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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18544
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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my bearded dragons neck has turned black, and ...

Customer Question

my bearded dragon''s neck has turned black, and she is not moving or responding to any of her surroundings. i think she might be impacted but i dont know if thats right. she also vommited and i cant get a hold of any vets. its an emergency.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


What type of substrate are you using?

What are your Temps?

What are you feeding?

What type of lighting do you have UVB/UVA?

What supplemnets are you using?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Jav917's Post: calcium based sand; medium crickets; and im sorry but the light bulb does not say which kind it is. it was bought at a local pet store. im also feeding her bits of lettuce and sometimes carrots. this was the first time i used sand substrate. i gave her some olive oil a few minutes ago i heard that is good for impaction but i dont know what to do she looks worse by the minute.
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


Ditch the sand and put in paper towels. Get the beardie into a tub with Pedialyte and warm water and see if you can give a nice soak. Gently massage the stomach from Snout to Vent to stimulate the gut. The diet will need improvement as well as the lighting needs to be a tube type UVB to help metabolize calcium and the temps need to be measured with a Digital probe thermometer or a temp gun. I will give you a copy of my care sheet and it will help you get things straightened out. In the mean time get her into the tub to soak and swim. Joan

  • 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. 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: 105-125 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 110-115
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.

*Beardies over the age of one year old during the winter months will go into a Brumation like most Reptiles and Herps. It is a form of Hibermnation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights should be on a shoter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available during this period. Do not feed live pery during Brumation.

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.

If you have any further questions feel free to ask. I like to start people off with proper husbandry and then see if I can further assist. Joan This is for fruits and Vegetables

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
ok thank you so much. so she is impacted? she isnt moving and wont swim at all. she wont even hold her head up. can this be something else?
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


This may be an impaction. What we are trying to do is to get her rehydrated. The soak will help with both probelms. You need to measure your temps. I have the feeling they are too low which can be a major problem and also her diet. read through the care sheet and see if there is anything eles that may be different form what you are doing. The soak will help, but your temps. need to be around 110 in the basking are. I hope you were carfyul with the olive oil since the Beardie can aspirate it into their lungs if not careful. I can help locate a Herp Vet if needed with a city and state.

I will be gone for about 20 mins. but will check back in shortly. Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
yes, please help me find a vet ive tried locating a bunch but none helped. i only gave her about 1 cc of olive oil. she looks really bad.
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


May I have your city and state to locate herp Vets in your area> Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
miami, florida
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


Here is a link about substrate impaction:

Here are the list of Vets in FL. I hope there is one close by. Joan

Aloha Pet & Bird Hospital
India Harbor Beach(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Ray Bacl
Midway Animal Hos
4090 N. LIttle Hawk Pt
Crystal River 34428(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Monique Bollhoefer
Clermont Animal Hospital
Clermont(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Lisa Bramson
All Animal Clinic
5th Ave
Key West 33040(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Bruce Bogoslavsky
Animal Vet Hospital of Orlando
4670 S. Orange Blossom Tr.
407- 855-PETS(7387)

Sue Brillar
All Pets Clinic

John N. Case Jr.
Clinic for Animals
5201 N. State Road 7
Tamarac, FL(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

Mark Caspermeyer
Mobile Vet,
Orlando(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Clarence Dunning
Just Exotics Pets Vet
POB 1272
Brandon 33509(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />(Reportedly a little rough with igs)

Randy Eisel
Brown Vet Clinic
801 Vanderhilt Beach Rd
Naples 33963(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Paula Engle
Wiles Road Animal HospitalXXXXXbr />Coral Spgs 33067(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

Exotic Animals *
12125 South Dixie Highway
Miami(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

Gina Forgey, Nat McKerley
Safe Harbor Animal HospitalXXXXXbr />Pensacola, FL 32504(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Leslie Gerson *
5679 SW 137th Ave
Miami 33183(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

N. Port Animal Hospital
14500 Tamiami Trail
North Port 347287(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Punta Gorda Animal HospitalXXXXXbr />Punta Gorda 33950(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Thomas Goldsmith
12521 South Dixie Highway
Miami(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

XXXXX XXXXX Hendrickson
All Birds/Cats/Dogs/Exotics
16764 96th Terr N.
Jupiter 33478

Robert Hess Jr
Winter Park Vet ClinicXXXXXbr />Winter Park 32789(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Mark Huff
Coral Vet Clinic
9540 Cypress Lake Dr
Ft Myers 33919(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

David & Janice Jourdenais
Geneva Oaks Animal Hospital
4193 North City Rd
Geneva 32732

