Baby Bearded Dragon Not Eating: Causes And How To Encourage Them To Eat

What is wrong with my bearded baby dragon? Why is it not eating? These are common questions that I get from many readers, especially the new beardie owners.

You get unnerved if your animal companion is not eating, and it creates fear that your friend may be unwell, and the thought of losing them is unthinkable.

However, the reaction would be different if you knew why a bearded baby dragon would refuse to eat. Honestly, many reasons could be responsible for your baby bearded dragon not eating.

Do not worry! I comprehensively researched the reasons behind any baby beardie not eating, and it’s my pleasure to share the findings with you. We will also learn the approaches to take if your lizard isn’t eating. I hope you will enjoy the article!

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Cute Reptiles as Pets

14 Causes Explaining Why Baby Bearded Dragon Not Eating

Bearded dragons need to eat more often to stay healthy and strong. A healthy dragon appears active, joyful, and thriving, which makes the owner happy. Likewise, good health boosts immunity and increases the chance of fighting diseases.

Eating healthy and regularly also directly affects the lifespan of an animal. Animals that get food without compromising anything tend to live longer. Ideally, a baby dragon should eat 2-3 times per day, accepting food willingly.

Bearded dragons have a large appetite and will not decline food that easily. So, if your lizard friend is not eating, something must be happening. These reptile pets have many reasons to make them avoid eating.

Some significant reasons baby bearded dragons are not eating could be due to stress, sickness, a new environment, diet change, dehydration, constipation, etc.

Below is a comprehensive explanation of the causes of baby bearded dragons not eating and the necessary steps for each reason.

Baby Bearded Dragon Not Eating
baby bearded dragon not eating and about to be force fed

Reason #1: Your Baby Bearded Dragon Is New

Baby bearded dragons are afraid of new things, new people, and new places. They take more time to stare at something and see what they are.

The truth is, if you buy a new baby dragon and bring it home, it will either be unhappy, scared, or lonely for the first few days or weeks. They no longer want you to pick or touch them. 

The lizard will be busy observing all things around and studying every move you make with it. The worry is too much that some baby dragons refuse every food you give them, which can last even for a week.

While some dragons are somehow friendly from the first day, most of them need time adapting and getting used to living with you and everything in the vicinity. New baby dragons also tend to hide and sleep a lot.

What Should Owners Do?

If you notice your baby dragon’s health deteriorating and continue avoiding food for around two weeks, force-feeding would be necessary to save its life.

Moreover, be good to your new baby dragon, don’t mishandle or hold it excessively, and don’t be too loud on them.

It is also necessary to provide a couple of hiding places in the enclosure, as these pets feel more relaxed when hiding and are an excellent way to calm them.

Reason #2: Impacted by Another Baby Bearded Dragon in the Same Cage

Bearded dragons are happy and appreciate living alone in cages. Two or more beardies living together primarily compete for food, hiding nests, and basking places.

Typically, large-sized and old bearded dragons bully their small cage mates a lot and deny them the chance to enjoy anything inside the cage.

The result will be discomfort and stress to the dominated dragons, and they feel unwanted in that environment. These poor lizards will not eat because they’re scared, or some fellows in the cage won’t let them.

Even two females sharing a cage may dislike each other and end up fighting to seek dominance. And you know that the female on the losing side (submissive one) will be slow to reach what they need in the enclosure.

What Should Owners Do

As a dragon owner who is pretty much concerned about the welfare of their companion friends, it would be best to house all your bearded dragons individually. Also, separate the babies from their parents.

But if the cage is only one and you have two female baby dragons, provide different eating spots, hiding spots, and basking spots. That will be good security since watching them 24/7 is pretty impossible.

Reason #3: Your Baby Bearded Dragon Is Stressed

Hi, what happens if you are stressed? Sometimes we lose the urge to eat, seek lonely places just to be alone, and feel unmotivated. Stress is a great thief for happiness and content not only to humans but also animals.

