If your Bearded Dragon is not eating then it can be a worrying time. Finding the source of the problem can be tricky especially when there no obvious reasons.
In this post, we will take a deep look at the reasons why your bearded dragons might not be wanting to eat so you can quickly get to the root of the problem.
So why is your Bearded Dragon not eating? The 10 most common reasons why a Bearded Dragon is not eating are listed below
- Change in surroundings
- Feeling stressed or intimidated
- The incorrect temperature in the tank
- Incorrect lighting
- Getting ready to shed
- Getting ready for brumation
- Old age
- Suffering from impaction
- Due to injury
- Due to illness or infection
Let’s take an in-depth look at the 10 reasons why your Bearded Dragon might not be eating so you can find the source of the problem and evaluate what needs to be done.
Bearded Dragons Not Eating Due to Stress?
Stress is a very real and common cause of appetite loss with Bearded Dragons and just about anything in the Animal Kingdom.
Think about it, when you feel stressed out the last thing that you want to do is eat.
Well, unfortunately, your Bearded Dragon is exactly the same. The question is what can cause stress in a Bearded Dragon?
1# Change In Surroundings
Something as simple as changing the corner of the room that your Vivarium is
This can make them feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and until they feel at home with their surroundings again they can have reduced appetite or even not eat at all.
Even things like a simple change in Vivarium decor can cause mild stress although this is rare, this totally depends on the Bearded Dragons and how uncomfortable its made to feel by the change.
2# Feeling Threatened Or Intimidated
There can be a number of reasons why a Bearded Dragon feels intimidated or threatened.
If you have other pets such as a dog or cat its not uncommon for a Bearded Dragon to feel stressed as it could possibly see the other pet as a predator.
If you have another Bearded Dragon living in the vivarium then this can certainly be a very common reason for stress and therefore the ultimate reason why your Bearded Dragon won’t eat.
Bearded Dragons are solitary reptiles by nature and having 2 or more as pets can sometimes cause problems.
Here’s a post I’ve written that explains why housing 2 or more Bearded Dragons together isn’t a good idea.
You will often find that the Dragons will become aggressive towards each other and the weaker one will not want to eat through stress.
The submissive Bearded Dragon will also find it hard to both have an appetite and digest food because the more dominant Dragon will be occupying the warm basking lamp of the vivarium and the submissive Dragon won’t want to go there as they will be scared of the more dominant one.
This can cause all sorts of problems such as malnourished, gut for from lack of digestion and more.
If you notice that one of your Bearded Dragons waving its arm that’s a sign that it’s submitting to a more dominant figure and something to keep in mind.
What to Do In This Situation?
If you notice this happening there is really only 2 things that you can do.
This first thing you can do is to simply purchase another vivarium and keep the Bearded Dragons separate and see if this makes a difference.
If you choose to purchase a second vivarium then keeping the Bearded Dragons in separate rooms is also something you want to consider, as if they can both still see each other it might cause stress and you still might get the problem of your Bearded Dragon not eating.
The second thing you can do is to give one of the Bearded Dragons away. As heartbreaking as this may seem it is the kindest thing you can do in this situation.
If you don’t have the room in your house for 2 vivariums and you simply can’t split up the Dragons into separate tanks then this really is the only option as you can’t let a situation continue where one of the Bearded Dragons is under constant stress.
Can Lighting & Temperature Make Your Bearded Dragon Not Want to Eat?
Lighting and temperature are 2 of the most important things a Bearded Dragons needs to survive.
If you don’t take extra special care of the lighting and temperature then it can affect your Dragons Behaviour especially their appetite and ability to digest food.
If your Bearded Dragon won’t eat then there is a strong possibility that it has something to do with either a lighting or temperature issue. The Reptile Magazine singled this out as a major reason why Bearded Dragon might not eat in an online Q&A session they did.
If you need a guide on how to set up your Bearded Dragons lighting correctly then check out my ultimate guide here. It covers everything you need to know about lighting.
3# Wrong Temperature For Eating On a Morning
If you are feeding your Bearded Dragon first thing on a morning and finding that it won’t eat, then it’s very possible that the problem is the temperature.
If you follow the temperature guide below then you will notice that the night time temperature is around 30 Degrees colder than during the day.
Some Dragons like to get warm before they eat as they need to be at their optimal temperature to aid digestion, so there’s a strong possibility that your Bearded Dragon will refuse food until it feels it has raised it temperature to the required level to digest the meal.
A general rule of thumb for this is to allow around 2 hours of basking time, then try and feed your Dragon again.
