A pet with no appetite is a mind-boggling combination. The situation is a tricky one to decipher, and sadly in some circumstances, people can end up with the wrong treatment for their pets out of panic – and then the situation worsens! Bearded dragons are wired to stay for long periods without food. In their natural Australian habitat, they eat only when they find food which, majorly, isn’t as regular as you’d expect. There are several reasons why your beardie is refusing to eat as it should. It could be anything from mild to disturbing and should be taken care of immediately.
Loss of appetite in bearded dragons can be a result of environmental or biological factors. A change or decline in their living and health conditions can immediately disturb their feeding process leading to appetite loss and other complications.
Taking care of a beardie is not an easy task. Because they’re exotic pets, they require specific needs to live their fullest lives. If even one item is hindered, the health condition of your beardie will visibly and suddenly drop starting from loss of appetite.
Allow me to take you through the reasons and solutions to why your bearded dragon is refusing to eat. Let’s dive into it!
Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Eat? 10 Reasons And Solutions
Unfortunately, appetite loss is a one-size-fits-all symptom that can be linked to literally any unwanted situation in a beardie’s life. Nevertheless, it’s nothing to be afraid of. I have listed all the possible reasons why your beardie is refusing to eat, and just what to do about it to get them back on track below.
1. Beardie Is Suffering From An Illness
It’s not uncommon for bearded dragons in captivity to fall ill. In fact, dragons in captivity often fall sick easier than those in the wild – strangely enough. This is because pet owners can only do their best to mimic their natural habitat, which is the most important aspect of their survival. While we do emulate their home spectacularly, there are few chances where we miscalculate their environment causing them to fall ill.
For example, humidity levels above 40% in their terrarium can lead to respiratory diseases, improper lighting could lead to metabolic and digestive problems, and poor structural setting can lead to parasites, intense stress, and weakness. In all of these scenarios, your bearded dragon will begin manifesting these signs by losing appetite.
If you sense that your bearded dragon has fallen ill, the best thing to do is inspect its surroundings, ensure everything is on track, and book time with the veterinary doctor immediately. Intensive examination and poop samples will be taken to determine the condition of your pet to prepare a diagnosis and either manage it or prevent it from worsening.
2. Beardie Is Stressed
Stress is a common problem for bearded dragons. Beardies are not fond of change, so every time you change or break a routine in their environment or system, they’d automatically have a weaker appetite in response. Getting transported from one cubicle to the other, experiencing different vibrations, smells, and sounds, and then being put in a new terrarium will cause your beardie to be in ‘observation mode’. Naturally, your dragon will eat less.
Signs of stress in bearded dragons include head bobbing, dark/black streaks on the body, dark beards, loss of appetite, hiding away in shaded areas, and aggressiveness.
In this situation, it’s best to give your beardie space and some time to adjust. Leave them by themselves for as long as possible, and try not to startle them with noise or light. If you want to hand-feed your scared beardie, take it slowly and visibly. Do not show up from the back and take your beardie by surprise. Ensure that it is aware of your presence before you lower your hand into its space.
3. Beardie Is Impacted/Constipated
Bearded dragons suffer from impaction now and then. The culprit to this problem is their diet. See, beardies need to be placed on a proper balance of veggies and protein to ensure they are packed with the right amount of body mass and hydration. If your pet is constipated, it has been feeding on way too much protein and receiving less hydration than it needs. Automatically, your beardie would be unable to pass urate or poop, and then be unable to eat.
The best method to help your beardie rid of impaction is the warm soak method. This comprises soaking your bearded dragon in shallow water for at most 30 minutes. You can then massage your pet gently going from underneath the belly towards the tail as if you’re nudging the junk out. Slowly but surely, your beardie will shoot out the plug. If the problem persists, you must rush to the vet for a proper diagnosis. This could either land your beardie a laxative or an immediate operation to get the blockage out.
4. Beardie Is Preparing For Brumation
Brumation is the period when bearded dragons experience an immense reduction in activity and metabolism, which causes them to be in a state of ‘torpor’. It’s quite similar to hibernation, but the only difference is that brumation is not a complete blackout of activity and beardies do not sleep as long. During this period of brumation, bearded dragons will eat less and eventually refuse to eat. If your beardie is refusing to eat, it could simply be preparing to brumate.
Major signs that tell your beardie is getting into brumation are lethargy, loss of appetite or complete food fasting, pooping less, hiding away more often, basking less, and sleeping earlier than usual.
Beardies brumate when the day is shorter than the night directing a drop in temperature and a decrease in humidity. If your environment suddenly starts displaying the listed characteristics, your beardie may take it as a cue to get set for brumation and eat less as a result.
5. Beardie Is Injured
It’s common for dragons brought out oftentimes to explore the environment outside of the enclosure to fall from heights or brush themselves on surfaces that may cut or bruise them. Sometimes, beardies can eat their food a little too aggressively and cut their mouths in the process. Very normal dragon behavior.
Signs that your pet may be injured include swelling in affected areas, unusual limping or neutrality from the affected limb, difficulty breathing, sluggishness, aggressiveness, and of course, loss of appetite. Note that the injury could be internal which is even more threatening, and symptoms of certain injuries can take longer to manifest. So, if you have any suspicions, I suggest you immediately run to the veterinary doctor for a proper cross-check.