If your baby dragon is stressed, it will be anxious and stop eating wholly or much. So, many situations can be stressful to baby bearded dragons.

A baby may feel scared seeing its reflection in the terrarium’s glass and become stressed. Feeling bored and hungry can cause stress. Excessive handling by owners can be stressful to bearded dragons.

Substandard temps, humidity, substrate, and lighting can also cause stress to these lizards. The beardies are also sensitive to new environments and are stressful to them.

Other Accompanying Signs of Stress 

Besides not eating, a stressed baby dragon hides a lot, develops a black body and beard, and appears tired. Other signs include aggression and dark stripes on the belly.

The dark markings may also appear on the lizard’s chin and limbs. Stress marks will end soonest or last for weeks or months, depending on the consistency of the stress.

Prolonged stress is dangerous as it causes the dragon to stop eating altogether, deteriorating its health and suppressing immunity.

What Should Owners Do?

Your lizard is looking up to you to help it out in stressful situations. Always ensure that the enclosure temps, lighting, humidity, and substrate are at their standard level.

Try giving your beloved pet some treats, such as fruits and favorite insects. If it refuses the treat and all things are standard in the cage, plus there are no cage mates to frighten them, it would be best to visit a vet.

Reason #4: Your Baby Bearded Dragon is Sick

If your beardie shows signs of sickness, that is definitely the reason for refusing food. A lack of appetite and fatigue often characterizes sickness.

One common disease for bearded dragons is a metabolic bone disease associated with trembling and difficulty walking. MBD comes from making small mistakes in feeding your lizard, e.g., supplying low calcium and vitamins.

Respiratory infections are also common in the beardies that are improperly fed, stressed, or living in cold and dirty conditions. Affected dragons may sneeze, reject the food, breath rapidly, breathe with mouth open, show eye or nose discharges, etc.

Anything like abnormal poop, diarrhea, and blood in the stool could signify that your reptile friend has parasites. Any change from normalcy indicates a problem and requires special attention.

What Should Owners Do?

If your bearded dragon manifests any health issues, be sure to inform your veterinarian and have it checked immediately.

Reason #5: Your Baby Bearded Dragon is Injured

Any bearded dragon can get an injury at some point. Some of the top-tier injuries in the beardies are biting injuries, falling injuries, crushing injuries, or injuries due to incomplete shedding.

Males have a habit of biting females when they are mating. Likewise, more giant dragons typically bite the smaller dragons causing them injuries. These lizards also receive biting injuries from their prey, such as crickets.

Your dragon might accidentally fall from a high place, especially from our hands, and injure itself. Falling injuries can be fatal since they’re likely to cause internal bleeding, bone fracture, and organ damage.

Maybe your bearded baby dragon is injured, and that’s why it stopped eating. Anything unusual you notice about it? Is it lively or sluggish? Can you trace any injuries on the skin?

injured bearded dragon
Any animal with injuries and going through lots of pains is likely not to eat

What Should Owners Do?

The consequences of injuries can be detrimental. It is enough for a beardie to lose a body part because of an injury.

Injuries are also likely to cause infection, inactivity, pain, and the death of the affected organs or part in worst scenarios. When your friend is injured, your vet is the best person to approach for advice.

Minor injuries or open wounds are rectified by observing hygiene measures and applying a safe antiseptic, e.g., PetSilver wound spray reptile formula. In severe cases, the vet will recommend a radiograph to know the extent of the injury and sometimes surgery.

Last update on 2021-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reason #6: Your Baby Bearded Dragon has Stomatitis

A baby dragon may reject food because it is being hurt to eat. Perhaps the problem is in the mouth, and it’s too painful for the lizard to get.

The leading infection of the mouth in the beardies is Stomatitis or inflammation inside the mouth. Does your pet show any signs of gum swelling, excessive thick mucus (pus), a lot of saliva, or hemorrhages in the gum?

