Bearded Dragon Fat Pads – Its Role and Importance

If you have a beardie, you must have heard the term “fat pad.” But what exactly is a fat pad in bearded dragons? Let’s find out in this post.

What Are Bearded Dragon Fat Pads?

Fat pads are the flabby body parts where bearded dragons store excess fats.

The fat pads can be found on several parts of the dragon’s body but are more noticeable behind a bearded dragon’s eye sockets, the abdomen, and at the base of their tails.

The pads serve as fat reserves for when the dragon will need them, most commonly during hibernation.

Vets can also use fat pads to diagnose health issues in beardies.

Functions of Bearded Dragon Fat Pads

The fat pads of a bearded dragon resemble the camel’s hump in many ways. When there is an excess of food and water available, they will store them in their pads. This stored fat is used when they cannot find food or water.

These fat pads come in handy, especially during brumation. Bearded dragons stop eating and drinking during the brumation period, which usually lasts a few weeks.

fat-pads-of-a-healthy-bearded-dragon

A healthy bearded dragon will typically have moderate-sized fat pads. When lizards lose the fat between their eyes or at the base of their tail, it is usually a sign of an underweight bearded dragon. An obese dragon will have bulging pieces of fat pads.

What Should Bearded Dragon’s Fat Pads Look Like?

The fat pads of a healthy bearded dragon should be slightly plump and squishy and should never be sunken into its skull. These should be visible but not excessively bulging.

An underweight dragon will have what appear to be tiny craters behind the eyes in the place of these essential fat pads.

The fat pads of an overweight beardie will be round, squishy, and stick out slightly from behind the eyes. They will also have large squishy fat pads on the belly, on the base of their tail, and even behind their limbs.

Dr. Thomas H Boyer of the Pet Hospital of Penasquitos explains that consistent overfeeding without any brumation can also lead to the formation of such large fat pads.

Note: Never press against or poke the fat pads since they are extremely sensitive, and putting pressure on them will also put pressure on your lizard’s eyes.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Have Sunken Fat Pads?

Sunken fat pads are typically a sign of a malnutritionment in bearded dragons. If the fat pads on the dragon’s head appear flat or sunken, it’s most likely underweight.

The fat pads of a healthy dragon should have a moderate amount of fat that will make its head look curved. But you know the dragon is too thin when you see sunken fat pads. Sunken fat pads will also make your dragon’s eyes look sunken.

The sunken eyes could also mean that the bearded dragon is dehydrated and not getting enough water.

How can I increase my bearded dragon’s fat pads?

bearded-dragon-fat-pads

As previously said, sunken or flat fat pads on your bearded dragon is a sign that it is underweight.

The first step is to investigate the possible causes of why your beardie is underweight. It could be a problem with diet, diseases, or a wrong setup.

Read our detailed post on How to Help Make a Bearded Dragon Gain Weight

Introduce proper diet

Poor diet is probably the main reason why your bearded dragon has no fat pads and is underweight.

A diet packed in protein and fat will naturally fatten your beardie. Some excellent sources of protein that will help your beardie gain weight are waxworms, spiders, earthworms, moths, mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers.

Bearded dragons need a balanced diet of animal and plant matter. So along with protein-rich food, feed your beardie some leafy greens and a little fruit.

Provide a suitable living habitat

Make sure you properly set up your beardie’s enclosure. The enclosure should be spacious enough that your beardie can run around and exercise.  

Lighting and heating are probably the most important things to look for when creating a home for your beardie. They need heat to digest food. Without proper heating and lighting, they will develop a disease named MBD.

Bearded Dragons require a gradient of heat within their enclosure ranging from 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit in the basking area to 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit on the cooler side.

Don’t House Beardies Together

Bearded dragons are territorial creatures and may lead to all sorts of problems when housed together. They will fight for resources, and some of them may exhibit stunted growth/ sunken fat pads due to bullying from others.

Constantly bullied dragons will be malnourished and unable to digest food correctly due to a lack of basking space.

Treat any Health Issues

The reason why your bearded dragon is skinny and has sunken fat pads could be due to parasites. If you notice that your pet has suddenly lost a lot of weight and is lethargic. In that case, it could be suffering from parasitic infection. Take it to your vet immediately to perform a fecal inspection and administer treatment. After successfully treating the disease, your beardie should develop normal fat pads in a matter of a few weeks.

Rehydrate your Bearded Dragon

A dehydrated dragon typically has difficulty feeding, resulting in a weak body with sunken or flat fat pads. Besides being skinny, your beardie will also have wrinkled skin, thick saliva, decreased elasticity in the skin, and sunken eyes.

To hydrate a dragon, give it plenty of veggies and fruits and give it a bath. To help speed the process, you can also spray its nose with water 4 to 5 times per week.

Frequently Asked Question

How do I know if my bearded dragon is malnourished?

A clear sign of a malnourished bearded dragon is sunken fat pads and thin tails. If your dragon’s fat pads on its head look flat, it might not be getting enough of some essential nutrients. Also, a healthy bearded should have a strong (but not overly huge) tail. A tail that is boney or thin is an indication that it is undernourished.

How can you tell if your bearded dragon is overweight?

A healthy bearded dragon will weigh from 250 to 700 grams. Fat dragons will typically weigh around 800 grams. If it weighs more than 900 grams, it is overweight, and you should be worried.

What weight is too skinny for a bearded dragon?

A healthy dragon should weigh somewhere between 250 and 700 grams. Anything below or way above is not a healthy weight for beardies and should be given close attention.

I am the editor-in-chief at MyPetReptiles.com, a site that is devoted to reptiles and the people who love them. I have been keeping and breeding many pet reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons, etc. for over 10 years now.

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