My bearded dragon has turned and is very lethargic. He won't chase any food. About a week or two. It doesn't appear that

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Customer: My bearded dragon has turned white and is very lethargic. He won't chase any food
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long has the Bearded Dragon been lethargic? Any changes in his appetite?
Customer: About a week or two. It doesn't appear that he's been eating
JA: Could he have eaten something unusual?
Customer: Not that I know of. He's not handled very often.
JA: And what's the Bearded Dragon's name and age?
Customer: Pascal and he's about a year, maybe a year and a half
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I don't think so. His cage is the appropriate temperature and humidity. He has water, dried crickets, meal worms, and vegetable pellets. He also has a carpet base, no sand.
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 1 min 1 year ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist
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2,212 satisfied customers

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

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

I am sorry to hear that your bearded dragon Pascal is under the weather.

Bearded dragons can turn white and become less energetic and hungry when they are preparing to shed. However that typically shouldn't last for 2 weeks.

They can also turn lighter in color if the environmental temperature is too warm.

Customer
Is it possible that this is just a sign of his hibernation?

What are the temperatures (cool side, warm side and hottest basking site) in his enclosure? Also, what is the humidity?

They can have less energy and appetite when they begin to brumate, which is not quite hibernation, but a period of lower activity that evolved in the Australian winter. This can be stimulated by the cooler and shorter days of Fall.

Customer
Temp is 70-80 and humidity in hot side is 60% on the cold side is 50%
Customer
He also had a heat rock on his hot side

Okay, thanks. That's the cool side temperature? What is the warm side temp and the basking temperature?

Humidity is a bit too high, they are from an arid region so the recommended humidity is 30-40%. Too high humidity can lead to skin or respiratory problems.

I don't generally recommend hot rocks, they don't heat the air and there are risks of thermal burns. Better to use a basking light to create the warmer basking spot.

Temperature is very important for keeping your dragon healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool or warm. Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90 (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer 95-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.

Customer
Hot side temp is 78 and cold side is 73. I'm unsure what the basking temp is

Bearded dragons need a gradient of temperatures so they can regulate their temperature which is dictated from the environment. The cool side should be 77-80F (73 is too cold), the warm side should be 85-90F and then you should have a very warm, focal basking site that is the hottest, 95-105F. A basking spot is a very warm area they can sit to warm up, or bask, in the warmth. They need these temperature ranges to stay healthy as their immune function, digestion and general metabolism is regulated by the environmental temperature.

Customer
We're using a heat lamp and a uv lamp. What else can we do to increase the temp and lower humidity

You can either get more than one thermometer to place in the enclosure to monitor the temperature range or they do make thermometer "guns" that you can use to spot check temperature in the different areas of the tank.

The UVB lamp adds no heat, it is necessary as a source of UVB light that the dragon needs for proper calcium metabolism (the UVB light converts vitamin D in their skin to its active form).

There are a number of ways to heat a bearded dragon enclosure. You can use the basking lights as a source of heat or they make ceramic heaters or heat emitters that also produce heat without light, these are especially good if you need to warm the enclosure at night without adding light.

There are a number of things you can do to try and lower the humidity in the tank:

-Move water dish away from heat source or heat lamps

-Decrease frequency and amount of misting

-Increase ventilation and air flow in the room and the enclosure. Use an air screen on the tank. If using vent holes in the enclosure, ensuring they are on opposite sides of the tank and top vs bottom will help encourage air flow.

-Use a room air conditioner or a dehumidifier in the room the tank is housed in. If using an AC make sure you check that tank temperature stays in the ideal ranges, 75-85 gradient and 85-105 basking area.

-Check the room humidity and consider moving the tank to a different part of the room or home that has lower ambient humidity.

-If none of these work, you can purchase a silica gel dehumidifier for use inside of the tank (for example: Eva-Dry Wireless Mini Dehumidifier).

For reference, I am attaching a bearded dragon care sheet I put together with recommendations about diet, temperature, UVB light, calcium and vitamin supplementation, etc.

Bearded dragons are lizards that are native to Australia. With good care they can live 10 years or more and make excellent pets. It is typically recommended to house them singly, though sometimes it is possible to keep breeding pairs together. It is recommended that the enclosure be at least 10-20 gallons for juveniles and 75 gallons for adults. Care should be taken as to the enclosure substrate as they may potentially ingest loose substrates. If you do use something like paper pulp substrate, feed the dragon in a separate enclosure to prevent substrate ingestion. Paper towels or newspaper are good substrates that are easy to replace very 1-2 days to prevent waste accumulation. It is fine to include cage furniture in the enclosure such as large rocks, pieces of driftwood or cork bark. Hiding boxes or areas are required if you have more than one dragon housed together.

-Temperature: Temperature is very important for keeping your dragon healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool or warm. Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90 (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer 95-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.

