Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Eat? Not Eating Much

If you have a bearded dragon that is not eating as they should be, it can be a very scary time for you.  The last thing that you want to happen is to have your beardie fall ill or even worse, end up dying just because they wouldn’t eat the food that you were feeding them.  And what makes things even worse, if you do have a beardie that is not eating how they regularly eat, there is no way that they are going to be able to tell you what is wrong with them and why they are not eating their food.  

What all of this means, is that it is going to be your job to figure out what it is that is really wrong with your beardie, essentially uncovering the underlying reason that they will not eat their food.  While it is going to be a skill that you should definitely have if you do have a pet beaded dragon, unfortunately, it is not always going to be a skill that bearded dragon owners are going to possess.  In fact, even if there were some type of manual that came with your beardie the day that you got them, that would be a huge help in allowing you to diagnose what is actually wrong with your pet.  However, that is obviously not how things work when it comes to making a bearded dragon your pet.  

Here is everything that you need to know about what to do when you find that your bearded dragon is not eating their food.

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Why Doesn’t Your Bearded Dragon Want to Eat?

When it comes to figuring out the reason that your bearded dragon is not eating, is actually going to be something that is much easier for you to do than you would think.  This is going to be because there is a very short list of problems that could be making it so that your bearded dragon does not want to eat.  What this means, is that you simply need to do a process of elimination in order to really figure out why it is that your beardie is not eating.  With that being said, the big secret in deciphering the reason that your beardie is not eating, is going to be telling the differences between the reasons.

As with anything, there are going to be some diagnosis that will be much easier to figure out than other ones.  This just means that you should do yourself a huge favor and rule out the easy reasons first.  If you do this, it will make it much easier for you to narrow down the reasons that your beardie doesn’t seem to want to eat their food.  Another thing that you are going to want to keep in mind, is that just because you have figured out the reason that your beardie is not eating their food, does not necessarily mean that it is due to a bad reason.  In fact, it is often times that a bearded dragon will stop eating, as it is just going to be a natural process that they are going through at that particular time.

Once you have found the reason that your bearded dragon is not eating, it does not mean that the cure is going to be very complicated.  While some reasons are going to require much more work to fix than other reasons, often times if the cause is due to a habitat or even a health circumstance, they are often times going to be somewhat easy for you to fix.  The trick here, no matter what the reason your beardie is not eating, is to make sure that you are paying attention to them, being sure that you act quickly if you do notice that something is wrong.  Essentially, at the end of the day, all you need to do is stay calm, do your best to figure out what is wrong with your bearded dragon, and then proceed from what you have found.

Here are the main reasons that your bearded dragon may have stopped eating and what you can do about it.

Stress and Anxiety

If your bearded dragon is not eating, one of the most overlooked reasons for this is going to be due to them having some severe anxiety or stress.  Most people are going to overlook this symptom, immediately thinking that their pet isn’t eating because of an illness or some type of lighting mistake.  Just be sure that if you have noticed that your beardie isn’t eating, that you don’t overlook the stress and anxiety aspect of their life.  

In case you didn’t know, beardies are actually going to be a very emotional animal, or at least much more than most people would ever think.  While most people are simply going to look at the bearded dragon, see a lizard and think that they are going to be ‘like every other reptile out there’, those people are going to be very wrong.  In fact, that is actually going to be as far from the truth as you can get.

Beardies must feel very comfortable in order for them to thrive.  While they are not going to be considered a ‘high-maintenance’ type of lizard, any type of change to any of their conditions is going to have the ability to cause them some very serious stress, which will eventually lead to them losing any type of appetite.

Some of the most common reasons that your bearded dragon may feel over-stressed, are going to be due to any type of changes in their regular daily diet, any changes to the type of lighting that they are used to having, changes in the temperature in their environment, and even any drastic changes in the humidity of their environment.  Yes, these are the types of changes that can lead to your beardie becoming more healthy in the long run, in the short term, if you change too much too soon, you are essentially going to be putting your bearded dragon at risk for suffering from some very serious amounts of stress.  Just keep in mind that any changes you make to your beardies environment are going to require some time for them to get used to.

