Are you a new bearded dragon owner?
Is your baby bearded dragon not eating?
Are you wondering if something is seriously wrong with your baby reptile?
These are all common questions people have when they first get a baby beardy.
Relax, it’s the sign of a good owner to be worried about your pet so much.
So you may wonder, ” Why is my baby bearded dragon not eating? “
A baby bearded dragon may not be eating because:
- It’s in brumation
- About to shed
- Getting older
- Low on UVB and heat
- Eating new food
Knowing which reason and how to address it is an important part of taking care of your beardy which we cover in this article.
8 Reasons Why Your Baby Bearded Dragon Isn’t Eating
In this section, we go over eight possible reasons your baby bearded dragon may not be eating, how to tell which one is affecting your pet, and what to do about it.
Brumation is like a reptile’s form of hibernation.
In hibernation, an animal stores up food and energy for colder temperatures and sleeps most (or the entire) time.
In brumation, a reptile responds to lower temperatures which often come in rainy seasons or winter by slowing down and storing energy.
They don’t strictly sleep , but they do go through a similar period where they don’t eat or drink for a longer length of time.
With baby bearded dragons, you’ll know if this is the case when they hide consistently and don’t touch their food.
They also don’t move much during this time.
However, be sure to continue to keep a water dish in the enclosure and notice if they drink or not.
If they do, they’re probably brumating.
If not, your bearded dragon may be sick, so a trip to the vet may be in order.
Baby dragons grow a lot in their first year of life.
As their bodies get larger, the skin is too small and sheds more often.
An adult may shed only once or twice a year while a younger beardy may shed every few weeks.
Shedding is a whole-body process for the reptile.
During this time, movement, water intake, and appetite decrease.
If you notice your bearded dragon showing signs of shedding, this may be the reason it’s not eating.
As bearded dragons get older, they need to eat less.
Depending on the age of your reptile, you may be trying to feed too much.
Younger dragons need more protein or live insects more frequently to thrive.
Older dragons can get away with being fed more veggies and greens in their diet at a lower frequency.
Use this chart for an easy reference on feeding suggestions and age to see if this is what’s happening with your baby bearded dragon.
|<2-3 mo||70% Insect 30% Veg||30-80 daily insects||3-5 feedings per day|
|3-8 mo||70% Insect 30% Veg||30-80 daily insects||2 feedings per day|
|8-12 mo||70% Insect 30% Veg||30-80 daily insects||1 feeding per day|
|12+ mo||30% Insects 70% Veg||50 weekly insects||rotating meals*|
Rotating meals* – 1-day vegetable, 1-day insects, 1 day nothing, and repeat.
Note: Any feeder insect including the dubia roach should be smaller than the distance between the bearded dragon’s eyes to prevent injury from eating.
Many new owners struggle with the bearded dragon’s diet when it comes to the worms to use as food.
Crickets are a staple for this exotic pet but here are a few other options:
- Phoenix Worms
- Meal Worms
- Horn Worms
#4 Low UVB Light
Because bearded dragons come from a typically sunny environment, getting nutrition from the sun’s rays is a crucial part of their health.
If you don’t have a basking lamp to emit these rays, you’re denying your baby beardie the nutrition it needs.
This can make it feel sluggish and unwell, which causes a lowered appetite.
Make sure you’re using an actual basking lamp such as this one by Zoo Med on Amazon.
- Perfect for naturalistic terrarium hoods
- Easy to install
- 50 Watt basking lamp
If you think it’s not working, then you need to replace your light with a new one.
#5 Low Temperature
Similar to low UVB, an adult bearded dragon is used to higher temperatures in their enclosure.
They convert this heat into energy.
When the enclosure isn’t hot enough, your beardy will be low on energy and not eat as much.
If you accidentally let the temp get too low, you will artificially force the bearded dragon into brumation.
Make sure you have an excellent thermometer suited for reptile enclosures to get an accurate reading of the basking spot, overall temp, and the cooling spot.
