Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons: Signs, Causes & Treatment

Bearded dragons are ancient lizards that appear largely in the deserts of Central Australia. These lizards may be infected with contagious diseases and one such disease is Yellow fungus that causes a small yellow to brown crust on the body and it may get thicken and turn darker over time. This disease may greatly affect the immunity system of your dragon.

This disease is not zoonotic; it means that humans cannot catch it from bearded dragons. It is a fungal disease that may cause deadly skin infections. Most people think that this disease cannot be treated easily but if it is caught in the early stages, it can be treated quickly and easily. In this article, you will read about what causes yellow fungus in bearded dragons and how to treat it.

What is a yellow fungus in bearded dragons?

Yellow fungus is an extremely contagious infection that is also known as CANV (Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nanniziopsis Vriesii). It is a newly defined pathogen that is causing serious infections among bearded dragons. It spreads from one reptile to another reptile easily. 

When your dragon’s skin is changing its skin color into yellow, brown, and black patches, you must consider it as yellow fungus disease. It is spread by direct contact with infected bearded dragons or other reptiles and may prove fatal. When more than two bearded dragons are living in a tank, there are high chances of getting this contagious disease.

The most common reptiles that catch this infectious disease are iguanas, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and chameleons, etc. This disease is considered one of the most dangerous diseases and can be proved to be the potential cause for many skin diseases. This disease is more common in reptiles of North America, Europe, and Australia.

Stages of yellow fungus

Yellow fungus passes from different stages. In the early stage, the infection enters through the skin. As time passes, it may spread more deeply over the skin and resulting in more lesions in the tails, limbs, and all over the body.

In the more advanced stages, the infection will affect the fat and muscle layers, and will also affect the lungs, liver, and spleen. In a few days, the infection will spread deeper and your dragon will become sick and lethargic.

Wounds may begin to leak with a puss-like substance and the condition will be more critical in this stage.

Symptoms of yellow fungus disease

The following are the signs and symptoms of yellow fungus. If you notice any of these signs, so it is better to take your dragon to the vet as soon as possible. Have a look at these signs:

· Loss of appetite

· Yellow, brown, or black patches in the skin

· Skin is getting rough and dry with cracked texture 

· Sunken eyes

· Frequent shedding with dull scales and rough appearance

· Weight loss

· Lesion that contains pus and discharge in the skin

· Irregular shedding

· Random troubling wounds

· Strange behavior and restlessness

· Hyperpigmentation all over the skin

· Stunted growth

· Lethargy

· Necrotic patches in the skin

· Swelling in the infected area

· Ulceration in the exposed area

Causes of yellow fungus disease

Yellow fungus disease can be caused due to the following reasons:

· Inefficient diet

· Poor hygiene

· Stress

· Compromised immune system due to low temperature, poor diet, and high humidity.

· Direct contact with infected bearded dragons

· Skin lesions like wounds, bites, or scratch on the body

· Use of poor substrate that may cause skin infection

· Ultraviolet lights having high rays of lighting. 

· Poorly managed habitat temperature control

Is yellow fungus disease a pathogen exposure to other bearded dragons?

Yes, it is a pathogen exposure to other reptiles and bearded dragons. It can be very dangerous especially if your dragon has come into direct contact with this pathogen and can be easily infected.

The most common cause that your dragon is getting infected with the yellow fungus pathogen is by being around with other infected dragons. It is very important to handle your infected dragon with care and affection otherwise your dragon may become aggressive and may refuse to get proper treatment.

Read more on Bearded dragon care.

How to diagnose yellow fungus in bearded dragons?

To diagnose yellow fungus in bearded dragons, your vet will conduct a physical examination. In this examination, he will try to figure out either it is yellow fungus disease or other bacterial skin infection. More tests will be recommended by your vet to get clear information about yellow fungus.

Several tests like skin scrape test, PCR test, and blood samples can be taken to confirm the diagnosis. A small biopsy can be done in which your dragon will anesthetize for a short period and samples can be looked at under a microscope. This sample is then sent for culture to determine what type of fungus it is.

Your vet can suggest doing an ultrasound or X-ray of your reptile to measure how much serious internal illness has been caused by the fungus. It may also show that how many dragon’s tissues or organs have been infected.

Home remedies for bearded dragons to get rid of yellow fungus

You may use home remedies to treat yellow fungus in dragons if you figure out that your dragon is suffering from yellow fungus:

Betadine bath:

Betadine first-aid solution iodine antiseptic can be used to treat the shedding fungus and it may help to keep your dragon clean. Frequent use of water and daily bathing can spread fungus faster so try to use betadine bath every few days for just 5 to 10 minutes.

After bathing, dry your dragon with a clean towel. Mix only 3/4 a cup of betadine with every gallon of water. 

Raw unpasteurized honey:

Eco bee farms raw honey can be used to heal any wounds especially the lesions that arise from fungal infections. It may help to treat the fungus temporarily. It is better to treat your dragon’s fungal infection from the vet as soon as possible to save your dragon’s life.

How to cure yellow fungus in bearded dragons?

