No matter the species, throwing up is almost always indicative of an underlying health problem or concern, be it major or minor. And a bearded dragon throwing up is certainly no exception!
If your bearded dragon is vomiting, you’ll want to act fast to determine the reason(s) why as this is definitely not a healthy or normal behavior.
Now, before you go into panic mode, please understand that just because your bearded dragon is throwing up doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ill or in poor health. However, with that being said, you’ll still want to make sure you take this issue seriously.
In fact, I personally recommend that if your bearded dragon is throwing up blood or mucous and/or has thrown up more than twice, to get them to a reptile vet ASAP. I also recommend you collect some of the vomit in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container and store it in the fridge for the vet to run tests on.
You see, while this article is intended to help you understand the reasons behind the vomiting and also give you helpful advice on how to help your little guy or girl, it’s by no means meant to substitute the advice of a reputable herp vet.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s jump into understanding the 4 most common reasons your beardie is throwing up, plus what you can do to help in each specific instance.
Unfortunately, if your bearded dragon is vomiting, you may have to do a little bit of detective work to decipher the reason or reasons why. Take a look at the possible explanations below and see if any of them seem to make sense for your bearded dragon…
Salmonellosis, which is caused by the bacteria Salmonella, is a gastrointestinal disease that is unfortunately zoonotic in nature. This means that it can be spread from animals to humans, which is one reason why it is important to always wash your hands after handling your bearded dragon.
Now, most bearded dragons that carry the Salmonella bacteria in their system are perfectly fine, since small trace amounts pose little to no threat to them.
However, if the bacteria count gets too high or they have a weak immune system to being with, this is where you can encounter issues such as Salmonellosis and see instances of vomiting, diarrhea, and in more serious instances, infections such as Septicemia.
In my experience, it is unlikely that your bearded dragon is throwing up due to being infected by Salmonella. But, it isn’t impossible.
Is it possible your bearded dragon ate too many mealworms whose hard husks are difficult to digest? Or God forbid, they ate a plant that could be toxic to them during some time outdoors?
Depending on what you believe your bearded dragon ingested, you’ll have a few different approaches to take to get them back to normal.
If you believe your bearded dragon simply ingested a feeder with a hard exoskeleton, I recommend just monitoring them and their appetite levels. If their vomit has pieces of skeleton or insect in it and they seem normal otherwise, don’t worry too much.
Now, if you believe they may be impacted with more blockage, then I recommend scrolling down some and reading about impaction more.
If you think your bearded dragon may have consumed a toxic plant, I recommend getting them to the vet if possible.
Otherwise, you can give them a dose of activated charcoal and plenty of water to help absorb and safely pass the toxins. This activated charcoal is awesome to have on hand if your beardie consumes something toxic.
If you don’t have activated charcoal on hand at the time of your bearded dragon eating something toxic, you can always try to get them to eat a little bit of fresh cilantro as well.
This also helps with passing the toxins safely, though in my opinion, not as well as activated charcoal. But it’s certainly better than nothing!
Just like with people, your bearded dragon can actually throw up due to dehydration. If you don’t bathe your bearded dragon, provide them a water dish, mist them, or drip water on their snout for them to lick off… it’s entirely likely that they are in fact dehydrated.
To rehydrate your bearded dragon, I recommend giving them a 10-15 minute bath 3 times a week up their shoulders. The water should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and you should always supervise to prevent drowning or your bearded dragon taking in too much water.
Being in the bath will not only give them a chance to get a nice drink of water, but also presents a great way for them to relieve themselves. Don’t be surprised if your bearded dragon makes a habit out of going to the bathroom in the bath, as many love doing this!
Now, if your bearded dragon hates bath time, you can try removing them from their tank and misting them instead. Simply grab any regular old spray bottle with a mist setting, and gently mist them. You should notice water collecting on their snout for them to lick off.
The reason you’ll want to mist OUT of the cage is because doing so inside can raise the humidity levels too much and ultimately lead to other health issues.
Much like when we experience stomachaches or throw up from pigging out on our favorite foods, bearded dragons too can become sick from overindulging!
In fact, I’ve seen this happen many times when bearded dragons are given too many crickets or phoenix worms. If you’ve been spoiling your beardie with a ton of insects lately, this very well could be the culprit behind their sickness.
Make sure you understand how much to actually feed your bearded dragon based on his or her age, as this will help to not only keep them healthy, but also free from throwing up.
Coccidia is a small parasite that lives within a bearded dragon’s intestinal tract. While most bearded dragons’ immune systems are able to keep the parasite level under control, bearded dragons with an abnormally high Coccidia counts can become sick.
Additionally, other parasites can in turn help Coccidia flourish, bringing their numbers up to a point where your bearded dragon can no longer regulate them on their own.
All parasites, whether Coccidia or something more serious, will essentially rob your bearded dragon’s body of nutrients in the food they consume. This leads to bearded dragons that are stunted in growth, sickly, and even anemic.
