Egg Binding in Bearded Dragons: Causes, Signs & Treatment

Egg binding (Dystocia) in Bearded Dragons can be fairly common, most females will develop eggs even without the presence of a mate.

Egg binding occurs when the lizard is unable to lay her eggs whether infertile or not. This may be down to a variety of factors but the most common cause and the most preventable are diet and environment.

You can normally tell a gravid female by her additional size and appetite, her behavior will also change – she’ll more than likely want to come out of the vivarium more and want to explore trying to find a suitable site for her eggs.

You can also feel the eggs around her abdomen, they’ll feel like little bumps but be careful not to squeeze or apply any pressure. If you’re unsure then take her to the vets for an x-ray which will confirm this.

Healthy gravid Bearded Dragons will appear to have a swollen abdomen and when they are due to lay the eggs they will not be eating, however, they will still remain alert and active.

Contrary to this, if the dragon is egg bound then you’ll see them become inactive. If you’re unsure as to whether they are egg bound or not and have become inactive, depressed etc… then still take them to the vets as it could be another condition with the same symptoms, such as an infection, swelling of the kidneys etc…

The following section details the most common and also the most easily avoidable/ preventable causes of egg binding. Also, read more information here about Bearded Dragon Eggs.

Bearded Dragon laying eggs 1

Causes of Egg Binding in Bearded Dragons

  • Not providing an appropriate nesting site
  • Incorrect temperature, humidity, or UV.
  • Malnutrition, most commonly a lack of calcium.
  • Poor physical condition, such as a lack of exercise
  • Fat condition.
  • Eggs unable to pass through the passageway due to injuries or eggs are too large.
  • Illness.

Egg binding in a Bearded Dragon can also occur if it is either too young or too old to be bred or has been repetitively bred and may also happen if there is an obstruction or swelling that makes it impossible for her to pass her eggs.

Symptoms of an Egg Bound Bearded Dragon

The symptoms of egg binding in bearded dragons can be hard to spot, and there is no universal pattern that all females follow. To diagnose egg binding, we look for certain behaviors in the dragon, rather than just how long they have been pregnant. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Multiple attempts to lay eggs, with only some passing.
  • A history of laying a low number of eggs, which could indicate a problem.
  • An abnormally swollen belly. This can become so severe that it makes breathing difficult.
  • Initial signs of agitation or unease.
  • Lethargy or unresponsiveness.
  • Straining, as if trying to lay eggs, but without success.
  • In more advanced cases, prolapse of the cloaca or oviduct may occur.

It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and seek help from a veterinarian if you suspect your bearded dragon is egg bound. With proper care, this condition can usually be treated successfully.

Prevention of Egg Binding in Bearded Dragons


1. Provide Enough Space: To prevent egg binding, keep your beardie by herself in a tank of at least 4ft long x 2ft deep x 2ft high.

2. Provide Digging Site: For a good digging site create at least 6-8 inches of substrate that can be dug in and retain it’s shape, so don’t just use sand as your dragon will be exhausted from all the digging, instead use a sand/soil mix with some vermiculite and some water and this works perfectly (and it’s cheap to make).

Be careful to only create the damp soil in one end of the viv – normally around the heated end. Alternatively, a separate digging box can be made – I have tried this but mine seems to be happier creating burrows in their vivs.

Temperature and Humidity: Check that you have the correct basking spot and temperature range. Humidity may be a little bit higher because of the damp digging soil but it shouldn’t be abnormal. Ensure that you’re also giving the right amount of time for heat and lighting e.g. 12 hours on, 12 hours off.

Provide Calcium: Eggs need a lot of calcium so ensure to dust a few insects with calcium on every feed to ensure plenty of calcium, otherwise, calcium is taken from the bearded dragon’s bones and will weaken them. If there is a complete lack of calcium then the eggs won’t form properly and will then begin to stick together.

