Bearded Dragon DiseasesBearded dragons are popular reptile pets. These Australian natives are hardy, conveniently sized, and omnivorous. They can live up to fifteen years with proper care. The ideal staple for these lizards is crickets supplemented with vitamins. They also eat a variety of leafy green vegetables, including collard greens, mustard greens, squash, turnip greens, alfalfa and parsley. Sometimes bearded dragons may refuse to eat vegetables, but this is easily solved by mixing them with the preferred insects.
Although these animals are quite hardy, they are still susceptible to a variety of diseases. Mites, calcium deficiency, impactions, respiratory conditions, and parasites are all common, as well as a condition called metabolic bone disease. Bearded dragons must receive adequate amounts of calcium in their diets, as well as both UVA and UVB light. Otherwise, they will develop conditions related to the weakening of the bones and imbalances in vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous. Metabolic bone disease can cause deformities and pain in bearded dragons and other reptiles.
Parasites can be acquired from insects, greens, and unclean cage conditions. Signs of a parasite infestation include bad smelling or runny droppings on a consistent basis, weight loss and loss of appetite, and listlessness. If you see signs of any of these, you should not hesitate to take your lizard to a vet. The treatments for parasites are relatively easy to administer and have a good success rate. Long term hosting of parasites is detrimental to your dragon’s health and could eventually result in death.
Another relatively new problem that can attack bearded dragons is the adenovirus. Adenoviruses primarily take advantage of young or weak animals. The signs of this disease are vague, and can look like other problems, such as calcium deficiency. The only current way to accurately diagnose this virus is by autopsy. Many dragons do not survive this condition, but some do recover. Care for adenovirus infected animals includes force feeding, lots of fluids, and antibiotics to combat secondary bacterial infections.
Low levels of heat or too much moisture can result in respiratory conditions in bearded dragons. These problems are signified by clogged nostrils, mucus, and raspy, open mouthed breathing. They can be treated with antibiotics obtained from the vet, and by corrected cage conditions. Breeding females can suffer from egg binding. This is most common during the first breeding cycle, with infertile eggs. To prevent this, it is important to make sure that the female dragon is old enough, large enough, and healthy enough for breeding. Egg binding can only be corrected by a vet.
Fortunately, most of the afflictions that plague bearded dragons can be cured with antibiotics or other treatment, and can be prevented by adequate care. The adenovirus is the only one that has a poor prognosis, and it is not common. Extra care should be taken when acquiring a new bearded dragon, however, to make certain that it is not carrying this deadly disease.