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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11384
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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my bearded dragon is turning black on the beard and on the

Customer Question

my bearded dragon is turning black on the beard and on the tail tip. It is just laying around with its mouth half open and it seems that it is lifeless. Its eyes are half open and when I pick him up he is just limp. This all happened in about a day.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

What temperatures do you maintain on the cool side and warm side of the enclosure?

Do you have more than one type of lighting?

What heat source do you use?

What do you feed?

Is the beardie passing any droppings?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
the warm side is usually at about 85 to 100 and the cool side is bout 70 to 80

I have a heat bulb that is red 100w and I also have a blue UAV one that I have on during the day.

I just use the lighting as the heat source

I usually feed him crickets and lettece but the last 2 days I tried somthing new I gave him super worms that I had gotten he liked them and ate like 5 a day. other then the super worms his diet has been the same.

he hasnt passed droppings other then yesterday he passed a clear liquid

he also smells pretty bad. it is a strong oder he is letting off
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I can tell you care about your beardie, and want him to be healthy. I suspect that you got your information from a pet store, and that information is often incorrect. The first thing to do is get your dragon into a shallow warm bath. Buy some Pedialyte (made for human infants and available in discount stores). Make the bath 1/2 warm water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak him for 20 to 30 minutes. If you have another person who can help, while one of you is taking care of the soak, the other should empty out all of the calcium sand. I know it's often recommended, but more often than not, it leads to impactions, which require surgery and often lead to death. Put paper towels on the floor instead. I'm going to post this much now, so you can get started with these first aid steps right away. While you're doing that, I'm going to work on posting the next steps you'll need to take, so check back.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
ok I will do that I am going to the store right now to get the pedialyte. I hope this makes him better.
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
You should continue to give 2-3 soaks each day. After he soaks for 10 minutes, gently massage his underside from front to vent. This may help him pass some droppings if he's a little constipated.

The next thing you need to do is warm up your cage. the warm side should be 105-115* F. The cool side, 85*-90*F. You can warm the cage by moving the light down so it's closer to the basking area, but not so close that your dragon can touch it and get burned. You may find that you need a different light fixture, but that doesn't have to be expensive. You can buy metal clip-on fixtures in farm stores (made to keep baby chicks warm) or in hardware stores for just a few dollars. Put in an ordinary incandescent bulb.

I'm concerned that you may not have the proper UVB lighting. UVA and full spectrum are not the same thing. The Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand. Without UVB light, your dragon will develop Metabolic Bone Disease. That causes a slow painful death, so please be sure you've got the right type.

The diet also can use some improvement. The best prey items are crickets, silkworms, and roaches. Beardies need a variety of produce. The following link will give you information on what produce to feed. Iceberg lettuce is not good.

Pieces of food should be no bigger than the space between the beardie's eyes. I'm going to send along a care sheet at the end of this post, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. She has much experience with beardies. I recommend that you read it for more tips.

Finally, I must be honest with you. Your dragon is very ill. Restoring his cage to all the proper conditions, and providing Pedialyte soaks may not be enough. It would be best to have a reptile vet examine him to determine if further treatment is needed. If you don't have a vet, give me your city (nearest larger town if yours is a small one) and state, and I'll help you find one. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. The care sheet follows.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click once on ACCEPT. Thank you.)


   * Bearded dragons should be housed alone.

    * Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:

1. 0-3 months- baby
2. 3-12 months-juvenile
3. 12-18 months- sub adult
4. 18 months + -adult

    * Bearded dragons live as much as 10-12 years if well cared for properly.
    * Bearded dragons have a very good temperament as long as they are cared for and handled.
    * When you bring your baby home, it may be quite stressful to him/her to get use to new home. May not eat well the first 2-3 days. They may not need to be handled the first 2-3 days if skittish and nervous.
    * Never use sand or any other type of loose substrate: Loose substrates can cause impaction (not being able to go Poop) in all ages of bearded dragons- they lick their environment to explore .It is difficult to keep germ free and clean. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non adhesive shelf liner and reptile carpet is what is most recommended. Use paper towels for the little one and as they get bigger you can change to something else.
    * Be sure you keep your beardie's home as clean as you can. Clean up by spot cleaning when needed. Clean & sanitize entire tank every 10-14 days. A good cleaning solution is a 20% bleach solution. If you choose to use wood climbing branches etc, these should be soaked in the bleach solution and rinsed well. Then bake in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.
    * Need a climbing accessory: to bask and to warm up under basking heat light and lower branches or platforms to come down and cool off.
    * A hide of some sort like a cave.
    * A food dish and water dish.
    * Plastic spray bottle
    * Can use artificial plants when they get older- 3 months or so.
    * Digital thermostat and/or temp gun
    * Tank size: Minimal size tank for this age is 20 gallon long
    * Minimal size for older beardie: 4 months of age: 40 gallon breeder is the minimal tank size for older dragon. Can divide a 40 gallon breeder for a smaller dragon.

