If your beardie appears disoriented, lethargic, and underweight, you may be dealing with a malnourished bearded dragon. These reptiles are notoriously picky eaters, as is common knowledge. As their caretakers, it is our responsibility to ensure that our scaly companions receive the proper proportions of vitamins, minerals, calcium, fats, and protein if they appear to be deficient in nutrients.
What is malnourishment?
Malnutrition is a condition that develops when a person or animal does not consume enough of the minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients required for healthy organ function and tissue maintenance. Malnutrition can occur if your dragon is either undernourished or overnourished.
Bear in mind that bearded dragons go through several cycles each year in which they may appear ill or malnourished, but are actually perfectly healthy.
Before concluding that your bearded dragon is malnourished, please consider the following.
This naturally occurring hibernation cycle typically occurs in the fall or winter as a result of changes in natural light. During brumation, your dragon may become lethargic or lose its appetite.
Shedding – During shedding, your dragon’s color will become less vibrant, and their eyes may appear puffy. These symptoms are typical of a healthy shedding cycle.
As they grow, baby bearded dragons will shed their skin several times a year. However, adults may only shed their skin once or twice per year.
How to tell if your bearded dragon is malnourished
Below are the five most common indicators of nutritional imbalance:
- Thin tail – A healthy bearded dragon should have a robust, but not excessively large tail. A tail that is skeletal or thin is a common indicator of malnutrition in bearded dragons.
- Bearded dragons possess deflated fat pads on their heads. If your dragon’s fat pads appear deflated, it may be lacking essential nutrients in its diet. Many individuals are concerned about the amount of fat in their dragon’s diet. This is a significant concern because it can lead to fatty liver disease, but it is not as prevalent as most reptile keepers may believe.
- If your dragon appears more lethargic and less alert than usual, and you have ruled out hibernation, shedding, and issues with the light and/or temperature of their enclosure, malnutrition may be the cause.
- Calcium deficiency – Common symptoms of calcium deficiency in bearded dragons include poorly developed, easily broken “Gumby” bones, rickets in the tails of breeding females, and “bobblehead.” Please read The Importance of Calcium for Reptile Health to learn more about the significance of calcium in your pet reptile’s diet.
- Obesity – As stated previously, an excessive amount of fat in your reptile’s diet can become a problem. As with humans, the body does not function properly when it is carrying excess weight. If you have a massive, chubby dragon with visceral fat pockets on its abdomen or abnormally large fat reserves on its head, overfeeding could be the cause.
Top ways to correct malnutrition in bearded dragons
If your bearded dragon is showing signs of deterioration, you should contact a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals. Before recommending a new feeding regimen, your veterinarian will examine your dragon to rule out additional health issues, such as parasites. If you’ve observed that your dragon is underweight, you must adjust their diet and habitat to ensure they receive the nutrients they need to remain healthy.
Your veterinarian may recommend some or all of the following strategies to get your bearded dragon’s diet back on track:
- Adjust their lighting – Inadequate lighting is one of the primary causes of your bearded dragon’s loss of appetite.
- Provide your dragon with an abundance of nutrients – Providing your bearded dragon with a variety of nutritious foods is an excellent way to maintain nutritional balance. This is especially important if they are still growing and young.
What does a healthy diet for a bearded dragon look like?
Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, as well as fresh treats such as apples, carrots, mango, peaches, squash, and strawberries in moderation.
Such as superworms and dubia roaches, these are insects that feed on other insects.
Supplements – bioavailable calcium supplements are an excellent addition to your dragon’s diet.
Entice them with a delectable diet – Bearded dragons are renowned for being finicky eaters. As their caretakers, it is our responsibility to ensure that their diet contains the proper proportions of vitamins, minerals, calcium, fats, and protein. Read our blog post, Encouraging Picky Eaters with Dubia Roaches, to learn some excellent strategies for enticing your fussy bearded dragon to eat.
Increase the frequency of feedings – If your dragon is malnourished, you may wish to feed it more frequently than usual. Permit them to eat as much as they want for 10 minutes, two to five times per day.
Read more about bearded dragon’s diet: https://www.herpsupplies.com/bearded-dragon-sw/