How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating?

  • By: Craig Winters
  • Date: July 24, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.

When it comes to the survival of bearded dragons, there’s a considerable difference between surviving and thriving. Simply put, surviving is the bare minimum—it’s about lasting through a particular period. Thriving, on the other hand, means doing well and growing healthily. And as a pet owner, your goal should be to ensure your bearded dragon thrives, not just survives..

A healthy bearded dragon, on average, can live up to 8-12 years in captivity and around 5-8 years in the wild. But remember, these estimates depend largely on their living conditions, diet, and the care they receive.

Bearded Dragon’s Food Habits in Different Settings

The food habits and the time a bearded dragon can go without food vary significantly between a wild setting and captivity.

How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating in the Wild?

In the wild, where food availability fluctuates, bearded dragons have adapted to survive without food for extended periods, sometimes even up to two months.

How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating in Captivity?

In captivity, it’s a different story. Their longevity without food depends on factors such as their age, health, and environmental conditions.

Bearded Dragon’s Food Habits depening on Age

Just as with humans, a bearded dragon’s dietary needs evolve as they age.Understanding these age-specific needs is key to their health and longevity.

Hatchlings and Juveniles

Hatchlings and juveniles are in a rapid growth phase, hence, their nutritional requirements are higher, and they require more frequent feedings compared to adults. A hatchling or a juvenile can last without food for only a few days to a week. But bear in mind, prolonged fasting in these little creatures can lead to severe malnutrition, dehydration, and even stunted growth.


Adult bearded dragons have slower metabolic rates compared to their younger counterparts. As a result, they require less food and less frequent feedings. Depending on their overall health and fat reserves, an adult bearded dragon can manage without food for a few weeks to a couple of months. However, prolonged periods without food can lead to drastic weight loss, organ damage, and a higher susceptibility to infections.


Senior bearded dragons require special care and attention. Like all senior pets, they have unique needs and their dietary requirements change as they age. Senior bearded dragons can typically go without food for a few days to a few weeks. However, extended periods without proper nutrition can exacerbate age-related diseases, cause general weakness, and lead to undue stress.

Remember, although bearded dragons can survive without food for these lengths of time, it’s not an ideal scenario. A consistent, balanced diet is crucial for their well-being and longevity. Regular feeding, coupled with necessary vet check-ups, will ensure your scaly friend thrives and leads a healthy life.

Why Is Your Bearded Dragon Not Eating?

How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating

It’s not uncommon for a bearded dragon to occasionally skip a meal. However, if your bearded dragon continues to ignore its food, it could be due to a variety of reasons, from natural processes like brumation to health problems or environmental stressors.


Brumation is a form of hibernation that many reptiles, including bearded dragons, undergo. During this period, their metabolism slows down significantly, and their need for food decreases. It’s not uncommon for a brumating bearded dragon to stop eating altogether.

Signs of brumation include lethargy, less frequent bowel movements, and hiding more often. It’s crucial to distinguish brumation from illness or stress – if your pet exhibits signs of distress or shows a drastic weight loss, a visit to the vet is necessary.

While your bearded dragon is brumating, you can adjust its environment to accommodate this period of inactivity. Lower the temperature slightly, reduce the lighting hours, and ensure your pet has access to water.


Impaction refers to a blockage in your bearded dragon’s digestive system, typically due to the ingestion of indigestible materials like certain substrates or overfeeding. This condition can cause your pet to lose its appetite.

Signs of impaction include a swollen belly, lack of fecal matter, and trouble moving their hind legs. If you suspect impaction, try giving your pet a warm bath and gently massaging its belly. If there’s no improvement, consult with a vet immediately.


Stress can greatly affect a bearded dragon’s appetite. Stressors can range from a new environment, improper handling, excessive noise, or even the presence of potential predators.

Signs of stress in bearded dragons include darker or uneven coloration, lack of activity, and loss of appetite. To reduce stress, ensure your pet has plenty of hiding places, maintain a quiet environment, and handle your pet gently and minimally.

Illness or Injury

Illness or injury can significantly weaken a bearded dragon’s immune system and overall well-being, often resulting in a loss of appetite. Bearded dragons can suffer from a variety of health issues like:

  • CANV, a fungal infection that causes yellow plaques on the skin.
  • Atadenovirus, a viral infection that affects the liver and the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Metabolic bone disease, caused by a lack of calcium or vitamin D.
  • Infectious stomatitis or “mouth rot”, a bacterial infection of the mouth and gums.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, or impaction.
  • Parasites, such as mites, worms, or protozoa.
  • Respiratory infections, caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
  • Cancer, such as gastric or liver cancer.
  • Obstructed labor, when a female dragon has difficulty laying eggs.
  • Wounds, bites, or broken bones caused by sharp objects, falls, or other animals.

If your bearded dragon shows signs of illness or injury like lethargy, unusual behavior, or physical abnormalities, seek professional veterinary care immediately.

Diet or Husbandry Issues

Issues related to diet or husbandry can significantly impact a bearded dragon’s desire to eat. Incorrect diet, improper supplementation, or inadequate habitat conditions can lead to discomfort and a loss of appetite.

Signs of diet or husbandry issues can include unusual weight loss, changes in skin color or texture, and decreased activity. Correcting these issues may involve adjustments in feeding schedule, a varied diet, proper calcium and vitamin supplementation, and ensuring proper lighting and heating in the terrarium.