So, the question now becomes… how do you tell if your bearded dragon is suffering from parasites? Be on the lookout for the following symptoms…
If you suspect your bearded dragon may have a parasite problem, it is extremely crucial that you take them to the vet ASAP! Parasites are not something to be taken lightly and if ignored, can have terrible consequences for your bearded dragon.
Before going to the vet, make sure to bag up and refrigerate fecal matter and/or vomit (ideally both, kept separate of course). This will allow the vet to run tests on the excretion and decipher what parasites are at play and what medications should be given.
As bearded dragon owners, we know that UVB is crucial when it comes to our pets being able to properly break down and absorb calcium, but did you know that temperature plays a role in your bearded dragon being able to properly digest food as well?
You see without enough heat, food will sit in a dragon’s stomach and essentially go bad, often times resulting in them throwing up. This is one reason why it is SO important maintain proper cage temperatures.
If you think inadequate temps could be to blame, ask yourself the following questions…
“Has the basking bulb been off while or shortly after my bearded dragon ate?”
“What is the temperature on the hot side of my bearded dragon’s tank? Is it between 95 and 100 for an adult OR 105 and 110 for a juvenile?”
Naturally, the responses to these questions will tell you a lot about proper adjustments you need to make moving forward.
If you’re bearded dragon has eaten a bug that is too big (i.e. longer than the space between their eyes), consumed any of their loose particle substrate, been living in a tank with inadequate temps, or even eaten a difficult to digest feeder… they could be suffering from impaction.
Impaction is essentially when your bearded dragon suffers from a blockage in their digestive track that they are unable to pass in a bowel movement. This condition is very common and can be painful and uncomfortable for your bearded dragon.
Pay attention to how often your bearded dragon relieves themselves and impacted beardies will essentially stop going to the bathroom. You’ll also likely notice a disinterest in food on their end as well.
I don’t want to go too in depth on this topic as I have already written an entire article on impaction that you should instead check out. It explains more about how impaction comes about and what you can due to clear it and get your bearded dragon back to normal.
Before diving into the reasons why your bearded dragon is possibly throwing up blood, it is important that you understand one thing…
Often times bearded dragon owners can mistake red or dark colored stool for that of bloody vomit. I’ve seen it happen many a time in my day and it always leads to quite a bit of unnecessary panicking on the owner’s end.
In actuality, what the “bloody vomit” ends up being is… stool that is red or dark from the bearded dragon eating berries.
It is important to also know the difference between vomit and poop when it comes to physical appearance. Unless you saw your bearded dragon throw up, the waste in the tank could very well just be poop.
You see, bearded dragon vomit is typically flung as while throwing up they jerk their head around quite a bit. On the contrary, poop will come out and sit in one neat pile. Knowing these differences can help you decipher whether it is indeed poop or vomit you’re dealing with.
Now, if after everything above you’re still concerned you may be dealing with a bearded dragon who is vomiting blood, here’s what you need to know…
While there can be many different reasons your bearded dragon is throwing up blood, a common culprit is often the liver. Bearded dragons who have an enlarged, fatty livers have been known to throw up.
This can happen when your bearded dragon is overweight from being overfed. If you’re dragon is throwing up blood and seems weak and without appetite, this could be the culprit and you’ll want to get them into the vet right away.
Another reason your bearded dragon is throwing up blood, could be due to them having cancer. I’ve seen masses found inside the body that have caused dragons to throw up blood. Of course, you’ll need a vet to perform an X-ray to know for certain.
If your bearded dragon is throwing up and not eating, it could be due to any number of things. As mentioned above, this could be due to an impaction issue. A lack of appetite could also simply be due to your bearded dragon just not quite feeling themselves after being sick.
Often times, owners will notice their beardies have a suppressed appetite for a couple days after getting sick. I mean, think of it like this… what is the last thing you want to do after being sick and throwing up? I’m willing to bet it’s eating a bunch of food.
I recommend first figuring out if your bearded dragon is impacted as this could very likely be the culprit. If they’re not impacted, I would next examine cage temperatures to make sure they actually are able to digest their food and maintain an appetite.
If your temperatures are good, your bearded dragon isn’t impacted, and they’re still not eating and/or throwing up… I would try and get them into a vet ASAP. In this instance, it could be that they are sick and need to be put on medication.
If you can, try and bag up some of the vomit and waste to take in for testing. You’ll want to bag them up separately and store in the fridge to keep them “fresh”. Gross I know, but necessary for the vet to be able to run tests and determine what’s at play.
In my experience, a bearded dragon throwing up mucus is not too common of an occurrence. In my experience, it’s typically food that’s thrown up. However, if your beardie is throwing up mucus, here’s some potential reasons why…
An Upper Respiratory Infection or URI for short, is essentially a bacterial infection in the lungs that results from too much moisture. Bearded dragons who are suffering from a URI often have mucus running from their noses and mouths.
