When your pet is throwing up, it’s almost always going to be something that you should take a second look at. Even if it seems like they’re okay afterward, it’s worth it to figure out what could’ve caused them to do so.
If your bearded dragon is throwing up, it’s something you need to take a look at immediately, because beardies don’t normally throw up. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean something is seriously wrong with them, there are several reasons why they may throw up.
Some reasons are simple and won’t cause them long-term harm, and others are on the more serious side. In this post, we’ll be going over all of the most common things that can cause them to throw up and what you can do to help!
First, let’s get into what’s causing the bearded dragon to throw up, and what you can do to help?
Reasons for Bearded Dragon Throwing Up
Since bearded dragons are native to the deserts of Australia, you’d expect them to be able to stay hydrated for a pretty long time without needing to bathe. But, this is not quite the case, as beardies actually need water every day to stay healthy.
The people who do not think their beardies need baths usually have small water dishes or mist them regularly. Just like humans, dehydration will cause your beardie to throw up.
If you don’t do any of the things stated above, then your bearded dragon is most probably just dehydrated.
Give your beardie a bath 2-3 times a week for around 15-20 minutes to hydrate them again. Make sure the water is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch over your beardie as it bathes to prevent it from drowning or drinking too much water.
If your beardie doesn’t like baths, then you can just mist them instead. You can do so by spraying them with any spray bottle that has a mist setting. Always mist them outside the cage to make sure you don’t raise the humidity levels too much.
Usually, beardies don’t really drink that much water and get hydrated from baths or the moisture from the food they eat. You should have water in the cage for a couple of hours every day. But sometimes, they drink too much and end up throwing up afterward.
If they do drink too much water then you might see a transparent slimy vomit of mucus water regurgitated from the dragon’s stomach.
This is a pretty common issue if your bearded dragon rocks or tilts too much after drinking water.
Baths and dripping water on your bearded dragon’s nose will quench its thirst. It should be fine if you help your bearded dragon lie flat and warm up after vomiting water.
If you decorate your beardie’s cage with a bunch of loose substrates everywhere, they could potentially swallow the substrate and get impacted. They could also get impacted by, just eating insects that are too big for them. To know if the insects are too big for them, measure the distance between their eyes.
Bearded dragons are curious creatures who will lick and then drink anything they come across. Since they are curious, baby bearded dragons under 6 months of age are very likely to eat the substrate. That is why you should keep babies on paper towels.
If your beardie is constipated it will most likely have a full belly and struggle to move around. It might also have trouble pooping. Its stomach will look very round and circular. To help your beardie, massage its belly with your fingers or give it a warm bath.
Bearded dragons usually poop at least once a week. Some poop even more. It depends on the diet, but if they aren’t pooping once a week then something is probably wrong.
If massages and baths aren’t working, take the bearded dragon to the vet for an X-ray and maybe an operation. If left untreated, a bearded dragon might die. Read more on bearded dragon impaction.
High Coccidia Count:
Coccidia is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestine of bearded dragons.
The immune system should be able to keep the parasite under control, but some bearded dragons have high coccidia numbers which could make them sick.
Besides that, other parasites can help Coccidia thrive, increasing their numbers to the point where your bearded dragon can no longer restrict them on its own.
Coccidia parasites, or just any parasites, in fact, will drain the nutrients in all of your beardies’ food. This way, your dragon’s growth might stop and become sick.
If your beardie is tired, irritable, isn’t eating well, or seems to have lost weight, or is having diarrhea too often, it might be affected by parasites. If this is the case, you must take them to the vet immediately!
Parasites can be a very serious problem if left untreated, so do not take it lightly. Be sure to bag and refrigerate feces and/or vomit before going to the vet.
This will allow the veterinarian to run tests on the excretion to determine which parasites are present and which antibiotics can be administered.
Eating something wrong:
Whether it’s old rotting food or uncooked food, when we eat so wrong, our body gets rid of the bad things out of our bodies by making us vomit it out.
It’s the same for your bearded dragon. When a bearded dragon vomits, it could be because of a poor diet or it could be related to exposure to a poisonous plant while outdoors.
Many inexperienced bearded dragon owners think it’s okay to feed their bearded dragon mealworms. However, mealworms with hard outer shells can cause your beardie impaction. So if you think you might have fed your dragon a mealworm with a hard shell, then stop feeding it the insect and get rid of the ones that you already have.
If you suspect the bearded dragon has eaten a toxic plant, take them to the vet ASAP!
If you can’t go to the vet immediately, then give them activated charcoal and lots of water to help them digest and safely remove the toxins.
If you don’t have activated charcoal on hand when your bearded dragon eats something poisonous, you should still try to get them to consume some fresh cilantro.
