Bearded dragons are hardy lizards, but they still need regular meals to stay healthy. If you’re faced with a situation where your bearded dragon isn’t eating, you probably want to know – how long can a bearded dragon go without eating before it’s a cause for concern?

If you don’t have time to read the full article, here’s the short answer: Healthy adult bearded dragons can go without eating for 10-14 days, but hatchlings and juveniles may only last about 5 days due to higher metabolism and lack of fat stores.

Dehydration becomes a risk before starvation does, so providing water is crucial.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about bearded dragon fasting and anorexia. We discuss the maximum duration a healthy bearded dragon can go without food, risks of not eating, causes of appetite loss, how to get them eating again, and how to prevent issues in the future.

How Long Can Bearded Dragons Go Without Food?

Bearded dragons can survive without food for quite some time, but the exact length depends on their age and size. Here’s a breakdown of how long bearded dragons can go without eating:


Adult bearded dragons can generally go 2-3 weeks without food as long as they have access to water. Their growth has slowed down significantly at this point, so they don’t require as much food to maintain their body weight.

During this time, they will gradually lose weight as their fat reserves decrease. It’s important not to let an adult go more than 3 weeks without eating though, as they risk liver damage from fat mobilization. Their health can deteriorate quickly if left unfed for over 3 weeks.

Babies and Juveniles

Baby and juvenile bearded dragons have higher metabolisms and are still growing rapidly. They should never go more than about 5-7 days without food.

At just a few months old, babies need to eat every day as they are in a major growth phase. Missing more than one or two feedings can be detrimental.

Juveniles around 4-8 months old can sometimes go up to 7 days, but that is the absolute maximum for their health. They will start to lose weight rapidly after a few missed meals.

It’s highly recommended to never intentionally let a baby or juvenile bearded dragon go more than 2-3 days without food. Their little bodies depend on frequent feedings while growing.

Risks of Bearded Dragons Not Eating


Starvation is perhaps the most obvious risk when a bearded dragon stops eating. Reptiles have slower metabolisms than warm-blooded animals, but they still need regular food and nutrients. According to veterinarians, an adult bearded dragon can go without eating for 2-3 weeks before becoming extremely weakened or dying.

However, dragons should never intentionally be deprived of food for this long. Starvation causes muscle wasting, organ damage, and eventually death. It is incredibly inhumane to allow this to happen.

Fatty Liver Disease

Another phenomenon that occurs in undernourished reptiles is hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver disease. Since the bearded dragon isn’t getting food from external sources, its body starts breaking down fat reserves.

This releases a lot of fat metabolites into the bloodstream, which get deposited in the liver and cause dysfunction. According to veterinary studies, up to 54% of sick reptiles may suffer from this condition.

Symptoms of fatty liver disease include lethargy, jaundice, documented weight loss over time, and swelling of the abdomen. Owners may also see vertical neck stiffness. Treatment involves correcting nutrition and hydration. However, the prognosis is poor once a bearded dragon reaches an advanced stage.


Lastly, decreased food intake leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances in reptiles. While some desert-dwelling lizards can go months without water, bearded dragons need constant access to clean drinking water.

When dehydrated, these reptiles often develop kidney problems and become even more unwilling to eat their vegetables.

Symptoms of dehydration include sunken eyes, loss of skin elasticity, sticky saliva, and thick urates. Owners can provide supportive care with fluids under the skin or in the coelomic cavity. Preventing dehydration is much easier than treating it, however.

Owners should make sure their habitats have clean, easily accessed water bowls.

Causes of Bearded Dragon Not Eating


Brumation is similar to hibernation in mammals and is a natural semi-dormant state that bearded dragons enter when temperatures cool and daylight hours decrease. During brumation, bearded dragons are less active, eat less frequently, and may go days or weeks without eating.

This is normal seasonal behavior that should not cause concern, as long as the dragon remains healthy overall and starts eating normally again when emerging from brumation.

Stress or Change

Bearded dragons are creatures of habit and can be stressed by changes in their environment or routine. Moving enclosures, changing lighting schedules, introducing new cage furnishings, handling by strangers, loud noises, construction in the home, or adding another pet to the household can all potentially stress a beardie.

Stressed dragons often refuse food at first. Making adjustments gradually whenever possible can help them acclimate to changes.

Health Issues

An array of health problems like mouth rot, gastrointestinal issues, parasites, respiratory infections, etc. can make a dragon go off feed. Symptoms like lethargy, weight loss, unusual bowel movements, discharge from nostrils or eyes are red flags for illness.

Consulting an exotic veterinarian to diagnose and treat any underlying condition is crucial for getting them eating again.

