Are you worried your bearded dragon is too skinny?
Are you concerned about the health of your reptile?
Do you want to make your bearded dragon gain weight?
As a responsible pet owner, you want what’s best for your reptile, and we’d love to help you!
In this article, we’ll help you answer the question, ” What can I feed my bearded dragon to gain weight? “
To help your bearded dragon gain healthy weight, use a feeder insect high in fat and nutrients 2 – 3 times daily. But first, check there are no underlying health issues before changing your beardy’s diet.
Read on for more details on when and what to feed your underweight bearded dragon.
Table of Contents
When Is Your Bearded Dragon Too Skinny
It’s difficult to say what exactly a bearded dragon “should” weigh.
A lot of it depends on age, sex, and length.
In general, an adult bearded dragon should be between 18″ – 22″ inches in length and 10 – 18 ounces in weight.
A juvenile bearded dragon is supposed to be lighter than an adult dragon.
If you’re trying to “fatten” up baby bearded dragons, you’re not going to be successful.
In these young reptiles, the calories are converted more to length than weight.
A female bearded dragon is in a similar size range to male bearded dragons, but they tend to be smaller, especially in the head for this species.
The longer adult bearded dragons are, the more they should weigh.
With the flexibility in size and weight ranges, it is hard to determine if you have a malnourished bearded dragon.
A good rule of thumb is to look at the reptile’s hips and the base of their tail.
If the bones of their hips are visible, it is a sign of an underweight bearded dragon.
This is also the case if the base of the tail has an indent where it meets the body rather than a continuous line.
Note: Don’t use the reptile’s ribs as an indicator of a healthy bearded dragon.
They are almost always visible, even in a healthy bearded dragon.
Bearded Dragon Growth Chart
|3 – 4″
|4 – 6
|5 – 9″
|8 – 40
|8 – 11″
|22 – 110
|9 – 12″
|41 – 115
|11 – 16″
|102 – 115
|11 – 18″
|183 – 188
|13 – 18″
|230 – 280
|14 – 20″
|252 – 327
|9 – 10
|16 – 22″
|280 – 360
|11 – 12
|16 – 24″
|350 – 465
|16 – 24″
|380 – 510
We also have another post dedicated to bearded dragon weight charts if you would like additional information.
When To Take Your Bearded Dragon To The Vet
How do you know if there’s an underlying health issue with your bearded dragon?
When should you take your beardy to the vet?
The simplest and safest answer is: take your pet to the vet whenever you’re concerned.
However, if you’re looking for guidance, there are a few behaviors to look for, indicating a trip to the vet is needed.
Excessive hiding – If adult bearded dragons are hiding for extremely long periods, it’s a sign of possible health problems.
They may be hiding to rest and heal their bodies.
Try not to confuse the behavior with bearded dragon brumation.
There are some typical reasons for bearded dragons hiding (check out our article on hiding bearded dragons), but if you’re concerned or it’s a new behavior, take it to the vet.
No feces – The frequency bearded dragons defecate varies depending on the individual reptile and its diet.
In the wild, dragons can go a long time between defecations due to the scarcer food and a more balanced protein-greens diet.
In captivity, bearded dragons tend to go more frequently, sometimes up to once a day.
Hips are visible – Like dogs and cats, when your beardie’s hips are visible beneath its skin, it is a sign of a dangerously malnourished bearded dragon or one with a metabolic bone disease.
Unless you just forgot to feed your pet for weeks on end (shame on you if you did), this is a strong indicator of parasites or other digestive issues.
When you see the hips, it’s time for a trip to the vet.
No weight gain with more food – If you have been feeding your bearded dragon a lot of fatty foods and it still isn’t gaining weight over time, you may also want to take him to the vet.
Sudden weight loss – If your beardy is typically at a healthy weight and it is suddenly losing weight, take your pet to the vet.
The only exception for your bearded dragon’s weight loss is if your reptile’s diet changed.
If this is the case, give the new diet some time to level out.
If the diet is the same and it is losing weight, it’s a sign something could be wrong.
An extreme behavior change – As you get to know your bearded dragon, you’ll find it has a unique personality.
The wildly different characters of these reptiles are one of the many reasons they make such great pets.
However, if you notice your beardie’s personality has changed and its behavior isn’t the same as it once was all of a sudden, a trip to the vet may be in order.
Other reasons not related to stomach problems – There are many reasons and indicators for your bearded dragon’s weight loss that may need to get checked out.
While these alone may not be enough to warrant a trip to the vet, use these in combination with your instincts to determine if you want to bring your pet in.
Here are a few things you may want to look for:
- Eyes appear cloudy or filmy
- Swollen limbs or tail
- Mouth hanging open
- Inside of mouth is black or discolored
- Discolored stomach
- Disfigured tail or limbs
- Shaky behavior
- Damaged snout
- Sunken eyes
High-Fat Foods To Fatten Up A Bearded Dragon
While it’s essential to provide a balanced and nutritious diet for your beardie, incorporating some high-fat foods and fatty insects can help increase calorie intake and fatten up a bearded dragon.
However, it’s crucial to offer these foods in moderation and as part of a well-rounded diet.
To make your insect prey more nutritious, feed the insect a vegetable and plant matter like:
- Leafy Greens
Crickets are a bearded dragon’s diet staple, but they aren’t packed with fats like other insects are.
Here are some fatty insects to go with:
- Super Worms
- Wax Worms
- Phoenix Worm
- Dubia Roach
Roaches have lower fat content than meal worms and other worms, but they add variety to your captive bearded dragon’s diet.
Feed your pet bearded dragon some frozen pinky or hopper mice (make sure you thaw it first), or mashed sweet potatoes.
These are high in calories and fats for quick weight gain.
Be careful you don’t feed them too much of this.
It can throw off their diet and make their bowels obstructed if you’re not careful.
Warning! While we are focusing on the bearded dragon diet, don’t feed it anything longer in length than the distance between your pet’s eyes.
These are too hard for your lizard to digest.
Learn more in our post on can bearded dragons eat mice if you’re interested in incorporating more mice into your pet diets.
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Nutrient-Rich Foods to Fatten Up a Bearded Dragon
We really hope you found the information about what to feed your skinny bearded dragon to gain healthy weight useful. If you’re concerned about your skinny bearded dragon’s health, don’t hesitate to take it to a reptile vet for some expert advice.
You could try some of the feeding ideas we’ve shared with you today.
If you’ve recently bought your baby dragon from a big chain pet store, they might not have taken care of it as well as you’d like. But don’t worry, with these tips, your little lizard will bounce back in no time!
Just remember, you’re doing a great job as a young bearded dragon owner, keep up the good work!