How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Food?

If you’re like most bearded dragon owners, then chances are you’ve witnessed your beardie show some pretty impressive (albeit alarming) self-control in resisting their food.

Whether you’ve recently moved them to a new vivarium, introduced a new diet, or perhaps even just placed new accessories in their tank, bearded dragons can stop eating for a wide variety of reasons.

So, the questions stands… just how long can a bearded dragon go with food?

How Long a Bearded Dragon Can Live Without Food?

The answer to this question, as you may or may not have guessed, depends for the most part on the age and health of your dragon.

Mature dragons with plenty of fat stores and weight to lose, can go up to 2 months without food, although this is NOT encouraged.

On the other hand, juveniles who are rapidly growing and stop eating, should be a cause for some concern as they need protein to grow up healthy and strong.

Dragons who are brumating, can be expected to go weeks if not months without eating, but should still be given water on a regular basis.

Brumating Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons that are brumating can go months without eating, but should still be given water.

Why Isn’t My Bearded Dragon Eating?

As briefly touched on above, there can be a wide array of reasons why your bearded dragon has stopped eat.

A new habitat, different diet, brumationan illness, stress, and many more reasons can contribute to a loss of appetite.

Read below to understand better why your dragon may have stopped eating.

You Recently Altered Their Cage

Perhaps you moved their terrarium to a new area of the home, put them in a different terrarium, or introduced new accessories into the cage (branches, hides, etc.)?

Furnished Bearded Dragon tank
A new setup can lead to initial stress in a bearded dragon.

Try removing the new items and seeing how the next couple of days to a week goes.

If their appetite seems to improve, toss whatever it is you removed.

Their Temperatures Are Off

If their cage isn’t hot enough (basking temp should be between 95 and 105 for adults, 100 and 110 for babies), dragons can definitely lose their appetite.

They need heat to have proper digestion, so without it, their bodies won’t feel the need to eat.

Also, make sure your dragons have a cool side of the tank to chill out (HA! See what I did there?) in, around 80-85 degrees.

Bearded Dragon basking under lights
Adults should have basking temps between 95 and 105, while babies should be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

They’re Under Stress

Are they sharing a cage with another bearded dragon?

Can they see another bearded dragon?

Is there suddenly a lot of loud noises and/or shaking in the home that could disturb them?

Think long and hard about anything and everything that could potentially be stressing your dragon out and calm them down, as often times, it can be the smallest of things that leads to appetite suppression.

They’re Not Feeling Their Diet

If you’ve recently introduced new foods into your dragon’s diet, be prepared for the standoff of the century! Not really, but kind of.

Beardies are notoriously stubborn especially when it comes to food.

In fact, a quick Google search of “Why won’t my bearded dragon-“ and you’ll see many of the suggested searches have to do with dragons not eating certain foods!

bearded dragon in tank
It is not uncommon for bearded dragons to snub their greens, especially in the beginning.

So, the tricky part about this dilemma is that it essentially comes down to a battle of wills.

Your dragon can go weeks (even months) without eating and eventually succumb to the fact that they’re simply going to have to accept their new diet OR you can break down and feed them what they’re holding out for.

If you cave, your dragon is going to know that they have the upper hand and be way more likely to stop eating in the future again.

This is why I recommend sticking it out and showing them who’s boss.

Now, if they seem to be getting really weak and skinny then of course give them some food they will happily eat.

But if they’re just slowly losing weight and seem to be acting the same? I recommend toughing it out.

It’s That Time of Year Again – Brumation!

If you’re creeping into Fall, it is entirely likely that your little guy or girl is simply going with the seasons and getting ready for brumation.

Bearded Dragon Brumation
Brumation can be a confusing thing for many first time owners, make sure you do your homework!

If your dragon is showing signs of getting read to go through this process, I highly recommend you check out my in depth article HERE to fully understand the brumation process and what you can do to make it a success!

They’re Ill

In my experience, this is probably the least likely reason why your dragon outright stopped eating.

But if you suspect an illness is at play, by all means take them to a reputable reptile vet ASAP!

