How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating? Find Out Here! | Kidadl

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How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating? Find Out Here!

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Bearded dragons don't have a complex diet, but their appetite can be perplexing at times.

The moderately-sized lizards known for their beard-like collar around the neck are popular among exotic pet owners. They are easy to tame and do well in captivity.

When thinking of bringing a bearded dragon home, many people fail to conduct proper research. Above all, you must ensure they are fed properly and on time. But it's also common for beardies (as they're affectionately called) to go without food for several days. That's when pet owners freak out and act helpless. For the uninitiated, adult bearded dragons can go without food for four weeks on average. But, it depends on several factors, which as a pet owner, you must know. In this article, learn how long your bearded dragon can live without eating and what to do when it refuses to eat.

If you want to know other extreme facts about pets like chickens and fish, read how long can a chicken live without a head and how long can a fish live out of water.

What do bearded dragons eat?

Bearded dragons aren't your typical pets. They're classified as exotic pets. Most people don't know what to feed them to keep them healthy. Before owning a bearded dragon, you must know what their typical diet looks like.

These animals are omnivores. This means they can consume both plants and animals. In the wild, they live on insects and smaller animals but they also have a lot of fruits and vegetables. This allows them to eat whatever they want and not face food shortages.

Bearded dragons eat live food, but they can also feed on a plant diet. When it comes to animals, they mostly eat insects, just like other lizards. In general, they aren't picky and eat any insect they think is edible. They are equipped with a strong upper and lower jaw. This allows them to easily crush insects like beetles with hard outer shells. The dragons also feed on worms, roaches, and bugs. An adult dragon is capable of eating rodents like a mouse and rats.

In rare circumstances, the bearded dragons may eat other dragons even though they aren't cannibals. They are territorial in nature and will often fight with each other. However, eating another dragon is rare.

When it comes to planting foods, it mostly eats leaves and flowers in the wild. If they come across fruits and vegetables, they happily eat them.

Pet bearded dragons can have an expanded diet. They can consume a small amount of minced beef, chicken breast, and even fish (although not recommended). For vegetables, you can include sweet potato, broccoli, turnip, parsley, and cabbage in its diet. It can also eat fruits like apples, bananas, grapes, and strawberries which it doesn't usually find in the wild.

If your beardie refuses to eat what you're offering, you shouldn't force-feed it and try other alternatives.

How long can a bearded dragon go without eating in wild?

As already mentioned, the bearded dragon is an omnivore and can eat both plants and animals. This would have you believe that it cannot stay alive without food for days in a row. Since it has evolved to eat anything, it must be a voracious eater. But that's not true. These lizards can last longer without food or water than you realize.

The reason is because of where the dragon evolved. Bearded dragons are native to Australia and are found in the desert and subtropical regions of the country. In such a harsh environment, it's really hard to find food. There's also a high chance of being preyed upon by some other animal. Hawks and other preying animals regularly monitor the movements of animals they can eat. So a bearded dragon goes into hiding for survival. In fact, the dragons go into a hibernation period called 'brumation' where they bury themselves under the soil. This can last for several months.

So how do they survive those months without food? The answer is that they use their fat reserves. Adult dragons have an ample amount of fat storage. When they eat in excess, the fat storage gets filled up and they start to get bigger in size. Once they enter the brumation period, they derive the required energy from these reserves. Since the dragons move little during the 2-3 month period, they reduce their energy demands too.

So an average bearded dragon can go without food for 1-3 months in the wild. Juvenile bearded dragons would not survive that long since they don't have enough fat reserves. They can hardly last a week before their body demands food.

How long can a bearded dragon go without eating in captivity?

When you keep a bearded dragon inside a terrarium or fish tank as a pet, that's a different ball game. There's a change in its surroundings and consequently its behavior. So, just because these reptiles can go without food for up to three months in the wild, doesn't mean you should keep them hungry for that long. That's not healthy for the dragon. So how long can your beardie go without food? Let's look at their recommended diet first.

A baby bearded dragon, aged below three months, needs food 3-5 times a day. They're in the growing stage and their body gets bigger faster. Juvenile beardies aged 3-8 months are also in the growing stage and get bigger, albeit at a slower rate. They need food at least 2-3 times a day. Then, there are adult beardies over eight months old. They usually survive on one meal per day.

