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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11032
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My bearded dragon refuses to eat, and has lost a noticeable

Customer Question

My bearded dragon refuses to eat, and has lost a noticeable amount of weight. He is young, I can't be too sure just how young but based on his size and the average relative growth rate of beardie's I'd say he's 3-5 months old. He will not hunt and spends all day baking or laying in different parts of his vivarium. He's become very lethargic and I'm worried. What can I do to encourage feeding?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

Has the beardie been able to pass normal droppings when you bathe and massage him? Does he have trouble if you don't take these measures?

What is the temperature in his basking area? On the cool side?

What substrate do you use on the floor?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Puff's droppings seem normal, and in fact completely healthy. I've provided him with repti-carpet as a substrate as I am aware of the risk of impaction in Bearded Dragons. I offer him 2 to 3 crickets at a time, at least twice a day, and in a best case scenario he'll eat one throughout an entire day! He refuses to eat fruits and veggies of any kind, and receives upwards of two baths a day, one of which may be substituted with a misting to avoid causing unnecessary stress. He rarely opens his eyes except for during bath time when he livens up enough to get a quick swim in. He has passed stools without massaging but under his current condition I make sure to massage after every bath. Temperature in the basking reaches as high as 105F and 80f on the cool side of his viv.


Thank you,



Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me, Gabe. I'm working on your answer, and will post it as soon as it is typed up. I appreciate your patience.

Please don't reply to this post as that can lock me out so I won't be able to post your answer.

I'll be back shortly.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for waiting. It sounds like you are one of those rare beardie owners who tried to stay informed. Recent research indicates that what we once thought were adequate temperatures actually are too cold. For a beardie under a year of age, the basking area should be maintained at least 110*F, and as high as 125*F, for 12 to 14 hours during the day. Temperatures on the cool side should be 85*F to 90*F. The first thing I would do is increase the temperatures for this Puff.

You're on the right track with the baths. You can make them even better by adding unflavored Pedialyte (yes, the kind made for human infants). make the bath 1'2 warm water (100*F) and 1/2 Pedialyte, and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Because Puff isn't eating well, he may be a bit dehydrated even with baths and misting. The Pedialyte can help with that.

After he has been warmer for several hours and has had at least one good Pedialyte soak, try feeding. If he still has little interest, you'll need to do something else to get some nourishment into him. buy some chicken baby food and mix in a little plain calcium powder. Then drop a small dollop of it right on the end of his snout. Most of the time they will lick it right off. You can feed him this way until he begins to eat on his own.

I hope Puff's problem is simply that he is a bit chilly. If that's the case, the above measures should solve the problem. However, if he isn't perkier and eating better within a couple of days, something else is wrong. It is possible that he is sick or has parasites. In that case, you'll need to see a reptile vet. If you don't know of one, this link will take you to a directory:

Also, sometimes baby dragons suffer from what is called failure to thrive. There is no known cause for it, but such babies have poor appetites and low energy. Sometimes they can be nursed through this period with baby food feeding, warm temperatures, and soaks. Other times, nothing seems to help. I do know of several who have patient owners, and after a couple of months of special care, they seemed to mature and outgrow that phase.

I'm also going to give you an excellent link on feeding. Some of our information on that has recently been updated, too.

If you have more questions, let em know by clicking on REPLY. I hope that with warmer temperatures, Pedialyte, and baby food, Puff will begin to do much better.


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