Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Eating

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Not Eating
Vet Explains When To Be Worried & What Are The Risks

bearded dragon not eating

Junuary 11, 2023

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Generally, bearded dragons are regarded as enthusiastic eaters; they never say no to food and are always excited about it, especially the young ones. So a bearded dragon that is not eating can be a reason for concern for its owner. 

Bearded dragon not eating food can be due to several reasons, some of which are natural and cause no actual harm to your pet, while others can be due to any change in the environment, diet, or within your pet’s body. 
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM

If your dragon has lost the joy of gobbling up insects or has refused to eat greens, veggies, or salads, there might be nothing to be worried about. We will explain why your bearded dragon may be refusing food and what you can do to help your pet in this situation.

In this article, we will provide detailed information about appetite loss in bearded dragons and how to deal with it to keep your pet happy and healthy. 

My Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating –
When Should You Be Worried?

Bearded dragons are sturdy animals coming from a tough desert environment where food is hard to come by. In the wild, they can go for several days without eating.

Generally, a fully grown bearded dragon that has an adequate fat reserve can go from 4 to 8 weeks without food, although it sounds like a very long time.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM

However, baby bearded dragons and juveniles need frequent meals and don’t have fat reserves in the body that can sustain them for long periods of time. They can survive for a few days without eating, but the time can vary from individual to individual.

Vet’s Tip

However, you should not take any chance if your bearded dragon has stopped eating and it’s been more than 3 days. Immediately consult a veterinarian before it’s too late for your pet.

Risks of not eating for long durations include malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, weakness, reduced immunity, and even death at later stages. 

Why Would A Bearded Dragon Stop Eating?
Most Common Causes

bearded dragon stops eating
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There are many reasons a bearded dragon may have stopped eating or lost its appetite. Broadly we can divide these into three major categories:

1. Natural

2. Environmental and Managemental 

3. Medical conditions

1. Natural


Just like hibernating bears, bearded dragons also go into a state of inactivity during the winter months when the temperature plummets and days shorten. They do this to save energy, and this is known as brumation.

It is an instinct that enables them to survive in the wild. Due to low temperatures in winter, they cannot maintain proper body temperature, so they become slow. This makes them an easy target for predators, and also, they can’t hunt or forage for food while their bodies have slowed down. To protect themselves from starving and becoming prey to other animals, they go into brumation in underground borrows. Bearded dragons will not lose any weight when they are in brumation. 

Vet’s Tip

If your dragon is in brumation, decrease the temperature of its enclosure to 72-75℉, retain a warm basking area, and reduce lighting duration to 8 to 10 hours per day.

Bearded dragons stop eating during this phase and survive on stored energy reserves in the body. They do drink water during brumation so keep a constant water supply in their enclosure. You can offer food once a week but depending on their mood, they may or may not eat it.

Beardies can brumate from 3 to 4 months. 5 to 7 days after ending their brumation, they start eating regularly.

Skin shedding

Like many reptiles, bearded dragons also shed their skin as their size increases in a process known as ecdysis. You may see patches of flaky white skin on their bodies which they rub against objects to remove the shedding skin. An adult bearded dragon sheds his skin twice every year, and during this time, it may eat less. This happens because beardies put all their focus on removing the old dead skin off their bodies, which may take up to 2 weeks. Until then, they will either eat less or completely stop eating. However, appetite loss from skin shedding is not common in babies and juvenile bearded dragons. 

2. Environmental and Managemental 

These occur due to lack of care and poor management. Making sure your bearded dragon is properly cared for will help you prevent problems with eating.

Poor UV lighting in the enclosure

uv lighting for bearded dragon

Getting enough light is very important for bearded dragons because their bodies synthesize vitamin D when exposed to light. In captivity, special UVB bulbs are used to provide light to your bearded dragon.

Bearded dragons require 10.0 UVB bulbs for appropriate lighting. Lack of this light in the enclosure over time can lead to bone disorders, with MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) being the most common one.

Poor lighting and such disorders can make your bearded dragon go off feed. If you’re worried your beardie is not getting enough UVB light, check out this highly popular Fluker’s Repta-Clamp Lamp you can combine with this Repti Zoo light bulb ) to create optimal UV lighting for your pet.

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Inappropriate tank size

Appropriate space availability is of prime importance for bearded dragons. If they are kept in tanks that offer little space, they can become stressed and may reduce or stop eating their food. For a bearded dragon less than 16 inches in length, a 40-gallon enclosure is ideal, while dragons above 16 inches need a 50-gallon tank for adequate space.