    * Must have two lights for your beardie.

1. A UVB light source-best is 10.0 Reptisun that runs the length of your tank. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. It should be replaced every 6 months. If not he will get metabolic bone disease, a serious condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. You can purchase cages or reptariums from your pet store. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
2. A basking type light that puts out heat and warmth above basking spot. Your beardie must have warmth to digest food & thrive.

    * Lights should be on for 12-14 hours each day. Follow the seasons and light timers are a great luxury if you can get them. 6 dollars at Lowe's. No lights or warmth needed at night unless your temperatures get below 62 degrees. If they do, there are ceramic heat emitters that put out no light, only heat. Use these at night if temperatures fall below 62 degrees.

    * Temperatures have to be kept at the following ranges during the day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 105-115 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 100-110
Cool side: 80-85
Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun-these are most accurate. Stick on thermometers unreliable.

    * Feeding a Beardie: Beardies eat live prey consisting of crickets, roaches and/or silkworms. Never feed any size of mice to your beardie. Never feed mealworms. They also must be given greens/veggies everyday. The younger they are the more live prey they should have. As they grow older the live prey decreases and the veggies/greens should be the major part of diet. Never feed anything bigger, than the space between your beardie's eyes. This includes both live prey and pieces of veggies/greens,
    * A chopper or food processor is a huge help when your beardie is small. Always offer greens and veggies: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, red cabbage, fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, cactus pad. Apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe- fruits are treats only.
    * What is live prey? The easiest and less expensive live prey is crickets when you have a young or first beardie. The other live preys you can feed are silkworms, and special types of roaches. You can learn to raise your own live prey. Treats can be waxworms, super worms, and tomato/goliath worms. You may find that ordering live prey from the internet is the way to go..... Never leave live prey or greens/veggies in tank overnight. . Crickets can bite your beardie when sleeping.
    * Babies should get 80% live prey, and 20 % greens/veggies. But since the greens/veggies are a must when they are older, get them eating their greens/veggies very early. Give greens/veggies in small pieces everyday. You should eventually start decreasing your older dragon's protein intake when they are about a year to 15 months old. Their protein intake decreases to 20 % live prey and 80% veggies/greens.
    * A baby the size of yours can eat 50-75 crix a day. Never feed crix or veggies bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes. Use this guide when buying crix or chopping your greens/veggies.
    * You must provide calcium dust without D3 and multivitamin dust for your beardie. You should dust the live prey with calcium one time a day, and vitamins 3 times a week. Just collect your live prey into baggie and add enough calcium and vitamin to dust them. Then pour a few at a time into your tank. Some people feed their beardie in a separate tank so that no crickets can hide. Or some take out "furniture" from tank and feed this way. As they get older, 4-5 months or so dust live prey with calcium 3 times a week.
    * Feed the veggies/ greens 1st thing in morning after lights on for one hour at least. Then after 2-3 hours offer crix. Then freshen green/veggies. Then give more crix. Make sure after last crix feeding there is at least 1-2 hours of lights so that they can digest their food before night time.
    * Water: Mist your little one with the spray bottle 3-4 times a day. You can also offer a small dish of water in your enclosure but be sure your dragon is not too small to drown in it. It is recommended that when your beardie is 2 months old you can bathe your baby in a small plastic container with warm water- not hot. It will help them to stay hydrated. As they get older you can move up to the bathroom sink and then to the bathtub. Very important for bath enclosure to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to bath time. Clean between dragons too if bathing more than one.