Typically, losing your bearded dragon or seeing it die is a traumatic experience. Generally, a bearded dragon can die of old age, illness, or due to various husbandry mistakes.
So, how can I tell if my bearded dragon is dying? Most times you know this through your bearded dragon’s behavior. That is your dragon who has been fit and healthy suddenly displays odd behavior. Also, sometimes your bearded dragon could be showing signs of brumation but this time seems different. Basically, these and many more symptoms tell you if your bearded dragon is dying.
- how long do bearded dragons live for?
- is my bearded dragon dead or dying?
- the life cycle
- illness and disease
- could it just be old age?
- Losing weight
- what are the signs that your bearded dragon is dying or dead?
- signs that your bearded dragon is dying
- why is your bearded dragon dying
How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live For?
Basically, bearded dragons can live up to 10-15 years in captivity. Also, with very good care, bearded dragons often live at least 7-10 years.
Typically, bearded dragons over 6 years old enter the old stage of their lives. However, for some bearded dragons, it can be a bit later – at 7-8 years old.
Therefore, at this stage, your bearded dragon will eat much less, sleep more and be generally less active.
Is Your Bearded Dragon Dead Or Dying?
Basically, there is so much information available on caring for your bearded dragon and how to tell if your bearded dragon is sick. However, there is nothing that really explains that your bearded dragon doesn’t have to be sick to die since it can just be a natural event. Therefore, to put it simply, it can just be old age.
Generally, the life cycle of bearded dragons involves periodic changes in their behaviour and appearance. Particularly, many of these changes follow a cycle, for instance, shedding and brumation.
Likewise, these changes are often easy to identify because when a bearded dragon is shedding they may go off their food. As a result, they become less tolerant of being handled.
However, it is obvious they are shedding because along with these behaviours their appearance will be very dull and their skin begins to flake away.
It’s not so easy to tell what’s going on if your dragon is about to go into brumation. However, they will often appear lethargic and uninterested. Also, they may go off their food but will still appear healthy looking and shouldn’t lose weight.
Therefore, these two points: remaining healthy and not losing weight are extremely important. And will always distinguish brumation from everything else.
Generally, the first time they go into brumation can be worrying, especially for new owners. But, mind you, subsequent brumation will follow a similar pattern.
Refusing to Eat Due to Impaction, Stress, Sickness and so on
Basically, if your bearded dragon has suddenly stopped eating, there can be a few reasons. Generally, sudden refusal to eat can be due to impaction.
However, do you have loose substrate in your bearded dragon’s tank? If yes, you should replace it with
- paper towel,
- reptile carpet or
- tiles immediately.
Further, if your bearded dragon does not poop for a while and isn’t eating normally, it could be impacted. For this reason, give it a few drops of olive, vegetable oil or mineral oil then give baths.
Likewise, feed it some natural laxatives – pumpkin puree, applesauce. Bathing will actually stimulate pooping.
Likewise, you must also make sure that you don’t feed bugs or other foods that are larger than the width between the eyes.
Also, your dragon might stop eating due to low temperatures, pain, stress and more.
Could Your Bearded Dragon Dying be Due to Old Age?
Generally, in the wild, the average lifespan of a bearded dragon is 3 – 4 years and in captivity, the average age is around 8 -10 years. However, if your bearded dragon’s age is similar or above and all have previously been well with your beardie it is possible that it has just naturally reached the end of their life.
If your bearded dragon is panting a lot, trying to escape the tank and digging, then it might really be too hot for it.
Typically, extreme heat will cause overheating, stroke and death. Likewise, overheating can happen in a small tank, where the temperature gradient is impossible to create. Also, it can occur with incorrect bulbs, etc.
Basically, one of the main causes of weight loss is a parasitic infection. Hence, depending on a parasitic infection, your dragon can start losing weight, will be lethargic, will have runny and smelly poop and even blood in poop.
Further, medications can treat most parasitic infections, but some cannot. Therefore, if you suspect a parasitic infection, ensure to take a fresh sample of your dragon’s poop and request a full fecal test.
Unfortunately, some infections which can cause death are
- Yellow fungus disease,
- Adenovirus infection and more.
Signs that Your Bearded Dragon is Dying
- Your dragon’s skin looks grey or dull looking – but they are not shedding.
- They become so lethargic, uninterested and unresponsive – but they are actually not in brumation.
- Also, your bearded dragon will stop eating.
- The eyes appear droopy.
- Likewise, they may spend more time in the cool end than before.