Dale Sue Kaplan-Stein
Oaks Vet Hospital
229 NW 75 St
Gainesville FL 32607

* Rex Koester
Indialantic Veterinary Clinic XXXXXbr />Indialantic(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Marc H. Kramer
Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center
12125 S. Dixie Hwy.
Miami, FL 33176(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

Teresa LightfootXXXXXbr />Largo(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Scott Lund
Lund Animal Hospital
Boca Raton
561-998 - 5863

Darlene Lundberg
Argyle Animal Clinic
6001-2 Argyle Forest Blvd.
Jacksonville 32244(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

* Douglas R. Mader
Marathon Veterinary Clinic
11187 Overseas Highway
Marathon(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Milton McKelvie
Viscaya-Prado Vet Hospital
920 Country Club Blvd
Cape Coral 33990(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Ceasar Men
Krome Animal Hospital
19746 SW 177th Ave
Miami 33187(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

*Theresa Merkle
Polk County Animal Hospital
7433 US 98 N
Lakeland 33809(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

5700 SW 130th Ave
Ft Lauderdale 33330

Christine M. Mocklin
Lake Mary Veterinary Clinic
2889 W. Lake Mary Blvd.
Lake Mary, FL 32746(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Dean Moentman
Animal Hospital of LargoXXXXXbr />Largo 34644(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

David Nichols
1643 N. Hermitage Rd
Ft Myers 33919

Robert T. Pane
South Kendall Animal Clinic
9501 SW 160th St
Miami 33157(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

John Parrot
2455 NE 184th Terr
Miami 33160(NNN) NNN-NNNN/strong>

Molly Pearson
Magnolia Animal Hospital
2019 N Magnolia
Ocala 34475(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

* Limarie Rodrigues
Midway Animal Hospital
1635 S. Suncoast Blvd
Homosassa(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Riverside Animal HospitalXXXXX
Jacksonville, Fl(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Kristine Sands
Apopka Veterinary Clinic
132 West Main Street
Apopka, FL 32703(NNN) NNN-NNNN fax(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

David Stelling, DVM
PO Box 924094
Homestead, FL(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />House-call services in the Miami (Dade County) area.

Don Swerida
Mobile Vet
Sarasota Area(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Dr. Wade
3695-50th Ave South
St. Petersburg(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

James F. Weege
Colonial Animal Hospital
127 S.E. Woolbright Road
Boynton Beach 33435(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

* Dr. Whiteside
Wynn Haven Animal ClinicXXXXXbr />Mary Esther (NNN) NNN-NNNN

POB 2319
Bellview 32620(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

* Margaret Wissman
Icarus Mobile Vet Svc
POB 7322,
Wesley Chapel 33543(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

Roy Yanong
10303 Casa Palarmo Dr #2
Riverview 33569

* Jacqueline ZdziarskiXXXXXbr />Tampa 33618(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
thank you so much for all your help. do you think i should make an appointment just incase? i just now gave her a warm bath and she started to swim, which is a great improvement considering she wasnt even holding her head up before. i have her in a large shoe box for now, with paper towels, her heat lamp, and a heat pad beneath. good enough? oh and one more thing, what should i give her to eat untill shes better? just liquids im assuming?
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


She needs some calcium mixed in chicken baby food and pedialyte. Drop on her snout and allow her to lick it. Do not try to force feed. A Heat source from above as well as a UVB light that simulates the sunlight will be needed. I would get her into the Vet. A fecal sample is very important as well as an exam to see what is actually going on. She should be okay for the night without the heat from above, but she will need her tank reset and proper asap. Please have her in for the visit asap. Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
what kind of calcium should i get? pills and then crush them in to the mix or liquid?
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


The pet supplies carry Reptical or Flukers plain calcium powder for reptiles. This should be on all food and prey fed to your dragon. Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
ok. i thought it had to be a certain kind. i have that in powder here at home. thank you very much for everything. why do you think her neck has turned black? is that a common symptom of impaction?
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


Black bearding can be because of illness or anger. They will do if they are cold or mad. It is hard to say why she black bearded. Males do it when in Puberty. Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
yes i know they do it when theyre angry and that they turn a darker color when theyre too cold but its never been that black before so i was worried about that as well. anything else i should keep in mind before i leave?
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


Follow the care sheet and see the Vet asap. A parasite check is very important, since that can be a big problem in captive Herps. Please let me know what the Vet findings are. Joan

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
thank you joan you've been a life saver. i called many vets and none wanted to help me over the phone. how can i reach you again? my name is XXXXX XXXXX the way.
Expert:  Joan replied 9 years ago.


You can reach me through the site. Just post and use my name in the title of the post. You can post in Reptiles if it is in relation to your Dragon. Joan