Until a few decades ago, pets other than mammals or birds didn’t exist. Reptiles and fish only began to enter homes in the 1950s and to be domesticated as pets. Although people were suspicious at first, they quickly got used to these little creatures such as the bearded dragon.
As you can see on beardeddragonguidance.com, the bearded dragon is one of the most desirable pets today. These lizards are intelligent and friendly to people. They enjoy cuddling and scratching the neck and ‘collar,’ which is their trademark. Beardies are recommended even to families with kids because these small animals are not aggressive. Moreover, they are known for their very calm nature.
Reptiles are prone to certain diseases, but the right care can prevent them. Also, one should know that most lizards go through cycles during the year when they act sick when they are not. So, learn to distinguish conditions when their pets are really sick from regular periods like shedding or brumation.
If you decide to adopt a bearded dragon or any reptile, you should know that the bearded dragon is the biggest challenge in the necessary equipment. This lizard can reach up to 24 inches in lengths, which means that they need more space to feel comfortable. Besides the dimensions, the terrarium should be equipped with a lamp providing constant light. Beardies are desert animals, accustomed to large amounts of sunlight.
Bearded dragons have retained some of the essential characteristics of their survival in the wilderness. One of them is the camouflage, which is why they often hide the symptoms of the disease. That was the way how these tiny animals hid their weakness from natural enemies.
This ability can be very tricky if you are unfamiliar with how to raise reptiles. Although your beardie may look healthy, it can happen to be sick, and vice versa. It is essential to know the disease’s real symptoms and distinguish them from the normal processes that your pet has to go through.
Usual Stages in Bearded Dragon Lives
Bearded dragons have specific periods during the year when they look weak and sick, but they are actually in perfect health. That most often occurs during shedding and brumation times. Shedding happens due to changing climatic conditions and ‘outgrowing’ an old skin.
Brumation is a type of hibernation and occurs as a natural reptile response to season change. It usually occurs during the cold days. During hibernation, your pet sleeps and keeps vital functions to a minimum. The length of this period and sleeping schedule are individual, from a few days to a couple of months. The recommendation is not to interrupt your pet while hibernating. Let things go their natural order.
Diseases in bearded dragons most often occur due to improper living conditions. On this source, see how to set terrarium for your beardie. Reptiles, their care, and diet are specific and need a lot of attention (and money). If you don’t take this seriously, dehydration, poor nutrition, or lack of hygiene of their living space, can cause many health issues.
Many factors affect the loss of fluid in the body of reptiles. Because their bodies are adapted to high temperatures, they have unique mechanisms to keep their bodies hydrated. That is why beardies must always have available fresh water for drinking and bathing.
Dehydration in itself is not a disease, but it can lead to it. Sunken eyes, wrinkled or sagging skin, lack of energy, and disturbed diet are potential signs. If neglected, dehydration may cause issues with kidneys or a gastrointestinal tract.
Internal and External Parasites
Some reptiles, if they belong to wild species, can have parasites. That is often the case if you get your beardie from wildness or an unverified or illegal source. Many of these hangers-on are zoonoses, i.e., they can be transmitted to humans.
Some parasites can stay in the body of reptiles for a long time without showing any symptoms. Suppose your pet eats and poops as usual. In that case, parasite presence is often only detected at a regular check-up by a vet.
Internal bacteria and microorganisms often cause intestinal tract issues. Then stool problems and weight loss occur in bearded dragons. Bacteria can also cause Infectious stomatitis, an infection which manifests in the mouth and jaw area. The most common signs are swollen gums and excessive mucus.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Inadequate care, in the case of bearded dragons, includes a diet low in vitamins and a lack of exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays. Then metabolic bone disease (MBD) can occur, especially in animals younger than two years. The common symptoms of this disease are physical weakness, numbness of the jaw and limbs, and inability to walk.
Due to the low levels of calcium and vitamin D, the reptile’s bone tissue loses its density, and the bones become fragile. Even the slightest injury can cause fractures. Sick beardies usually can’t stand up, but mostly lie on the ground. As the MBD, muscle ticks, seizures, loss of appetite, and lethargy may occur.
Adjusting the temperature, light, and diet are the initial steps in treating MBD in bearded dragons. Besides, an increased intake of vitamins and calcium is necessary. A vet will give additional therapy after determining the severity of the disease.
Low temperature, insufficient light, and bacteria can be the triggers of respiratory infections in beardies. Stress is also one of the reasons why these conditions occur. The symptoms are similar to colds in humans, but bearded dragons are much harder to deal with. As soon as you notice increased mucus secretion, sneezing, or shallow breathing, see a vet as soon as you can.
Reptiles like the bearded dragons can be great pets. But inexperienced owners are usually surprised by the amount of care and costs these little creatures need. Many people take these animals without being aware of their needs at all. Without enough prior knowledge of their care, reptile health problems eventually occur. But, with a little effort and information, you can keep your pet healthy and in good shape.