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?
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.
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, brumation, an 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.
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.)?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!