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Bearded Dragon Not Eating? Top 10 Best Reasons Why and how to fix it

You’ve come to the right place to figure out why your bearded dragon not eating. When people first purchase beardies they need to know all the things that come with having a great little pet like a bearded dragon

Sometimes your bearded dragon not eating is because they are stressed. it could honestly be many different things.

The most common reason pets stop eating is because of poor cleaning habits and also bad dietary habits.

Why is my bearded dragon not eating??

He could be mad at you. He could be sick. He might be dealing with a bad temperature inside the enclosure. most of these things you can fix yourself with a little care.

Ten reasons why your Bearded Dragon is refusing to eat

1. UVB Lighting

beardies need a lot of lighting. In the wild, they will get tons of light because they are active during the day

You will need to give your bearded dragon supplemental lighting in order for them to produce vitamin D

Something new reptile owners completely overlook is the idea of metabolic bone disease. If the reptiles aren’t going to be out in the sun they will develop this disease at some point

When your beardie has this disease it will be hard for them to consume food so this could be a reason why they are not eating

Make sure you are changing the bulbs you purchase for your enclosure every 6 months. What ends up happening is over time the bulb will stop putting out as much UV lighting from it. Fresh bulbs are key.

You can order yourself a new bulb here

Turning metabolic bone disease around is totally possible with fresh bulbs replaced often with supplemental calcium shots. Your vet will help you out with this as well.

2. Impaction

Another reason why your bearded dragon won’t eat is because of impaction

Impaction is a fancy word for blockage. Humans rarely get complete blockages but normally you’ll get a cramp and drink a lot of water and you’ll pass your waste

with beardies its different. When food gets blocked it can actually hurt them. You can actually see impaction with an X-RAY

Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragon not eating. X-RAY of impaction.

The most common reason impaction happens is because of the wrong substrate. Many owners think they can use whatever substrate they have available around the house

A good substrate goes a long way to keep your bearded dragon healthy and you should use Wood Chips, Ceramic tiles, newspaper, or paper towels.

Check out this video below for the best substrates for your bearded dragon

Impaction will cause them to stop eating so make sure you pay attention to their poop. If their poop is really small or just not normal take action and bring them to the vet.

3. Stress

Stress causes reptiles to become fearful and they will not act like themselves. Black beards, and not eating are the two major things to look for in a stressed beardie.

Stress can be caused by

  • The tank being too small
  • Over handling
  • improper diet
  • illness
  • being stuck in a tank with another reptile
  • humidity is too low
  • tank temperature is too cold or too hot

When trying to figure out if it’s stress which is a difficult thing to do. work your way down the list and see which applies.

One thing to note is when you first bring your beardie home they will be stressed. They will not be used to their new environment or you so they might not eat normally for a couple of weeks. Over time they will adapt and begin to trust you so the stress will go away

4. Brumation

This is when reptiles chill out for a while. Sort of like a hibernation state but not so intense as a bear would

bearded dragons will start this process near wintertime as the temperature cools and the days start getting shorter

This helps with survival and increases their chances of breeding successfully

now this happens in the wild for the most part because these changes in the environment can be felt by the reptile itself. As the sun starts to set earlier and temperatures start dropping. These are indicators that the winter months are coming. If you have your beardie in your home with the temps always within a high range and the lights always consistent they won’t need to brumate.

If your beardie is right next to direct sunlight it’s going to be a problem as they will try to brumate. Make sure you keep them away from direct sunlight

When your beardie is going through brumation they will not want to eat food so this could be another reason why your bearded dragon is not eating. If this happens DON’T TRY TO STOP IT FROM HAPPENING. Instead, just do this

  • make sure the temperature is just right with a hot basking spot
  • keep the cage temperature between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • make sure the lighting is under control at 10 hours a day

if your beardie is going through brumation make sure you have a snack in there for them to eat in case they do want to snack. Their metabolisms slow down quite a bit during brumation

When brumation is over your bearded dragon will return to normal eating patterns. Usually, when spring hits and the sun starts to stay out later he will come out of brumation

5. Improper Tank Temperature (Bearded dragon not eating reason 5)

Your bearded dragons and most reptiles require a really precise tank variation to stay happy. thermoregulation is something reptiles do and it basically means that they will move to the side of the tank that meets their needs

In the wild, they will go out in the sun when they’re cold and might find a nice cool hole in the ground if they’re too hot

If your beardie is not eating check the temperature of the tank. It’s most likely too cold if this is that actual issue. Sometimes what will happen if you’re not paying attention is the ceramic pad heater underneath the tank will stop working. This happened to me once but I did notice it was too cold beforehand. I bought a new one but it easily could have been worse.

