I have a 1 year old bearded dragon that's front extremities appear to be disforming, discoloring and she is loosing

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Customer: I have a 1 year old bearded dragon that's front extremities appear to be disforming, discoloring and she is loosing mobility. The end of her tail is also discoloring. She is in an enclosure with 2 other females and one male. Any suggestions or ideas what could be wrong or how to fix it??
Answered by Jav917 in 3 mins 10 years ago
Pet Specialist

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Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary


Can you tell me about the set up?

UVB light and how old? Tube or coil? Strength

Basking light?

Temps and how measured?

Diet prey/ Type Veggies?



Last shed?

State to locate a Herp Vet?


We have all 4 dragons in a 75 gallon aquarium with "vitamin enriched sand substrate". There is a wood bridge big enough for them to hide under and a log for them to climb up onto to get closer to the heat lamp. We last changed the two 250 heat lamps last month. Their UVB light is approx. 2 months old. It is a tube, but I can't remember the strength. We have been checking the temp of the tank with an infrared thermometer and trying to keep it between 78-90 depending on the where it is in the tank. She last shed at the end of June. We usually feed the a mixture of peppers & kale (or some other green leafy veggie). Once a week, we have been getting crickets for them. We tried adding a supplement to their food (it's like a powder to sprinkle over their food) but all 4 dragons refused to eat anything that had it on them. None of the vets in our area deal with reptiles. I am totally new to reptiles myself!


Thank-you for the information. Please give me a few minutes to type an answer. I have a lot of information for you.


You have some husbandry issues which can be causing the Dragon the problems you are seeing. The sand can cause some major issues with Dragons. This will give you an idea about Sand as a substrate: http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/impaction/?page=3

I suggest using a solid substrate like tile, cage carpet, slate or paper. Sand can also cause skin problems and corneal ulcers in the eyes.

More than one Dragon should not be housed together. They each need a 40 gallon breeder tank. Dragons are actually solitary animals and the only time we bring two Dragons together is for breeding. Two males will fight as will two females together. Pets shops are there to sell the animals and do not give the correct information on
care. The problem with the leg may have been form some bullying or fighting.

The basking area should have 105*-110*F and the cool side of the tank in the 85* range. This is important for digestion and passing of stool. If the temps are not correct, this can also cause a problem and the Dragon will go off food. I suggest a digital probe thermometer because the stick on can be off as much as 20* either way.

You need to have 2 lights, a day time basking bulb as well as a UVB. I recommend Reptisun 10.0 and UVB lights do not put out heat. The UVB bulb is needed to stop Metabolic Bone Disease. The UVB needs to be changed every 6 months. If the UVB light is not strong enough, and you are not giving a calcium supplement, that can also cause the issue with the legs.

The UVB should be a tube type. Coil UVB bulbs can injure the eyes.

Compact UVB problems: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor-info.htm This should not be giving off a lot of heat, but UVB rays.

You should be feeding Collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, escarole and curly endives. Butternut squash and various berries are great for a treat. TheVeggies should be put in fresh daily, and done about an hour after lights on. They need 20% veggies daily and 80% live prey under a year of age and over a year the percentages reverse.

The live prey should include live crickets, silk worms, roaches, goliath worms and phoenix worms.The dead prey and canned prey looses the nutritional value and is high in chitin which is the outer shells and can cause a blockage.

Super worms and wax worms are like giving the Dragon candy. All veggies and prey should be dusted with calcium daily 5 days a week and vitamins 2 days a week. The UVB and calcium work together.

The leg issue and tail issue may be retained shed that has cut off circulation, a lack of calcium, bullying, injury from one of the other Dragons. At this point the Dragon does need to have a hands on exam. If the problem is Metabolic Bone Disease, or injury it does need to be addressed by a Herp Vet. If you supply a State I can locate one for you.

My suggestion would be to separate the Dragons. Especially the male from the females. A male will overbreed the females and if that happens if can actaully shorten the live of the females. Egg laying depletes the body of calcium.

I would also start some type of calcium supplement asap. This is a link for good veggies to give the Dragons the best diet possible: http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutritionframeset.html

Please let me know if you would like me to locate a Herp Vet for you.


we live in north central Indiana. Thank you so much! I've never had any kind of reptile before and have been completely lost since we got these 4. My kids love them, but I end up being the one trying to figure out how to take care of them. Is this something that she might recover from? Or a "damage is done" situation? Is there anything we an give her right now to help her start to feel better???


I am going to give you my complete care sheet. The recovery will depend on what has caused the damage. In some cases recovery can be complete with the proper care. The Herp Vet can determine the cause and then treatment can be done. This is a linkk for Herp Vets: http://www.anapsid.org/vets/indiana.html You may have to travel a bit, but well worth it to have the dragon seen.

Bearded Dragon Care Sheet

  • 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
  • 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 beardies 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

Babies: Warm basking log: 105-125 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90

Adults: Warm basking spot: 110-115
Cool side: 80-85
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 meal worms. 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 wax worms, 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 eat 50-75 crix a day depending on the size of the
    crickets. 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

*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 Hibernation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights
should be on a shorter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available
during this period. Do not feed live prey 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

fruits and Vegetables


Walnut shell Graphic: http://mrskingsbioweb.com/beardeddragngrossanatomy.htm

sexing bearded Dragons: http://repticzone.com/articles/sexingbeardeddragons.html

Hi Patti, I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going? Joan
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