Food is essential for your Bearded Dragon to both grow and maintain a high level of health and wellness so it’s important to know how long your bearded Dragon can go without food. There may be times where your Bearded Dragon doesn’t eat for a period of time and you become worried about the situation.
So how long can Bearded Dragons go without food? It is unhealthy for a baby or juvenile Bearded Dragon to go more than 24 hours without food as they are in a rapid state of growth. Adult Bearded Dragons can go without food for around 4 weeks if they have enough fat stores but this is not recommended and should be fed daily. Adults can also go up to 4 months without food by choice if they are in brumation which is the reptile version of hibernation.
Read on to take a closer look at how long Bearded Dragons can go without food, how often you should feed them and reasons why they might not want to eat.
Why Is Going Without Food a Bad Idea For Bearded Dragons?
Bearded Dragons are no different from any other species on earth when it comes to food, they need it!
Food isn’t an optional part of a Bearded Dragons life, they either eat or die, it’s really that simple.
Bearded Dragons need food for basically all the same reasons that we humans do, to grow, keep our organs healthy, keep our eyes and skin healthy and so much more.
Food is needed on a daily basis to keep your Bearded Dragons body in a good healthy state. Many other blogs and outlets such as ‘bearded dragon food’ talk about this and the effects it can have on the health of your Dragon.
If they go a number of days without food then they will also be going a number of days without vital proteins, fats, vitamins and other nutrients they need to be healthy.
At the top of this post, we said that it’s possible for an adult Bearded Dragon to go up to 4 weeks without food if the conditions are right and they have enough fat stores, however, this is certainly NOT recommended.
You should always provide your Bearded Dragon with a balanced diet on a daily basis even if they could survive longer without eating.
Why Is Going Without Food a Bad Idea For Baby Bearded Dragons?
If food is vital for adult Bearded Dragons then you can double the importance of food for baby Bearded Dragons.
Baby Dragons are growing at such a rapid rate that they need to eat at least 3-5 times a day to support that fast-paced growth that is taking place.
At the top of this post, we said that a baby Bearded Dragon could go 24 hours without food but this is NOT recommended.
Not having access to the nutrients they need on a daily basis can hinder both their growth and their health.
You should always make sure that you provide a baby Dragon with live feeders, finely chopped veg and vitamin & calcium powder each day as part of a healthy diet.
If you want to know exactly what to feed a baby Bearded Dragon then check out this post here
Going Without Food During Brumation
If you aren’t familiar with the term ‘brumation’, it’s basically the reptile version of hibernation.
If you’re still not quite sure what brumation is or you want to know more about it then check out this brumation post where I go over everything you need to know as an owner.
In captivity, not all Bearded Dragons will brumate but there is a good chance that at some stage your Dragon will go through this process.
Juvenile Bearded Dragons have been known to brumate although this isn’t healthy for them and brumation is something that is usually only associated with adult Dragons.
When a Bearded Dragon is in brumation you will usually find that they don’t want to eat at all.
This is perfectly fine and just part of the natural process of brumation.
Your Dragon can actually go without food for up to 2 months and more whilst in brumation and be perfectly healthy.
In brumation they will use far less energy and their body is expertly equipped to use fat stores to drip feed to body nutrients over this period.
Even though your Bearded Dragon won’t want to eat during brumation you should always provide fresh water for them.
You should never force feed a Bearded Dragon in brumation as this can lead to a lot of health problems.
When they are brumating they don’t need the basking lamp on and even if it is on they often won’t go anywhere near it so if they’ve been force-fed it’s difficult for them to digest their food.
This can cause them to have rotting food in their gut and even something called impaction which is basically constipation.
The bottom line is to never try and force feed a Bearded Dragon whilst in brumation, just let the natural process take place and they will let you know when they are ready to eat again.
How Often Should You Feed a Bearded Dragon?
How often you should feed a Bearded Dragon will depend on how old they are. Always remember that baby and juvenile Bearded Dragons are growing at a rapid rate so they need to eat more frequently to support that growth.
As a general rule of thumb, a suggest following the guide below to ensure your Bearded Dragon is getting the nutrients they need at the different stages of their life.
0-3 Months Old – Fed 3-5 Times a Day
3-8 Months Old – Fed 2-3 Times a Day
8 Months Old + – Fed 1 Time a Day
Please use this as a guide only as for how often you feed your Bearded Dragon will depend on many things such as the quality of their basking lamp.
If their basking lamp isn’t at the correct temperature, they won’t be able to digest their food properly and therefore won’t be ready for their next meal.
Small tweaks such as the number of hours the basking lamp is on each day and the actual foods you feed them can make a difference to their appetite and the number of meals they will want to consume each day.
Is It Unhealthy For a Bearded Dragon to Go Without Food?