Yellow fungus disease is a contagious disease, so you have to keep the infected dragon in a separate cage to prevent transmission. Then you have to take the following steps, to treat yellow fungus in your dragons:

  • Call your vet immediately to make an appointment
  • If your vet is busy and giving you an appointment after few days, then to treat yellow fungus at home you may use Chlorhexidine soap to treat the infection. Try to minimize the environmental stress and avoid unnecessary handling that can cause stress to your dragon. Keep the cage in a safe and secure environment.
  • When your vet is finally available, so try to tell him a full history of your dragon. He may conduct a thorough physical examination as in some cases it is difficult to diagnose yellow fungus disease as it looks similar to bacterial skin infections and cuts.
  • Proper testing like blood sampling, ultrasounds, and x-rays should be performed to measure the overall status of your reptile’s health. These tests may help to determine how much the immune system has been affected.
  • After this, oral anti-fungal medication should be done. In this medication, drugs will be used for the treatment. Three common drugs that are mostly used in the treatment are: · Itraconazole · Ketoconazole · Voriconazole
  • These drugs can affect the liver of bearded dragons and can be costly but to treat yellow fungus in bearded dragons it is essential to use such drugs as it may stop the deadly infection.
  • It is also beneficial to remove the damaged layer of the skin. For this, debridement can be done. If the debridement is not done, there are more chances that fungus will grow and penetrate to other parts of the body.
  • Try to maintain a suitable temperature and UVB levels that may ensure a healthy environment for your dragon because, in yellow fungus disease, the immune system of your dragon may become too weak that it may take more time for your dragon to recover and get back to good health.
  • The yellow fungus disease requires several weeks for treatment.
  • Bearded dragons that suffer from this disease severely may die naturally between 12-18 months of diagnosis but if the animal is not dying naturally and is suffering from acute pain, then euthanasia is considered as the only option.

How to prevent yellow fungus?

To prevent yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons, you can take the following steps:

Isolation:

It is better to place a yellow fungus bearded dragon in a separate cage and to keep an eye on him. Through this, you may easily check the signs that are causing this infection. Isolation is also better in terms of reducing stress because an infectious dragon may feel low and weak by watching other healthy dragons.

Quarantine:

New dragons should be quarantined for at least 28 days before introducing to other dragons because there might be high chances that any dragon can suffer from such infectious disease and it will spread such disease to other dragons as well.

Poor hygiene:

Proper sanitation and a hygienic environment with proper temperature gradient, appropriate UVB rays, sufficient diet, and the right range of humidity can help your dragon to remain happy and healthy. An unhygienic environment can easily spread such infectious diseases in reptiles. 

Correct temperature:

Try to maintain a correct temperature in the tank by placing thermometers at both cool ends and hot ends. The yellow fungus likes to grow in a cool area having high humidity. If the temperature is under control, then there are fewer chances that your dragon will catch this infectious disease.

Correct humidity:

The ideal humidity for bearded dragons is 20%-40%. Too much humidity can increase the risk of yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons. If the humidity goes above 60%, then the bacteria will start to grow and may spread fungus easily. Try to maintain an ideal and low humidity in the tank.

Read more on Lowering humidity in bearded dragon tank.

Is CANV a major cause of yellow fungus?

Yellow fungus is not common in bearded dragons as it requires contact with the CANV (Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nanniziopsis Vriesii) fungus. CANV is an infection of the skin or systemic infection with fungus.

This disease is contagious in lizards, crocodiles, and among snakes. Although more cases of CANV can easily appear in bearded dragons and other reptiles in captivity. Yes, we can say that CANV is a major cause of yellow fungus in bearded dragons because yellow fungus disease requires direct contact with CANV fungus. 

Is yellow fungus zoonotic?

This disease is not considered to be zoonotic (pass from animals to humans). It is impossible to catch such fungus from your dragon. However, immunocompromised individuals may be at high risk to catch Nanniziposis. It is also a fatal skin disease that is slowly progressive.

Cases of yellow fungus in humans have been found by a different species named Nannizioposis. Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you find any skin disease because you may have an early stage of the yellow fungus.

Can an antifungal cream use to treat yellow fungus disease?

Yes, an antifungal cream like Lamisil can be used to treat this disease in bearded dragons. It can be applied on dry skin and the rough scales of the skin. 

Apply it twice daily on the infected area but make sure that the dragon’s infected area is completely dry. You can also give them a warm bath and dry the infected area. After dry them, the cream can also be applied.

How deadly can a yellow fungus disease for my dragon?

In more severe cases, it is expected that the dragon can die within 6 months because many bearded dragons that are affected by yellow fungus disease will die from CANV fungus as it spreads faster.

In less severe cases, your dragon can live up to 12 months to 18 months because sometimes the antibiotics used in this disease can damage the liver and lungs.

Conclusion

Taking care of your pet should be the priority for every owner. If you see that your dragon is weak or feeling sick, then the owner must take immediate action and take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

When it comes to yellow fungus, take preventive measures and seek urgent vet assistance. Ensure that your dragon is living in a clean environment because an unclean environment can spread yellow fungus rapidly. Try to build a strong immune system of your dragon to fight such deadly diseases.

To keep your pet happy and healthy, you must build a proper habitat along with an accurate temperature, humidity gauge, and proper UVB lights along with a clean environment. This way, any spread of disease can be controlled.

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