Physical Condition: Poor physical condition, such as a lack of exercise, will mean that she isn’t strong enough to push out the eggs or won’t be able to lay them all. Again, a good diet and setup will aid this as well as plenty of space. Also make sure your beardie isn’t underweight, obese, or dehydrated (none-white urate in their poo).

Further Treatment for Egg Binding

If you still suspect egg binding and you’ve ensured the above then try also giving them a warm bath to help hydrate them and stimulate the production of the eggs – baths also help if they’ve not had a poo in a while.

When they are ready to lay eggs, they will normally stop eating for a while – mine tries to lay her eggs as soon as she can so she can continue trying to eat everything! If your dragon hasn’t been eating for more than 48 hours and hasn’t laid her eggs, then take them to the vets to get check out as this is an early sign that she wants to lay eggs but is unable to.

Again, this shouldn’t arise if the above causes/symptoms were resolved. The vet then will recommend hormonal treatment using oxytocin or arginine vasotocin to stimulate contractions in the reproductive tract and the passing of eggs.

If all else fails then there surgically removing the eggs and the reproductive tract can be done, of course, this means that they will never be able to breed but will prevent the problem from occurring again.

If untreated, egg binding can result in peritonitis, decreased fertility, and in the worst cases, it will result in death. If caught early then normally the lizard will make a full recovery.

Preovulatory Follicular Stasis

Female bearded dragons are vulnerable to another reproductive condition called preovulatory follicular stasis. During vitellogenesis, the follicles grow and the yolk forms. If the conditions for the female are not favorable, the follicles may be reabsorbed.

However, preovulatory follicular stasis occurs when the ovarian follicles fail to mature into eggs, resulting in fragile egg yolks remaining in the abdomen. This can lead to serious infections, inflammation, illness, and even death.

There are several possible causes of preovulatory follicular stasis. One potential trigger is the absence of males, as this can lead to a lack of stimulation for ovulation. Another factor is inadequate exposure to UVB light. In addition, inadequate diets that do not provide enough calcium or result in early maturity can also contribute to the condition.

Overall, it is important to take steps to prevent preovulatory follicular stasis in female bearded dragons, such as ensuring proper lighting, diet, and socialization.


Egg binding (dystocia) and preovulatory stasis are common issues for captive bearded dragons, but are not found in their wild counterparts. It is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of these conditions, as they can cause significant discomfort and pain to your pet.

When a bearded dragon becomes egg bound, it is likely that it has been unwell for several days prior to the appearance of symptoms. Excessive handling should be avoided, as this can exacerbate the pain associated with these conditions.

The symptoms of bearded dragon egg binding and preovulatory follicular stasis can be similar, so it is important to seek professional veterinary advice for the correct treatment.

Prevention is key when it comes to these reproductive disorders. To help keep your bearded dragon healthy and avoid these issues, consider the following tips:

  1. Provide a stress-free and suitable housing environment for your pet. Enrichment can help to keep them happy and healthy.
  2. Ensure your bearded dragon receives adequate nutrition, without overdoing it. Both poor growth and accelerated growth can contribute to egg binding.
  3. Provide calcium supplementation when needed. Simplifying calcium can help to ensure your pet gets the right amount of this crucial nutrient.
  4. Keep your bearded dragon properly hydrated, as they need some fluids to stay healthy. Identifying dehydration and encouraging drinking can be challenging in hot and confined environments.
  5. Get the lighting and heating setup right, as this is crucial for your bearded dragon’s overall health and well-being.

By following these guidelines and staying alert for signs of egg binding or preovulatory stasis, you can help keep your bearded dragon healthy and happy.


  • Knotek, Z. (DVM, PhD, DECZM (Herpetology)), Cermakova, E. (DVM), and Oliveri, M. (DVM). 2017. Reproductive Medicine in Lizards. Veterinary Clinic Exotic Animals 20. Pages 411-438.
  • Lewis. W. Approaching lizard coeliotomy. Veterinary Times: 10, 18-22, 2010
  • Raiti, P. (DVM) (1995) Reproductive Problems of Reptiles. Proceedings Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. p101-105

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