If your bearded dragon has a tank that is too small, you might want to upgrade to a 50-gallon tank from Repti Zoo:

REPTI ZOO 50 Gallon Reptile Glass Terrarium
REPTI ZOO 50 Gallon Tempered Glass Reptile Terrarium Tank

Or even better; give your beardie some more space to keep them happy and comfortable by getting a bigger tank such as this one:
REPTI ZOO 67-Gallon Upgrade Glass Reptile Terrarium

The best part is that you can have these tanks shipped to your doorstep.

Low temperature in the enclosure

bearded dragon not eating much

Bearded dragons need an external heat source for their metabolism to properly work because they can’t generate their body heat. Low enclosure temperatures slow down the metabolism of a bearded dragon, slowing digestion. So make sure you are providing your pet the ideal temperature near its basking area (95-105℉), and the temperature should not fall below 75℉ when its night time. Put a thermometer in the tank and keep an eye on any temperature fluctuations. You can ensure adequate UVB and temperature with this handy combination lamp from Zoo Med.

Make sure you also have a good-quality thermometer to monitor the temperature in the tank.

Feeding before basking time

Bearded dragons cannot digest their food until their bodies are completely warmed up. You should offer food only after 2 hours since the lights have turned on. 

Poor or wrong diet

A bearded will stop eating if you are offering a poor diet or if the food you feed is something that beardies don’t eat. Bearded dragons avoid eating dead insects because they don’t tempt them and are less nutritious, so make sure your feeders are alive. An unbalanced diet with an inferior ratio of insects and greens can also make your dragon sick.

Josh’s Frogs has high-quality live hornworms , waxworms, dubia roaches, and crickets.

Multiple male dragons in the same enclosure

2 bearded dragons

Males are very territorial, and they will not accept any other male in their tank. They will fight fiercely with each other and can cause injury. The dominant male will not allow the inferior male to eat, so it is better to house them separately. 

3. Medical conditions

Bearded dragons become anorexic when they are sick. Consult a veterinarian if your bearded dragon is suffering from any of the following conditions.

Consult a veterinarian if your bearded dragon is suffering from any of the following conditions.
– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM

Infection or disease

Bearded dragons can stop feeding when suffering from any disease or infection. If your bearded dragon shows no interest in food while living in an ideal environment, there is a high probability of an infection occurring in its body, and it’s best to take it to a veterinarian.


There are many reasons for constipation in bearded dragons, and a constipated bearded dragon will never eat. Long periods of constipation and not eating food can result in weight loss and weakness. 


Pain from an injury can make a bearded dragon anorexic. Most injuries occur on their soft underbelly due to sharp objects in the enclosure or from fighting another dragon. So closely exam the body for an injury if your bearded dragon has stopped eating. 


Although rare, they can be a cause of lost appetite in bearded dragons. You may not be able to diagnose this condition by yourself, so if your pet is suffering from anorexia, take it to a medical professional for an early and correct diagnosis. 

Bearded Dragons Not Eating –
How To Get My Bearded Dragon To Eat

You try following things to make your bearded dragon eat.

Try to maintain the ideal temperature of the enclosure and the basking area (95-105℉)

● Give ample basking time to your bearded dragon before feeding

● Provide suitable UV light and change the UV bulb after every 6 months

● Provide your dragon with adequate living space

● Don’t put multiple dragons in a single enclosure

● Provide a balanced diet according to the age of your bearded dragon

● Remove any sharp objects from the enclosure to avoid discomfort and injury 

● Look for signs of disease and consult a vet for treatment

Summing Up – Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Eat

Bearded dragons are becoming very popular among pet lovers but keep in mind that they are wild animals. They have special requirements that you must fulfill to maintain their health.

A sudden change in their environment or diet can upset them, and this disturbance and stress will make them refuse food. The best advice would be to seek veterinary assistance if your dragon is not eating, along with maintaining an ideal hygienic environment and providing a healthy diet to your pet.

Vet’s Comment

If your bearded dragon is not eating its food, there may be no reason for concern. Not eating food due to natural reasons like brumation and skin shedding is totally safe for bearded dragons and not a cause of worry for owners.

If your bearded dragon is not eating and the cause is not natural, you should be concerned. You can try to change the setting of its enclosure and adjust the temperature and lighting to encourage your pet to eat.

If it still resists eating, consult a veterinarian, preferably an exotic pet veterinarian, because some causes of anorexia in bearded dragons can only be treated by proper medications. 

– Dr. Abdul Basit Javed, DVM

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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