It could be suffering from mouth rot or infectious Stomatitis. At the advanced stage of Stomatitis, you can judge that your lizard is not feeling well by its physical appearance.

Stomatitis comes as a result of improper temperatures and humidity levels inside the terrarium. Sometimes the problem could be due to improper diet.

What Should Owners Do?

Stomatitis can quickly become serious if not promptly treated. Even if you notice that your dragon has lesions inside the mouth, do not treat it without consulting your exotic veterinarian.

To successfully prevent Stomatitis, you need to focus on your lizard’s care and conditions in its environment. It will include maintaining a clean habitat, providing a healthy diet, and keeping the terrarium’s temps and humidity at the correct level.

bearded dragon with Stomatitis in the mouth
Your baby bearded dragon may reject food because it is hurt in the mouth and cannot eat.

Reason #7: Your Baby Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated

A dehydrated beardie will lose appetite for food. Any bearded dragon becomes vulnerable to dehydration when more water leaves the body than enters it. Too high temperature in the terrarium is a predisposing factor to dehydration.

Water is necessary for the body to function effectively. The body requires water to digest food and excrete waste. Every cell needs water to work. Likewise, the digestive juices, poop, and pee need water.

Other signs to look out for a dehydrated bearded dragon include sunken eyes, dry skin, lethargy, trouble shedding, and loss of skin elasticity. Dehydration is not a very big issue if you address it right away.

What Should Owners Do?

If you want to fight dehydration successfully, every water lost from the body needs to be replenished. Bearded dragons get water in three ways: absorbing moisture from food, drinking small amounts of water, and absorbing water through the skin.

Always keep in mind that these lizards largely dislike dishwater, they’re looking for moving water, and that’s why they won’t hesitate to sip a drink when bathing.

Make sure to soak and bathe your baby beardie more often. It would even be wise to spray some water at the baby’s nose and let them lick it. Feed gut-loaded insects and provide fresh fruits and vegetables.

Some fruit juices, e.g., diluted grape and apple fruit juice, are allowed for bearded dragons to drink. You can have your lizard drink this juice if it isn’t interested in water.

Reason #8: Your Baby Bearded Dragon Is Constipated

Baby bearded dragons are likely to get constipation or impaction from various causes, and in such conditions, they often stop eating.

One of the top-tier causes of constipation in bearded dragons is loose substrates. These lizards are likely to swallow loose substrates like small rocks, sand, wood chips, etc., which are indigestible.

Overfeeding your dragon and improperly digested food can cause constipation. Likewise, bearded dragons struggle to swallow larger feeders, which eventually lead to impaction. A dehydrated dragon is also prone to constipation.

If your dragon is constipated, it will lack appetite and have an infrequent bowel movement, and sometimes the stomach is bloated. A lizard that doesn’t defecate for 7-10 days could be constipated.

What Should Owners Do?

Always feed smaller bugs to your dragon. Your lizard’s eye width is a perfect guide on the appropriate size of food to provide it. The bugs should not be bigger than the eye width.

Ensure the dragon gets sufficient water throughout, and the easiest way would be to gently mist the lizard on the head and nose until it has finished drinking.

Furthermore, offer a regular bath to your pet in shallow, lukewarm water for around 20-30 minutes. You can bathe it around 3-4 times per week, which will help the dragon lizard stay clean and hydrated.

Frequent bathing is necessary for the beardies that dislike misting or those that get thirsty too quickly. If your baby doesn’t show any signs of improvement even after misting and bathing, please consult your vet.

Reason #9: Setup Change in Baby Bearded Dragon Tank

Bearded dragons are disturbed by all new things; even a setup change in the terrarium affects them. If you bring new things inside the tank, e.g., new accessories, your dragon needs time to accustom to everything again.

If these reptile lizards feel uncomfortable about anything, they refuse to eat and hide more often. Bearded dragons also react to new additions outside the terrarium.