-Lighting: In addition to tank lighting that supplies UVA and visible light exposure, bearded dragons require UVB exposure to maintain proper health. Just as with temperature, their enclosure should have a gradient of UVB exposure with no UVB at the coolest end and highest at the basking spot. To avoid over supplementing, at least ¼ of the tank should not be directly illuminated with UVB light. Distance from the UVB bulb is vital as it dictates how much UVB exposure an animal will receive in the basking site. Distance depends upon the type and UVB output of the bulb. The most common types of UVB bulbs used with bearded dragons are the compact fluorescent (CFL), linear fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs. For example, a CFL or linear fluorescent 10.0 bulb should be placed no more than 16-18" from the basking site while a 5.0 bulb should be placed 12” or less. A mercury vapor bulb can be used in a larger enclosure due to its greater depth of UVB penetration, up to 3 feet. The mercury vapor bulb’s wattage dictates the heat output of these dual use bulbs it does not change the UV penetration. There should be no glass or acrylic between the bulb and the surface as these will block UV light. Note that metal screening between the bulb and the enclosure will cut UVB output of the bulb significantly, sometimes as much as in half. Conversely, UVB light reflectors can improve UVB penetration by bouncing and focusing the UV light produced by the bulb. All UVB bulbs loose effectiveness over time, even if the light still appears to be working, it may no longer be producing UVB. It's recommended that you change the bulbs regularly, compact fluorescent bulbs at least every 6 months, linear fluorescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs every 12 months. Some bulbs may last longer but the only way to know for sure if they are still effective is to measure their UV output with a meter that measures UV Index or total UVB.

-Diet: Balanced diet of 30% vegetables and 70% insects for a young, bearded dragon (< 6 months old) which are more carnivorous than the omnivorous adults. That should be reversed as they age and adults fed 70-80% of their diet as vegetables for an adult. Greens should be introduced to bearded dragons at a young age. Nutritional insects include black soldier fly larvae (soldier worm larvae), superworms, earthworms, Dubia and cockroaches and the occasional wax worm, mealworm or silkworms (limit them due to their high fat content). Vegetables should be a variety of primarily dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, parsley, cilantro, watercress, escarole, endive, chicory, etc.). Some greens have high amounts of goiterogens which can impact thyroid function so while they can be fed and are nutritious, feed them in moderation and in rotation with other vegetables. Examples include, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard/collard/turnip greens, arugula, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Lettuce, such as romaine, iceberg, green/red leaf, Boston, etc. are not very nutrient rich so should be avoided or fed in very limited quantities. Also avoid feeding oxalate ***** *****s like swiss chard, spinach or beet greens as these can interfere with calcium absorption. A small amount of other vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, squash, green beans, bell peppers, etc.) and be added; variety is the key! Salad should be chopped and offered in a clean bowl or plate once to twice a day. They can be given flowers and fruit as treats or as top dressing on the salad, with fruit not making up more than 10-20% of plant material fed each day.

-Calcium and vitamin supplementation: 3x per week dusting of salad mix with calcium powder (without Vit D3) and 2x per week light dusting of reptile multivitamin powder that has calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A. Insects should be dusted with calcium powder just before feeding at every meal and crickets should be both gut-loaded and calcium dusted always. Do not use calcium with vitamin D3 for daily dusting as over supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to toxicity. It is better if the reptiles make most of their own vitamin D3 from proper UVB exposure. And if the bearded dragon is not yet reliably eating salad, in addition to daily dusting with calcium powder, dust the insects 2-3 times weekly with a reptile multivitamin powder that contains calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A.

Crickets are so-so in terms of nutrition so it’s important to vary the type of insects you feed to your bearded dragon. To boost the nutritional value of the feeder insects it is recommend to "gut load" them for at least 24-48 hours prior to feeding them out. That means to feed the insects a nutritious food so that the bearded dragon gets the benefit of that nutrition. Some options for gut loading are:

Mazuri Better Bug Gut Loading Diet

Mazuri Hi Calcium Gut Loading Diet

Repashy SuperLoad Insect Gutload Formula

-Clean environment. Avoid sand or gravel substrates as bearded dragons may eat this and become impacted. Paper towels, newspaper, slate, tile or reptile carpeting are safe alternatives. Make sure to clean the substrate at least every other day or more frequently as it becomes soiled.

If you have any specific questions about housing or nutrition, please let me know I would be happy to advise.

Customer
We currently feed him dried crickets, meal worms, and the vegetable pellets along with calcium powder. He gets love crickets occasionally, is that ok? Also, he doesn't eat any fresh veggies or fruits. It's that normal?

You can also use under substrate heating pads to help boost temperature but again, this heats the substrate not the air, so really radiant heaters are better options.