Check your thermostat and make sure it’s working properly too.

one of the best things you can do is a monthly audit of your tank. Check the substrate, check the bulbs, check the misting system (if you have one)

Bearded dragons need a Basking temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

At night you want to make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop below 75 Degrees Fahrenheit

This is probably one of the most common reasons why bearded dragons stop eating in our opinion and it’s a quick fix. A lot of the time its a thermostat problem

6. Improper Diet

Simply feeding your beardie the wrong food can make your reptile upset.

Beardies are technically omnivores but they actually don’t get their protein from meats. They get their protein from insects

You should actually be putting vitamins on your beardies food as well to make sure they get their daily requirements

There is a golden ratio for food variety. If you give them too much protein they will get backed up and impaction can happen

  • 80 percent veggies
  • 20 percent insects

When it comes to juveniles they need more insects! so make sure you change the ratio but again be careful because impaction can happen. if you’re unsure just ask your vet but i think a good ratio is 35 percent insects and 65 percent veggies.

Just think about how humans are. We all want a variety of food but there are just some foods that just don’t do it for you.

For example sometimes a beardie might not like blueberries and if you keep feeding him blueberries well he will just refuse. Feed them what they like as long as it falls under the golden ration for their age

A large variety of food goes a long way for nutrtion as well. They will be much healthier when they are eating a balanced diet

7. If they are injured they wont eat

Sick bearded dragon, not eating because of injury
Bearded dragon not eating? maybe because of injury!

Sometimes this happens because of being dropped by the owner. If they get hurt that way they wont eat in order to heal faster

many people think that having food inside you all the time will actually “keep your energy up” but fasting is natures way of focusing all the bodies energy on healing. Many animales heal through fasting and reptiles will too.

Sometimes owners will leave live crickets inside the enclosure which can actually injure the beardie as well. The crickets and knaw and your beardies legs and feet which can cause infections to happen

Also be careful with sharp edges inside the enclosure. They can get cuts and that can also lead to infection as well. Try to have stuff in there they can’t hurt themselves on.

8. Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin D is a huge issue for many reptiles and reptile owners. You need to supplement Vitamin D in order for your beardie to stay healthy. Usually what owners will do is get a powder and coat the food with calcium at the same time as vitamin D3 which is pretty easy to do

The best way to tell if your bearded dragon is vitamin deficient is to take them to the vet and do a blood test. They will tell you everything that they need in their diet

Just like humans make sure they have a balanced diet with lots of leafy green vegetables and they will be just fine. also take them in for regular vet checkups as well

9. Parasites

These can be quite nasty. Your beardie will still function quite normally until it gets bad so you have to keep a close eye to notice when things go wrong. A good example is your bearded dragon will still poop but it will be discolored and runny.

Now it is quite common for wild caught reptiles to have parasites but if you got yours through captivity then it can be transferred to your beardie through food or sharing a tank with another reptile.

They will start losing weight pretty quickly when the parasite begins to take a heavy toll on your beardie. They will also get lethargic and tired so if you notice they’re sleeping a lot keep your eye on them.

10. Shedding

lots of reptiles shed and beardies are no exception to this. a full adult will take a couple weeks to fully shed their skin and it will shed in patches usually

Depending on how old the bearded dragon is they will shed more or less frequently. When beardies are younger they will shed more often and more quickly.

This could be a reason why your beardie isn’t eating much. If you notice they are about to shed its OK to leave them alone and let them shed. They will return to normal eating after they’re done shedding their skin

Bearded dragons will shed throughout their whole life. some new reptile owners are surprised by this at first. Some people think that only snakes shed 🙂

Conclusion

There are a few quick things you can do to eliminate the list of reasons that your beaded dragon is not eating

you want to check in this order

  • Shedding
  • Brumating
  • tank temp
  • UVB lighting (change every 6 months)
  • parasites
  • injury
  • diet

you will have to use a little trial and error for a few things like checking for parasites.

The rest of the things like vitamin deficiency will have to be checked by your vet if you want to see what the issue is immediately. Its better to not wait.

If you’re interested in other kinds reptiles check this out