The basking temperature should be from 100° – 110° degrees Fahrenheit (38° – 43° C) for babies and 105° degrees Fahrenheit (40° C) for adults.
For the rest, it should be the same for adults and babies.
The overall temperature of the enclosure should be around 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).
The cool spot or hiding spot is between 70° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 29° C).
At night you should switch off your lamp, but check to make sure it ends up in the 65° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 21° C) range for temperature.
Pro-tip: Another good hint the temperature in the basking spot may be too low is when your bearded dragon’s feces still have undigested insects in them.
Bearded dragons (especially in captivity) tend to get impacted or constipated.
No creature wants to eat when nothing’s coming out.
There’s no space inside the stomach, which is smaller than you’d think.
You’ll know if this is the problem because your bearded dragon won’t be defecating.
Keep in mind, baby (0-3 months) bearded dragons go around once a day (or more!).
A juvenile bearded dragon will go around every other day.
If you notice this number isn’t matching with what your pet is doing, help them by gently massaging their bellies, bathing them, or using laxatives.
If none of these work, you may want to take your reptile to the vet.
Bearded dragons can get stressed, and baby beardies are even more likely to do so.
Stress is natural because, as a young bearded dragon, they are much more likely to be targeted as prey.
Their instincts kick in when they feel the least bit threatened.
There are many reasons your baby bearded dragon may be stressed out, some of which include:
- Rapid changes in light
- Other reptiles in the enclosure (don’t do this!)
- Loud sounds
- New additions to the environment
- New people handling them
When a baby bearded dragon is stressed, it won’t eat.
You’ll know if this is the cause of your beardy’s low appetite because it hides all the time and it’s jumpy and twitchy.
Check out our article for 7 tactics on calming a bearded dragon for more details.
But if you don’t have the time, follow these three guidelines:
- Remove the threat/overstimulation.
- Provide a safe place for your bearded dragon.
- Get them used to your scent again.
#8 Change In Diet
If you’ve ever had a pet and changed its diet, you’ll know there’s always a period where the animal doesn’t eat a lot.
Animals, including bearded dragons, are creatures of habit.
They don’t always like it when things change.
If you’ve switched their diet up or even changed to a different brand of live food, they may notice the difference and refuse to eat as much or at all.
Think back to when your baby beardy started not eating.
Did you recently change anything about their diet?
If you did, then it’s possible this is why they aren’t eating and your pet bearded dragons might be a picky eater.
If you’ve already switched over to the new food, just give a couple of days to see if they get used to the new food and start eating more.
In the future, keep some of the old food (if possible) and mix it with the new menu.
This mix usually makes it a smoother transition into the new diet.
When Should We Go To The Reptile Vet?
There are other reasons your lizard may not be eating, including parasites, injury, and other illnesses.
There are a few criteria you may want to watch for.
If you see these, consider taking a trip to the vet:
- Changes in stool like runny or black color
- Visible injury
- Extreme aggressive or hiding behavior you’re unable to calm
- Mucus, discoloration, or swelling of the mouth or head
If you’ve already tried fixing everything else on the list above and your baby still won’t eat, take it to the vet as well.
How Long Can A Baby Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating?
Adult bearded dragons can go weeks or months without eating if they’re in brumation, but you do still need to feed them.
Juvenile and baby bearded dragons need to eat more often (see the chart in the section above).
Technically, they can go weeks without eating, but this is only in the direst of circumstances.
I recommend with babies (0-3 months) taking your beardy to the vet after 3 days of not eating and juveniles (3-12 months) after 1 week of not eating.
However, you should check with your beardy’s vet and go by what they recommend.
They may have access to specific information which can’t be generalized.
Warning! Even if the beardy is eating less, it needs to be getting some water.
If it’s never touching its water, take it to the vet.
We hope you found this article on why your baby bearded dragon isn’t eating helpful.
It’s nothing to be alarmed about if you address other possible needs.
If you have addressed all these concerns, then you may need to take your baby beardy to the vet.
Simply by reading this article, you’re taking the right steps to be a great bearded dragon owner and friend.
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