It can be worrying and even pretty disgusting to see your bearded dragon eat their own poop.
As an owner, it’s often hard to understand why your bearded dragon would feel the need to eat their own poop and you begin to worry about how safe and hygienic this is.
In this post, we will take a look at why bearded dragons eat their own poop? If all bearded dragons do this and if it’s actually safe for your bearded dragons to eat their own poop.
So why do bearded dragons eat their own poop? Bearded dragons will often eat their own poop or faeces when it contains undigested food. Eating the undigested food within the faeces will prevent a waste of nutrients that would otherwise occur. Bearded dragons may also eat their faeces if they are lacking in nutrients in their diet.
Read On to Learn…
Why Do Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Poop?
It can often be an almost horrific site to see your beloved beardie chewing on their own poop but there is probably a perfectly good reason why they are doing this and one that needs to be explored.
When an animal eats their own poop it’s officially called ‘Coprophagia’ and it’s quite common throughout the animal kingdom especially with animals such as rabbits and chinchillas.
It’s actually not as common for bearded dragons to eat their own poop but the reasons are thought to be very similar to those of rabbits and such like.
As we mentioned above, the main 2 reasons why bearded dragons eat their poop are:
- Undigested Food In The Poop
- Lacking In Vitamin & Minerals In Their Diet
Let’s take a deeper look at both of these reasons and see why your bearded dragon could be choosing to eat their own poop…
1. Undigested Food In The Poop
One of the main reasons why your beardie might be eating their own poop is because the poop might be containing undigested food.
As a basic survival instinct, if your bearded dragon recognises that there is food available in their tank then they could be tempted to eat it (no matter if it’s from own their poop)
As disgusting as this may seem to us humans, this is something that bearded dragons and other wild animals are hard-wired to do in order to survive in the harsh conditions of the wild.
There could be a few reasons why your beardie has undigested food in their poop such as…
- Over Feeding
- Not The Correct Conditions to Digest Their Food
- The Time Your Bearded Dragons Eats
If you are feeding your beardie too many crickets or other live insects for their size/age and too many times per day then this could make it hard for them to be able to fully digest all the insects they are consuming and therefore some of the undigested insects will be in their poop.
Another factor that can affect how much food is undigested in your beardies poop is the conditions of the basking area.
Bearded dragons need to bask after they have eaten in order to digest their food.
If they can’t bask in the correct temperature then the food they have consumed is likely to go undigested and this can potentially cause rotting food in the gut if the set up isn’t correct.
To learn all you need to know about why basking is essential for bearded dragons then head over to our new basking guide here…
If you are unsure of the correct temperatures that bearded dragons need then take a look at the table below…
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
Another overlooked reason why beardies may have undigested food in their poop is due to the fact that they are fed too close to the time then their basking lamp is turned off for the night.
As a general rule of thumb, you should feed your bearded dragon a minimum of 3 hours before they go to bed.
If you feed them too close to their bedtime then this could mean that they are potentially going to bed with undigested food in their stomach and it can either rot in their gut of come out in their poop.
2. Lacking In Vitamin & Minerals
Your bearded dragons could also be eating their own poop because of a lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet.
This is something worth thinking about as your beardie could be giving you a hint that they need slightly more of vital nutrients such as protein or calcium for example.
If you suspect that this is the case then we would recommend assessing your beardies consumptions of food of these 3 main areas…
- High-Quality Insects
- Calcium-Rich Greens
- Calcium Supplement
If one of these 3 main areas is lacking then your bearded dragon could be deficient in some area of their nutrition.
It’s common for animals to eat their own poop to try and increase nutrients they struggled to get the first time around.
Let’s take a look et each of the area of nutrition…
Insects – Bearded dragons need high-quality insects in order to get the protein they require to grow and maintain their health. Purchasing low-quality insects can greatly decrease the levels of protein your beardie is consuming.
It’s a good idea to ‘gut load’ insects prior to feeding them to your dragon in order to make sure they offer as much nutrition as possible as many store-bought insects are malnourished and offer next to no nutrition.