If he/she will then feed then its almost certain that its because they were simply too cold in the morning.
The Right Temperature
You should have several different temperatures in your Bearded Dragons vivarium such as basking area, cool spot and also night time temperature. Below you will find a guide to help you make sure you are giving your Dragon the temperatures it needs in all areas of the tank and times of the day. Please use this chart as a guide only and always seek advice from your vet.
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
The 75°-100° temperatures are also recommended by VCAHospitals.com. Check that you have something close to these temperatures because if not there is a strong chance that your Dragon won’t eat because it is too cold to digest the food properly, so it simply won’t eat.
Something else that’s worth mentioning is that is you notice undigested food in your Bearded Dragons poop then this is also a strong sign that they aren’t digesting their food properly so need either more basking time or the temperature is too low.
Having a quality UVB light is very important to the appetite of your Bearded Dragon as well as its overall mood and how active they feel.
Once you have a high-quality UVB light in place you need to be providing your Beardie with around 10-12 hours of light per day.
If your Dragons is not eating then you definitely need to check you have both the correct lighting elements in place and that you are changing the bilbs every 6 months as they get weaker with time.
5# Getting Ready to Shed Can Make Your Bearded Dragon Not Want to Eat?
If your Bearded Dragon is not eating it could be something simple yet often overlooked such as shedding.
There are a few reasons why a Bearded Dragon will shed its skin. The most common reason is that it has simply outgrown it.
This usually happens a lot in the first year, where a Bearded Dragon can shed up to once a week when a Hatch-ling.
Shedding is a natural process for reptiles although it can be very uncomfortable and itchy for them throughout the whole process.
This can often result in a loss of appetite until the shedding process has completely finished.
Here is a guide to how often a Bearded Dragon can shed its skin:
Hatchling – Shed Around Once a Week
Juvenile – Shed Around Once a Month
Adult – Shed Around 1-2 times a Year
If your Bearded Dragon isn’t eating then try and look for some of these signs…
- Tip of the tail is grey
- Dull in colour
- Bulging Eyes
- Puffing up its beard regularly (helps to loosen the skin)
- Rubbing up against the side of the tank
One or more of these signs mentioned above coupled with refusing to not eat could simply mean that your Bearded Dragon is about to shed and is just off his/her food because of that very reason.
If you are convinced that this is the case then the worst thing you can do is to try and pull off the skin yourself.
Try giving a gentle bath or using a mist bottle, both methods will re-hydrate the skin and help to move the process along in a natural way.
If you want to understand everything you need to know about shedding as an owner then I recommend you take a look at my complete shedding guide here.
6# Bearded Dragons Won’t Feel Like Eating During Brumation
Brumation is basically hibernation for reptiles. This is a perfectly normal part of a Bearded Dragon’s life.
In the wild, they would Brumate and go into a deep sleep for short periods of time and become lethargic in the winter months (around 3 months)
Adult Bearded Dragons will often Brumate but it’s not usual for a Dragon in its first 12 months to brumate.
When an adult decides to brumate it can often have a reduced appetite and its not unheard of for a Beardie to refuse food altogether.
Here’s an article that shares all you need to know about brumation as an owner so you can both prepare and care for your Bearded Dragon when they are brumation.
When Bearded Dragons brumate you will find that they will try and find cooler places in the vivarium more often than they used to as opposed to the basking spot.
If you are confident that your Bearded Dragon is not eating because it is brumating then simply keep them hydrated and make food available and they will eat when they are ready.
Adults rarely lose weight when brumating as they are very good at using up their fat stores.
If you feel that your Dragons is losing weight or just not sure if they are brumating then its a good idea to seek to the advice of a Vet.
7# Age Can Significantly Change a Bearded Dragons Appetite
If your Bearded Dragon is not eating it could be due to its age.
In the first 12 months of a Bearded Dragon’s life, they go through a huge amount of growth. In fact, a Bearded Dragon will grow to just short of its full size by its first birthday.
The only way your Beardie can support this kind of fast-paced growth is to eat vast amounts of food at regular intervals.
Baby Bearded Dragons can eat up to 5 times a day to support their growth and nutritional needs.
Feeding your Dragon this many times a day can become normal, but you need to understand that as your Dragon gets older and their growth slows down so will their appetite.
An adult that is 18 months plus will only need feeding once a day, which compared to the 5 times a day that a baby eats may seem like he/she is off their food, but it’s actually that they just don’t need as many nutrients as often because their metabolism has slowed down as well as their growth.
