Are you worried your bearded dragon is too skinny?
Are you concerned about the health of your reptile?
Do you want to know how to get your pet up to a healthy 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 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 bearded dragon if it’s too skinny.
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 have a baby bearded dragon you’re trying to “fatten” up, 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 a bearded dragon, the more it should weigh.
With the flexibility in size and weight ranges, it is hard to determine if your bearded dragon is too skinny.
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, they are too skinny.
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
|Months Old||Inches Long||Weight (grams)|
|1||3 – 4″||4 – 6|
|2||5 – 9″||8 – 40|
|3||8 – 11″||22 – 110|
|4||9 – 12″||41 – 115|
|5||11 – 16″||102 – 115|
|6||11 – 18″||183 – 188|
|7||13 – 18″||230 – 280|
|8||14 – 20″||252 – 327|
|9 – 10||16 – 22″||280 – 360|
|11 – 12||16 – 24″||350 – 465|
|12+||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 your bearded dragon is 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 bearded dragon’s hips are visible beneath its skin, this is a sign it’s dangerously malnourished or could have 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 more with food high in fat 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 suddenly loses a lot of weight, take your pet to the vet.
The only exception 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 loses a lot of 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 beardy’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 your bearded dragon 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 Give Your Bearded Dragon
Giving your bearded dragons food higher in fat and nutritious can help them gain weight.
Normally, you may feed your dragon once a day or every couple of days.
If you’re worried about weight, feed them as much as they’ll eat for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day.
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 weight gaining live food 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).
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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We hope you enjoyed learning what to feed your bearded dragon to gain weight.
If you’re worried about your skinny bearded dragon, take it to a reptile vet or give some of these feeding ideas a go.
If you recently got your baby dragon from a large chain pet store, they may not have properly taken care of it, but with these tips, your lizard will recover.
What’s important is you’re doing the right thing as a young bearded dragon owner.