Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Eating? 11 Causes, Solutions, and Tips

When our Bearded Dragons stop eating we immediately go to the worst-case scenarios, but there is no reason to panic straight away. 

Bearded Dragons can lose their appetite and stop eating for a variety of reasons and some of them are completely normal. But, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem your Bearded Dragon has stopped eating.

This is why I have put together this article, to help you understand the causes and offer solutions to your Bearded Dragons hunger strike.

11 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat

Improper Bearded Dragon Enclosure Size

Bearded Dragons can grow up to 24” in length, meaning they need a large enclosure to feel comfortable moving around.

When Bearded Dragons feel cramped, they’ll sometimes become lethargic and lose the motivation to eat their meals.

Below I have put together a table showing the size your Bearded Dragons enclosure needs to be when they’re at a certain size and age.

Bearded Dragon Enclosure Size Requirements
AgeLengthEnclosure Size
Baby Bearded Dragon3” – 11”40 – 55 gallon tank
Juvenile Bearded Dragon12” – 18”55 – 75 gallon tank
Adult Bearded Dragon18” – 24”+75 – 120 gallon tank

Solution: Ensure the enclosure size is appropriate to house your Bearded Dragon comfortably.

Fun Fact: Bearded Dragon morphs like the German Giant can reach up to 30” in length.

Incorrect Environment: Temperature, Lighting, Humidity

The environment your Bearded Dragon lives in is crucial to them being able to function and thrive daily. 

Unfortunately, Bearded Dragons cannot talk like us, so they’ll communicate when something is wrong in different ways like not eating, waving, and even turning black.

Temperature

Bearded Dragons are cold-blooded (ectotherm), meaning they need external heat sources to thermoregulate their body temperature.

If the enclosure they’re in is too hot or cold they’ll be unable to digest food resulting in them not being hungry.

The image below outlines the correct temperature gradient required for Bearded Dragons.

A template showing the different temperatures required for baby, juvenile and adult Bearded Dragons

There are a variety of basking bulbs you can use as heat sources. I recommend using either halogen, incandescent, mercury vapor, or ceramic bulbs.

Fun Fact: Any lightbulb that provides heat emits UVA rays.

Benefits of UVA

  • Provides heat
  • Stimulates appetite
  • Assists with sleeping
  • Assists with mating
  • Allows them to see clearly

Solution: Provide adequate UVA bulbs in your Bearded Dragons habitat. Use thermometers to monitor the temperature levels throughout the week to keep on top of the environment.

Lighting

Your Bearded Dragon needs 12-14 hours of UVB exposure daily to allow it to synthesize vitamin D3. Without any vitamin D3 in their system, they’re unable to absorb calcium from their meals. This can lead to metabolic bone disease.

So, if the enclosure they’re housed in has no UVB lighting, this will have a negative impact on your pet and cause them to stop eating.

You need to remember to change your UVB lighting every 6-12 months or as suggested on the manufacturer’s label to ensure optimal UVB output.

I recommend using fluorescent tube bulbs at a length of ¾ the length of your Bearded Dragons enclosure.

Layout of lighting placements and temperature levels of a bearded dragon enclosure

Fun Fact: 5.0 UVB bulbs are used for forest-dwelling reptiles and 10.0 UVB bulbs are used for desert-dwelling reptiles.

Benefits of UVB

  • Vitamin D3 synthesis
  • Encourages healthy growth development

Solution: Maintain regular checks of your UVB bulb to ensure the correct UVB output is supplied to your Bearded Dragon

Humidity

The optimum humidity level range for your Bearded Dragons enclosure is 30%-40%. This range best replicates their natural habitat.

If the humidity levels within the enclosure maintain levels of too high or too low, your Bearded Dragon will eventually become unwell, leading to a loss of appetite.

Consequences Of Too-high Humidity

  • Respiratory infections
  • Bacteria and fungi buildup
  • Septicemia

Consequences Of Too-low Humidity

  • Problems shedding
  • Femoral pore blockage
  • Constipation
  • Kidney failure
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Dehydration

You can monitor the humidity levels by using a digital hygrometer. I use a digital thermometer and hygrometer. This allows me to monitor the ambient temperature and humidity at the same time with ease.

