Yellow fungus is the most common fungal disease found in captive reptiles including bearded dragons. It causes a yellow to yellow-brown skin color – hence the name.
The existence of a Yellow Fungus remedy is a highly debated topic on the internet. Some bearded dragon owners believe there is no treatment for Yellow Fungus or Yellow Skin Disease, while others think that if found early and properly handled, the yellow fungus can be cured.
With that said, the safest way to make sure that your bearded dragon lives a long and happy life is to be aware of the symptoms of Yellow Fungus ahead of time, allowing for early detection.
What is Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons?
Yellow Fungus, also known as Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV), is a violent fungus infection that affects the superficial and deep tissue levels and, in extreme cases, can even invade the internal organs of reptiles.
When a bearded dragon is infected with Yellow Fungus, its scales become discolored and can fall off, exposing highly vulnerable ulcerated tissues. The exposed tissues are often bloated, inflamed, and excruciatingly painful.
How Do Bearded Dragons Get Yellow Fungus?
Several weeks, if not months, will pass between the time of contraction and the first noticeable symptom of Yellow Fungus… So, pinpointing the exact cause of the infection can be difficult at times.
This is especially challenging in the case of a new pet or a well-cared-for dragon. Here are some of the ways a bearded dragon can get the yellow fungus infection.
Cause #1: Poor Living Conditions
The environment of your beardie is the most important thing to them. In the wild, they have access to unlimited resources but in captivity it’s your responsibility to fulfill all their needs.
Bearded dragons need a suitable enclosure with lots of light and heat and proper ventilation.
Their exposure to UVB light is essential because it impacts their immune system and digestion. So, keeping track of how much UVB light they are exposed to is critical to their health.
Keeping your beardie too warm all the time can cause serious issues and dehydrate them, just as keeping it too cold can weaken their immune system and lead to respiratory infections.
A poorly maintained habitat can make bearded dragons vulnerable to fungal infections. Especially if you don’t clean their tank regularly and they have pieces of food or excrement lying around in their tank.
Setting up a weekly clean and bath for your beardie is the perfect way to fend off bugs and problems that come with unclean conditions.
Cause #2: Exposure
If bearded dragons are exposed to the fungus, they will become infected for sure.
Bearded dragons can get fungul infection if it interacts with other infected dragons.
They can also get infected if treated by someone who owns or has recently been around an infected beardie.
If you unintentionally treated an infected dragon and then handled your beardie, you might have accidentally passed on the pathogen.
If you’ve recently removed tank accessories from a contaminated beardie’s tank and put them in yours, the pathogen can be transmitted that way as well.
If you think your little buddy was exposed to the infected dragon, the doctor, the pet shop, or some other source, you can try to disinfect everything as quickly as possible. To avoid any contamination, anything they’ve been around should be washed and sanitized.
How to Prevent Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons?
There are some precautions you can take to protect your bearded dragon from developing Yellow Fungus! Check out the tips below on some preventative steps you should take to better protect your beardie from Yellow Fungus.
1. Practice Good Husbandry
As previously said, it is a smart idea to get into the routine of washing and disinfecting your bearded dragon’s entire habitat daily with a sanitizer.
Remove all accessories and properly wash and disinfect them, as well as replace/disinfect the substrate and spray down and clean the walls.
In addition, make sure your dragon is getting enough UVB and that the temperatures in their tank are correct on both the cold and warm sides.
2. Keep Your Dragon Clean
Some will argue that bathing a bearded dragon is useless, whilst others will argue that daily bathing keeps them safe and hydrated. You must decide where you stand in this argument by yourself.
If you ever plan to bathe your bearded dragon, do so no more than once a week (unless they’re shedding) and use warm water with very soft baby soap.
Be sure the water does not reach their shoulders, and be ready to supervise at all times. Baths can be no more than 20 minutes.
3. Separate Your Bearded Dragons
Since Yellow Fungus is almost impossible to detect during contraction, you can still keep your bearded dragons separated.
Aside from the danger of disease transmission, there are several other explanations why bearded dragons should not be housed together, even though they are from the same clutch.
The only situation in which you would be able to responsibly house your bearded dragons together is if you have two equally sized female bearded dragons.
A male dragon should never be housed with another dragon. Males will compete with one another and pester females about mating all the time. It’s just not healthy, and the consequences can be fatal.
Many owners believe that whether their bearded dragons became friends as babies or came from the same clutch, they would like and enjoy each other’s company as adults. This is far from the truth.
Bearded dragons are solitary creatures – they like to remain alone.
And putting babies in the same room increases the chance of injury because babies often bite each other and leave behind bruises, which might turn into Yellow Fungus.
4. Disinfect Everything
Some owners have claimed that after adding new items to their bearded dragons’ environments, such as hammocks or rocks, their bearded dragons got sick or developed Yellow Fungus.
As a result, it is necessary to spend the extra time washing and disinfecting every new accessory until putting it in the habitat.
Unfortunately, certain stores are simply careless… Luckily for us, swift disinfection is all that is needed to save our bearded dragons from such irresponsibility.
Signs and Symptoms of Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons
So, you want to be prepared and know the warning signs of Yellow Fungus, or are you afraid that your beardie might already be infected?
In either case, review the symptoms and signs mentioned below to get a sense of what should be taken seriously.
If you find any of these symptoms, you can take your dragon to a reptile veterinarian right away. When it comes to Yellow Fungus, the faster you catch it, the higher your chances of curing it.
