Rejecting food for some time can be a symptom of several factors for different animals, and it’s frighteningly common. Animals will abstain from food due to a change of environment, an underlying illness, or a mating ritual, and if it’s a python, they could even be trying to eat you! With bearded dragons, it depends on their age and behavior. Juveniles feed voraciously, so there’d certainly be something wrong if they refused to eat.
The answers could be less sinister if your beardie is an adult, nonetheless, something to worry about.
Bearded dragons can go two to three months without food. This is because of a period called “brumation” which is similar to hibernation. Without brumation in the picture, beardies could only last two weeks; I’ll give the juvenile dragons 5 days to one week with no food before all hell breaks loose.
It is easy to imagine the worst cases when your beardie declines food, but it’s always preferable to stay calm, study the behavior of your dragon, seek professional advice, and do the necessary research. Read on!
How Long Can Your Bearded Dragon Survive Without Food?
You may need to spend a few days away from your dragon, which will disrupt its eating schedule. It’s only normal to wonder, “will my pet hold up?” The answer depends on factors that you can weigh out to decipher.
Bearded dragons are built with a higher hunger tolerance in comparison to humans – well, at least the adults are – so they can go a day or two without being fed. It surely wouldn’t be fun for them, but it’s nothing they aren’t wired to withstand. In the wild, there is no feeding schedule for bearded dragons to follow; they eat when they’re lucky.
The safest you can go without supervising your beardie is 2 to 4 days. Anything more than that becomes unfair to your pet and weakens its immune system. Baby dragons and juveniles depend on high levels of protein to build up their muscles and fats which are essential for retaining heat and moisture. By the third day, your baby dragon will be significantly weakened by the lack of food.
Adults have higher tolerance since they don’t eat half as much as the youngsters, but for a pet who’s been put on a routine all their life, it could drastically flip their ordinary lifestyle and stress them out. It’s advisable to get a trustworthy person to fill in for you if possible, to avoid worrying about your bearded dragon or attracting potential vet bills.
7 Probable Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Refusing Food
Food is essential for every breathing and kicking living thing. If your beardie suddenly refuses to eat, something is surely off. Here are 7 good reasons why your dragon is force-fasting:
1. They Are In Brumation
Brumation is a period where beardies are entirely in a hibernation-like state. During this period, they try to preserve fat, muscles, and water by sleeping through days upon days that could extend to months! In this period, they’ll eat 90% – 100% less and excrete just as much.
There’s nothing to worry about in this case, the only problem is identifying whether or not they’re brumating. Seek tell-tale signs such as sleeping earlier than usual, pooping less, keeping to themselves more, taking longer naps than usual, and of course, eating much less.
2. Their Diet Has Changed
While bearded dragons are not picky eaters, they sure love a routine, and some of them may be stubborn enough to reduce their food intake or refuse to eat entirely to get their way. If you’re changing their diet for the better, I’ll advise you to stand your ground until they succumb or seek professional help.
3. They Want A Diet Change
Bearded dragons may prefer something new, as funny as that sounds. Perhaps you feed them only one type of protein or veggie, they may just want something else to feed on. Try switching to a different worm or perhaps add some fruits this time. They just might remember the joy of having food pushed down their scaly beard.
4. A Difference In Temperature
Beardies are ridiculously sensitive to temperature. A slight difference in what they’re used to can disturb their eating habits and cause them to stop eating. There’s a greater chance of this occurring if the temperatures go colder than what they’re familiar with.
5. Your Dragon May Be Stressed
Stress is a normal occurrence for animals and beardies in particular. Loud noises or too much disturbance around their tanks could frighten them and cause them to lose their appetite. Seeing as bearded dragons are quite particular about their environment, certain details are a requisite for them to be in check and function properly.
6. There Is An Underlying Illness
Lack of appetite is a generic symptom of an illness. So, if your dragon suddenly rejects its favorite meal, there could be an underlying health issue. Illnesses like metabolic bone disease, constipation, vitamin deficiencies, and even parasites could cause your pet to lose appetite. The best thing to do in this case is to seek medical help as soon as possible, to contain the problem before it escalates.
7. They May Be Injured
Injuries are quite common for beardies. Remember they crawl against the floor, rocks or coarse surfaces and could easily scratch or scrape their bodies in the process, or develop an oral sore. If it becomes bothersome, they might lose their appetite and become slower or less responsive.