Husbandry Issues

Improper housing and care is another common reason for appetite loss. Some examples include:

  • Incorrect temperatures – Beardies need a basking area of 95-110°F to properly digest food. Cooler temps can suppress appetite.
  • Faulty heating – Malfunctioning or incorrectly placed heat lamps/pads can create pockets of unsuitable temperatures.
  • Small enclosures – An adult bearded dragon needs at least a 40-75 gallon tank, or 4 x 2 x 2 feet. Cramped cages cause chronic stress.
  • Substrate issues – Loose substrates like sand can cause impaction when accidentally ingested, discouraging eating.
  • No UVB lighting – Critical for metabolizing calcium and overall health. Without it, they refuse food and become ill.
  • Dehydration – Signs like sunken eyes indicate dehydration which markedly reduces appetite. Supplying fresh drinking water daily is essential.
  • Other factors – Excessive handling, lack of appropriate hiding spots, dirty cages, etc. also impact feeding behavior.

Re-evaluating husbandry against care standards, correcting any deficiencies, and providing stable conditions may help get a beardie eating again. Consulting with an exotic pet specialist can pinpoint problem areas.

How to Get a Bearded Dragon to Eat Again

Check Husbandry

Proper husbandry is key to a healthy bearded dragon with a good appetite. Check that the vivarium meets the ideal temperature range of 75-105°F with a basking spot at 95-110°F. Use thermometers on both cool and warm ends to monitor (

Ensure the habitat also has proper UVB lighting and a diet with adequate calcium. Dehydration can cause appetite loss, so provide clean water and mist vegetables daily.

Offer Favorite Foods

Try enticing your beardie to eat by offering its favorite insects and veggies. Good insect options include appropriately sized crickets, worms, and roaches. Offer a variety of healthy vegetables like collard greens, squash, bell peppers, and sweet potato.

Place the food right in front of your dragon multiple times a day. You can try hand feeding as well. Favorite foods are more likely to jumpstart its appetite again.

Assist Feed If Needed

If your bearded dragon is still not eating after a couple days, then you may need to assist feed it. Using stainless steel feeding tweezers, hold an insect to the side of your dragon’s mouth until it bites down on its own. Dip bugs in beet or fruit baby food to stimulate smell and taste.

Assist feeding should help get your beardie’s appetite going again, but always be extremely gentle.

See a Vet

If you’ve tried the above recommendations for a week with no luck getting your bearded dragon to eat on its own again, then a vet visit is needed. Some underlying health issues like mouth rot, parasites or brumation could be causing appetite loss.

Only a qualified reptile vet can accurately diagnose and properly treat these conditions. With medical care, most beardies fully regain their appetite and return to normal eating habits.

Issue % Bearded Dragons Affected
Parasites 15%
Mouth Rot 12%
Brumation 30% adult dragons

How to Prevent Eating Issues in Bearded Dragons

Proper Husbandry

Ensuring proper husbandry is key to avoiding eating problems in bearded dragons. This includes setting up the right sized enclosure (at least 40 gallons for juveniles), maintaining proper temperatures (with basking areas of 95-110°F), and providing adequate UVB lighting so they can properly synthesize vitamin D3.

Proper substrates like tiles or reptile carpets should be used over sand, which can cause impaction. Their habitat should include ample hiding spots to make them feel secure, as stress can lead to poor appetite.

Healthy Diet

Feeding a nutritious, varied diet is crucial. 75% should consist of leafy greens like collard, mustard, and turnip greens. The rest should comprise insects (crickets, dubia roaches) and vegetables. Fruits can be given sparingly as treats. Variety ensures they get all required nutrients.

Feed babies 2 times a day, juveniles once daily and adults every 2nd day. Calcium and vitamin supplements should be used as well. Keep the feeding routine consistent.

Minimize Stress

Bearded dragons are easily stressed, which can negatively impact eating habits. Always give them proper handling by scooping gently from underneath, never dropping from above into their enclosure. Allow them to adapt slowly to new environments and routine changes.

Avoid exposing them to other pets like dogs initially. Really limit stressful events as it can take them weeks to return to normal feeding routines.

Routine Vet Checks

Annual vet checkups are recommended, or if symptoms arise suggesting health issues. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and obvious weight loss. The vet can check for internal parasites, infections, and other conditions causing loss of appetite or energy.

Always seek veterinary advice if a reptile stops eating for over 2 weeks despite attempts to minimize stress and induce natural feeding response.


While bearded dragons can go a fair amount of time without food if healthy, lack of appetite or not eating is always a cause for attention. By understanding normal fasting times, risks involved, addressing potential causes promptly, and taking preventative husbandry measures, you can help keep your bearded dragon happy, healthy and eager to eat.

If your bearded dragon still refuses food even after making changes, or seems ill, lethargic or losing weight, a vet visit is warranted. Catching any issues early greatly improves the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Similar Posts