Food can roast in a bearded dragon’s stomach if it is not heated because it will be thrown up as a way of expelling the rancid and rotting food.
I suggest keeping a bearded dragon’s cage temperature between 78 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day and 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Basking areas in your cage should be held between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit to help them regulate their body temperature.
It doesn’t take anything to hold the heat up in your bearded dragons’ cage, either—just a decent quality 100-watt light bulb would suffice.
If your bearded dragon is having digestive issues or having some trouble eating, it is likely that they are not getting the nutrients they need to sustain their weight and remain healthy.
So, if they won’t eat it, I suggest feeding them butternut squash or sweet potato with a spoon or a syringe.
Baby food is soft on the stomach of a bearded dragon and can provide a welcome change for a while if they are impacted or have digestive issues.
You can also feed them canned pumpkin, warm baby food applesauce, or organic applesauce with no added sugar.
All three of these items will also serve as mild laxatives, encouraging bowel movements if your beardie is impacted
Bearded dragons will get ill from overindulging just like we do when we overeat and have stomach aches or throw up!
In reality, I’ve seen this happen a number of times when bearded dragons are fed way too many crickets or phoenix worms.
If you’ve been spoiling your bearded dragon with a lot of insects recently, this may be the cause of their sickness.
Some bearded dragons, especially babies, have a tendency to eat more than they need to in one sitting.
Adult bearded dragons with a good weight have also established their eating habits by adulthood. Bearded dragon babies up to 4 months old need 2-3 meals a day.
Juveniles (4-7 months old) need two meals a day. Adults (18 months and older) require one meal a day and insects twice a week. Keep a salad bowl in the cage at all times so the dragon can get familiar with greens as well.
In general, you can feed your bearded dragon as many insects as it can consume in 10-15 minutes.
Reduce a feeding session to 10 minutes if you think the bearded dragon is overeating.
Based on the age and size of the crickets, your baby dragon will consume 50+ crickets a day if fed 2-3 times per day. If you feed it less and it doesn’t eat much but still seems full, it may be that the crickets aren’t digesting properly due to a lack of heat and light.
Only reduce the number of crickets if your baby or juvenile dragon is consuming too many – more than 110-120 small ones a day. The number of larger insects should be a lot less. However, this is just an approximation, and several variables will influence this figure.
If you feed big insects to your baby or juvenile dragon, it may vomit these crickets, super worms, or other worms. This will happen to adult dragons as well if they are fed too many worms at once.
Feeding super worms or mealworms to your baby or juvenile bearded dragon under 7 months old (or even better, 12 months) is not recommended. This is because they are oily, big, and have a high chitin content, making them difficult to get through the digestive tract and digest.
Adult bearded dragons require only 30-40 feeder insects each week. Phoenix and silkworms are both great staple worms.
If you’re feeding fatty goodies like super worms or waxworms, the amount should be reduced by half. An adult bearded dragon can consume 7-10 superworms per feeding (and nothing on top of that).
Although babies can eat 3-4 times a day and primarily insects, adult bearded dragons (18 months and up) only need to consume insects twice a week, and obesity is a major issue at this point. Adult bearded dragons do not consume more than 50 insects a week.
If your bearded dragon is vomiting and not eating, it may be due to a variety of factors.
As previously stated, this may be due to an impaction issue. A loss of appetite may also be caused by your bearded dragon recovering from illness.
Owners also find their beardies with a suppressed appetite for a few days after being sick.
Consider this, what is the LAST thing you want to do after being sick and vomiting? I’m willing to bet it’s eating a large amount of food.
I suggest first deciding whether or not your bearded dragon is affected, as this is most likely the problem.
If they aren’t impacted, I’d look at their cage temperatures and make sure they can eat their food and keep an appetite.
If your temperatures are normal, your bearded dragon is not ill, and they are STILL not eating and/or vomiting… I’d try to get them into a vet as soon as possible.
In this case, it’s possible that they’re ill and need to be medicated. If possible, bag up some of the vomit and waste to bring in for testing.
To keep them “fresh,” bag them separately and store them in the fridge. I know it’s gross, but it’s vital for the vet to run tests to figure out what’s going on.
Salmonella bacterial infection is transmittable by human and animal contact. This is why you should always thoroughly wash your hands after handling your bearded dragon, cleaning out their enclosure, or reaching into the cage for some simple regular cleaning or changing something inside.
Many bearded dragons with these bacteria in their gut are perfectly healthy. This is because tiny concentrations of these particular bacteria do not pose a significant danger to the reptile.
If you have a beardie with a weakened immune system, you must proceed cautiously because salmonellosis is a much greater possibility. Diarrhea, vomiting, and illnesses such as septicemia are all possible.
