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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11418
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Hi my bearded dragon has been unusually inactive the last 2

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Hi my bearded dragon has been unusually inactive the last 2 days, she is not eating and has not moved from her basking spot at all but usually she is all over the tank! Since the weather has just got cooler and the temp in the tank has been a bit lower than usual I thought this might be the reason so I bought a higher wattage basking bulb to lift the temperature but she still not doing anything. I wondered if the lower temps had caused her to go in to bromation? but would she be basking if this was the case. My set up in the tank is basking spot 100-115 , 2 uvb 10 fluo tubes and a cooler end which settles at about 80 going to 60 overnight. I use paper sheets and vinyl as substrate. She is approx. 8 months old and is fed crickets and locusts about 5 times a week and veg every day, rocket, watercress, butternut squash,collard greens and occasional fruits all dusted with calcium and D3 powder everyday and viamin powder once a week. Poos seem normal but she is really uncharacteristically inactive im really worried about her. Any ideas?
Hello and welcome,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. It would be extremely rare for a beardie so young to brumate, so we need to figure out what is wrong. I'm a little confused about the temperatures, so would you clarify that for me?

What is the actual temperature right now under the basking light? And on the cool side of the cage?

When the cage was cooler, what was the temperature? For how many days, did that cooler time last?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi there, its a 4ft tank with platforms. At one end I have the basking light which whilst sat on her log underneath it the temp is 100-115, the area surrounding the basking log still at same end of tank is usually in the 90s and then at the opposite side of the tank the temp rests at about 80, I believe this provides the gradient required? . At night everything turns of and the tank temperature settles at room temperature which is about 60.

The last few days however due to my front room being a bit colder with weather outside being cold the temp all over the tank was staying at about 80 apart from directly under the basking light which was still maintaining at 100.The temperatures only stayed like this for 2 days maximum. To try and rectify this today I bought a slightly higher watt basking light which has successfully brought the temperatures back to as first described. I only did this today though and she still remained lay on her basking log not really moving. I hope that description was a little clearer?? I assumed when I noticed her not moving from her basking spot all day( which is unusual for her) that it was because apart from right under the light the rest of the tank was a bit on the cool side (80 as I said above) so I thought when I rectified this she would of perked up.

Thank you for getting back to me. Yes, that clarifies it. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Thank you for waiting. You're right that the biggest problem has been cold. Young beardies need higher temperatures than do older ones. A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of her cage should be 85*F to 90*F. For a youngster this age, the basking spot should be at least 110*F. A basking spot that varies by 15*, from 100*F to 115*F is too inconsistent. It needs to stay at the same temperature all day long. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, or by lowering the fixture itself (but not so low that she can be burned on it). 60*F at night is also too cold. For a youngster, night time temperatures should be in the lower 70's. You may need to use one of the ceramic heaters that do not emit any light to obtain this temperature. They're sold in pet stores.

I recommend getting the basking area up to 110*F and keeping it there in the daytime. Since you can't get a ceramic heater tonight, you may want to leave the basking light on tonight so your beardie doesn't get too cold once again. Being repeatedly chilled, then warm again can lead to illness.

I'll also give you a first aid measure to take. because she has been inactive, your beardie may have become dehydrated. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your dragon for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely.

Many times the warmer temperatures and soaks will cause a beardie to perk up again. However, it is possible thats he became ill while she was cold. If these measures don't help, it would be best to see a reptile vet. If that becomes necessary, this link will take you to a directory:

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope the warmth and soaks will be all your little beardie needs.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi thanks for that there is a minefield of conflicting and sometimes confusing information on the web I just hope that its not to late to get her better I would hate to think anything id done had caused her ill health. I thought I had read up well about them but I must have missed that piece of info! One quick question it is late night or rather 2am here now she is fast asleep should I switch her basking light on now? she is lay right underneath it ? I don't want her to get to hot or to cold given her condition right now...I don't know which would be worse? I have already bought a higher watt basking light and will pick up a ceramic heater tomorrow that I can leave on at night to keep the temperature up just what to do right this min?

Oh, you must be in the UK. I wouldn't disturb her tonight. Just get everything taken care of tomorrow. In the UK, the electrolyte solution won't be Pedialyte, but rather Lectaid, which is sold in pet stores. Use the same directions with it as you would the Pedialyte. Here is a UK directory of reptile vets:

Both pet stores and websites give a lot of incorrect information. Pet store staff are simply not well informed, and anybody can make a website. Because of that, I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. Joan has many years experience keeping and rescuing beardies. Her care sheet is used on several reputable websites, so you may have run across it before.


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 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 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 day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 110-125 degrees F (43.5* to 51.5*C)
Cool side: 85-90 (29.5* to 32*C)
Adults: Warm basking spot: 105-115F (40.5*C to 46*C)

Cool side: 80-85F (27*C to 29*C)

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 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 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.
Anna and other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry just another thought...the age I gave is an estimate as I actually found her in the road 4 months ago believe it or not, I took her in to the local reptile shop who gave me an idea of how old she was and sexed her for me etc. If they got it wrong and she was a bit older say a year is it possible that this is brumation. I will sort the temps out tomorrow as you have advised but im just thinking on if this behaviour caries on is that a possibility or would she be hiding somewhere rather than lying on her basking log??She is my first dragon so I am unfamiliar with all their behaviour only what iv read which as you have said is very unreliable! Thanks for your time

I'm happy to address your follow-up questions. Beardies over a year may brumate. However, they don't do that under the basking light. They usually go to a cooler section. also, it's very important to make sure the temperatures are right before deciding brumation is occurring. A dragon of any age will become lethargic if they are too cool, and that is not the same as brumation. It also can be difficult to distinguish between illness and brumation.

In case she does go into brumation in the future, during brumation, you shouldn't feed any live prey, but make fresh greens available. Once a week, take her out for a soak to keep her hydrated. Supervise the bath carefully since she would be sluggish.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi just an update for you...I sorted out the temperatures today with a higher watt basking light and a ceramic heater and she has perked up a little she has moved round the tank a little and is moving away from the basking area. She drank quite a bit when I bathed her. She still isn't herself though but hopefully she should continue to improve over the next few days. How long would you leave it before taking to the vet if she doesn't completely get back to normal? Thankyou for all your help.

I'm glad to hear she's improving. If about 48 hours of warmer temperatures and twice daily soaks doesn't return her to normal, I'd consider a vet appointment.