Bearded dragons are reptiles that fall into the desert lizard category. They have spines and scales on either side of the body. They belong to the genus Pogona and are characterized by eight different species which are differentiated from one another based on their chins and skins.
The spiky collar around the throat that inflates with time gives them the name bearded dragons. They are 15-20 inches long. Their head is broad and triangular in shape and their body consists of a tail and stout legs.
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What do bearded dragons eat?
These reptiles are considered omnivorous, which means they may eat both plant and animal foods. Bearded dragons largely consume fruits, vegetables, and insects.
The list of fruits and vegetables include:
- Raw cabbage
- Peeled cucumbers
- Spaghetti squash
- Raw bell peppers
The list of insects that bearded dragons like to eat includes:
- Butter worms
- King worms
How long a bearded dragon goes without eating?
Bearded dragons can live without food for different lengths of time depending on age, size, and other factors. It has been observed that a healthy bearded dragon can survive up to 2 months without food.
How often should a bearded dragon feed?
A bearded dragon should feed 1-2 times a day, but the feeding period is different for different stages of life. Have a look at this chart:
|0-3 months||3-5 times a day|
|3-8 months||2-3 times a day|
|8 months||1-2 times a day|
If you are feeding your adult bearded dragon twice a day and you are noticing that he does not want to eat more than once a day, then take down the feeding to just once a day.
Read more on How often to feed bearded dragons.
Is it unhealthy for a bearded dragon to stop eating food?
The answer is yes, bearded dragons like humans need food and water to survive. By not consuming food properly, they may be deprived of the necessary proteins, minerals, and fats, etc. It becomes too unhealthy for them to stop eating food. They also need an energy source to walk, live and remain healthy.
Six reasons a bearded dragon stopped eating food
There are some reasons when your bearded dragon stops eating food. They may go live without food for up to two months but you have to look at the reasons why your bearded dragon does not want to eat. These reasons may be:
- Wrong temperature
- Change in the environment
- Increased stress
- New diet/foods
- Other pets
- Toys and small objects
One thing that may impact the eating habit of a bearded dragon is having a low temperature. Due to the evolution of Australian dessert, these reptiles need higher heat from basking lamps to help them digest.
Make sure that the temperature is around 40 degrees Celsius or above. If the temperature is too low they may stop eating and could survive for a couple of weeks or nearly two months.
Change in the environment:
Bearded dragons are sensitive creatures and if they sense a change in their surroundings, it may cause them stress. This stress could turn into a loss of appetite because adapting to a new environment is somewhat difficult for these little creatures.
New or different items in the bearded dragon tank and new accessories might cause a change in your pet’s eating habits and stop them from eating food.
Your reptile may feel stressed due to multiple reasons. These might be changes in tank location, adding other living creatures in their home like getting new bearded dragons or pets-which could be why your bearded dragon may sometimes feel threatened.
You have to make sure that your dragon should feel safe in its surroundings. Otherwise the stress they feel under such conditions might not allow them to eat properly.
Learn about Destressing bearded dragon.
When it comes to food selection, these reptiles eat a variety of selected foods like high-fat insects and sugary fruits. If you try to give them a new kind of food, they may stop eating. If you think that the new diet is good enough for your pet you should wait for a couple of days.
The bearded dragon will sense it and start eating that food. But if you notice weight loss and weakness in your dragon, you should stop giving him new foods and start giving him his old diet.
This is the most common reason why most bearded dragons stop eating food. In this hibernation-like phase, a bearded dragon stops eating and occasionally will drink water. This usually happens in fall and winter when there is less daylight and the temperature typically falls. In this state, they may gradually go for nearly two months or more with no food and little water.
Read more on Bearded dragon brumation.
Another reason your bearded dragon has stopped eating could be due to a certain sickness. As the owner it is your responsibility to stay alert and pay attention to your dragon for symptoms of sickness. These signs could be:
• Slow movement
• Lack of appetite
• Discolored skin
• Black mouth
• Discharge from the nose or mouth
• Bloody/damaged snout
• Brittle bones
• Respiratory issues
• Changes in weight
All of these symptoms point to different issues your dragon could be having due to their poor diet or the habitat they’re living in. Make sure to immediately treat your dragon according to the symptoms you see.
Read more on Bearded dragon care.
It is common if you have some other pets in your houses like cats and dogs, a bearded dragon will get scared due to their presence. These bearded dragons will see them as predators. It may also be a reason that the bearded dragon may stop eating food.
Toys and objects:
The bearded dragons may also get stressed due to toys and other small objects. It may be a pair of socks or a football and a doll, every new toy or object that your dragon is unsure of can agitate them and cause the dragon to stop eating food. You have to make the surroundings more secure to help your bearded dragon in eating food properly.
What to do when a bearded dragon stops eating food?
If you see a change in your bearded dragon eating habits, make sure that you have to switch back to the previous environment when your pet was eating and observe that what makes a sudden change in the loss of your dragon’s appetite.
It could be new food, new environment, new tank, and new equipment in the enclosure. If this does not help use these options for proper treatment.
- Use of warm water baths to rehydrate
- Nutritional counseling
- Environmental counseling
- Use feeding tubes to feed your pet’s favorite food
- Notice carefully that your bearded dragon tank should be a large one
- Try to keep the noise level low in your house
- Do not put two bearded dragons in the same tank.
How to force-feed a bearded dragon?
It is recommended not to use this force-feeding method on your bearded dragon in the first place. But if by not eating food for a couple of days, your dragon becomes thin and sick you have to take measures into your own hands and use the following tips:
- Hold your dragon gently and smoothly
- Try to open its mouth by rubbing the lower jaw
- Place some food inside the mouth quickly
- You may also use a feeding syringe to put food into the mouth.
Bearded dragons can live without eating for up to two months. But sometimes the situation may become too risky regarding the health of bearded dragons. This is when they may need proper care and treatment. Some small issues could cause changes in their appetite in which case you need to pay attention to their habitat, your home and their diet.