Why Isn’t My Bearded Dragon Eating? (& How Dangerous Is It?)

When a pet stops eating, it can be highly distressing. When you dangle food in front of your Bearded Dragon and they show little interest, alarm bells start ringing.

This has caused many exasperated owners to ask why isn’t my bearded dragon eating?

There are a few reasons why your Bearded Dragon might have stopped eating. First, it might be brumating, during this time their activity levels drop and appetite drop. Another possibility is that they are shedding. They might also not eat if they are stressed or injured. In most cases, you should monitor the lizard. I will cover more reasons below.

As you can see there are a few potential reasons why your Bearded Dragon might not be eating. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas, and how you can overcome them.

why isn't my bearded dragon eating? brumation could be one reason
Bearded dragon, Pogona close up, shallow dof.Bearded dragons go through a type of hibernation called brumation. File ID 127879205 | © Balazs Lengyel | Dreamstime.com

(By the way, if you’re wondering how long bearded dragons can go without food, check my article here.)

Brumation Causing Appetite Loss

One of the most common reasons why a Bearded Dragon stops eating is because they are brumating. This process is very similar to hibernation.

The desert can be a harsh, unforgiving environment. Because of this, lizards developed the ability to brumate. During the colder, winter months, Bearded Dragons will go into their hide and reduce their activity.

Because they will be moving around less, they will need to consume less food.

Though this is associated with wild lizards, domestic pets might also brumate. This is more common in older Bearded Dragons, often over 10 months.

There are a few signs that your pet might be going through the brumation process. First, they might be reluctant to leave the hide and have low energy. This is most common during the colder months of the year.

If you suspect that they are going through brumation, continue to provide food. But don’t be alarmed if they don’t eat much of it. Make sure that they have plenty of water. Typically, this process will last for around three months. At the end of this time, they will emerge and return to their previous activity levels.

However, you should continue to monitor them closely. If they start to lose weight rapidly, make sure to take them to see a vet.

shedding bearded dragon
ID 43550153 © Smileitsmccheeze | Dreamstime.com

Not Eating While Shedding

Another common reason why a Bearded Dragon might be reluctant to eat is that they are shedding. This can be a very unpleasant experience.

There are several reasons why this might be occurring. However, it’s often because they are going through a growth period. For this reason, this will get less frequent as Bearded Dragon ages. For babies, which grow rapidly, they can shed once a week. Adults will only need to shed once or twice each year.

There are a few signs that the Bearded Dragon might be shedding. First, you might notice that they are scratching or trying to rub themselves on the side of the tank. This is their way of trying to remove dead skin. They might also be lethargic or have bulging eyes.

There are a few simple things during this time. First, you should make sure to keep your lizard hydrated. This can be achieved by spraying them with water. This will make it easier for them to remove their skin. You should also avoid peeling of the dead skin yourself. Though you might think that you’re helping, the skin contains nerves. So, removing it will be very painful for the lizard.

After they’ve finished shedding, you should notice that they’re energy and appetite returns to normal levels. Often, this process will take 3-4 days.

If none of the other issues are the case, it’s spring, and your bearded dragon still appears to be healthy and full of energy, this may be the cause of the issue.

Lighting

The environment you place the Bearded Dragon can have a big impact on their diet. For this reason, you should make sure that the tank has been set-up properly. This will mean giving them plenty of space to exercise and including a UV light.

If you don’t do this properly, they might become stressed. This can cause them to reduce their appetite.

It’s important that your bearded dragon get enough UVA (in addition to UVB). UVA will help stimulate his appetite. Adding a metal reflector behind your fluorescent UV bulb can help increase the amount of UVA your bearded dragon is getting.

You should also make sure your lights are on for at least 14 hours per day, and leave 2 hours of light before the first feeding and after the last feeding.

Stress And Bearded Dragons

You should also make sure that you avoid housing multiple Bearded Dragons together. They often prefer to be alone, so getting multiple Bearded Dragons to share the same tank can cause problems.

In extreme cases, they might fight, with one killing the other. However, it’s common for the results to be less dramatic.

Bearded Dragons tend to follow a hierarchal system. Weaker Bearded Dragons might have their access to food limited.

As an example, it’s possible that some males might masquerade as females to avoid getting attacked. If this is the case, they can become too scared to eat. Slowly, they will starve to death.

In order to avoid this grim circumstance, you should make sure that you give each pet plenty of space. The only possible exception might be putting a male and a female together. If doing this, you should monitor them closely, making sure that they are both getting access to food.

Common Injuries In Bearded Dragons

Finally, it’s possible that your Bearded Dragon might not be eating because they are injured. There are a few common injuries to look for.

First, you might find that there are constipated. Like humans, when they eat too much food, a Bearded Dragon’s internal passages can get blocked up. In this case, they won’t want to eat anything else, or the problem will get worse.

Some common signs that this might have occurred are intense pain. You might also spot blood in their poo.

If you think they are constipated, you can try giving them some laxatives. You might also want to try massaging their stomach. If this doesn’t work, take them to the vet.

Another common issue is brittle bones. If the Bearded Dragon doesn’t get enough calcium, they might not be able to build strong bones, causing them to break easily. As you can imagine, a broken bone is very painful, suppressing their appetite.

If you notice swelling around the bones, or pain when walking, make sure to take them to the vet. When handling them be very gentle so you don’t accidentally aggravate the injury.

Bearded Dragons might have issues with infection and parasites. This can make them feel sick and reduce their appetite. The symptoms will vary, depending on the type of infection they have. For example, a mouth infection can cause head swelling or gum bleeds. If you notice this, take them to the vet.

Finally, none of these circumstances might be able to explain why your Bearded Dragon lost their appetite. If the issue has been continuing for a few days, you might want to consider taking them to see the vet. Remember, it’s better to be overly cautious then ignore a potentially serious issue.

Picky Eating

Bearded dragons can sometimes get bored with their food, and they may stop eating something that they previously liked.

If your bearded dragon has stopped eating, try switching up what you’re feeding him and see if he is willing to eat something else. (Silkworms might be a good choice, for instance.)

Mating Season

If it is spring, Bearded Dragons can begin acting a bit wild.

During this time, they may eat less or not eat at all, due to hormonal changes and the drive to mate.

Why Isn’t My Bearded Dragon Eating?

As we’ve seen, there are a few potential reasons why a Bearded Dragon might suddenly lose their appetite. Some of the most common reasons include;

  • Brumation, where the lizard goes into hibernation to conserve energy.
  • Shedding skin, which can be very painful, suppressing the appetite.
  • Stress, which can be caused by two Bearded Dragons living together. In this case, one might not feel safe eating.
  • Injury, there are multiple potential ailments. In most cases, it’s best to get them checked out by the vet.