If you’re a proud beardie parent like me, you’ve probably asked yourself, “How do I know if my bearded dragon is healthy?”
Well, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we’ll explore 15 signs your bearded dragon is healthy so you can have peace of mind and enjoy your scaly friend to the fullest.
Sign 1: Alert and Active Behavior
A healthy bearded dragon should be alert and active, displaying a lively demeanor. They should be responsive to their environment, whether it’s exploring their habitat or reacting to your presence.
A lethargic or unresponsive beardie might be a cause for concern, so monitoring their activity levels is important.
You might notice your bearded dragon standing up on their hind legs from time to time, which can be a sign of curiosity or a way to regulate its body temperature.
Check out our post on why bearded dragons stand up for more information about this behavior!
Sign 2: Bright and Clear Eyes
Healthy bearded dragons have bright, clear eyes that are free from discharge or cloudiness. Their eyes should be open and alert, indicating they know their surroundings.
If you’re wondering, “What color is a healthy bearded dragon?” their eye color will vary depending on the individual, but it should be consistent and not change suddenly.
Any signs of eye irritation, like redness, swelling, or discharge, could indicate an underlying issue. Eye problems in bearded dragons can result from various causes, such as infections, injuries, or even poor husbandry.
Sign 3: Healthy Skin and Shedding
A healthy bearded dragon’s skin should be smooth, free of discoloration or blemishes, and devoid of flaky or crusty patches.
Regular shedding is a natural process for beardies, and it’s a sign that they are growing and developing as they should.
As your bearded dragon grows, they will shed its skin in pieces rather than all at once, like some other reptiles. It’s essential to ensure they have proper humidity levels in their habitat to aid in the shedding process.
A healthy, well-hydrated beardie will have an easier time shedding their skin.
Sign 4: A Well-Formed Beard
One of the most distinctive features of bearded dragons is their beard, which is a set of spiky scales beneath their chin. A healthy beard should be well-formed, with no missing or damaged scales.
It should also be free of discoloration, swelling, or any signs of irritation.
Bearded dragons often puff out their beard to communicate emotions or assert dominance. This behavior is completely normal and a sign of a healthy, expressive beardie.
However, if your bearded dragon’s beard is always puffed out or appears inflamed, it could indicate stress or an underlying health issue.
Sign 5: Strong, Steady Limbs
A healthy bearded dragon should have strong, steady limbs that can support its body weight and allow them to move around their habitat with ease.
When your beardie is walking or climbing, they should display good muscle tone and coordination.
If you notice any signs of weakness, tremors, or difficulty moving, it could indicate a health issue such as metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is a common problem in reptiles caused by insufficient calcium, vitamin D3, or improper UVB lighting.
Keep a close eye on your bearded dragon’s movement and make sure they have access to appropriate UVB lighting, calcium supplementation, and a well-balanced diet to prevent MBD.
Sign 6: Regular Appetite
A healthy bearded dragon should have a regular appetite and eagerly eat a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits. Young beardies will consume more insects than adults, as they need extra protein for growth.
Their diet should gradually shift towards more greens and veggies as they mature.
If you notice a sudden change in your bearded dragon’s appetite, it could be a cause for concern. A decrease in appetite might be due to stress, illness, or changes in their environment.
On the other hand, overeating can lead to obesity, which can cause various health issues.
Sign 7: Consistent Weight and Growth
Monitoring your bearded dragon’s weight and growth is crucial for ensuring its overall health. A healthy beardie should maintain a consistent weight and grow at a steady rate, especially during their first year of life.
Their growth will slow down as they mature, but they should still maintain a healthy weight for their size and age.
Sudden weight loss or lack of growth can be a sign of health issues, such as parasites, improper diet, or illness.
On the other hand, rapid weight gain or obesity can also be problematic and lead to various health complications.
Sign 8: A Curious and Responsive Personality
Bearded dragons are known for their curious and interactive nature. A healthy beardie will display a responsive and engaging personality, often watching your movements and reacting to your presence.
They might even tilt their head or follow you with their eyes as you move around the room.
Each bearded dragon has its unique personality, but they should be inquisitive and interested in their surroundings. It could indicate stress or a health issue if your beardie suddenly becomes unresponsive or disinterested.
Sign 9: Healthy, Firm Stool
It might not be the most glamorous topic, but monitoring your bearded dragon’s stool is essential for ensuring its health. Healthy bearded dragon poop should be firm, well-formed, and dark brown or black in color.
The white part of their stool, called urates, should appear relatively small and chalky.
Any changes in the color, consistency, or frequency of your beardie’s stool could be a sign of digestive issues or illness.
Diarrhea, for example, might indicate parasites or an improper diet, while constipation could be a sign of dehydration or impaction.
Sign 10: Proper Hydration
Just like humans, bearded dragons need proper hydration to stay healthy. A well-hydrated beardie will have moist, plump skin that springs back quickly when gently pinched.
Their eyes should also appear bright and full, not sunken or dull.
Although bearded dragons are desert-dwelling reptiles, they still need access to fresh water to maintain proper hydration. Offer your beardie a shallow water dish and mist their enclosure regularly to maintain humidity levels.
You can also provide hydration through their diet, including moisture-rich vegetables and fruits.
Sign 11: No Signs of Parasites or Illness
A healthy bearded dragon should show no signs of parasites or illness. Common parasites in bearded dragons include mites, ticks, and internal parasites like pinworms and coccidia.
Symptoms of parasites may include lethargy, weight loss, abnormal stool, and poor appetite.
In addition to parasites, keep an eye out for signs of illness such as nasal discharge, labored breathing, or excessive mucus around the mouth.
If you suspect your bearded dragon may have parasites or is showing signs of illness, consult with a reptile veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sign 12: A Clean and Odor-Free Habitat
A clean and odor-free habitat is a sign that your bearded dragon is living in a healthy environment.
Regular cleaning and maintenance will help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi, which can lead to infections or other health issues for your beardie.
Be sure to spot-clean your bearded dragon’s enclosure daily by removing any feces, leftover food, and soiled substrate.
Perform a thorough cleaning at least once a month, which includes replacing the substrate, cleaning all decorations and surfaces, and disinfecting the enclosure.
Sign 13: Regular Basking and Thermo-Regulating
Bearded dragons are ectothermic, which means they rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
A healthy beardie will regularly bask under its heat lamp and move between its enclosure’s warm and cool areas to thermo-regulate.
If your bearded dragon is always hiding or never basking, it could be a sign of stress or an issue with its heating and lighting setup.
Make sure to provide a temperature gradient within their enclosure, with a basking spot around 100-110°F (38-43°C) and a cooler area around 75-85°F (24-29°C).
Sign 14: Strong and Even Jawline
A healthy bearded dragon will have a strong and even jawline with no signs of swelling, asymmetry, or deformities. A healthy jaw is essential for your beardie’s ability to eat and properly digest their food.
A misshapen jaw can be a sign of metabolic bone disease (MBD) or other health issues. To prevent MBD, provide your bearded dragon with a well-balanced diet, appropriate calcium supplementation, and proper UVB lighting.
Sign 15: Affectionate and Social Behavior
Bearded dragons are known for their friendly and social nature, making them popular pets among reptile enthusiasts.
A healthy beardie will often display affectionate behavior, such as gently licking you, which is their way of exploring and getting to know their environment. Learn more about this adorable behavior in our post on why bearded dragons lick you.
Healthy bearded dragons may also enjoy being held; some even like cuddling with their human companions.
If your beardie is responsive to your touch and seems content when interacting with you, it’s a good sign that they’re happy, healthy, and feel safe in their environment.