Solution: Maintain constant humidity ranges of 30%-40%. You can accurately measure this with a hygrometer.

Your Bearded Dragon Just Arrived

Whether your Bearded Dragon is a baby or an adult, whenever they’re rehomed they can become anxious and lose their appetite. They’re sensitive reptiles.

It’ll take them a week or two to start trusting you, Bearded Dragons have a third eye and they use this to detect predators from above. So in the beginning they will see your hand as a threat even though you’re trying to feed them.

I recommend being patient and letting them become used to your scent. Try placing your hand in the enclosure a few times a day to allow them to feel safe with you.

Once they become comfortable and a bond begins to form they’ll start to climb and sometimes even cuddle into you. (Though they might be using you for body heat, it’s a nice sentiment).

Bearded Dragon Being held In Palm Of Hand
Pro Tip: Always approach your Bearded Dragon from the side to prevent them from thinking your hand is a predator.

Solution: Be patient with your new pet, they’ll feel safe with you soon enough and their appetite will return.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Stressed

As I’ve mentioned already, Bearded Dragons are sensitive reptiles. This can cause them to become stressed by a number of things. Some of them I’ve mentioned already.

What Stresses Bearded Dragons

  • Other Bearded Dragons
  • Their reflection
  • Other pets peering into their enclosure
  • Loud noises
  • People banging on the enclosure
  • Excessive handling
  • Changes to their habitat

Solutions

  • House Bearded Dragons separately
  • Use decor to cover reflection spots
  • Keep other pets away from the enclosure
  • Have the enclosure in a quite non-busy area of your home
  • Supervise young children at the enclosure
  • Handle for 15-20 minutes at a time
  • When making changes to their habitat, do it in small steps

Your Bearded Dragon Is Unwell

Unfortunately, like all living things Bearded Dragons can become unwell, and like humans when they’re sick they’ll lose their appetite.

Common sickness for Bearded Dragons

Symptoms of a sick Bearded Dragon

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Mites on the body
  • Mucus comes from the nose, mouth, eyes
  • Bloated belly
  • Weak when standing
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargic
  • Difficulty breathing

Solution: If you suspect your pet to be sick, contact a vet immediately for expert advice and guidance on the treatment they need.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Injured

Similar to your Bearded Dragon being sick, they’ll lose their appetite when injured. This could be because the pain is too much or the wound is impeding their ability to eat such as an injured jaw.

Bearded Dragons can become injured in several ways such as improper handling, falling off tank decoration, glass surfing, and fights with other Bearded Dragons.

If you notice your beardie is injured, contact your vet immediately for expert advice and guidance.

Solutions: Use appropriate reptile decorations within their enclosures to minimize the risk of accidents. Use proper handling techniques and never hold them at height. Never house more than one Bearded Dragon in the enclosure.

Transitioning To An Adult Bearded Dragon Diet

The diet you feed your Bearded Dragon will change as they get older because they have different dietary requirements as they age.

Baby Bearded Dragons need a diet high in proteins so eat more insects than vegetables. Adult Bearded Dragons don’t need as much protein so their diet is higher in vegetables.

Sometimes there can be an awkward stage when your beardie is transitioning to their adult diet but doesn’t want to causing them to go on a hunger strike in defiance.

Solution: The best way to combat a stubborn beardie is to be patient. You can offer different treats to them like coconut to try and entice them to eat their new meals. They’ll cave as there is no serious reason they’re not eating a part from the fact they don’t like change.

Safe Food Table
InsectsVegetableFruit
KingwormCabbageKiwi
EarthwormSweet PotatoFigs
CockroachesParsnipWatermelon
PhoenixwormAsparagusApple
ButterwormOkraMango

Your Bearded Dragon Is Preparing For Brumation

Brumation is the reptile version of hibernation. During this time in the wild, they’ll go into a deep sleep for the colder months as their metabolisms slow down.

