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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11543
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My good friend, Milo, a bearded dragon is just over six years

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My good friend, Milo, a bearded dragon is just over six years old. The issue is, he has not eaten in perhaps close to two weeks. He has always loved his mealworms and crickets, and now he ignores them completely. He has passed three or four times, fecal matter that has been liquid in form and black. He has also vomited and that was clear. About six months ago he vomited a red liquid that at the time I attributed to the red pellets he was given. Fluker's buffet blend. Since then there has been a slow but steady decline in his alertness and is now completely lethargic. He does move from one location to another but it could be hours between his moving. Any advice would be welcomed. Thanks.
Hello Mike,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of Milo's problem. Some additional information will be useful.

What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the cage?

What do you feed besides pellets?

What substrate do you use on the cage floor?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

80+ on the warmer side and 75+ on the cooler side

live mealworms, live crickets and a medley of Fluker's freeze dried mealworms, grasshoppers and crickets. All freeze dried was lightly coated with calcium powder.


newspaper and reptile carpeting. A heating pad is attached to the glass underneath the warmer side. I withdrew the Fluker's buffet blend months ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. (I am not a fast typist). 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, Mike. I suspect you got your original information on care from a pet store. Most people do. While we should be able to rely on such information, unfortunately, it is often wrong. They sell people the wrong lighting, advise the wrong foods, and often don't know the correct temperatures for the various reptiles. After years of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Problems often take along time to develop. Much of what you have been told is wrong, and i suspect that is why Milo is having so much trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep him healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong. At this point, Milo is critically ill and is going to need to be seen by a reptile vet. I'll explain more after I give you some supportive measures to take.

I'll start with a first aid measure. You're on the right track with baths, but we can make them better. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants).Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak Milo 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.

A big problem is that Milo is cold. 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 his cage should be 80*F to 85*F. The basking spot should be at least 105*F. Up to 115*F is fine. 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, lowering the fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights. Under the tank heaters are not the best solution for beardies - they need heat from above to properly digest their food.

An adult beardie should be getting 80% fresh produce - mostly a variety of greens, and only 20% live prey. I would discontinue the mealworms. They are not a good food because they contain too much chitin and can't be digested properly. They're OK for some other lizards, but not for beardies. Crickets that are no bigger than the space between your beardie’s eyes area better choice. Silk worms are another excellent food. The dried insects are little but junk food. all the nutritious insides are dried up, and basically the exoskeleton with some vitamins sprayed on is left. I'm going to give you a link to a reputable and easy to understand site for information on feeding because there is too much for me to explain here:

Also check to make sure your UVB light bulb is less than 6 months old. They emit visible light long after they stop giving off UVB (which is invisible to us). Old UVB bulbs are a common cause of poor health. When you get a new one, I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style.

Milo has exhibited some signs of bleeding in his digestive system. Black droppings often contain blood. Blood turns black as it is digested. There are a number of possible causes. There may be a partial blockage from the meal worms and dried insects. If there was a mass of this food lodged in his stomach, that could cause vomiting, appetite loss, and blood in the droppings. A heavy parasite load, polyps or tumors in the digestive system, and infection are other possible causes. All of these need to be diagnosed by a vet in order to be treated. when you go to the vet, take along a sample of fresh droppings in a clean plastic bag. These links will help you find a reptile vet:

The vet may need to do blood work and/or take x-rays to reach a diagnosis. Until you can see a vet, continue to provide baths and warm his habitat to the proper levels. The sooner you can go to the vet, the better because he is very sick. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope Milo will quickly reach a full recovery.


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!
Anna and 3 other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


You were most prompt and professional with your advice. Sadly, I found my friend, Milo, had passed on during the early AM hours today.



Hi Mike,

I am so sorry that you lost Milo. I can tell you cared very much for him. The symptoms he had were so very serious that I doubt even a vet could have saved him. You did the best you could. I had hoped for a better outcome, but it wasn't to be. I'm sorry.


I want to mention that you may receive automated emails from JustAnswer that look like they are from me. That can seem insensitive to someone who has lost a pet, and I wanted you to know they are automated - just ignore them.