I’m not going to go too in depth here about URIs, simply because I’ve dedicated an entire article to them, but one thing I will say is… they’re not too be ignored. You’ll want to make sure to take appropriate measures to get them healthy ASAP before things worsen.
Do you have a water bowl in your beardie’s cage? If so, how often do you thoroughly clean it and replace the water? If the answer isn’t “daily”, it’s entirely possible that your bearded dragon could have consumed nasty, dirty water.
For those who clean it daily and always provide fresh water, then perhaps your water source is to blame? Does your county have high levels of fluoride and other chemicals in the tap water? If so, it could be that you’re unintentionally giving your bearded dragon water that is actually toxic to them!
I recommend making the switch to distilled or filtered water just to be safe and also switching out their water for fresh water daily. Also, make sure you’re closely monitoring humidity levels in the tank as water bowls are a bit notorious for raising them to less than ideal levels.
First and foremost, if your bearded dragon has thrown up more than once or is throwing up blood, mucus, or refusing to eat… you’re going to want to try get them into the vet ASAP. Also, collect some of the vomit and store it in a Tupperware container in the fridge to take to the vet as well.
The vet will be able to take the vomit and run tests on it to determine what is causing your bearded dragon to throw up. Once the results come back, they can help you devise a plan of action and get your beardie on proper medication.
Regardless of whether you are able to get your bearded dragon into the vet right away or have to wait a little while, here are some suggestions for things you can do in the meantime to help them feel better and hopefully (fingers crossed) stop throwing up…
When your bearded dragon throws up, they are essentially dehydrating themselves. Because of this, you can help replenish them with a nice bath after every time they get sick.
Simply fill the tub up with enough warm water to reach their shoulders. Make sure you watch them for 15 to 20 minutes to ensure they don’t breathe in any water and aspirate it into their lungs.
Not only can too much water in the lungs cause them to drown, it can also lead to Upper Respiratory Infections.
If your bearded dragon is having a hard time keeping food down, then chances are they are not getting the proper nutrients needed to maintain their weight and stay healthy.
Baby food is gentle on a bearded dragon’s stomach and will present a welcome change for a while if they are impacted or having issued with insects.
You can also try feeding them canned pumpkin, warm baby food applesauce, or organic no-sugar added applesauce, all three of which will also act as gentle laxatives and help encourage a bowel movement should your beardie be impacted.
You can also try adding a drop or two of vegetable oil to the food as well.
As aforementioned, if the bearded dragon’s cage is too cold, they will more than likely experience trouble digesting their food. Food that remains undigested within their stomach will surely just end up coming up as throw up.
You’ll also want to check humidity levels since too much humidity can lead to Upper Respiratory Infections and an onslaught of mucous in their system.
Although not as common as with low temperatures, I have heard of high humidity levels leading to beardies throwing up mucus, so just double check your levels to be safe.
If parasites are the culprit behind your bearded dragon getting sick, you’ll want to make sure you prioritize keeping your beardie’s tank clean! This means removing any and all fecal matter once you see it and also deep cleaning their tank at least once a month.
To sanitize your beardie’s cage, I recommend spot cleaning the cage with a 9:1 solution of water to red vinegar. Surprisingly, Red vinegar is actually 100x more efficient at killing bacteria than bleach.
For a deep clean, which I recommend doing at least once a month, spray everything down with a veterinary grade cleaner like F10SC. Let everything soak for 10 minutes and then rinse it thoroughly.
The problem with letting fecal matter sit or a cage become dirty is that it can allow a bearded dragon to re-infect themselves.
If your bearded dragon tacks their fecal matter around or it spreads because it’s atop particle substrate, then it can spread the parasites around the tank as well.
Removing fecal matter and keeping the tank clean is your best bet at allowing the medication to really go to work. Otherwise, it is entirely possible you’re just undoing the work of the medicine.
Additionally, of your bearded dragon is really suffering, you can consider removing everything from their cage that is hard to clean, such as hides, plants, etc.
Then, keep them on paper towels with a single food dish. However, this should really only be done in extreme situations where their parasite count is very high and they’re struggling to get healthy.
So, as you can now see, there can be many reasons why your bearded dragon is throwing up. While some prove to be more serious, such as a high Coccidia count, impaction, and cancer, other culprits are in essence pretty easy to fix, such as simple adjusting diet and making sure to keep your beardie hydrated.
And while we can thank natural selection for making our bearded dragons so keen at hiding their symptoms from us, I’m a firm believer that for those who simply pay attention, there’s no illness or sickness that can go unnoticed.
As always, the key to understanding your bearded dragon’s health will require you to put on your thinking cap and investigate. Don’t be afraid to partake in a little trial and error when it comes to narrowing down the reason for the puking.
With enough effort, patience, and persistence, you’ll more than likely have your little guy or girl feeling like themselves again in no time.
I’m Stacey, the owner of this website and lifelong reptile lover, caretaker, and educator. Here you will find everything from information on how to care for reptiles, to even how to give your reptiles the best fighting chances against a range of common reptile diseases and illnesses, and everything in between!