The answer to this question is ultimately yes. Bearded Dragons, like humans, need an energy source to survive and that energy source is food and water.
Being deprived of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals for too long is going to have a negative effect on your Bearded Dragon and it’s something you need to avoid.
The only circumstance where this isn’t going to be a problem is when your Dragon goes into brumation because this is a natural process where your Bearded Dragon isn’t using any energy and the body drip feeds the nutrients that are required until the brumation period is over.
Reasons Why a Bearded Dragon Might Refuse Food?
There could be a number of reasons why a Bearded Dragon might refuse food. This can be a worrying time for you as an owner but sometimes it’s a simple fix.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why a Bearded Dragon may be refusing food.
When a Bearded Dragon get’s stressed they will often lose their appetite. This can result in either them eating less or refusing to eat at all.
Here are the main reasons why a Bearded Dragon can get stressed at home.
Another Bearded Dragon
I would never recommend housing 2 Bearded Dragons in the same tank, however, if you do this then there is a high risk that one of the Dragons will be dominant over the other one.
The Dragon that is less dominant will often suffer from stress and lose their appetite.
They can also suffer from other health issues such as not being allowed to bask under the lamp so they can’t digest their food.
The bottom line is that housing 2 Bearded Dragons together is never a good idea and can cause stress, loss of appetite and more.
It’s also very common that if you have other pets in your home such as cats and dogs that they can easily scare your Bearded Dragon and cause them stress.
No matter how cute and cuddly these pets are to me and you, they are often seen as predators to Bearded Dragons and if they have to share a home with them it can be quite a scary prospect.
If you have a dog and you are interested to see how you can get your Bearded Dragon and dog comfortable with each other then take a look at this post that explains a step by step of how Bearded Dragons and dogs can play together.
This, in turn, can cause your Dragon to lose their appetite and not want to eat.
You may find that your Bearded Dragon and your pets get along just fine, however, If you believe that your pet is causing stress to your Dragon then it’s a good idea to keep them separate, at least for a while.
Toys & Small Objects
Whenever somebody reads the heading to this paragraph they think i must be crazy but this is actually one of the most common reasons for a Bearded Dragon getting stressed.
If you have children and they leave an action figure or doll or action figure lying around this can be easily mistaken for a predator by your Dragon.
The same can be said if you leave a small item of clothing such as a sock or pair of trainers close to your Bearded Dragons tank.
Even something like a new ornament can that your Dragon is unsure of can cause stress and therefore loss of appetite.
Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint these little objects as the reason for a loss of appetite and your Bearded Dragon not wanting to eat but once you do realise that something small like a child’s toy is the problem then it’s just a matter of removing the object to relieve the stress from your Dragon.
If you don’t have the correct temperature’s in your tank then this can easily cause your Bearded Dragon to not want to eat as much as they normally would.
Remember that a Bearded Dragon needs to be at its optimal body temperature to aid digestion and without the correct temperature in the tank then they won’t be ready to eat their next meal.
Here is a guide to the temperatures you should be aiming for to keep your Bearded Dragon healthy:
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
Altering Your Bearded Dragons Surroundings
If you notice that your Bearded Dragon isn’t eating after changing some decor in their tank or changing the corner of the room that their tank is housed in then this is actually quite common.
Give them time to get used to the change as they will usually settle down in a short period of time, if not you may want to consider changing things back to the way there were.
If you bring a baby Bearded Dragon home then it’s also common for them to get stressed with all the uncertainty of their new surroundings and feel like they don’t want to eat.
Try and make the transition as smooth as possible as you can for them and they should settle down pretty quickly.
Offering a tank that has lots of hides so they can escape and feel safe is something that i would strongly suggest.
This way if something is scaring them they can hide and feel until they feel more comfortable in their new home.
Illness Reducing Appetite
Your Bearded Dragon could simply be ill. There are a lot of reasons why your Dragon could be refusing food due to illness, although, you should make sure that you have gone through all the other possible reasons first as it’s often just something simple.
Having said that, If you feel that there is something wrong and they aren’t their normal self then you should make an appointment to see your Vet.
It’s always better to get your Dragon checked out if you are in doubt and get the opinion of a qualified Vet.
If you are worried about illness and you want to look into getting your Bearded Dragon health insurance then take a look at this post where I go over the best available options and alternatives to get your Dragon insured and save on vet bills.
I hope you have got lots of value form this post and you now understand how long a Bearded Dragon can go without food.
The main thing is to regularly feed your Bearded Dragon using the guides i have given you in this post.
The amount of food and how many times a day you feed your Dragon will depend largely on their age.
The only time that your Bearded Dragon should go without food is during brumation.
If they are refusing food when not in brumation then you need to try and pinpoint the reason and act accordingly.
Keeping your Bearded Dragon fed and watered with a good lighting system will allow them to grow and be healthy.
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