Has your bearded dragon suddenly started shaking? If so, you are probably worried and wondering what is going on.
The most common cause of shaking in bearded dragons is calcium deficiency, or metabolic bone disease. Less common reasons include too little or too much of certain vitamins as well as parasites and disease. In short, a shaking bearded dragon is a sick bearded dragon.
It is important to understand the potential causes of shaking in bearded dragons so that you can make sure that they stay healthy and safe. In this article, we will cover six reasons why your bearded dragon might be shaking and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Shaking
Shaking in bearded dragons can involve the whole body or it may be limited to specific parts, such as shaking of the head. Shaking is not a normal behavior for bearded dragons and is usually a symptom of a vitamin or mineral deficiency or a disease.
As a bearded dragon owner, you must understand the causes of shaking in bearded dragons so that you can take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
1. Calcium Deficiency
The most common cause of shaking in bearded dragons is calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcemia.
Symptoms of hypocalcemia include muscle tremors (shaking), lethargy, loss of appetite, constipation, and twitching.
So if your bearded dragon is shaking, not eating, and not pooping, there’s a good chance it is suffering from a calcium deficiency.
If not corrected, hypocalcemia will also lead to metabolic bone disease. Symptoms of metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons include soft or receded jaw and facial bones, swelling of the face or limbs, deformities, and abnormal postures.
Mild cases of hypocalcemia can be treated with proper mineral and vitamin supplements, but more severe cases will need immediate veterinary care.
Once deformities of the bones have occurred, there is no coming back from that and death is the most likely outcome.
Prevent calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease by making sure your bearded dragon has enough calcium in its diet.
This means feeding them a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and insects that are high in calcium plus an appropriate calcium supplements (dusting the insects with calcium powder and free-choice shredded sepia bone are strongly recommended).
2. Vitamin D3 Deficiency
Bearded dragons rely on more than just
A bearded dragon’s main source of vitamin D3 is UVB lighting, which enables its skin to make this essential vitamin.
A critical part of bearded dragon husbandry is making sure your pet has access to a reptile-specific UVB lamp that they can bask under daily.
If your bearded dragon is still shaking despite proper lighting, it may need additional supplementation with vitamin D3. However, proper UVB lighting is usually enough to do the trick, so long as they also have adequate calcium at the same time.
If you do choose to give your bearded dragon a vitamin D3 supplement, do so with care. This is because too much vitamin D3 can also cause problems, resulting in the calcification of soft tissues, organ failure, and death.
If you want to learn more about the best UVB lighting for bearded dragons, you can read more about this topic here.
3. Vitamin A Toxicity
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing! Although vitamin A is not a direct cause of shaking in bearded dragons, the stress caused by the toxicity can result in tremors and shaking.
The primary signs of vitamin A toxicity in bearded dragons include skin ulcers and varied degrees of sloughing skin.
Other signs include loss of appetite, lethargy, and dehydration; the resulting stress and weakness can result in tremors and shaking.
Vitamin A toxicity is most often caused by feeding a multivitamin supplement too often, or feeding one with vitamin A levels that are too high for bearded dragons.
Always read the label and make sure any supplement you give your bearded dragon is appropriate for their species.
4. Vitamin B Deficiency
On the other hand, not enough of a good thing is bad as well. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency will result in neurologic symptoms including twitching, tremors, and shaking. Blindness, egg binding, and difficulty moving can also occur.
Other B vitamins (biotin, folic acid, B12) are important for your bearded dragon’s health as well.
To prevent these and other vitamin deficiencies, use a multivitamin supplement designed for bearded dragons and follow the recommended feeding schedule which is usually once a week.
5. Diseases And Parasites
The most common reasons for shaking in a bearded dragon are vitamin or mineral deficiencies as described above. However, disease and parasites can also cause shaking.
Diseases and parasites can make your bearded dragon weak. Weakness can be seen as trembling, shaking, or lethargy.
If your bearded dragon is shaking and you have ruled out vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it is then time to investigate these other causes.
If you think your bearded dragon might have a disease or parasite, take it to the veterinarian immediately. They will be able to diagnose the problem and prescribe any necessary treatments.
6. Neurologic Disorders
Many of the vitamin and mineral deficiencies discussed so far result in neurologic or muscle disorders that could manifest as shaking and trembling.
But there are primary neurologic disorders that can cause this as well, such as central nervous system infections, damage to the spine or spinal cord, trauma, lesions on the brain or spinal cord, tumors, or diseases of the muscles themselves.
These conditions usually require veterinary care and diagnosis in order to be treated successfully.
Is My Bearded Dragon Shaking Because It Is Cold?
The answer here is “probably not” since reptiles are cold-blooded and do not use shivering to generate heat as mammals do.
Some bearded dragon owners have reported apparent cold-related shivering, but this reaction is most likely a stress behavior resulting from being in a sub-optimum environment.
Do I Need To Be Worried About Head Bobbing?
Head bobbing is a normal behavior of bearded dragons and not something to be worried about. Head bobbing is body language that they use to convey dominance.
If you want to learn more about the meaning of head bobs, read our article on that here.
Do I Need To Be Worried About Tail Twitching?
Tail twitching by itself is usually not something that you need to be worried about. Tail twitches are another type of body language that bearded dragons use.
Shaking, trembling, and tremors in bearded dragons are not normal and are a clear indication that your pet is not well.
While the most common cause is a calcium deficiency, it can also be caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies, diseases and parasites, and primary neurologic disorders.
If your bearded dragon is shaking, it is important to investigate the cause so that it can get the care they need.
Always make sure you are providing your bearded dragon with a proper diet, adequate UVB exposure, and the right supplements so they stay healthy and happy.
Many of the reasons for shaking are life-threatening and need immediate attention. Once shaking starts to happen, your pet may not have time for you to experiment with diet, supplements, and lighting.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from any of the symptoms discussed in this article, contact your veterinarian for help. They will be able to examine them and provide treatment if necessary.