Use this general guide to how many times a day a Bearded Dragon will eat from birth to adulthood:
Bearded Dragon Recommended Feeding Guide
|3-5/Times Per Day||2-3/Times Per Day||1-2/Times Per Day||1/Time Per Day|
8# Impaction Can Stop a Bearded Dragon From Wanting to Eat
If your Bearded Dragon isn’t eating, there is a chance that it could be due to impaction.
Ok, so what is impaction?
Impaction is when your Bearded Dragons digestive system becomes blocked due to either the wrong diet or consuming
If your Bearded Dragon
If you have worried about impaction then it’s a good idea to consult your vet for a consultation.
How The Wrong Diet Can Cause Impaction
If you feed your Dragon a diet that isn’t good for their digestive system, then you run the risk of clogging up their gut and causing them a lot of pain.
One of the most common
Impaction from mealworms is most common in baby Bearded Dragons, as too many are hard to digest.
Keeping a check for any changes in your Dragons diet over recent days will help to determine if impaction through diet is a factor.
How Consuming Non-Edible Objects Can Cause Impaction
Another way that your Bearded Dragon can suffer from impaction is to consume
This doesn’t have to be large objects, but small objects that they can’t digest and over time they cause your Dragon to become blocked up.
This can be something as simple as the substrate you use such as coarse sand or wood chippings.
Using a high-quality substrate is essential, here I share with you the exact substrate I recommend for multiple reasons.
If you allow you Bearded Dragon to run around the room and play then this is a great idea for multiple reasons but there is also a chance that they can eat small pieces of fluff and other things that are laying on carpet and wood floors as Bearded Dragons love to lick just about everything they can.
Here’s a post that shows you everything you need to about how you can successfully let your Bearded Dragon play around the house.
If you believe that impaction is affecting your Bearded Dragon and stopping them from wanting to eat, then there are a few different things you can do.
You can try and gently massage your Dragon to relieve the blockage.
You can also try and give your Dragon a bath, as this is known to help and coupled with a
9# Not Eating Due to Injury
Bearded Dragons are like every other reptile and animal in the sense that they can get injured.
Sometimes the injuries are hard to detect, and other times with broken bones you may see some swelling around the injured area.
If your Bearded Dragon does have an injury then they could well be in some significant pain and this can lead them to refuse food.
It’s hard to give advice on exactly how to spot a broken bone as this should be left to the vets to determine.
If you are ever worried about vets bills then getting health insurance might be a good option to help cover the costs. I’ve written a guide here that shows you the best insurers and also gives you alternatives to health insurance.
10# Not Eating Due to Illness Or Infection
If your Bearded Dragon is refusing food, then one of the first things you want to check for is either illness or infection.
This is exactly the same for Bearded Dragons, when they get ill they won’t eat! It’s as simple as that.
There are lots of different illnesses and infections that Dragons can get, however below
Bearded Dragon Parasites
When a Bearded Dragon gets parasites, it is very common that they lose their appetite.
Parasites can be hard to detect, however,
Parasites can also steal the nutrients from your Dragons food, so they will become malnourished when they do decide to eat.
If you suspect parasites then you need to get in touch with your vet and make an appointment.
It’s also a good idea with any suspected illness, infection or when a loss of appetite to take a sample of your Dragons poop as this can really help the vet in their diagnosis.
Bearded Dragon Mouth Rot (Stomatitis)
Mouth rot is a very painful experience for a Bearded Dragon and one that can often make them not want to eat.
If your Beardie has mouth rot, unlike other illnesses or infections it should be pretty easy to realise that something is wrong.
There will usually be a mix between a yellow, white and grey colour forming around the mouth. This is backed up my VCAHospitals who also state this a symptom of mouth rot as they refer to it as looking like (cottage cheese).
Also if your Dragon has had the infection for a while their head can appear swollen.
Gum bleeding and loose teeth are also common symptoms in the advanced stage.
If you notice what you think may be mouth rot, then you need to seek advice from a vet who will be able to treat your Dragon and get him/her fit and healthy again.
It’s never a nice experience if your Bearded Dragon won’t eat. It can be stressful for both you and your Dragon.
Sometimes this is just a natural process like losing appetite due to getting
Other times your Bearded Dragon won’t eat because they are feeling stressed, injured or ill.
Whatever the reason is, it’s important to try and identify it as soon as possible then you can make the correct decision of what to moving forward.
I hope you got lots of value from this post and hope you have a healthy and happy Beardie!