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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18197
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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We have a bearded dragon, she's probably about 8-12 months

Customer Question

We have a bearded dragon, she's probably about 8-12 months old.. Yesterday my son took effect her outside to clean her tank..we have play sand inside the tank, so after everything got cleaned, he placed her back inside her tank, but got coughs up doing something else, she must have been outside inside her open sandy tank for about 45 min. When we brought her back inside, she was all puffed up with black all around her beard and neck, mouth open and breathing very heavily. We quickly took her out from the tank and placed her in the sink with running cool water, did that for a few minutes. Then we placed her on the cold tiled floor, she gradually got her normal color back, but was standing still with her eyes closed for a bit.. We kind of left her alone for a little bit, the she ate her two super worms in the evening, like normal. This morning, she doesn't seem interested in eating her worms, should we be worried? Should we take her to a vet??
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Kelly Hill replied 11 months ago.

Hi this is Dr. Hill. The basking temperature for a bearded dragon can go up to 108 degrees. It is pretty unlikely that the beardie got overheated. The black discoloration can be normal when stressed. When beardies bask they puff out and open mouth breath normally. However, putting it in to cool water afterwards can cause constriction of their blood vessels and shock. So the combination of being very warm and then the drastic change in temperature may have caused a problem. It would be good to see a local veterinarian who sees reptiles in order to have a physical examination so that you have a baseline. Feel free to ask additional questions. Take care.

Expert:  Joan replied 11 months ago.


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and Reptile rescue. I would like to go further in depth with information for you. The fisr issues I see is that you have the Dragon on Sand. That should be changed to a solid substrate. Loose substrates can cause impations, skin problems and eye issues. I suggest cage carpet, paper or tile. The Diet that you are feeding needs improvement. under a year old we feed 80% live prey and 20% veggies. The live prey should not include meal worms or super worms. They are both high in chitin, which is the hard outer shell, which is not digestible and the super worms are high in fat and over time can cause live disease. The accetable prey are crickets, silk worms, phoenix worms and dubia roaches as staple feeders. They also need 20% veggies to include collard greens, mustard greens, escarole, curly endives, dandelion greens and butternut squash. This is a link for acceptable foods: Over a year old the Dragon needs to reverse the percentages of veggies and prey. He needs calcium 5 days a week and 2 days a week a vitamin.

Temps in the basking area should be 105-110, the ambient temp 90's and the cool side at 80's. The Recommended UVB bulb is a reptisun 10.0 linear tube and it should run the length of the tank. The basking light should be a full spectrum bulb.

You can give the Dragon a dail soak in water at 90* and most will defecate in the water at that time. UVB bulbs do need to be replaced every 6 months since they do loose potency. The open mouth breathing you saw very well could have been over heating because we have to take in temps as well as humidity that could have caused that behavior.

If The Dragon continues to seem lethargic, then a Her Vet visit should be done for a Fecal and a check up. If you need a Herp Vet plase supply a state and I can locate some for you. If you have questions about the information I supplied, I will be happy to answer them. I have been working with Bearded Dragons for over 36 years. I like to supply accurate and up to date information and I strive for excellent servce to achieve a 5 Star rating. Please hit reply for further help.


Expert:  Joan replied 10 months ago.

I wanted to check in on your Dragon and see how it is doing. Please let me know.