One of the most common symptoms of yellow fungus in bearded dragons is an infection in their toes, feet, or the tip of their tail.
If left untreated, brown or yellow lesions may appear on the skin and spread over time. Abnormal shedding behavior, crusty patches, and thick spots on their scales are also telltale signs of this illness.
Unfortunately, if yellow fungus goes untreated, it can escalate quickly. Open sores or wounds may develop, along with a loss of appetite, lethargy, and changed behavior.
Weight loss is also a common symptom. If you notice that your bearded dragon is refusing to eat and appears lethargic, this could indicate that they have moved past the initial stages of yellow fungus and are now in the advanced stages.
1. Discolored Scales
The yellow fungus will appear on your dragon’s exterior at some stage, making their scales yellow, but often a brownish or greyish color as well. Typically, the discoloration would first appear in a small region and then disperse. Additionally, the scales can get crusty and dark over time.
2. Irregular Shedding
If your bearded dragon is shedding and leaves behind dull-looking brownish or greyish scales that are rough, this may be cause for concern.
Also, if your bearded dragon appears to be shedding all the time but hasn’t had a new growth spurt, this may be linked to a Yellow Fungus infection.
3. Random Troubling Wounds
Is there a random cut on your dragon’s body that is covered by discolored and dull-looking scales?
What is the extent of the wound’s damage? Is it bloated and/or leaking fluid? If your pet has a wound like this, they are most likely suffering from Yellow Fungus.
4. Restlessness and Strange Behavior
They can show signs of laziness or even restlessness. They could be jumping around their tank, struggling to find a suitable position, or they could be lying in one spot for an extended amount of time. If they want to travel or not, long periods of restlessness or lethargy are normally a strong indication that they are uneasy.
This irritation can manifest as aggression or a loss of appetite. If this continues, you should get advice from your veterinarian.
How to Treat Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons
If you think your bearded dragon has Yellow Fungus (or any fungus for that matter…), you must act quickly!
Taking them to the vet should be your first priority and you can learn more on what to expect below.
If you can’t get them to the vet right away, try the at-home treatments mentioned below in the meantime!
Take Them to a Reptile Vet ASAP
To find out whether or not your dragon is sick with Yellow Fungus, take them to a reptile vet as soon as possible.
Once you’re there, the vet would most likely take a portion of the infected region of their scales and do testing to determine if it is Yellow Fungus or another fungus.
If the scans show that the bearded dragon has Yellow Fungi, the vet will most likely administer Voriconizole or another antifungal agent in an attempt to destroy the fungus.
However, since the high amount of yeast in Voriconazole will affect the bearded dragon’s kidneys over time, you should be prepared to give them vitamins and plenty of water to keep their organs healthy
Home Remedies for Yellow Fungus in Bearded Dragons
Don’t have the resources to go to the vet right away, so you can’t get an appointment right away?
As you wait to see the vet, try the remedies mentioned below to keep your bearded dragon’s Yellow Fungus under control.
Betadine will not fight the fungus, but it will keep your dragon clean and will help eradicate the shedding fungus.
Remember that repeated bathing will help the fungus spread even more, so try to bathe your dragon just every few days for 5 to 10 minutes.
Often, make sure to thoroughly dry your dragon with a clean towel after – soak, as residual moisture can aid in the spread of the fungus.
To calculate the ratios, add 3/4 cup of betadine to a gallon of water.
Every day, you should apply a topical antifungal cream to your bearded dragon’s affected scales on dry skin.
Some say that betadine baths and Lamisil alone have cured their dragon of Yellow Fungus, although others claim that the same therapy has had little effect on Yellow Fungus.
Every dragon is different, and the effectiveness of Lamisil can vary from one to the next. Also, the success of Lamisil in treating the Yellow Fungus is affected by how early it’s detected.
Unpasteurized Raw Honey
Although it might sound strange, raw unpasteurized honey is great for helping in the healing of wounds, especially those caused by fungal infections in which the skin simply sloughs off.
If you’re having trouble holding the honey on your reptile, try spreading it and then covering it in gauze for a few hours to let the honey sink in.
Is it safe to use an Antifungal Cream for My Bearded Dragon?
Yes, many bearded dragon owners have had good experiences with Antifungal creams on their bearded dragons. Simply add it to the affected area twice daily, just make sure the dragon is fully dry first, so if they have had a soak, kindly towel dry them.
Is Yellow Fungus Contagious to Humans?
Since Yellow Fungus is mainly a reptile pathogen, it poses little to no risk to humans. Even though the pathogen is not zoonotic (able to transmit from animals to humans) in nature, there have been a few confirmed cases of humans with severely weakened immune systems contracting it.
So, it is recommended that you take responsible hygienic steps to protect yourself. As a result, please wash your hands after treating your bearded dragon, clean and wash all objects with which they come into contact outside of their vivarium, wash your clothing in hot water if your dragon has handled them, and so on.
Is yellow fungus painful for bearded dragons?
Yellow fungus, also known as Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV), can be very painful and harmful to bearded dragons. This fungal infection can cause a range of symptoms, including lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, discolored or raised scales, and open sores or lesions. If left untreated, yellow fungus can lead to systemic infections and death.
If you respond fast and decisively, Yellow Fungus does not have to be life-threatening.
Just maintaining proper preventative treatment and being aware of the early signs and symptoms can be the difference between life and death for your bearded dragon.