Is your Bearded dragon healthy?
The health of pet Bearded dragons is often neglected by their owners. To make things even worse, Bearded dragons are known to hide their diseases very well. It is often difficult to detect early signs of disease, especially to the untrained eye.
The same goes for when selecting a new Bearded dragon from a pet shop or breeder. Being extremely hardy animals, Bearded dragons can act as if nothing is wrong, until it is, very often, too late do do something about it.
During the day, a healthy Bearded dragon should mostly be bright, alert and willing to eat. Healthy Bearded dragons do not hide away for long periods of time and should spend most of the day actively basking and be on the lookout for their next meal.
Physically, a healthy Bearded dragon should have a well fleshed body without any visible wrinkles on the skin. They should also have no discharges from the eyes, nose or mouth.
The poop of a healthy Bearded dragon should consist of two parts and should be semi-solid. The darker part of the poop should be firm and free from excessive slime, blood and should not contain large amounts of undigested food.
Husbandry and health
Bearded dragons are certainly one of the hardier lizard species in the pet trade today. They are, however, very dependent on the correct husbandry and housing to thrive as pets. Because basic husbandry is sometimes neglected, Bearded dragons are regularly faced with metabolic associated diseases or problems. According to my experience, the most common husbandry related problems are Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) and eating problems.
Visible signs of health problems
These are the most frequent problems seen by keepers in sick Bearded dragons:
- Partial or complete anorexia (lack of appetite)
- Weight loss & poor body condition
- Diarrhoea (abnormally formed or runny poop and/or cloacal soiling)
- Lumps, bumps, sores & abrasions on the skin
- Dehydration (wrinkled skin & sunken eyes)
- Paralysis or lameness of the limbs or tail
- Sudden or regular abnormal (jerky) movements of head & extremities
- Mucous secretions from the eyes, mouth or nose
- Lethargy or dullness (lying flat, unaware of its surroundings)
- Fast breathing
If any of these signs are seen, reptile friendly veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.
Routine health inspections
As with all pets, it is recommended to have Bearded dragons routinely evaluated by a reptile friendly veterinarian. Important times include: at the time of purchase, after the quarantine period and then at least every six months after that. During the vet visit, a poop sample will most likely be required. A a fresh/wet sample can be grabbed with and sealed in an airtight sealable bag.