienced keeper.
It’s possibly worth a vet check up and/or a faecal test to make sure it’s not parasites but, unfortunately, a 10 year old dragon is getting quite old and it probably is close to that time.
At this time there’s really no words that can console you or your kids except to know that, by the sounds of it you’ve given your dragon a great life and had great times with him.
We wish you all the very best and our thoughts are with you in this tough time.
My neared dragon has stopped eating drinking and changed colour and gone black on tail and chin in past 5 days and she is lethargic can anyone help
There’s a whole variety of reasons why this could be… There’s a few questions that would be helpful to know the answers to in order to form a better opinion on what’s happening.
We’d recommend an appointment with an exotic vet for definitive advice.
While you’re waiting, you can join the Bearded Dragons Rock group on Facebook at https://facebook.com/groups/beardeddragonsrock where people can ask the necessary questions to give you some pointers.
It could be that she’s cold, or impacted, parasite infected or beginning brumating (though this latter one seems unlikely as they don’t normally blacken up before brumating). She doesn’t sound well though, so we definitely recommend a vet appointment. Sadly, she could be at the end of life stage though without knowing her age it’s hard to tell.
We wish you both the best of luck, please let us know either here or on the FB group how you get on. All the very best.
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