Even though in captivity their environment doesn’t change some Bearded Dragons will still go into brumation.

Signs of brumation are reduced appetite, lethargy and lazy behavior, decreased body temperature, and darkening of the skin color.

If you suspect your Bearded Dragon is starting to brumate for the first time. I recommend contacting your vet for guidance on how to best support them.

Bearded Dragon Brumation tank setup checklist

  • Supply a dark hide area on the cool side of the tank
  • Lower ambient temperature to 60°F – 65°F
  • Decrease UVB lighting by 1-2 hours a day until the light is off completely
  • Monitor their weight. Healthy adult beardies range between 300-515 grams
  • Although they’re not eating much, still supply fresh food and water daily

Solution: Once you’ve identified the brumation process has begun, set up their enclosure to accommodate them by following the checklist above.

Once your beardie wakes up, they’ll expect their life to be the same as when they went to sleep. You’ll need to return to the normal schedules you had for cleaning, feeding, heating, and lighting.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Shedding

When Bearded Dragons shed it is usually an uncomfortable process causing them to lose their appetite. Luckily for us, this is an easy symptom to identify as they’ll have skin peeling off them.

I have put together a table showing the timeline of a Bearded Dragons shedding process.

Shedding Process
Age Of Bearded DragonShedding ScheduleShedding Length
0-6 monthsEvery weekTwo days
6-12 monthsEvery two weeksTwo days – Two weeks
12 monthsEvery two monthsUp to two weeks
18 months +Once or twice a yearUp to two weeks

How to help your Bearded Dragon through shedding

Remember to never pull shedding skin off your beardie. If the skin is still on them it means the skin underneath is not ready.

Solution: The best thing to do when your Bearded Dragon stops eating due to shedding is to be patient. And help them through the process as best as you can. If you suspect your beardie is suffering from a stuck shed, contact a vet immediately.

Your Bearded Dragon Is Bored

Being fed the same meals over and over again will get boring (Unless you’re a dog). So after a while, your beardie will not want to eat the food you’re offering.

Solution: The best thing to do is to offer a varied diet with colorful greens and the occasional sweet treat to keep them interested in their meals.

You’ve Changed Your Bearded Dragon’s Environment

Bearded Dragons like some humans don’t like change. When you add or remove decor in their habitat they sometimes become uneasy and lose their appetite.

I recommend if you want to make changes to their enclosure you do so in small steps. 

For example, add a new branch, wait a couple weeks then add your new hammock and continue the process until you’ve made all the changes you want to. 

This minimizes the impact on your beardie and lowers the risk of them not eating their meals.

Solution: Make small changes to the environment to minimize the impact on your Bearded Dragon.

Tips To Encourage Your Bearded Dragons Diet

Different Foods

As I’ve mentioned already in this article, use different foods to stimulate their taste buds and keep them interested in their meals. 

Feeding foods like coconut or plums has worked for me in the past.

Colorful Food

Bearded Dragons are attracted to colorful things, so offering food like red peppers, butternut squash, and pumpkin will keep them interested.

Feeding By Hand

When feeding your beardie by hand you choose what goes in their mouth. So with a bit of sleight of hand, you can switch out the insect they want to eat with a bit of vegetable so they can still get some nutritional benefit.

Never force-feed your pet. If they don’t take it into their mouth on their own be patient and try again later.

FAQs

How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating?

Bearded Dragons are desert-dwelling reptiles, and the food can sometimes be scarce in the wild. This means they can go for prolonged times without food.

The time can range from two weeks to a couple of months. This is because they’ll go into brumation during the colder seasons when food isn’t available.

Should I Contact My Vet If My Bearded Dragon Isn’t Eating?

Yes, you should contact your vet if your Bearded Dragon has stopped eating due to illness, or injury, or if any other abnormalities in their behavior occur.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pet’s welfare.

Summary

When your pet stops eating their food it’s an instant worry, I know, I’ve been there. This is why I have put together this article to break down the reasons for their appetite loss and provide solutions to your problems.

Let me know what you think in the comments and if there are any tips and tricks you’ve used with your Bearded Dragon.