Here are some good online references with further information about how to heat a bearded dragon enclosure:

https://www.lizards101.com/bearded-dragon-tank-too-cold-tips-to-make-a-tank-hotter/

https://www.beardeddragoncare101.com/heating-bearded-dragon-habitat/

In terms of diet, bearded dragons are omnivores and since Pascal is over a year, he should be eating 70-80% vegetables and only 20-30% insects. Here are some suggestions on how to get your bearded dragon to eat his veggies:

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BEARDED DRAGON DOESN’T LIKE TO EAT VEGETABLES

Just like people, bearded dragons can develop a preference for some types of foods, such as insects. But there are things you can do to encourage your bearded dragon to eat their veggies! Adults should be eating at least 70% of their diet in vegetables (juveniles 30%). Eating too many insects, especially high fat worms, can lead to medical disorders, such as fatty liver disease, so feeding them an omnivorous diet is important.

Start by decreasing the frequency of feeding insects. Instead of feeding insects every day, feed them every other day. On non-insect feed days, feed them a salad mix of chopped vegetables. On insect-feed days, feed them their salad in the morning and wait to feed insects until the afternoon. These tips will encourage them to eat their vegetables as they will be hungry when the salad is presented. And when you do feed insects put them into the salad dish. This teaches the bearded dragon that veggies are food, too.

Here are diet recommendations for a bearded dragon:

-Balanced diet of 30% vegetables and 70% insects for a young, bearded dragon (< 6 months old) which are more carnivorous than the omnivorous adults. That should be reversed as they age and adults fed 70-80% of their diet as vegetables for an adult. Greens should be introduced to bearded dragons at a young age. Nutritional insects include black soldier fly larvae (soldier worm larvae), superworms, earthworms, Dubia and cockroaches and the occasional wax worm, mealworm or silkworms (limit them due to their high fat content). Vegetables should be a variety of primarily dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, parsley, cilantro, watercress, escarole, endive, chicory, etc.). Some greens have high amounts of goiterogens which can impact thyroid function so while they can be fed and are nutritious, feed them in moderation and in rotation with other vegetables. Examples include, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard/collard/turnip greens, arugula, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Lettuce, such as romaine, iceberg, green/red leaf, Boston, etc. are not very nutrient rich so should be avoided or fed in very limited quantities. Also avoid feeding oxalate ***** *****s like swiss chard, spinach or beet greens as these can interfere with calcium absorption. A small amount of other vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, squash, green beans, bell peppers, etc.) and be added; variety is the key! Salad should be chopped and offered in a clean bowl or plate once to twice a day. They can be given flowers and fruit as treats or as top dressing on the salad, with fruit not making up more than 10-20% of plant material fed each day.

Some other tips:

If you are still having difficulty, some folks have had success top-dressing the chopped salad with a tiny sprinkling of bee pollen or reptile salad dressing (Nature Zone Bearded Dragon Salad Dressing). Use sparingly and decrease over time so they learn to eat the salad without a top dressing.

You can also try hand feeding pieces of vegetables to your bearded dragon as a "treat". Some beardies will take food if hand offered. If you are uncomfortable hand feeding or your bearded dragon is a “biter”, then you can offer salad from a tweezers or tongs.

The last option is "tough love". For an adult bearded dragon in good body condition (not a rapidly growing baby or juvenile or an underweight or sick bearded dragon), you can offer salad without insects for a longer period, until they eat some salad. It's not indefinite, just 2-3 days at a time, but once they get a taste for salad, hopefully that would continue.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you to get your bearded dragon eating their vegetables!

So I think you will need to increase his tank temperature, decrease humidity and work on adding variety and vegetables to his diet.

But if the lethargy continues, then I think taking him to a reptile veterinarian for an evaluation would be a good idea. If you need help finding a reptile veterinarian, please let me know your zip code and I can search for options in your area.

Customer
Thanks very much for your help

You are most welcome. If you have any other questions or concerns, please let me know and I would be happy to help!

Customer
How long does brumation normally last?

It varies wildly, could be from a few weeks to a few months.

Note that your bearded dragon should not lose much weight during brumation, only about 5-30 grams. So it is a good idea to weigh your bearded dragon.

Causes of lack of energy and appetite that are not related to brumation include improper husbandry, infection (adenovirus, parasites), metabolic bone disease, GI impaction amongst other things.

If you see more weight loss than about 30gm, loss of body condition, poor skin or shed quality, or any other concerns then I would recommend making an appointment with a local veterinarian with experience in reptile medicine. They can examine your bearded dragon to make sure there is no underlying disease causing the signs that you are seeing.

The following website has some very good information about brumation in bearded dragons:

https://www.everythingreptiles.com/bearded-dragon-brumation-explained/

My best to you and Pascal. Have a nice day. Sincerely, ***** *****

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