Bearded dragons are quite picky eaters. Sometimes, they may refuse to eat for days or even weeks, which can be very worrying for their owners.
How long can bearded dragons go without food? In this post, we will answer this question and provide some tips on how to encourage your bearded dragon to eat more.
How Long Can Bearded Dragons Go Without Food?
The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the age, health, and activity level of your bearded dragon. Generally speaking, adult bearded dragons can survive longer without food than juveniles or babies.
Adult bearded dragons can go up to two months without food if they have enough fat reserves and water intake. However, this is not recommended as it can lead to serious health problems such as organ failure and muscle loss.
Juvenile bearded dragons (6-18 months old) can go up to a month without food, but they may suffer from stunted growth and developmental issues if they do so.
Baby bearded dragons (less than 6 months old) are the most vulnerable and should not go more than a few days without food. They need a lot of protein and calcium to grow properly and avoid metabolic bone disease.
Of course, these are only rough estimates and every bearded dragon is different. If your bearded dragon stops eating for more than a week, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Why Is Your Bearded Dragon Not Eating?
There are many possible reasons why your bearded dragon might stop eating. Some of them are harmless and temporary, while others may indicate a serious underlying problem that needs medical attention.
Here are some of the most common causes of appetite loss in bearded dragons:
Bearded dragons are sensitive animals that can get stressed by various factors such as changes in their environment, new tank mates, loud noises, household pets, etc. Stress can affect their appetite and digestion negatively.
Incorrect Lighting & Temperature
Bearded dragons need proper lighting and temperature to regulate their metabolism and digestion. They need a basking spot with a temperature of around 95-110°F (35-43°C) during the day and an ambient temperature of around 75-85°F (24-29°C) at night. They also need UVB light for at least 10-12 hours per day to synthesize vitamin D3 and absorb calcium.
As bearded dragons get older, their metabolism slows down and they need less food than when they were younger. They may also become more selective about what they eat and prefer certain foods over others.
Impaction is a condition where something blocks the digestive tract of your bearded dragon and prevents them from passing feces normally. This can cause pain, bloating, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Impaction can be caused by ingesting too much substrate, inappropriate foods, or foreign objects.
Brumation is a natural process where some reptiles enter a state of dormancy during winter or cold periods. During brumation, bearded dragons reduce their activity, body temperature, and appetite significantly. They may sleep for days or weeks at a time and only wake up occasionally to drink water or bask briefly.
Brumation usually occurs in adult beardies that are over one year old and have experienced seasonal changes in their environment. Not all dragons brumate though, and some may only brumate partially or not at all.
Shedding is another natural process where reptiles shed their old skin periodically to make room for new growth. Shedding can cause discomfort, itchiness, and irritation in some beardies, especially around their eyes and mouth. This can make them less interested in eating until they finish shedding completely. Shedding usually occurs more frequently in younger dragons than older ones as they grow faster.
Illness or Infection
Illness or infection can affect any part of your dragon’s body and cause various symptoms such as weight loss, depression, swelling, discharge, dehydration, etc.
Some of the most common diseases in bearded dragons are metabolic bone disease, hepatic lipidosis, hypovitaminosis, dysecdysis, stomatitis, mites, yellow fungus disease, and adenovirus infection. If you suspect your dragon is sick or infected, you should take them to a reptile vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
How To Encourage Your Bearded Dragon To Eat More?
If your bearded dragon is not eating due to a harmless or temporary reason such as stress, shedding, or brumation, you can try some of these tips to stimulate their appetite:
Check and adjust their lighting and temperature
Make sure their basking spot is warm enough and their UVB light is working properly. You can also try changing the light cycle to mimic the seasons and trigger their natural instincts.
Offer a variety of foods
Bearded dragons are omnivorous and need a balanced diet of insects, vegetables, fruits, and supplements. You can try offering different types of insects such as crickets, roaches, mealworms, waxworms, etc.
You can also try different types of greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, etc. You can also offer some fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, etc. as treats. Avoid feeding them foods that are high in oxalates or goitrogens such as spinach, beets, avocado, rhubarb, etc. as they can interfere with calcium absorption or thyroid function. You can also dust their food with calcium and vitamin supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Sometimes bearded dragons may prefer to eat from your hand rather than from a bowl or dish. You can try hand-feeding them gently and patiently using tweezers or your fingers. Be careful not to hurt them or yourself though.
Entice them with movement
Bearded dragons are attracted by movement and may be more interested in live prey than dead ones. You can try moving the insects around with tweezers or shaking the bowl gently to catch their attention. You can also try placing some insects outside their tank to make them chase after them.
Soak them in warm water
Soaking your bearded dragon in warm water for 10-15 minutes once a week can help hydrate them and stimulate their bowel movements. This can also help relieve impaction and shedding issues if they have any.
Bearded dragons can be prone to appetite loss due to various reasons such as stress, lighting, temperature, ageing, impaction, brumation, shedding, illness or infection.
If your bearded dragon stops eating for more than a week, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any serious health problems.
You can also try some of the tips we shared in this post to encourage your bearded dragon to eat more and provide them with a varied and nutritious diet.
We hope you found this post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.