While most of the changes you make are going to be within the recommended guidelines for taking care of your beardie, you must keep in mind that it will take them some time to get used to.  Because they are going through these changes, it will take them a little bit to get comfortable enough to start eating again.  Also, if you notice that your beardie is starting to display any kind of ‘biting’ behavior, this is also going to be a very good sign that they are stressed out.

One of the most common types of changes that will cause your beardie to feel stressed, is when you move them to a new bearded dragon vivarium or enclosure.  Just keep in mind that it will take them some time to get comfortable in their new space, meaning that they may refuse to eat for a little until they start feeling comfortable again.

Insufficient Temperature and Lighting

Making sure that you have the proper temperature and lighting in your bearded dragon’s enclosure is going to be extremely important for the health of your bet (which this is actually going to be very true for every type of reptile that you would have as a pet).  The lighting, humidity, and temperature is going to have some very serious effects on your beardies overall level of comfort, which is going to be a huge factor when it comes to your beradie not eating.  However, with that being said, these very same ‘stressors’, are actually able to help your beardie’s digestion process at the very same time.

When you have the right lighting, it is going to send several different signals to your beardie’s body, letting them know that it is the right time of day for them to eat.  If it is too dark or cold in their environment, it can have the opposite effect on them, meaning that they will eat less, or even worse, not eat at all.  What this means is that if you don’t have your beardie’s habitat set to the right temperature, they probably will stop eating.  

Another quick tip, you are going to want to be sure that you leave your beardie’s light on for a minimum of about two hours after they have finished eating their dinner (or whatever their last meal of the day is), as it is going to help them digest their meal much more efficiently.  When you feed them and then shut the light off right after, you are essentially going to be sending them some very conflicting signals, essentially leading to more stress and causing them to stop eating.

Having a change in your beardie’s lighting conditions is also going to be enough to trigger a change in their eating habits, meaning that they are going to essentially lose their appetite for the short term.  While this is going to be on the uncommon side, it is something that can happen, so just be aware whenever you are changing the lighting situation in their habitat.

They are Simply Getting Older

This is actually going to be one of the most common causes of your beardie not wanting to eat the food that you are feeding them.  For whatever reason, not many people consider getting older a reason for their bearded dragons to eat less, however, it is actually a very normal and natural change.  

When you have a young bearded dragon, they are going to grow much faster, as well as be full of much more energy and youth.  As a result of this, they are going to need to eat more in order to maintain all of the extra energy expenditure.

As they get older however, everything about them is going to start to change (just like how it does in humans).  Once your beardie hits adulthood, they are now going to be fully grown, meaning that they will not need to consume as much in order to maintain themselves.  This means that they are going to eat a significantly less amount of food than you are used to seeing them consume.

Impaction

If your beardie is not eating, there is a chance that they could be suffering from what is known as impaction.  Impaction is going to be something that many bearded dragon owners will be familiar with, but it is going to be something that can happen very easily.

In case you are unfamiliar with exactly what impaction is, it is going to be a buildup that happens in your beardie’s intestines or gut.  It is not going to be something that is able to be moved by any kind of regular digestive contractions, which means that your beardie is going to have a blockage somewhere in their digestive tract that they are unable to pass on their own.  

In some of the more serious cases, it is not only going to be very uncomfortable for your beardie, but it is also going to prevent them from being able to defecate.  When this does occur, it can prevent them from wanting to eat the food that they would normally eat on a regular basis.  On top of that, your beardie will more than likely start to take on the appearance of being fatigued with a drop in the amount of activity they partake in.  

If you notice that your bearded dragon is not eating and you have no idea why it is that they have stopped, the best thing that you can do is to make a visit to your local veterinarian.  They will be able to better diagnose your beardie, letting you know what the problem is and what the best way to go about correcting it is going to be.

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