So, your little guy or girl is looking a little (hopefully not a lot…) on the thin side and you’d like to fatten them up? First and foremost, good for you! You see, unlike French fashion models, “skinny” is by no means a desirable body type for a bearded dragon.
In short, the best way to get your bearded dragon to gain weight, is to make sure their UVB setup is accurate and adjust their diet. Chances are if your dragon is underweight, one of these two variables is to blame.
To further understand how to make a bearded dragon gain weight and fatten them up, just keep reading!
If you’ve been looking at your dragon thinking to yourself that they look skinny, chances are that they are! Sometimes as pet owners, we can be a little dramatic and paranoid because we simply want what’s best for our pets… after all, they’re family!
To know whether or not your dragon is too skinny/malnourished, consider the following…
The fat pads on the head lay on top of the head behind each eye. A healthy weight dragon will have normal fat pads that are slightly raised, whereas a malnourished dragon will have fat pads that sink down some.
Unlike dogs, where you typically want to be able to just barely notice the ribs (at least for most breeds), you don’t want to be able to see them on your bearded dragon.
A malnourished dragon will have loose skin, much like a person who used to be very heavyset and lost a bunch of weight. If your dragon is well hydrated and seems to have loose skin, this can be a sign for concern.
To know for certain, allow your dragon to hydrate themselves properly with a nice warm bath for 15 minutes, as proper hydration can contribute to skin plumpness a little. If after taking them out of the bath and drying them off their skin is still loose, then you can pretty much confidently conclude your dragon is underweight.
Kind of a no brainer, right? If your dragon isn’t getting the nutrients they need, not only will they be underweight… they won’t have energy to thrive!
If you’ve determined your bearded dragon is underweight, then it’s up to you to try and put some weight on them! Please see the following suggestions for what you can do to get them healthy.
What kind of UVB bulb are you using? How far away is it from your reptile? These are serious questions to consider as the wrong UVB setup can definitely diminish your dragon’s appetite.
Check the picture below to see more about what a proper UVB setup looks like.
If your dragon is under a year, and especially 6 months or younger, then they really should be eating as much protein as they want, during three to five, 5-10 minute feeding sessions daily.
Once your dragon hits a year of age, you can transition them to a less protein rich diet in favor of more greens, during 2 meals daily. It is also important that you are gut-loading feeders that you give to your dragon.
If you’ve addressed the concerns above and your bearded dragon still isn’t eating, I recommend getting a stool sample to take to a herp vet to test for parasites.
While awaiting the results, very gently syringe feed your dragon a mix of organic baby food (squash and sweet potatoes are great options) with some Critical Care mixed in. Do this three times a day for a week OR until the urinate are a healthy white.
How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Eat: 4 Proven Strategies for Success
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!