It is important to remember that bearded dragons are rarely affected by salmonella. However, it should not be ruled out entirely.
The cleanliness of a bearded dragon’s tank is critical. You must change the water in the tank at least once a day, or as soon as you notice it is filthy. As soon as you see any poop, remove them.
Per week, clean the glass, wash the food and water dishes with soap, and clean under the substrate. Using a bearded dragon-safe cleaning spray to vacuum the tank.
If you fail to clean the cage on a regular basis, your bearded dragon will become ill and grow internal parasites. This would have an effect on appetite, metabolism, and physical health.
Be sure to exercise proper hygiene as well—wash your hands after touching your dragon or its cage, and avoid eating or drinking near the tank. Do not wash your dragon’s accessories in the kitchen sink, and do not bathe your dragon with your personal towels.
Wrong temperature in the cage:
Setting up optimal temperatures for a bearded dragon is one of the most common mistakes that owners make.
The bearded dragon would not be able to eat food if the temperature in its vivarium is too low. This will result in stomach problems and large amounts of undigested food being thrown up.
Furthermore, you must ensure that the habitat has a temperature gradient, which ensures that there should be a hot and cold spot.
When your bearded dragon gets too hot, it may seek shade or seek refuge in a hideout (you should have at least 1 hideout per bearded dragon).
The temperature of the hot spots under the basking and UVB light should be between 92 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature on the cold side of the habitat should be 75-85 F, so your dragon can cool down.
The easiest way to track the temperature in the tank is to get two digital thermometers– one on the hot side and one on the cold side. You can also use an infrared gun thermometer to rapidly and easily monitor temperatures.
Wrong humidity levels in the cage:
Bearded dragons live in sandy deserts and rocky hills, so they need hot and dry conditions. Your bearded dragon will have breathing problems if the temperature in the tank becomes too high.
High humidity can also promote the growth of fungus, mold, and bacteria, as well as weaken your bearded dragon’s immune system. Make sure you have a hygrometer, such as this one, to take humidity readings inside the tank.
Attach it to the vivarium’s back wall. The ideal humidity level for a bearded dragon is between 30 and 40%. Anything over 50% is considered excessive.
If you’re having trouble reducing humidity levels, consider placing plants that decrease humidity levels indoors (in your house or tank), such as Boston Fern. To ensure sufficient ventilation, just use screen lids made of wire mesh.
Furthermore, instead of leaving the water dish in the tank during the day, you should start placing it only for a few hours a day. High temperatures in the basking area (95-110 F) can aid in drying out the habitat. If nothing else works to alleviate humidity, you should purchase a dehumidifier for your home
Now onto the more serious bearded dragon throw-ups and the plan of action you need to have in place
If they throw up blood:
First off, if you didn’t see them throw up and you see one big red chunk on your floor, then there’s a big possibility that the red chunk is poop instead of vomit. Bearded dragon owners sometimes confuse red or dark-colored stool with bloody vomit.
Knowing the difference between vomit and poop in terms of physical appearance is important. Unless you saw the bearded dragon vomit, the waste in the tank may very well be poop.
Bearded dragon vomit is usually scattered everywhere since they jerk their heads around a lot when throwing up. Poop, on the other hand, will come out in a tidy pile.
If you overfeed your bearded dragon, their livers can get fatty and enlarged which causes them to throw up quite often.
If your dragon is vomiting blood and seems exhausted and without appetite, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Your bearded dragon could also be vomiting because they have cancer, so make sure to get an x-ray done by a vet just in case.
If they throw up mucus:
Your bearded dragon might be throwing up mucus because you’re not changing their drinking water daily. If you are changing it then make sure the bowl is clean. If the bowl is clean and you change their water daily then your water source might be the culprit.
Is your county’s drinking water contaminated with fluoride and other chemicals? If this is the case, you might be unintentionally giving your bearded dragon toxic water!
To be on the safe side, move on to bottled or filtered water and replace their water with fresh water on a regular basis.
They could also have Upper respiratory infection. An Upper Respiratory Infection, or URI for short, is a bacterial infection in the lungs caused by excessive moisture.
Mucus usually flows from the noses and mouths of bearded dragons suffering from URI.
URIs are NOT to be taken lightly, and if left untreated, they can be fatal. As a result, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to get them safe as soon as possible before things escalate
As you can see, there are a ton of explanations why your bearded dragon might be vomiting. Although some are more extreme, such as a high Coccidia count, impaction, and cancer, others are relatively simple to correct, such as simply changing diet and keeping your beardie hydrated.
As is always the case, the trick to knowing your bearded dragon’s wellbeing is to put on your thinking cap and investigate. When it comes to narrowing down the cause of the puking, don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.