Some dragons are prickly and react negatively to some items of clothing and colors. It can take some weeks before the lizard adapts and feels comfortable with the new surroundings.

What Should Owners Do?

If your pet feels startled by new accessories or surroundings, the best thing to do is to give it time. Be patient with your friend and keep checking their body condition.

Another best approach would be to cover all sides of the terrarium with a cloth, and the lizard should feel peaceful with the color of the clothing you use.

It will be a viable solution to help the baby relax, especially for baby dragons that act aggressively. After about 1-2 weeks, start removing the clothing gradually, each side one by one.

Reason #10: Incorrect Habitat Setting

Bearded dragons require to stay in a conducive environment to thrive best and stay healthy. This will have to do with their enclosure’s temp, humidity, lighting, and light positioning. The type of substrate to use also matters a lot.

Even a small change in the habitat setup will have a considerable impact on the baby beardies.

Incorrect Basking Temperature

If the basking area’s temperature is too high or too low, the baby will be uncomfortable living in such a place. Changes in temps encourage digestive issues, hence causing your dear friend to lose appetite.

For example, too high a temperature will make the baby too hot and unable to regulate its body temperature, and the lizard is lazy.

Incorrect UVB Lighting Setup

Incorrect UVB lighting in the terrarium is always dangerous since it exposes bearded dragons to fatal diseases like MBD.

Furthermore, incorrect lighting causes problems with vitamin absorption and photo-kerato-conjunctivitis. Let your pet have as much UVB as it wants but not in excess.

What Should Owners Do?

Owners need to check the temps and lighting routinely and make sure they are at the correct level. Fix a 10-12% UVB tube covering about 65% of the tank’s length.

Separate a basking bulb from a UVB bulb at a distance of around 12 inches. The lizard will be warming itself and getting UVB at the same time. Maintain basking temps at 90-100℉ and 75-85℉ at the cooling spot.

Use a thermometer (digital) with a probe to read these temperatures. A handheld thermometer will also be necessary to get actual readings of each point. Always check the reaction of the dragon towards the cage conditions and see if an adjustment is needed.

Reason #11: Before and During Shedding

Although shedding is a natural process, it tends to affect the mood of bearded dragons, and most of them normally don’t eat or eat less.

Baby bearded dragons shed more frequently than adults, but they can both become temperamental before and during shedding.

You will know that your reptile buddy is shedding if it appears sluggish, has pale skin, and rubs itself against objects. Some beardies are more aggressive during this time.

bearded dragon shedding
Although shedding is a natural process, it tends to affect the mood of bearded dragons.

What Should Owners Do?

Since shedding is natural, bearded dragons should be left to shed on their own. However, make sure your pet is hydrated to enhance proper shedding. The lizard will start eating well after it has finished shedding.

Reason #12: Your Baby Bearded Dragon Can Definitely Be Picky Eaters

Bearded dragons can be fond of eating some specific foods and reject others. For instance, if you didn’t expose your baby dragon to greens and fruits from its early life, it’s likely to refuse them.

Some bearded dragons will even dislike some specific food for no reason. Most of them have their own food preference and aren’t ready to try out new things.

Perhaps your baby dragon isn’t familiar with the food you are giving it, and that’s why it is refusing to eat.

What Should Owners Do?

A healthy and balanced diet for bearded dragons is animal and plant products based. Let your dragon eat the right food from the beginning. Baby beardies need 60-80% feeder insects and 20-40% greens and fruits.

Juveniles require 50% feeder insects and 50% veggies and fruits, while adults need 70% and 30% plants and feeder bugs, respectively.

Reason #13: Baby Bearded Dragon Won’t Eat Bugs That Bite It Before

Believe it or not, bearded dragons will largely remember any bug that bit it before. They won’t go near these bugs and can’t eat them. While some dragons will stop fearing these bugs, others will never do.