- If they are making an attempt to move they may drag themselves along – this can be so distressing to witness.
- Literarily, your dragon appears to have just “given up”.
- Also, their breathing will suddenly become very shallow.
Signs that Your Dragon has Died
- Typically, the eyes close but not completely closed.
- Your dragon’s mouth/jaw looks unnaturally limp.
- Also, there is no movement at all and they will be unresponsive.
- Typically, they become very limp when you handle it.
- Also, it will look like they are sleeping but their appearance is different from how they would look normal when sleeping.
- Likewise, breathing will cease, although this may difficult to tell.
- Literarily, they may have a yellow color to their skin and eyes that weren’t present before. Also, they may look slightly un-natural. Sometimes, their beard and underside may stay black.
Possible Causes of Your Bearded Dragon’s Death
- Parasites or infection, especially Crypto or Adenovirus
Basically, bearded dragons can die of impaction pretty quickly. Likewise, if it ingests substrate or small object, then it might pass through the digestive tract.
However, if your bearded dragon is on loose substrates such as sand or rocks, it can lead to impaction and death.
Further, the same can happen if you feed it very large bugs. Also, you must not give your baby dragon under 6-7 months any mealworms, butterworms or superworms.
Generally, eating these bugs can cause paralysis and impaction in baby bearded dragons.
Did your bearded dragon experience any back leg paralysis? Also, did it not poop for a while? Also, was it refused to eat? Was it becoming lethargic? These are impaction signs.
This is actually very dangerous and can kill your dragon quickly by causing dehydration, confusion and stroke.
Particularly, common signs of overheating include
- severe panting,
- trying to escape the tank,
- hiding under a rock or hide and
- sitting in a corner.
Further, if you notice any overheating in your bearded dragon, take it out immediately to allow it cool down and review heating in the tank.
Likewise, high temperatures can often be with incorrect lighting and heating or in small tanks. Also, adult bearded dragons require at least a 40-55 gallon tank to themselves.
However, baby bearded dragon over a month old already requires 30 gallons tanks. So, it’s really better to get a bigger one straight away.
Therefore, in this tank, you must create a temperature gradient – a hot and cool side. However, in smaller tanks, especially for baby bearded dragons, you can’t create a gradient due to lack of space.
Further, bearded dragons require high temperature basking spots. Hence, this can create a problem in small tanks. Therefore, make sure not to use high wattage bulbs in small tanks, or tube lights either.
But, the most important thing is that your dragon does require a large tank with tube UVB light and heat bulb.
Basically, your bearded dragon can easily die from cold. Generally, bearded dragons are cold-blooded lizards, and they rely fully on outside temperatures to keep themselves warm.
Generally, the best bearded dragon body temperatures should be around 98 F (36.6 C). However, for some time, it can be fine if temperatures are lower by even 10 degrees F (around 5 C).
Also, if you keep your dragon in low temperatures for a few hours, it will go into brumating state to save itself from dying. Therefore, with more hours on, your bearded dragon will slowly start to die. However, this will depend on how low temperatures are.
Therefore, if there is a power outage in your home or if your dragon’s bulbs burn out, you can keep it warm until you find a solution. You can put your bearded dragon in a blanket, under your shirt, or even use heat packs to keep it warm.
Parasites Or Infections
Generally, most parasitic infections can kill a bearded dragon if you do not treat it. However, there are certain parasites or infections that can unavoidably cause wasting and death, even with supportive care.
Therefore, signs of parasites include
- weight loss,
- runny, smelly and even bloody poop,
- appetite loss, and
Particularly, this is true for baby bearded dragons, as many sick babies don’t survive at all. Thus, if you have a baby bearded dragon and it died very quickly, it could possibly be a parasitic infection.
This is why getting a slightly older dragon at least will give you a better chance of its survival. Unfortunately, even if this sounds harsh, weak and sick baby bearded dragons mostly don’t make it, even with intensive care.
Therefore, if you have one that was already sick or infected and it died, don’t blame yourself as it’s natural selection.
However, parasitic infections can kill adult dragons too. Also, some of the most serious parasites include
- CANV (causing Yellow Fungus disease) and more.
Therefore, other types of infections are bacterial or viral infections – such as meningitis.
Thus, if you suspect a parasitic infection in your bearded dragon, please ensure to have a full fecal test done. Also, always quarantine your new dragon. This means that you have to keep it separate from other pets and test its poop.
Lastly, with treatment, you can bring your bearded dragon back to normal. However, with weak dragons, it might not be enough.