In the meantime, consider gently and lightly spoon or syringe feeding them stage 1 baby food like squash or chicken to try and make them gain weight.

Also, make sure they’re getting water with a few drips on their snout a day. Avoid bathing until you know what’s wrong exactly.

Bearded dragon at the vet
Bearded dragon acting sick? Don’t wait! Get them to a good herp vet ASAP.

How to Force Feed a Bearded Dragon

To be perfectly honest, I do not condone force feeding under very many circumstances.

Dragons do a phenomenal job of eating what they need (typically) and force feeding can lead to some health issues.

However, if your dragon is visibly weak and becoming alarmingly thin or you’ve been given the go-ahead from a trained reptile vet, then by all means try to force feed.

The actual method behind how to force feed is pretty simple.

Make sure you have a nice, secure grip on your dragon and that they are in a relatively comfortable position.

Next, gently open their mouth by pulling their lower jaw down.

Last, insert food. Simple as that.

Check out the video below to see force feeding in action!

In Conclusion

I hope you found this article helpful!

If your bearded dragon stops eating it is important to realize that 9/10 times it’s not for a reason worth getting worked up over.

Chances are, there are small changes occurring that have just suppressed their appetite.

Think about the time of year, the status of their habitat, your home, and their diet before freaking out.

Read These Articles Yet?

How Often to Feed a Bearded Dragon at ANY Age

How to Make a Bearded Dragon Gain Weight and Fatten Them Up

How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Eat

13 thoughts on “How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Food?”

  1. My bearded dragon went missing on 7/22/19 and we found him 11/16/19. He was still on the same floor but found in the office in the corner of the house. He must have been surviving off of the warmth from the electrical strip and packs for my computer set up. As far as food and water, I am absolute clueless. This is so astounding to me that he survived almost four months. I presume he found bugs here and there but he def didn’t leave the office (and I’m not in there almost ever). The next room from the office is our living room which is heavily used.

    Reply
    • Hi Danielle,

      I’m so happy to hear you were able to find your beardie! That is astonishing to me that he was able to survive that long without food! I would assume he’s lost quite a bit of weight during this time frame? I would be very observant of his health in the coming months considering he has been without calcium for quite some time. I highly recommend you take him into the vet ASAP to get a general overview of his current health.

      In the meantime, it might be a shock to his system if you try and feed him too much to make up for lost time. I have some great slurry recipes you can check out here with one being especially good for malnourished beardies.

      Just use your best judgement on the feeding! If he seems fine and isn’t very weak, maybe wean him back on solid foods slowly. If he’s really weak and underweight, I recommend giving the slurry a go.

      Best of luck.

      Reply
  2. Hello! So my husband and I have fallen on hard times and can’t afford to buy crickets for a couple days. Is there anything else I could give them besides crickets or collard greens?

    Reply
  3. Hi, thanks for the informative article.

    We just acquired a juvenille bearded dragon last week – probably 6 inches from snout to tip of tale. This is new to us and our little guy is not eating as we were told he should eat. In addition, the web is filled with contrary information (disinformation?) as to how much our young dragon should eat. The big box pet store said he/she should eat 12-15 crickets 3 times a day. Other websites say the same. Our dragon is probably averaging 3-6 crickets per day for this first week. Perhaps a couple of days he/she nibbled on the greens/red pepper mix. And maybe 2 or 3 meal worms over the course of the week.

    The dragon looks healthy, is somewhat active, basks under the heat lamp (about 109 degrees), goes to sleep at night when its ready and has taken water off its snout. While I am concerned that he/she is not eating the 30-45 crickets per day that the store and other websites advise, I also feel that our little one is okay and will eat when it wants to.

    Your thoughts?

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    • We are experiencing the same with our very new 3 month old baby bearded dragon! He isn’t eating as many crickets as he’s “supposed” to and has our 12 year old son worried he’s not doing something right. I’m sorry I cannot help, but I’m curious for the answer you receive.

