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How Long Can a Baby Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating?



Part of bearded dragon care is proper nutrition rich in a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Baby dragons need frequent feedings to provide energy and nutrients for their growth and development. However, being desert lizards, they can go for several days without food. Usually, adult bearded dragons can last 2 to 3 days without food, while juvenile bearded dragons require more frequent feeding and can only go a day without food.


If the fasting window lasts too long or is too frequent, it is a cause of concern and may mean that the beardie has underlying health conditions.


Baby Bearded Dragon Diet


Baby bearded dragons younger than three months require a diet rich in proteins to support their high growth rate. They can survive a day without food with no adverse effects, but it is best to give them food daily.


A pet bearded dragon's diet should consist of 70-75% live insects and 25-30% plants, and you should offer them food 4 to 5 times per day. The frequency decreases to three times in juvenile bearded dragons and two times as they become adult dragons. The ratio of feeder insects to plants changes to 50/50 for mature dragons starting at 3 months to 12 months.


Feed them insects and plants separately as they tend to like insects more and may not eat their vegetables and fruits. During the insect feeding sessions, offer them as many insects as they can eat in 10 minutes. They will end up eating 30 to 50 live insects in a day.


Some of the best feeder insect options to feed a baby bearded dragon include crickets, superworms, silkworms, waxworms, mealworms, butter worms, dubia roaches, and phoenix worms. On the other hand, the best plant options include carrots, turnip greens, green beans, kale, cucumber, snap peas, okra, alfalfa, collard greens, and mustard greens, and squash, among others.


When planning a baby bearded dragon’s diet, consider foods they should not eat. E.g., seafood, lettuce, avocado, spinach, onion, poultry, dairy products, red meat, wild insects, and rhubarb. Some of these foods strain your lizard’s digestive system, while others host parasites and disease-causing organisms.


Why Isn’t Your Young Bearded Dragon Not Eating?


Below is a look at some reasons why your younger bearded dragon might have a poor appetite.


1. Incorrect UVB Light and Temperatures


Bearded dragons rely on UVB light and temperatures for optimal body functioning, including digestion. Therefore, when the temperatures are too low, they may feel sick. In some cases, the beardie may suffer from constipation due to slow bowel movements from low UVB light.


Therefore, ensure that your baby beardie is basking enough and that the UV light index in the tank is within 2.5 to 7nm. Depending on the season, it should be getting 8 to 14 hours of UVB light daily.


Also, check if the temperatures are too high and regulate heater settings accordingly.


2. Change of Habitat


If you recently brought home your beardie, it may take them some time to adjust to their new home. They may feel unsafe inhibiting their eagerness to eat. If there are no other issues causing loss of appetite, they should resume normal feeding within a few days.


3. Stress


Several factors can stress your baby beardie, including other beardies, pets, environmental noise, and unfavorable living conditions. Being stressed takes up lots of energy already, and combined with a loss of appetite, it can have adverse effects on the health, growth, and development of a baby bearded dragon. Therefore, investigate the main cause of stress and eliminate it immediately.


For example, if your baby beardie is scared of another beardie in the same tank, you need to separate them. If they are scared of other pets or your kids, socialize them. If the living conditions are not favorable, make the necessary adjustments to make it suitable.


4. Diet Sensitivities


Just like human toddlers, baby beardies can be picky eaters. They may not like the taste of the foods you offer them. On the other hand, their small, developing digestive system may make it difficult for them to digest the foods you are offering. Therefore, carefully monitor your bearded dragon behavior.


For instance, are there foods they like more? Capitalize on them and persistently offer the ones they don’t like in small amounts until they give them a try. Introduce new foods gradually and keep an eye for whether your baby beardie likes them or if they cause any digestive disturbances. A good rule of thumb with a baby beardie’s diet is to mix it up with a variety of foods to offer variety in taste and nutrients.


5. Illness


Your beardie may be refusing to eat due to an illness. Often, other symptoms accompany the loss of appetite, like lethargy, limited movement, discoloration, lack of droppings, impaction, diarrhea, and glassy eyes.


What to Do if Your Baby Beardie Won’t Feed?


If two days pass without your baby bearded dragon feeding, it is time to take them to your vet. Depending on how long they have gone without feeding, they may need assisted feeding using tubes, rehydration, and additional treatment based on other symptoms they might have. The vet may also offer you nutritional and environmental counseling to help you provide favorable living conditions and diet to your beardie.


Can You Force Feed a Baby Bearded Dragon?


In most cases, it is not recommendable to force-feed a baby bearded dragon except with a vet’s approval and instructions. The vet assesses the main cause of loss of appetite and determines if the benefits of force-feeding will outweigh the negative side effects.


Force-feeding can cause increased stress levels, throat injury, loss of trust that breaks your bond with your beardie, or creating a negative association with food.


Alternative Ways of Encouraging Your Baby Bearded Dragon to Eat


Instead of force-feeding your beardie, attempt the following approaches to encourage them to feed:

  1. Sneak in some tasty treats. For instance, if your beardie doesn't like to eat plants, sneak in a live insect or two when offering fruits and vegetables.

  2. Hand feed it. This approach provides an opportunity for bonding and may also help the beardie develop an interest in the food.

  3. Offer fresh food. Offer feeder insects and fresh fruits and vegetables. They are more flavorful and tasty.

Conclusion


Baby dragons are sensitive. They require frequent feeding with a diet that contains live food and plants for sustenance, growth, and development and may suffer a low appetite due to illness, unfavorable environmental factors, digestive system sensitivities, and stress, among others.


No matter the cause of loss of appetite, a juvenile bearded dragon should not go for more than a day without food. If that happens, take them to a vet immediately. The vet will give your baby bearded dragon water, electrolytes, and nutrients and treat any illness to prevent further deterioration of your beardie’s health. If the situation is dire, they may opt to admit your bearded dragon overnight for close observation.

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