4 Things To Do When Your Beardie Stops Eating
The first thing to do is stay calm. Panicking and imagining the worst can lead you to either stress your pet even more or make rash decisions that may not be beneficial for both of you. Here are 4 immediate things to do if your dragon stops eating:
Inspect The Environment
The enclosure determines if your dragon will be happy or not, and if there’s a problem, the best thing to do is check out the enclosure. Make sure the light exposure, temperature, humidity, and effects of the surrounding are out of place.
If you have visitors who like to fawn and coo around the enclosure admiring your beautiful pet, then you might want to consider keeping your beardie out of sight to properly monitor the situation.
Change The Dragon’s Diet
It’s possible for your dragon to not be too excited about the options he’s being fed, and would rather eat something else. It wouldn’t hurt to try other options, perhaps a different type of worm or veggie choice.
Also, try feeding them live bugs if you haven’t been doing so. Bearded dragons love to see their food wiggle with life before they eat. It’s possible that they just need a little push to feed.
Force Feed Your Beardie (With Care)
You might be wondering how to successfully feed a dragon without pulling the sky down. In all honesty, it’s quite a hassle, but possible.
All you need is a paste or smoothie blend of high-protein worms and mineral-rich veggies, a clean syringe, and your hands.
How to do it:
Apply slight pressure at the ends of their mouth for them to open up, and insert the syringe through the side of the mouth to the back of the throat. As you angle the tip of the syringe downward toward the throat, slowly depress the content into your dragon’s mouth. Ensure the pace is regulated to prevent choking.
Bear in mind that this should not be a regular occurrence. Bearded dragons are not meant to be syringe-fed like kittens, and if it has gotten to this, it’s surely time to book an appointment with the vet.
Visit The Vet
Seeking professional help is the best choice to make if your dragon ceases to eat. Your veterinary doctor will tell you every possible reason depending on the morph, species, or age of your dragon, and what to do about it.
Please, do not delay your vet visit if your beardie has starved itself for more than three days. Even if you suspect brumation; the symptoms of a terrible sickness are quite similar to brumation, and in this case, it’s best not to take chances if you’re not an expert.
2 Bonus Tips On Feeding Your Bearded Dragon
How To Feed Your Bearded Dragon Fruits:
If your bearded dragon has refused to eat fruits or consume the necessary vitamins to keep them healthy, feed a slice of fruit to the live worms before feeding the fruit-packed worms to the beardie. They wouldn’t suspect a thing and would finally get the vitamins they’ve been running away from!
How To Hydrate Your Bearded Dragon:
Get a spray bottle- works like magic! Instead of putting an unattractive water bowl in their enclosure, give a few spritzes on their veggies before they eat and a few on their heads. They will either eat the veggies with a sufficient amount of water for their little bodies or lick off the water from their heads.
Oftentimes, People Ask:
- How long can bearded dragons go without water?
Beardies can survive up to 2 weeks without a water source. Their natural habitat features little water, and the dragons have evolved perfectly to work with it.
Did you know that they can absorb water through their skin to hydrate themselves? Usually, dragons survive off the little water they find in veggies or mildew. This is why it’s important to feed your bearded dragon a balanced diet of protein and vegetables.
- What are the appropriate schedules for feeding your bearded dragon?
For babies under 3 months, aim to feed them 5 times a day. Babies 3-6 months should be fed 3-4 times a day, while those six months old should be fed 3 times a day, working their way down to 2 times a day as they approach a year of age.
- How important is a feeding schedule?
It is very essential to establish a routine feeding schedule for your dragon – and yourself. This will help to train your beardie to know when it’s time to eat and help to get you into the routine of daily multiple feedings.
It’s best to begin establishing feeding routines as soon as you get your bearded dragon. A little research and consultation from a professional should suffice to wade you through the mysteries of your dragon’s alimentary canal.
- In what season is brumation likely to occur?
It is very common for you to notice signs of brumation in the late fall, just before winter (October, November). But for some bearded dragons, brumation starts around June, when it’s winter in Australia, their native habitat.
Generally, the time for brumation depends on the individual dragon, seeing as several factors are considered before this course of action is taken. An interesting rule of thumb is to pay attention to the change in weather, from heat to cold. This, accompanied by other cues can be a sign that your beardie is about to take a long deep nap!