My bearded dragon is 1.5 yrs old. Has been perfect until just about a week ago when u take him out of the tank he

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Customer: My bearded dragon is 1.5 yrs old. Has been perfect until just about a week ago when u take him out of the tank he sometimes freezes up and doesn’t want to hold on to me like usual. And he bobs his head around funny like he’s disoriented. He’s also not eating all of his crickets and not getting his worms unless I put them right in front of him. Are these signs of brumination?Thank you,
Answered by Anna in 8 hours 4 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,034 satisfied customers

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

Hello Susan. I apologize that no one responded to you sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just logged in and saw your question. This may be brumation, but it could also be illness. It can be hard to tell. Some additional information may help.Is your dragon trying to hide?Does he sleep a lot, and is he hard to wake up?What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the cage?What brand of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb?Does your dragon receive a calcium supplement?Has he been passing normal droppings?Thank you.
Thank you for getting back to me. No, he’s not trying to hide, he doesn’t receive calcium, last dropping was Wednesday and was normal, bulbs are brand new150 watt, and he wakes up normal times on his own...
Temp in cage is about 85-90 degrees hot side and 75-80 degrees cool sideLast night I took all of the lice crickets he hasn’t eaten out of the tank and missed him a ton. He seems much happier today. I checked if he was dehydrated by pinching his skin, but he wasn’t. I’m going to hold off on food for a few days, except greens, and see how he does. What do you think? I also just moved his tank away from the wall with the window and into the middle of the room against a different wall since it’s getting cold out.
Thank you for your response. I think something other than brumation may be going on. I do think your idea of just feeding greens for a few days is a good step to take. One thing I need more information on is the lighting. Can you turn them off just long enough to cool, then take them out? You’ll be able to read the print on the bulbs themselves. Please send me that information.
Ok I’ll shut them
Off now
I’ll watch for your response.
The white one is zoo-Med 75 w 120v and red one is the same
Thank you. I’m going to go to work on some information for you now, and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. I am not a fast typist, so I’ll appreciate your patience.
Awesome I really appreciate your help

Thank you for waiting.

I suspect you got your 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 months, or even years, of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Some of what you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why your dragon is having a little trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep him healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things begin to go wrong.

Even though a skin pinch didn't seem to reveal dehydration, we need to be cautious and treat for that possibility. Things don't always work the same with lizards as they do with warmblooded animals. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water at about 100*F and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your beardie for about 20 to 30 minutes. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their skin and vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely.

The next thing to deal with is temperature. Your cage is far too cool, and it's probably especially noticeable as we move into fall. 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 105*F to 110*F 110*F. 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 t he 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. You probably don't need the red light at all. Bearded dragons come from desert areas where it is very hot in the daytime and cool at night. In captivity, we try to mimic those conditions. Night time temperatures can be allowed to fall into the low 70's.

I'm going to post this much now so you have something to read while I type some more.

If the worms you mentioned are meal worms or super worms, I would discontinue feeding them. They are not a good food because they contain too much chitin and can't be digested properly. Superworms also lead to liver disease when they are fed long term. 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, Phoenix worms, and dubia roaches are other excellent foods. 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:

Based on the description of your lights, you don't have a UVB light at all. Your dragon also is not getting calcium. It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, daylight, UV, and UVA are NOT the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to a reptile’s health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because they won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death. UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out the UVB rays. Besides UVB, calcium is essential to prevent MBD. Prey insects need to be dusted with plain calcium powder. Here is an online source:

The freezing in position and not holding onto you may be early signs of MBD. It can be reversed when proper conditions are provided.

I'll be back once more.

Once your beardie has been warm for a few hours and has had a nice soak, he may become more lively. There is a possibility he wants to brumate, but we can't assume that until we're sure he is warm enough and well-hydrated.

Beardies under one year of age don't brumate, but after one year, many of them do.Their bodies slow down in response to the shorter days of winter, even when they live in our houses. During brumation, you shouldn't feed any live prey, but make fresh greens available. Once a week, take him out for a soak to keep him hydrated. Supervise the bath carefully since he is sluggish. As the days grow longer again, he should come out of this.

Also watch for any symptoms to appear. He could develop an infection during brumation. Watch for eyes that are actually swollen shut, abnormal breathing, any swelling, sneezing/coughing, etc. If anything unusual happens, you'll want to see a reptile vet. Otherwise, just let the brumation run its course. Some dragons brumate for only a week or two, while others may go as long as four months. However, if you have any doubt that he is brumating, and may actually be sick, it's best to be safe and schedule a vet appointment. If you need to do that, this site has a directory of such vets:

If you have more concerns, jsut let me know. I'm glad to help. I hope your dragon will be fine.


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