      Reply
  4. I couldn’t get home, I was in hospital and no one in my family lives close enough to look after my beardie or my house. The heating and electricity were both off for about 5 weeks and my beardie was on his own for the full 7 weeks I was in hospital. The house was about 5°c when I got home and my George held on for me. I couldn’t believe it, I had prepared myself to go home to a dead dragon, I was distraught. Then when I seen he’d held on for me… So I warmed him up slowly, got a taxi to the pet store for some morio worms and some big locusts. By the time I got home from the pet store he was warmed up and running around. Then he had a good munch and I slowly built him back up. I’ve since made provisions for his care in an emergency

    Reply
  5. Thank you for this article I found it very informative. However, I do still have a question… what about pooping? Will he also not poop for an extended amount of time if he is not eating? We moved him to a new cage, new lights, and new room before he stopped eating and pooping. He doesn’t seem to be losing weight at this point. Do we just need to make sure food and water is available? We have been giving him occasional warm baths and massaging his stomach and have also given him vegetable oil by syringe to try to get him to poop. Any help and advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Krissi!

      If he isn’t eating, he likely won’t be pooping. So, I wouldn’t worry about that too much. My guess is that he could just be stressed out given his move? I would recommend making food available to him, but don’t worry about water if you’re bathing him regularly.

      Something that could be affecting his appetite could be his lighting setup and/or calcium levels. Please see this article here on lighting and this article on calcium to ensure he’s getting what he needs from a UVB, temperature, and calcium perspective.

      I hope you find this helpful! If he does start getting skinny and seeming malnourished, check out my post on bearded dragon slurries as I have included recipes for both underweight/malnourished beardies and picky eaters.

      I hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. Hi, I’m looking for advice. I have 2 dragons they are sisters, they live in separate tanks and they are about 3 years old. I have lots of problems getting them to eat. Ive tried lots of different diets. One of them will eat most of the time but the other one just wont. I don’t think they are ill, they look healthy to me but the one that doesn’t eat very much is not as muscular as the one that eats most of the time. Their tanks are identical, 4ft by 2ft by 2ft. I built them myself. They have natural sunlight as well as artificial. They have natural heat from the sun during the day and heat lamps for the night. They have 2 hides each, a basking hammock, natural stones that stay around 90-95 degrees, they have artifact grass, sand, and in the spot their food and water sit I have porcelain tiles for easy maintenance. The tanks stay at around 100-110 during the day and drop to 88-93 at night. Ive done so much to make their homes as good as possible and I try my best to get the best food I can get for them. My wife works for a pet store so I can afford to buy the good stuff. But I haven’t found anything that they will eat every day except for horned worms lol they love those things but I don’t want to feed them those every day. So any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  7. Help!
    We bought our beardie at 3 months old (Dec 2019) from PetSense (he was the last one, and they did say they weren’t sure how old he was, but he hadn’t been handled much). He was terrified at first, but was doing much better by the end of January 2020. His diet consisted of crickets, hornworms, smartworms, and a large variety of greens. He was fine, until we decided to place him in a different cage (same length, but wider) in February. That put him straight into brumation, and ever since he came out of that about 2 weeks later, he has never been the same. Although, he did have a huge shed. At first he seemed to be starving, and would eat just fine, but within weeks his appetite was completely gone. I mean, I show him a worm and he closes his eyes. At times he looks like he’s going to take it, but if it falls from the tongs or he doesn’t catch it the first time then he doesn’t want it. In fact, he will look at it for a bit, but then he closes his eyes until we leave him alone. Sometimes I notice that he will look at it, and then his stomach starts moving (almost like he is gonna vomit) and then he will close his eyes too….what in the world can that mean? I give him baths once a week, and spray his tank twice a day (because I caught him scratching the side of his head on his hammock & thought he was trying to shed). His poo has always been fine (whether eating right or not), but this past week no poo; however, yesterday he did poo, but NO URINE?? So, I think he’s dehydrated even though he had a bath, and I’m spraying him. Another thing he does (usually after refusing to eat, or after petting him) he will start freaking out in his cage (climbing around, knocking some menial plants over, or standing high on his legs looking almost like a cat with their ears back) and/or he does this strange movement with his head and glass surfs. This usually doesn’t last for very long, but he seems stressed out. If I give him a bath and wrap him in a towel, he closes his eyes and will go straight to sleep – I will lay him in his burrito form on the couch next to me while I do homework, and he seems to love it, hours later (he’s freezing cold; which doesn’t seem to bother him btw) I will pick him up and place him on his pillow in his cage (on his cool side, because the timer turns lights off at 10pm), cover him up, and he will stay asleep – sometimes through the entire next day! Is that ok? Sometimes I will pick him up and place him under his light so he can get warm. My question is: is he too cold to move; is that why he just lays there? He isn’t acting normal, and right now is not a time I can afford to take him to a vet – not even sure where to start looking for one. Yes, I plan on getting the T5 light, but the lights we are using are sufficient and meet requirements. His cage stays about 87-97 degrees, and cool side is low to mid 70’s. He hasn’t lost any weight either?? I want my beardie to have a happy life, and have watched so many videos, but nothing really points to the issue. Has anyone heard of a beardie behavior like this, or experienced this? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Hi Sharyl!

