It can be stressful when one day, you suddenly see your bearded dragon is bloated or has a puffed-up belly. Do you need to rush to the vet? Why is your bearded dragon bloated? Before panicking, it is good to know how to differentiate when this is a cause of concern or not.
Bearded dragons can get bloated when they are impacted, suffer from parasites, and when a female is egg-bound. They can also get bloated for natural reasons such as when they are soaking, basking, or when they become defensive.
It is important that you have the capacity to determine whether the bloating stems from natural behavior and if it is a sign of an illness. In this way, you can take the necessary steps that will aid with the bloating but at the same time, not stress your beardie. So read on to find out what you can do!
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How To Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Bloated?
A bloated bearded dragon is characterized by a swollen belly. It looks similar to the puffing up of the beard of your beardie in such a way that the scales around the belly are sticking on end.
When your bearded dragon is bloated, it looks as if your beardie is laying flat as the bloated belly may transcend the joints of its hind legs.
They can still move around, albeit the fact that they can also drag their underbellies while doing so.
Reasons For A Bloated Bearded Dragon And What You Can Do
Not all reasons for the bloating of your bearded dragon are bad. There are some reasons that are just a product of their normal reaction to certain stimuli.
The key to discerning the difference is to pay close attention to their other exhibitions of body language.
1. Your Bearded Dragon Is Impacted
Impaction may happen to your bearded dragon when it accidentally ingested things that cannot be properly digested. These can be small objects, rocks, gravel, sand, etc.
As these objects cannot be digested, they are just stuck in the abdomen of your beardie. There are cases when the impaction can be passed normally via pooping, but other severe cases need medical treatment.
Impaction may not be apparent at first, but as the stuck particles build up it will become very obvious as the objects can sometimes be seen through the skin of the bloated belly.
If your beardie is bloated due to impaction, it may also become lethargic and dehydrated.
Further, they will start to refuse food and they will have trouble moving around. Usually, you will see them just dragging their hind legs. If their tails and beards are also dark, this is a sign of impaction.
What To Do
If the impaction is still not serious, meaning your beardie can still move around and it is still accepting
The warm water will help move things along and your beardie can poop out the impaction.
After the bath, you can also do gentle rubs on the impacted area. You also have the choice to intentionally make your beardie poop by feeding it pureed squash or apple sauce.
Some owners have found success in mixing extra virgin olive oil and prune juice (1:1)
On the other hand, if your beardie starts to become lethargic and the soaking is not working, you need to go to the vet to avoid dehydration.
They can also do an x-ray to see how impacted your beardie is, and see if the impaction needs to be taken out surgically.
2. Your Bearded Dragon Has Parasites
It is also possible that your beardie is bloated due to a parasitic infection. As the infection progresses in the body of your beardie, gases are released in the gut.
These gases will also cause the belly to bloat, much like when humans bloat due to acidity.
If this is the case, you can see that your beardie may bask with its mouth open in an effort to be rid of the belly gasses. It will also try to drink more from the water bowl.
Another sign that it is bloating due to parasites is that your beardie is suffering from diarrhea. However, even though it keeps pooping, the belly remains swollen.
You can take a look at this article to learn more about diarrhea in beardies and how to help.
What To Do
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has parasites, you need to immediately go to the vet, especially when two days have passed and it is still suffering from diarrhea.
Treating diarrhea in bearded dragons can be a painful endeavor, thus you have to take precautions to prevent your beardie from getting parasites. One thing that you can do is to regularly clean the water and food bowl.
You should not leave uneaten
The same goes for poop as your beardie may drag it around the enclosure. This supplement can also help prevent parasitic infection.
3. Your Bearded Dragon Is Gravid
It may come as a surprise to you that even unmated female bearded dragons may become gravid. They can produce and lay infertile eggs. It is also possible that your female beardie came into contact with a male before you got it.
When they have eggs inside them, it can make them bloated. They will also have more appetite and will pace around the enclosure in an effort to find other places to lay their eggs.
If your female is egg-binding, meaning it is having difficulty laying eggs it can also cause them to get bloated. Another sign of egg binding is that they start to become lethargic.
What To Do
In order to make sure that you have a gravid female bearded dragon, you can gently feel around its bloated belly.
Make sure to not apply too much pressure. If you feel eggs, then you should just let your beardie be and wait until it lays the eggs.
You can also help your beardie to lay the eggs by giving it a warm soak. A lot of owners, found success with the soaking method, with their female beardie laying the eggs a day after the soak.
On the other hand, if it starts to become lethargic, you should go to the vet so that the eggs can be removed from its system.
Egg binding can be dangerous to female beardies if the eggs are not removed for an extended period of time.
4. Did Your Bearded Dragon Took A Bath?
If you notice that your bearded dragon is starting to bloat while it is having a bath or after a bath, you have nothing to worry about.
When they are having a bath to aid with shedding, they can puff up their bodies to stretch the dry skin and let the water spread all over their body.
It is also possible that the water is too deep that they puff up their bellies in order to float. Or they are puffing up their bellies as a reaction to the relaxing bath.
What To Do
Make sure that the water level of the bath is not too deep. The water level should not pass their mouths when they are normally standing.
For added measure, you can add a rock or hide inside the bath or tub so they have something to hold on to, just to make them feel more secure.
5. Your Beardie Is Basking
If you notice that your bearded dragon is bloated while it is basking, but then later on when it is on the cool side of the enclosure, the bloated belly is gone, then it is simply puffing up its belly to absorb more UV rays.
This is a normal bearded dragon behavior as they want to get more surface area to absorb as many UV rays as they can. They also do this in wild, especially when the sun is starting to really shine brightly which is around noon.
What To Do
You do not have to do anything as this does not pose any threat to your bearded dragon. Just make sure that the basking spot is in the right area and it is not too near your beardie to avoid burns.
Bearded dragons are in Ferguson zone 3 and the UV index for this zone is between 2.0-7.4.
If you want to be very thorough and make sure that your beardie always gets the right amount of UVB, you can use a UVI meter just like this one to see when it is time to replace your UVB bulb.
6. Your Bearded Dragon Is Defensive
Bearded dragons are known for puffing up their beards based on a certain stimulus in their environment. However, they can also puff up their bellies when they are displaying defensive behavior.
When this is the case, the bloatedness of your beardie is just temporary and just lasts until it calms down. This usually happens when you take your beardie out of the enclosure and let it explore your garden or yard.
Tip: You can take a look at this article to learn more about the reasons why your bearded dragon is puffing up.
What To Do
You just have to monitor your bearded dragon when it puffs up its belly while it is in its enclosure or outside.
It is good for them to express their natural defensive mechanism from time to time, but letting them get stressed too much may impact their health.
Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Bloated After Eating
Bearded dragons can get bloated after a full meal simply because they need to be able to bask and roam around in their enclosure to start the digestion process.
You will notice that their bellies will significantly become smaller as nighttime approaches.
On the other hand, it may also be possible that you are overfeeding your beardie. To avoid this, always take away uneaten
More often than not, bloatedness in bearded dragons can be remedied with at-home solutions. You just have to properly determine if the bloat is caused by an illness or serious issue, or if it is just a regular response.
Always be on the lookout for other signs like diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration, or darkening of the beard. When these signs show themselves, then it means that you are dealing with stomach or parasite problems.