You can see our list of recommended sources for purchasing live insects online over at our quality food for bearded dragons page here…
Calcium-Rich Greens – It’s well documented that calcium is a vital part of a bearded dragons diet and the best way to provide them with calcium on a consistent basis is to offer high-quality greens and veggies.
Some of the greens we recommend are…
- Turpin Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Mustard Greens
Kale actually gets a bad reputation for being bad for beardies but you can see what we actually found out during our research here…
Calcium Supplementation – As well providing your bearded dragon with a good diet of both good quality insects and greens that are high in calcium and other nutrients, it’s also vital that you are providing them with a calcium supplement according to many experts.
Providing a calcium supplement ensures that your beardie is getting the calcium they need and fills in the gaps that may appear from eating greens alone.
We always recommend using RepCal as it’s by far the best option in our opinion and is trusted by reptile owners all over the world.
You can head over to our recommended supplements page to check out exact RepCal product we recommend for your bearded dragon as well as the best place to get it from…
Is It Safe For Bearded Dragons to Eat Their Own Poop?
Now that we’ve looked at the reasons why bearded dragons might eat their own poop, now let’s take a look at other factors involved and determine if it’s actually safe for them to do this.
For the most part, if your bearded dragon is only eating their poop occasionally then it’s not going to be much of a problem.
Having said this, the more they do it, the more potential problems it could cause to both them and you as an owner.
As we mentioned previously, they can get some nutrients from their poop that they could be lacking elsewhere in their diet.
There are some potential health concerns to note though when your beardie is eating their own poop.
These health concerns include the potential of parasites and worms that could be in the poop and once eaten could cause oral health issues.
If your bearded dragon has any cuts in their mouth then this also has the potential to cause infection.
The substrate you use could also be a problem too. If you are using loose substrate such as sand then there is a good chance that the poop will stick to the poop prior to them consuming it.
This really isn’t good and can cause a whole host of stomach problems including impaction.
We always recommend you use a substrate such as ‘sand mat’ as this substrate keeps your beardies nails short, is easy to clean and has zero risk of impaction.
You can check out the sand mat we recommend by heading over to our recommended substrate here…
There is also a risk to you the owner, as bearded dragons can carry salmonella through their poop and if they are eating it then the infection is much more easily spread.
This happens for various reasons including the poop being on your beardie tongue and then they proceed to lick you and other items in your home.
It can also be spread by you or another family member kissing your beloved beardie.
Should I Stop My Bearded Dragon Eating Their Own Poop?
In our opinion, if your bearded dragon is eating their poop on a regular basis then you need to stop them from doing this.
It could simply be down to instinct that is causing them to do this but it could also be for the other reasons we have mentioned.
When you put these reasons side by side with hygiene aspects and the potential of salmonella infection then it makes total sense to stop your beardie eating their own poop.
You will need to investigate the reasons we have talked about throughout this post and also make sure to remove any poop as soon as possible from your beardies tank.
Do Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Poop In The Wild?
There is actually very little research done on wild bearded dragons eating their own poop.
They are thought to eat their own poop as a survival method for the reasons we have mentioned throughout as they will struggle to find nutrients far more in the wild as opposed to in captivity.
Having said this coprophagia is something that is predominantly associated with other animals such as rabbits.
Wild bearded dragons also go to other clever methods to consume and recycle nutrients such as eating their own skin or shed.
We have just shared a new guide that explains all you need to know about your bearded dragon and eating their own skin…
Do All Captive Bearded Dragons Eat Their Own Poop?
You might now be wondering if all bearded dragons eat their own poop or if your beardie is unique and well (maybe a little crazy)
The truth is that not all beardies eat their own poop and to be honest most don’t display this behaviour.
This doesn’t mean that you need to freak out but rather remember that they must be doing it for a reason so if you can find the reason you will likely stop the behaviour.
Do Bearded Dragons Like to Eat Their Own Poop?
This is something that we simply just don’t know but as most beardies leave their poop well alone it would suggest that they would much rather eat some nice superworms!
Like we said before if your bearded dragon is eating their poop then its most probably for a reason rather than for pleasure.
Let’s face even though all beardies are different and we simply love how unique they are, it’s highly unlikely that they consider their own poop or anybody else at the top of their favourite foods list.
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