When pets throw up, it’s never a good sign, and bearded dragons are no exception to the rule. If you notice your beardie throwing up, you need to act quickly and figure out why such a thing has happened.
Don’t worry; there is no need to panic that your bearded dragon is dying. However, it is something you should be taking seriously, especially if your bearded dragon is throwing up blood or mucus.
These cases would absolutely require the use of a vet, so make an appointment right away if you notice this happening in your reptile.
It is also a good idea to collect some of the vomit so your vet can analyze it. Use an old food container that you will no longer eat from or an old, clean prescription pill bottle.
That being said, let’s dive and look at some of the reasons your bearded dragon is throwing up.
Reason 1: Your Beardie Is Suffering from Impaction
If you have a beardie who has eaten too big of a cricket or eaten some of their substrate or has been living in a tank with less than optimum temperatures, they may be impacted.
It is when the bearded dragon is suffering from a blockage of solid or semi-solid mass in their digestive tract and are thus unable to go to the bathroom.
It is a painful and severe condition and will result in them failing to eliminate properly. They will usually stop eating, and thus their nutrition suffers.
You can give them a warm bath and gently massage their sides as a means of helping them to get things moving.
Reason 2: Digestive Issues Are at Play
Heat and UVB light is absolutely critical to the well-being of your bearded dragon. It helps them absorb and break down calcium in their diet, and it also helps your bearded dragon digest his food in the best way possible.
Without having heat, food will just sort of stay in a bearded dragon’s stomach and rot, which leads to them throwing it up as a means of expelling the rancid and rotten food.
It is one of the main reasons I preach so much about keeping cage temps in the right spot. For a bearded dragon during the day, I recommend that you keep the cage temps at 78 to 88 degrees F for the daytime temps and 70 degrees F at night.
Basking spots in your cage should be kept at 95 to 105 degrees F, as this helps them get their body temp where it needs to be.
It doesn’t take much to keep the heat up to par in your bearded dragons’ cage, either-simply installing a good quality 100-watt light bulb is good enough. I don’t advocate for those expensive reptile heat lamps.
Also, make sure you have an excellent UVB lamp, which is crucial, too – I absolutely stand by this one from ZooMed.
If you need help with setting up your bearded dragon tank, our Beardie Care Ebook Bundle (have a look at it here) shows you everything you need to know about that and everything else about bearded dragon care.
Reason 3: Dealing with High Coccidia Numbers or Other Parasites
What is coccidia?
These are small parasites that live within a bearded dragon’s intestine tract.
Many bearded dragons’ immune systems are perfectly good at keeping these parasite levels where they need to be. However, bearded dragons with an unusually high coccidia count are liable to become quite sick.
Other parasites present in the habitat of the bearded dragon can also contribute to the coccidia spreading, which brings their numbers to an unmanageable level for your bearded dragon.
These parasites are quite dangerous in the sense that they take away vital nutrients that your bearded dragon’s body needs. It, in turn, leads to reptiles that are sickly, anemic, or stunted in growth.
Look for these signs as you care for your bearded dragon.
- Weight loss
- Irritated nature
- No appetite
I Suspect Parasites, What Do I Do?
If you think parasites are plaguing your beardie, then get them to the vet as soon as you can. These can be fatal for your bearded dragon and should NOT be ignored in hopes they will go away on their own.
Make sure you get a sample of the fecal matter using a bag as well as their vomit. It is advised to refrigerate this (do not place them in the kitchen fridge; instead, perhaps keep them in a foam cooler or bag with an ice pack).
It will help your vet do some testing on the excrement and see what parasites are plaguing your bearded dragon and prescribe the beardie some medication.
Reason 4: The Beardie Is Overfed
Did you ever eat too much and end up not feeling so well? Did you ever eat and then throw up because you ate too much of a good thing?
Bearded dragons can absolutely throw up as a result of eating too much food. If you give your beardie too many crickets, they can most certainly throw up as a result.
It may be easy to spoil your adorable bearded dragon with heaps of insects and watching them hunt the live crickets around the cage is a lot of fun. But feeding too much is not healthy for your bearded dragon in many ways and throwing up is just one of those reasons.
I recommend that you let your bearded dragon fast one day per week for good health. I give my beardies live food 2 to 3 times each week, and 6 days per week, I give them fresh veggies to enjoy.
And then on the seventh day, my beardies fast.
They, of course, have access to water, but I feel this is natural and my beardies are as healthy as can be. It is not hard, after all, for your bearded dragon to become fat and possibly obese. Obesity leads to damage of the liver and the kidneys, which can be fatal.
Small mammals may be fed too, but just once in a while. I do not advise feeding them more than once in a three-month time span.
No Mealworms Allowed
I know this article centers upon why bearded dragons throw up, but earlier I mentioned liver and kidney failure as a result of becoming obese. Mealworms are high in fat and low in protein, and this is why I advise against feeding it to your bearded dragon.
After all, they are easy to overfeed and make your bearded dragon into one chubby reptile.
A fat bearded dragon is no fun because they do not move as much, and they can suffer from fatty liver disease. They might even develop issues digesting thanks to the hard exoskeleton of the mealworms.
I advise staying away from these mealworms and checking out my article on mealworms for the full scoop.
Reason 5: The Bearded Dragon Is Dehydrated
Just as some humans can become dehydrated, bearded dragons can too. Dehydration can actually be a reason that bearded dragons end up vomiting. If you suspect dehydration, pinch a part of their skin gently.
If it goes back into place quickly, this means they are hydrated. If it does not go back right away, your beardie needs some fluid.
Thankfully, there are a few different ways your bearded dragon can get some hydration.
And it is important to remember that because these little guys are native to Australia, a place known for being warm and dry, they are used to being somewhat dehydrated. (This is no excuse not to provide water, but just good to know).
