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Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon is Lethargic 

Bearded dragons make great pets for people looking into getting their first reptile. These gregarious, friendly lizards bond well with their owners and are easy to take care of. If you’re used to owning more communicative animals like cats or dogs, you may be unsure of how to diagnose different attitudes and behaviors of your beardie. This article takes a look at 9 reasons why your bearded dragon is acting lethargic.

Keep reading to learn how to address and fix these problems so that your beardie is happy and healthy!

9 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Lethargic

1. There are not enough UV rays

Bearded dragon enjoying heat lamp
A bearded dragon enjoying heat lamp | image by Dennis Harper via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Bearded dragons are reptiles native to desert climates. In those harsh climes, the rays of the sun beat down on flora and fauna alike.

Beardies need about 12 hours of UV light exposure per day. Without it, their ability to create vitamins, process metabolites, and interact with their environment suffers greatly.

If your bearded dragon is acting lethargic, double check the quality of its basking light. If it’s not bright or strong enough, replace it with a new one. Ensure that it is no more than 1 foot away from the surface that your beardie will bask on.

2. It is constipated

Beardies have a tendency to eat until they are stuffed. Constipation may be a cause of your bearded dragon’s listlessness! In this case, there are a few things you can do to assist the digestive process, so don’t rush to the vet just yet.

Ensure that your beardie is getting sufficient heat and light. Mist your beardie regularly so that it gets enough water. Water will help it pass the intestinal blockage.

Baths in warm water are also a great idea. You can massage the lizard’s belly to help move the digestive process along. If the constipation continues, take your bearded dragon to the vet.

3. It’s eaten substrate that it can’t digest

Bearded dragon eating insect
Bearded dragon eating insect

Remove any toxic or inorganic substrate from its enclosure. Many types of substrate are advertised as being non-toxic to reptiles, but few actually undergo laboratory testing.

Make sure you don’t feed your bearded dragon insects that are too large. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the insects’ bodies are smaller than the distance between your pet’s eyes.

Insects’ exoskeletons are made of chitin, a protein that isn’t digestible by their lizard predators. If the skeleton is too big, it can create an intestinal blockage that can hurt or even kill your beardie.

4. It is too cold

It is difficult for a bearded dragon to get enough energy to move when its environment is cold. Since they don’t generate heat on their own, they make do with what’s around them.

A bearded dragon in a cold environment saves as much energy as it can for the bare minimum of functions. The enclosure’s temperature should change according to the type of area and time of day.

  • The basking area should be between 95 and 110 F in the daytime.
  • Non-basking areas should be about 80 F.
  • At night, the basking light goes off and the whole enclosure cools to about 65 or 70 degrees F.
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5. It doesn’t have enough enrichment opportunities

Central bearded dragon
Central bearded dragon | Image by HIROMASA HADACHI from Pixabay

A bearded dragon is a simple creature, but it still desires to hunt, nest, and burrow. If you aren’t providing your beardie with these basic ways to interact with its environment, it may grow bored or stunted.

Make sure you have a shelter that the beardie can hide in, as well as some rough sticks or branches. If you feel comfortable, allowing the lizard outside the cage on a regular basis can help it learn to explore the world around itself.

6. It’s preparing for brumation

Brumation is a type of life stage common in reptiles from Australia and other regions of the world. Like hibernation in mammals, brumation refers to a period of time where the animal’s metabolism slows down, it sleeps, and hides in burrow, cave, or nest.

It’s done to save energy. Since bearded dragons are reptiles, they rely on the outside air temperature to regulate their internal body temperature. When it’s very cold outside, they don’t have enough energy to function, so they brumate. A beardie preparing for brumation will refuse to eat food you offer it and make large burrows under enrichment toys or substrate.

In the wild, a bearded lizard bromates once every year during Australia’s winter. It’s difficult to predict when a domesticated bearded lizard will brumate because little is known about the effects of domestication on the brumation cycle. Just keep an eye on your beardie and you’ll be able to notice any strange behaviors.

7. It doesn’t have the right nutrition

Bearded dragons with food on plate
Bearded dragons with food on plate

Without the right vitamins and minerals, a bearded dragon can grow lethargic and weak. Not providing sufficient protein is a very common mistake new bearded dragon owners make.

Protein can be found in crickets, cockroaches, and worms. Ensure you don’t feed too many, since bearded dragons can grow fat on such rich foods.

Vegetables are another important source of nutrients for bearded dragons. Some greens you can feed your beardie daily are:

  • dandelion leaves
  • butternut squash
  • alfalfa
  • turnip greens
  • prickly pear

Some options you can feed them a few times a week are:

  • watercress
  • pumpkin
  • kale
  • carrots
  • green beans

When you feed vegetables and insects, it’s a good idea to feed them together or right after one another. Many of the vitamins in vegetables need to be eaten with animal fats so they can be properly absorbed. Combining food sources will improve your beardie’s nutrient absorption and give him some much-needed enrichment in his life!

8. It may be infested with parasites

Parasites are a problem for bearded dragons because many eat live prey that are host to worms and other parasitic invertebrates. Lethargy is a major sign of parasitic infection.

You may also be able to tell that the beardie has a parasite based on looking at its stool and examining its digestive function. If it is consistently vomiting, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the veterinarian.

9. Your bearded dragon may be dehydrated

Bearded dragon drinks on the ground
Bearded dragon drinks on the ground

Even though beardies are desert animals, they still need water. They are native to the shrublands, steppes, and inland deserts of the continent of Australia. In many of these locations, it rains rarely or all at once in a monsoon-like event.

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Make the environment of your beardie’s enclosure similar to the natural Australian environment with regular misting, baths, and exposure to water.

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About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.