Remember, the key to keeping your bearded dragon healthy is proper care and attention. If you notice any changes in your bearded dragon’s behavior or eating habits, it’s always best to consult with a professional to ensure your pet’s well-being.

How to Encourage Your Bearded Dragon to Eat?

Let’s delve into the various ways you can encourage your bearded dragon to eat. Now, it’s critical to remember the importance of identifying the root cause of your bearded dragon’s loss of appetite before attempting to stimulate it. This isn’t a case of simply pushing food in front of them. It’s about knowing what’s causing the refusal to eat and addressing that first.

Once you’ve ascertained the cause, here are some general tips to help encourage your bearded dragon to eat. Start with the basics – offer fresh water, check the temperature and humidity of their habitat, and remove any stressors that could be affecting their appetite. Now, let’s go a little deeper into some of the specifics related to the various types of food you can offer your bearded dragon.

Live Insects

Did you know that live insects form an essential part of a bearded dragon’s diet? They are vital for their protein intake and overall health. Crickets, roaches, and worms are some examples of suitable live insects for bearded dragons. To make these creepy-crawlies more appealing to your bearded dragon, try gut loading the insects (feeding them nutritious foods that will pass onto your pet), dusting them with a calcium or vitamin supplement, or moving them around to stimulate your pet’s hunting instincts.

Fresh Vegetables

Vegetables are the bread and butter of a bearded dragon’s diet (if they were to eat bread and butter, that is!). They are crucial for fiber intake and general health. Greens, squash, and carrots are excellent choices for your bearded dragon. Making these fresh veggies more appealing can involve chopping them into manageable pieces, mixing different types to offer variety, or sprinkling water on them for added hydration.


Consider fruits as the dessert in your bearded dragon’s diet. They are optional but beneficial for their vitamin intake and overall health. Suitable fruits for bearded dragons include berries, melons, and bananas. You can make fruits more tempting for your bearded dragon by peeling, slicing, or even freezing them for a nice refreshing treat on a hot day.


Lastly, let’s talk about treats. These are not part of the regular diet but serve as occasional indulgences for your bearded dragon. Plus, they can contribute to building a bond between you and your pet. Examples of suitable treats include flowers, eggs, or baby food. Making treat time fun involves hand feeding, hiding treats for your bearded dragon to find, or giving them as rewards for good behavior.

With these tips, you’ll have plenty of options to help encourage your bearded dragon to eat and maintain a healthy diet. The key is patience, observation, and, as always, love for your reptilian companion.

How to Force Feed Your Bearded Dragon if Necessary

Alright, so we’ve covered a lot of ground, and there might be moments when you find your bearded dragon just isn’t interested in that tasty cricket or succulent berry you’ve lovingly offered. If your beardie is seriously losing weight or ailing, it might be time to consider force feeding. It’s a last-resort step, and one that requires gentle care and precision.

Force feeding, or assist feeding, is feeding your pet against its will. It might sound a bit harsh, but in some cases of severe appetite loss or illness, it can be a lifesaver. However, there’s a downside. There are risks of injury, stress, and aspiration (wn food gets into the respiratory tract), so it’s crucial to do it safely and gently.

Due to the risks involved im not going to go into it here, but if you want to learn more you can check out this video. Do so at your own risk!!

Force feeding should be a last resort. Always consult with a vet first and and only force feed under their guidance. Our primary aim is to ensure our scaly friends are healthy, happy, and willing to eat on their own.

H2: When to See a Vet?

Caring for your bearded dragon goes beyond just feeding. It’s about being vigilant and paying attention to their weight, behavior, and overall health. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your bearded dragon may still refuse to eat, and that’s when professional help may be needed.

Here’s a key question: When should you see a vet?

It’s time to seek professional help if your bearded dragon has not eaten for more than a week. This duration may vary depending on the age of your pet (remember, hatchlings and juveniles need to eat more frequently). Also, if your bearded dragon displays signs of illness or injury, such as lethargy, changes in skin color or texture, or abnormal behavior, don’t wait around. And let’s not forget weight. A weight loss of more than 10% is another indicator that it’s time for a vet visit.

Now, choosing a vet is no small matter. You want someone reputable and knowledgeable about reptiles, especially bearded dragons. One of the ways to find a good vet is to check reviews and ask other bearded dragon owners for recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your visit; a good vet will be happy to clarify any doubts. Also, remember to bring a stool sample. This might not be the most pleasant task, but it’s critical as it can provide valuable insights into your bearded dragon’s health.

A visit to the vet might feel overwhelming, but it’s a crucial part of caring for your bearded dragon. Remember, early detection and treatment of any issue can be the difference between a minor hiccup and a major health crisis. So keep those scales shining, those eyes bright, and that appetite healthy by keeping a vigilant watch over your bearded dragon.


In conclusion, it is crucial to keep a close eye on your bearded dragon’s eating habits, as they can reveal a lot about its overall health and well-being. Understanding the factors that can influence their appetite, how to encourage them to eat, and when to seek professional help are all essential for providing optimal care. Remember, your pet relies on you to meet its needs, and by being proactive and informed, you can ensure your bearded dragon leads a healthy, happy life.

If you’d to learn more about bearded dragons you can find more articles here.