      Couple of suggestions I have that can hopefully help your beardie and bring you peace of mind. However, it should be noted… baby beardies are not encouraged to brumate. If he’s already doing his thing don’t worry too much as trying to stop him might just really stress him. But, ideally, they would use this time to eat so their growth isn’t stunted, not sleep.

      1. If he’s just come out of brumation definitely give him a couple weeks to adjust. Some beardies can be moody or not themselves after waking up.

      2. After a bath, gently dry him and IMMEDIATELY place him back in his tank under his heat lamp. he should not be staying away from heat when wet even if wrapped up. You can always bring him out and wrap him later after he’s had time to regulate his body temps.

      3. Have you considered that maybe he isn’t 100% out of brumation? All beardies are different, some will sleep for months and never wake up. Others will sleep a day or week here and there and be active inbetween.

      4. If he’s a baby, his cool side needs to be MUCH hotter. Aim for 85. His basking spot should also be like 105.

      All in all, I highly suggest you check out my article on bearded dragon lighting and temperatures as I can’t help but feel like this area is what could be giving you trouble. This is without a doubt, the hardest part of any proper cage setup to master especially when you’re a beginner. If you’re not using a Reptisun UVB it is highly unlikely his UVB is sufficient. Most other UVB bulbs provide very weak UVB.

      Reply
  8. I’m looking for answers for a client at the Exotic Veterinary Clinic, I work for. Her dragon(female, about 1yr old) will not eat and is of course lethargic. We have tried and tested for everything. My boss has over 30yrs experience with reptiles, his colleague, over 50.
    She’s been tested for all parasites, no MBD or gout, and her husbandry is pretty much perfect. My boss and his colleague are stumped and feel horrible, that they can’t figure it out.
    She is having to force feed. We gave meds(including appetite stimulants)and Carnivore Care. Suggested pureeing greens and proteins, to syringe feed, Repashy, organic baby food, and Repta-Boost, still she is not wanting to eat.
    Is there something we may have missed? I keep thinking, she may be stressed, because of the client’s 3 children. Every appointment one of them is carrying her in, in the soft carrier and not being very careful. So, I go right to thinking they get crazy at home. We don’t want to lose this poor baby, but we are stuck and the client is about to give up.

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie,

      Really sorry to hear about your client’s bearded dragon. Since you all have ruled out so many culprits behind a lack of appetite has anyone inquired into the specifics of the dragon’s setup at home? I know you said her husbandry is pretty much perfect but I’d be curious to know some specifics still. In particular, what her temps (basking, cool, and ambient/warm side) are and what type of lights (UVB + heat) are being used? When I hear “not eating and lethargic” this is 100% my first concern. I hope your client is using a reliable thermometer and not a stick-on dial to get her temps as these can be really inaccurate.

      It could be possible she is stressed out as well from the small children, especially if they are loud and constantly around her setup where she can see them.

      I assume she’s having her crickets dusted with calcium?

      Reply

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