Here they are:
You can mist your beardie once a day. Just get a spray bottle and fill it up with warm, not cold, water. Do not use hot water either- you are looking for that “just right” temperature when using your spray bottle.
Then, make sure the spray bottle is on the spray, not the jet, settings. The liquid that comes out should be in the form of a fine mist. It will be a more comfortable experience for your bearded dragon overall.
Remember, keep this down to just once per day-any more than that could be too much. You should mist over the head, as this will let larger droplets form on the head of the beardie. They will roll down the head and sit along the mouth, and the beardie cannot help but lick it in.
Giving Them Water in A Dish
It is the tried and true way of getting your bearded dragon the hydration they need to feel good. You can put a bowl of water into the enclosure for your beardie to enjoy. Make sure you monitor the water bowl for any debris or undesirable substances and change it out when needed.
Give Water Through A Dropper
If your bearded dragon is not drinking, but he is clearly in need of some hydration, you can administer water by way of a dropper. You can put the water, Gatorade or Pedialyte into the dropper and administer it to your bearded dragon as a means of getting their fluid levels up.
A common grocery market staple is a good thing for your beardie when he or she is in need of rehydrating. These items which you can find just about anywhere are excellent at restoring electrolytes to your bearded dragon.
You can offer it to them in a bowl, or you can administer this to them using a dropper. It is an excellent way to get your beardie back to a healthy state and quite cost-effective.
Bathing Your Dragon
Beardies do not need baths often except for when fecal matter or dirt gets on them. However, warm baths are a great way to help with dehydration and also impaction if that has afflicted your beardie.
Baths are also great helpers when it comes to getting your bearded dragon’s skin shed off, too. A warm bath will help soak and detach the old skin. If there is some old skin remaining on the toes or the tail, all you have to do is gently rub off the skin while you bathe your beardie.
Baths should not be a substitute for water or misting. Too many baths can lead to diarrhea. Keep these on an as-needed basis.
Reason 5: The Bearded Dragon Ate Some Bad Food
When humans eat something bad – be it old rotten food or food that was not prepared correctly – we sometimes throw up as a means of getting the harmful stuff out of our systems.
Your bearded dragon is no different. When your bearded dragon vomits, it could be a product of some bad food like mealworms, or even a toxic plant during outside time.
No matter what happened to your bearded dragon that caused him to vomit, there are a few steps you can take to get him uprighted and feeling better again.
If you did feed your beardie some mealworms and you believe they ingested a mealworm with a particularly hard outer shell, I advise you to stop feeding mealworms and discard any remaining ones.
Keep an eye on your bearded dragon to make sure their appetite returns after some time.
Also, do take a look at the vomit. If it has chunks of the exoskeleton of the insect, and your beardie seems like himself, then don’t worry about it too much.
Now onto toxic plants.
If you think your bearded dragon has consumed a plant that is less than savory, get them to the vet ASAP.
A little fresh cilantro or activated charcoal like this one and lots of fresh water can help them pass the toxic plants.
What exactly counts as toxic plants for a bearded dragon? Let’s find out in our next section below.
A Few Toxic Plants for Bearded Dragons
There are dozens of toxic plants for bearded dragons, but here are a few of the most common ones you might have around your home or neighborhood:
- Lily of The Valley
- Morning Glory
- Skunk cabbage
Reason 6: Your Bearded Dragon Contracted Salmonella
Salmonellosis is caused by salmonella bacterial. It is a gastrointestinal disease of the zoonotic variety.
It can be spread through human and animal contact. This is why you should always wash hands thoroughly after you handle your bearded dragon, clean out their enclosure, or reach into the cage for some quick daily cleaning or just when you are adjusting something inside.
Many bearded dragons that carry these particular bacteria in their gut are totally fine. After all, small, minuscule amounts of these specific bacteria don’t pose a massive threat to the reptile.
On the other hand, you still have to be careful. If you have a beardie with a weakened immune system, then you have to be cautious because salmonellosis is much more of a risk. You are likely to see diarrhea, throwing up, and infections such as septicemia.
It is important to note that bearded dragons do not often become infected by salmonella. However, it is not something to rule out completely. Again, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of proper handwashing after handling your beardie.
In 2014, an article was published indicating that in the last two years, 132 people in 21 US States reported getting sick with salmonella, and 21 of them had reported handling a bearded dragon. (Source)
Reason 7: The Cage Is Not Being Adequately Cleaned
Having good hygiene for your beardie is critical. Every day you should be spot cleaning the tank, getting rid of any fecal matter as soon as you see it. You can use a scoop and a plastic bag to remove any of these waste products and make your bearded dragon’s habitat instantly better.
Water must also be changed out every day, getting rid of dirty or debris-filled water and replacing it with fresh.
You must also wash the glass each week, clean food and water bowls, and ensure that you are cleaning underneath the substrate.
Failure to clean the cage on a regular basis could lead your bearded dragon to develop parasites that are internal. They may even show up in your bearded dragon’s excrement. The best thing to do is to make sure you stay on the up and up with your cleaning.
You can also prevent sickness by using supplies dedicated to your bearded dragon- that is, do not use your family’s towels to dry off your beardie.
Wash his food and water bowls in a bucket or sink away from your family’s kitchen and washing the dragon’s cage accessories away from the kitchen sink or other food prep areas.
Now you are aware of seven reasons as to why your bearded dragon is throwing up.
The main takeaways are:
- Keep the enclosure clean as possible
- Do not overfeed your bearded dragon
- Make sure you wash hands after handling your beardie
- Avoid toxic plants and hard to digest foods
- Make sure they are hydrated
Simple, basic care will help your beardie avoid throwing up and feel comfortable!