“My bearded dragon won’t eat! I’m getting worried—what should I do?” 

Bearded dragons are popular pets and generally easy to care for. But like any animal, they can experience health issues that can affect their appetite. 

Few things are more worrisome to a beardie owner than when their beloved bearded dragon won’t eat! And for good reason. If you’ve noticed your bearded dragon not eating as much as usual, it’s important to understand the potential causes and take appropriate action.

This blog post will reveal seven common reasons why bearded dragons might lose their appetite. We’ll explore factors ranging from stress and improper diet to brumation and parasites, providing insights into each cause and potential solutions.

Whether you’re a seasoned bearded dragon owner or a new enthusiast, understanding these potential reasons for a lack of appetite will help you ensure your pet’s health and well-being. So, let’s embark on this journey to uncover the mysteries behind your bearded dragon’s appetite.

8 Common Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat

Bearded dragons are generally hearty eaters, but there are a number of reasons why a bearded dragon might not eat. Here are 7 possibilities:

bearded dragon with food dish

Stress

Bearded dragons can become stressed for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons your bearded dragon won’t eat include changes in their environment, improper temperature or humidity, new or aggressive tank mates, or being handled roughly or too often. Stress can suppress appetite, so it’s important to provide your bearded dragon with a calm and stable environment.

Improper diet

Bearded dragons need a balanced diet of both insects and vegetables. Just like people, if their diet is not balanced or if they have a vitamin deficiency, a bearded dragon may not feel hungry.

Remember that young bearded dragons eat primarily insects. As they age they need to switch to a diet heavy in greens. Make sure you are feeding your bearded dragon the correct types of insects and vegetables for his age, and in the right amounts. 

Brumation

Brumation is a period of dormancy that bearded dragons can go through in the winter months. During brumation, bearded dragons will eat less and be less active. If your bearded dragon won’t eat because he is going into brumation, this is normal behavior and should not be a cause for concern. But if you are worried it never hurts to have a vet look him over to be sure. 

Shedding

Shedding is a natural process for bearded dragons, and it’s not uncommon for them to lose their appetite during this time. The shedding process can cause discomfort and itching, making bearded dragons less inclined to eat. This usually lasts only a few days. If your bearded dragon won’t eat due to being in shed, his appetite should return to normal once the shedding is complete. 

Impaction

Impacted feces occur when a bearded dragon’s stool becomes hard and dry and cannot pass easily. This can be caused by a number of factors, including dehydration, improper diet, and lack of exercise. Impaction can be a serious problem, so it’s important to seek veterinary attention if you think your bearded dragon may have impacted feces.

Mouth rot

Mouth rot is an infection of the mouth that can cause bearded dragons to lose their appetite. Symptoms of mouth rot include drooling, swelling of the gums, and red or brown lesions on the face. Mouth rot is a serious condition that requires veterinary treatment.

Parasites

If your bearded dragon won’t eat it could be due to a parasite. Parasites such as worms and protozoans can also cause bearded dragons to lose their appetite. Symptoms of parasites can include weight loss, diarrhea, and lethargy. If you think your bearded dragon may have parasites, see a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Respiratory infection

Respiratory infections can make it difficult for bearded dragons to breathe. This can also make them lose their appetite. Symptoms of respiratory infection include wheezing, sneezing, and runny nose. If you think your bearded dragon won’t eat because of a respiratory infection, see a veterinarian for treatment.

Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat? Try This Checklist of Solutions

“My bearded dragon is not eating” is a legitimate cause for concern. If your bearded dragon won’t eat it’s important to know why. This checklist is designed to help you figure out why your beardie won’t eat, as well as provide solutions that may help get him eating again. 

  1. Shedding TLC. If your bearded dragon is shedding and you are reasonably sure this is why he is not eating, you can offer him softer foods, such as mashed insects or baby food, to make eating more comfortable. If he seems to be having trouble shedding you can also give him warm baths to help loosen the shed skin and make him more comfortable.
shedding bearded dragon
  1. Monitor his enclosure.  Make sure the temperature, humidity, and light levels are appropriate for his age. Also check that his enclosure is clean and that he has access to fresh water and a place to hide.  if your bearded dragon won’t eat because of a stressful environment, he will likely perk up and start to eat again once conditions are improved.
  2. Check for other potential causes of stress. Have there been changes in your household? Is your bearded dragon being handled a lot (or more than he is used to? Does he have a view of other bearded dragons or other animals that may make him feel angry or anxious? Sometimes all it takes is to keep him in a quiet place for a while for him to perk back up and start eating again. 
  3. Separate “roommates”. While some bearded dragons do live together quite peaceably, as a general rule we don’t recommend housing beardies together. They can be quite territorial, and living in close quarters can lead to problems—especially between males. If your picky eater has been living with another dragon, try giving him his own digs and see if that doesn’t do the trick. 
  4. Check for injury. Just like any other animal, if your beardie suffers an injury he may not feel like eating—especially if it gets infected. You can treat minor injuries and surface infections at home with over-the-counter antibiotic spray, but don’t delay in taking him to the vet if the injury is major or if he doesn’t start eating again within a day or so. 
  5. Brumation care. If your bearded dragon won’t eat and you are sure it’s because he’s going into brumation, you’ll want to supply the proper environment for him to do so. This article from Everything Reptiles is a good resource to learn how. (If you’re a newbie bearded dragon owner though, we do recommend taking him in to your vet for a checkup first to rule out illness, just to be sure.) 
  6. Get a vet check. If you are concerned about your bearded dragon’s lack of appetite, it is very important to see a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions. If your bearded dragon won’t eat, your vet can help rule out or pinpoint all sorts of conditions that could cause your beardie to lose his appetite, such as parasites, internal injury, illness, vitamin deficiency, impaction and more.

Some conditions, such as impaction, are life threatening. If it’s been a while since your beardie ate, or if he looks sick or lethargic in any way, don’t delay making that call right away. Better safe than sorry! 

Conclusion: Monitoring Your Bearded Dragon’s Appetite

Your bearded dragon’s appetite is a valuable indicator of his overall health and well-being. By paying attention to his eating habits and understanding the potential causes of a decreased appetite, you can take proactive steps to ensure your pet’s health and happiness.

If your bearded dragon won’t eat or if you notice any changes in his appetite, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult with a veterinarian. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide personalized advice on how to get your bearded dragon back on track to a healthy and hearty appetite.

Stay tuned for our follow-up article on picky eaters! (You know, the ones who eat just fine as long as it’s “that one thing”… Subscribe to our newsletter to be notified!