Crickets often hide inside the cage when we are not careful and get out when hungry. Eventually, they start biting a beardie’s tail, toes, and limb and can hurt it.

What Should Owners Do?

Always ensure you remove the remaining foods after feeding your baby lizard, to prevent live feeders like crickets from hiding in the tank.

Also, please give a few crickets and wait for the lizard to finish eating all of them. Clean the cage regularly to remove any insects that may accidentally be hiding inside.

Because You Have Changed Their Diet

If you wake up one morning and think of surprising your baby dragons with some new and special supplies, the chance of this food being rejected is high.

Bearded dragons don’t accept new food that quickly. If you give adult foods to the babies, they won’t eat them. Adult dragons, too, know their food.

What Should Owners Do?

If you want to change and introduce your baby dragon’s diet to a juvenile’s diet, you should do it gradually.

Ideally, reduce the number of feeder bugs slowly and increase the proportion of veggies and fruits likewise. Make it a step-by-step thing until the day your dragons adapt to the food.

bearded dragon eating vegetables
Make sure you start feeding vegetables to your bearded dragon when it’s young so it can get used to it.

How Long Can Your Baby Bearded Dragons Go Without Eating?

Baby bearded dragons are growing rapidly, making their bodies demand a lot of nutrients. They need to eat several times every day and drink adequate water. Even if your lizard isn’t eating, ensure you give it water.

However, in bad circumstances, baby bearded dragons can still survive for one week without food. If your baby lizards (0-3 months) stop eating for three consecutive days, take them to the vet.

It also requires a vet intervention if your juvenile (3-12 months) keeps rejecting food for a whole week. Go as per what your vet will recommend you, and things will be okay.

Should You Force Feed Your Bearded Dragon?

Yes, you can force-feed your bearded baby dragon if it’s not eating but not every time. Some circumstances that may require you to force-feed your baby dragon are when it’s sick and losing weight.

To encourage baby bearded dragons to eat, you can dab a little food on their nose for the bearded dragon to lick and see if it will eat. If this doesn’t work, then go for force-feeding.

When force-feeding, ensure you have a clean syringe and fill it with a puree of the baby’s diet. Your puree should contain vegetables, mealworms, fruits, and liquid vitamin supplements.

Then, using your thumb and index finger, apply some pressure to the sides of the baby lizard’s mouth to force it to open the mouth. Immediately the mouth is open, insert the syringe’s tip into the mouth.

Inject the puree to the mouth slowly as you don’t want the lizard to choke. Besides forcing the baby to open the mouth, you can pull its chin down, then inject the puree from the syringe to the mouth.

Another best option would be to wait for the lizard to open its mouth. Note that Force-feeding may help rectify the problem of your lizard not eating, but it’s not always the best way to go.

Before everything else, check out to see what is causing the lizard not to eat; it could be an environmental stressor, e.g., cage mates, incorrect tank setup, or something different.

How to force feed your baby bearded dragon that is not eating [source: K3Tv]

FAQs

What is the longest time a bearded baby dragon can go without eating?

The average time for baby bearded dragons to survive without food is 1-2 weeks, but some can even go for one month.

Is it okay to leave crickets in with my bearded dragons?

No, never leave crickets in with your bearded dragons. Live crickets will hide in the tank and come to bite the lizard when hungry.

What do you do if your bearded dragon won’t eat vegetables?

If your bearded dragon refuses to eat vegetables, maybe you could be feeding it many feeder bugs. Try to mix the bugs in the veggies or simply make a slurry. Always make your dragon start eating veggies when young.

Conclusion

If your baby dragon refuses to eat, there are many things to suspect; it could be due to incorrect habitat setup, change of environment, sickness, stress, constipation, etc.

Bearded dragons will also not eat a bug that bites them before. Most of the reasons our pets are not eating are things we can control at home and successfully stop the problem.

However, if the animal looks sick, take it to the veterinarian. Do not force-feed your beloved baby dragon unless it’s ill or losing weight.