With the benchmark set, let's answer how long a bearded dragon can go without food. A baby bearded dragon can go without food for a few days but that's highly discouraged. You should never let your baby dragon in captivity go without food. That's because they're still in their growth phase and need a constant supply of protein and minerals to grow up healthy. The same thing goes for juvenile dragons. They can go for a few days or even weeks without food. Feeding them every day is essential. Lastly, adult bearded dragons can go for months without eating, so you can have fast days for them without impacting their overall health. However, don't leave them without food for more than a week if they're not in their brumation period.

Reasons Why A Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating

Any experienced bearded dragon pet owner will tell you that there will be times when your beardie friend suddenly stops eating. The feeling is usually not good. You may feel like a failed pet owner who didn't take good care of your pet. However, the culprit might not always be you. There are several reasons why bearded dragons will refuse food. Below are some of the main reasons:

In the wild, bearded dragons go through a brumation period every year. This is usually during the winter and fall months. So whenever the winter season arrives and there's a drop in temperature, the dragons get ready to hibernate. Brumation is the most common reason why your beardie stops eating.

You can confirm this with two signs. First, there is a change in season with the transition from a warmer climate to a colder one. Second, the bearded dragon has hidden in a dark corner or under the soil and is showing little to no activity. These two signs should confirm that your beardie has entered its brumation period.

In captivity, a dragon may not completely stop eating and it will surely drink fresh water from time to time. So, place some food items and a bowl of water near it.

Bearded dragons are territorial animals. They mark their territory and protect it with all they've got. So when you place another bearded dragon in its tank, it gets stressed. As a result, it avoids eating and looks for ways to get rid of the other dragon.

As a rule, you should never put two bearded dragons in the same tank. In fact, it's recommended you don't place them in the same room where they can see each other.

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals, which means they need external heat sources to keep themselves warm. When getting a dragon, the seller or a vet will tell you to install lights and heaters first. This is to maintain a proper temperature of 75-84 F (24-29 C) and humidity of 20-40%. Anything less than that will stress out your beardie and it will stop eating.

Another reason why your dragon could have stopped eating is that it has gotten ill. Just like we humans lose appetite when sick, that's the same with bearded dragons.

The most common illness-causing agent for dragons in captivity is a pinworm. These are usually found in the intestinal tract of a bearded dragon. In some instances, they may lead to diarrhea. So, your beardie may go a few days without food or with less food. If this goes on for several days, call in the vet immediately.

Other common condition a bearded dragon may suffer from is metabolic bone disease or MBD, infectious stomatitis, respiratory infection, or adenovirus. Some of these can cause serious health issues. Your vet is in a better position to diagnose and confirm the illness.

A bearded dragon can also stop eating if it's transferred to a new tank. Since they're territorial, the dragons need some time to get acquainted with the new environment. Therefore, it's common for the lizards to skip meals for a couple of days when you first bring them home. There's nothing to worry about and your pet will resume eating after a few days.

Moreover, if you place new objects inside their tank, they're likely to experience stress too. The solution to this is to give your pet bearded dragon a couple of days to adjust.

Bearded dragons are territorial and don't like to live close to one another

Tips for Bearded Dragon That Won't Eat

So, what do you do if your dragon isn't eating? First of all, it's not necessary that bearded dragons need to eat every day at all costs. The dragon could be experiencing stress, and hence need some time alone to calm down. As a pet owner, you should respect that. Also, ensure that the brumation season hasn't arrived yet.

If you've recently bought the dragon to your home and it is refusing to eat, allow it some time to adjust. Also, make sure you're feeding it the proper way. Place the food in the tank where it's visible. Get a food bowl for your new pet so it gets familiar with the habit. Place the insects or veggies inside the bowl and let them eat on their own.

The second thing to do is call in the vet and get your bearded dragon checked. They might be refusing to eat because of a condition. Follow the advice of the vet and everything will be normal.

As a trick, you should introduce new food to your pet dragon. In captivity, beardies could get picky so changing the menu and introducing new food will surely get the bearded dragon excited and increase its appetite.

The last resort may be to force-feed your bearded dragon. While force-feeding is not a good idea, you may have to go for it if your beardie is losing weight or not looking in good health. After consultation with the vet, you will need to hold your bearded dragon, open its jaws, and insert the food. If the dragon is still refusing to eat, maybe you should stop the force-feeding and go for other options.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'How long can a bearded dragon go without eating?' then why not take a look at 'How long can a ball python go without eating?' or 'Bearded dragon facts'.

Written By
Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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