6. Beardie Is On Medication
If your pet is being treated for a reason, the medication could have a hand in why your beardie isn’t eating as it should. Antibiotics specifically have the side effect of reducing appetite in reptiles, and bearded dragons are not exempted. Try to backtrack to when you started giving your beardie the medication they’re on and see if the loss of appetite is in sync with the timing. You can also take the problem to the vet that administered the medication to ask further questions for clarity.
7. Beardie Is Shedding
Shedding is highly uncomfortable for bearded dragons and could determine the way they behave. If your dragon is shedding its skin, it would pretty much not want to eat as much as it normally does. There’s nothing to worry about when this happens. Your beardie will be back on track soon as the ordeal comes to an end.
You can help your bearded dragon shed faster by misting their bodies with a few spritzes or soaking them in water for 15 minutes. Ensure there are rough surfaces like rocks that they can rub their body to peel the skin off. Please, do not for any reason peel the skin off your bearded dragon. I understand that it’s tempting, but unless the skin is hanging on a thread, leave it alone to fall by itself. If you insist, you can always refer to your veterinary doctor for professional help.
8. Beardie is Petty
Strangely, bearded dragons can display characters you would never have imagined. Remember that beardies are not so fond of change? Well, if you keep moving things around the terrarium – especially the feeding plate – or touching it when it eats, your bearded dragon may decide to be petty and refuse to eat till it wants to. Try to monitor your pet’s behavior now and then. You might just notice something spectacularly hilarious!
9. Beardie is Bored of The Food
Feeding your beardie just one type of protein or veggie source will tire them out sooner than you think. Bearded dragons meet all sorts of food in the wild, so they’re certainly not meant to eat just one type throughout. It’s advisable to feed your dragon a variety of veggies and bugs to capture its attention and incite its curiosity.
10. Beardie Is Aging
As bearded dragons reach old age, they eat less and less. Their metabolism and activity slow down a notch, so much that they could even eat in between the days instead of daily. It’s pretty normal and is nothing to worry about. When your pet is close to wrapping up its time on earth, food may be a necessity other than a delicacy, and they’d just not have the appetite to accommodate it as often.
During this period, try as much as possible to show your beardie all the love you can. Spend more bonding hours with your dragon and feed it all its favorite meals. You have been a good pet owner and your beardie has come all this way because of you. Well done!
Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Eat Veggies?
Beardies can be such big babies when they want to and refuse to eat the greens. It’s natural for your beardie to be a picky eater. Remember that bearded dragons are individual species and will have personalities each to their own. So how do you make a beardie eat its greens?
Try different vegetables till they find their favorite, and then mix the faves with any other. You can add fruits to the party in tiny quantities (careful not to overdo it) and then select veggies that resemble the fruits. For example, put in strawberries with red bell peppers, grapes with eggplant, or bananas with butternut squash.
Another great method is by sprinkling bee pollen (view on Amazon) onto the greens. The aroma is irresistible to beardies and they’d be diving into the plate before you say “jack”!
Why Won’t My Beardie Eat Its Bugs?
The only reasons a bearded dragon will pass on some delicious platter of bugs is because it is suffering from an illness, is a veteran (seriously old), or dislikes the choices selected for it. Sometimes, the dragon simply could be tired of eating the same bugs in a row. It’s always advisable to change things up a bit by introducing treats such as wax worms and hornworms.
Also, ensure that you are not feeding your beardie dead bugs; bearded dragons enjoy it when they hunt. If the bugs are alive, it stimulates their appetite by having them run around to catch them and so, your beardie will eat more bugs this way.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Refusing To Drink Water?
It’s strange for beardies not to drink water. Bearded dragons need water to survive, and they always source it in the wild. If your pet is refusing to drink water, it’s probably not aware that the stillness in the bowl is actually drinkable water. They’re used to licking the dew drops off of leaves and rocks to stay hydrated. The other reason why your beardie is not drinking water is simply that it doesn’t want to. Yes, they can be self-willed at times and put us on our toes, but there’s always a way around it.
You can dupe your beardie into drinking water by throwing their favorite treat into the bowl. Now, they’d have to take it out of the bowl to eat it, and how do they do this? By relentlessly dipping their mouths into the water and taking big gulps to fish the food out!
Other good methods include misting their vegetables with water before they eat it, soaking them in baths to absorb the water through their skins, and putting drops of water on their heads for them to lick off– works like magic!
Wrapping It Up
It’s terrifying to see your bearded dragon eat less and less each day, and it may even leave you feeling helpless. While it may look so, it’s not something to lose entire hope over. Of course, treatment should be administered immediately in any way possible, but you should remember to relax and investigate your beardie’s situation properly. Loss of appetite in bearded dragons is a common symptom of several ailments, so it can be a little tricky to seal the deal with a diagnosis.
Given the discussion we’ve just had, you should be able to navigate through the tunnel to the light like a pro. If you’re still frantic about the situation or the stubborn symptom persists, your veterinary doctor is always there for you ready to help out. Good luck!