How Long Can a Bearded Dragon Go Without Eating?
Updated: Jan 30
First things first: no one here is recommending you starve a pet or perform any kind of “experiment” to see just how long they can go without food! Whether it’s a cat or a fish or a bearded dragon, we encourage proper care of all pets, including the appropriate amount of food and water, a comfortable environment and temperature, and a safe place to crawl, swim, hop, or run or whatever the case may be.
If the favorite four-legged companion in your home is a bearded dragon and you have questions about their eating habits and bearded dragon care, you have landed in the right place.
We will walk you through everything you need to know about bearded dragons and the reasons why yours may have a noticeable change in eating habits.
Read on to learn more about the eating habits of your beloved beardy and tips for keeping them healthy.
A Beardy Hunger Strike: How Long Will It Last?
There are a number of possible reasons why your pet bearded dragon may not be eating, and we will get to those below, but first, we will consider timeframes. Your beardy can survive for approximately as long as you can without food: up to two months.
We do not recommend any beardy owners test out the human timeframe for comparison! History (and hunger strikes) have given us some indication of how long humans can survive without sustenance. And everything we know about bearded dragons tells us they, too, will survive for one to two months without eating.
While that is the relatively simple answer to the main question (How long can bearded dragons go without eating?), the follow-up question is a bit more complicated.
Why Do Bearded Dragons Stop Eating?
If you notice that your bearded dragon has stopped eating, you will naturally become concerned and look for potential causes. There are a number of reasons for this sudden change in eating habits, and we will take a look at the most common causes below.
One of the main reasons a bearded dragon stops eating has to do with changes in the environment. Just as we know children to be creatures of habit and routine, so are our beardies.
They are particular and protective about their environments, and a change as simple as a new accessory in their tank could throw them off. In some cases, a bearded dragon will react to environmental changes by not eating.
One other way your pet may be affected by the environment is tied to temperature. Because bearded dragons originated and evolved in desert climates, they are used to the heat. In fact, they rely on heat for proper digestion, so if the temperature is too cool, they may stop eating.
Usually, when a bearded dragon gets used to a change in his tank or when the temperature is corrected with a heat lamp, he will start eating again within a few weeks.
Once again, we can draw a comparison between a bearded dragon and a child: introducing new foods does not always go over so well. Just as your toddler might reject your introduction of peas into her dinnertime routine, your beardy might give you an equally hard time for making a switch from her regular foods.
When such a change occurs, these reptiles could end up on a temporary hunger strike, but they will eventually become hungry enough to eat the new food.
Bearded Dragon Brumation
Brumation is another reason why a bearded dragon could stop eating, and if you are a new beardy owner, your next question might be, “what on earth is bearded dragon brumation?”
This is simply a way to describe hibernation for cold-blooded animals; it refers to a period when bearded dragons become dormant. These reptiles went through brumation to survive the colder winter months in the wild. But even a pet bearded dragon still has the instinct to hibernate in the colder months, and they will settle into a phase of very little movement or activity (which will include eating).
In most cases, a healthy bearded dragon will stop eating several days to several weeks before brumating. Another telltale sign of forthcoming brumation is that your beardy will avoid its heat source.
While it may seem strange to think about stress when it comes to bearded dragons (“have I placed the tank too close to the television blaring a 24-hour cycle of bad news?”), they can feel stress when it comes to changes in their environment. Or they can feel stress from physical causes, such as constipation. Typically once these issues subside, they will start eating again.
Just as we can lose our appetites when battling the flu or a stomach bug, bearded dragons can also lose theirs when ill. Some signs your reptile may be sick include glassy eyes, little movement, discoloration, and foaming. This is when you might want to have your pet checked out by an expert.
Feeding Guide for Bearded Dragons
There are natural reasons bearded dragons may stop eating temporarily, such as brumation explained above. However, for periods where eating habits remain normal, you want to be aware of the appropriate bearded dragon diet for different stages in a bearded dragon’s life.
Younger bearded dragons will require more food, and older bearded dragons will eat a higher percentage of vegetables versus insects compared to a juvenile bearded dragon.
Your bearded dragon may eat insects like dubia roaches, waxworms, mealworms, crickets, and superworms. They can also eat vegetables that include collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and more.
Plan to feed yours as follows:
Under Three Months: 3 to 5 times daily, 2/3 feeder insect and 1/3 vegetation
Three to Eight Months: 2 times daily, 2/3 feeder insect and 1/3 vegetation
Eight to Twelve Months: Once daily, 2/3 feeder insect and 1/3 vegetation
One year and up: Two days on and one day off, 1/3 feeder insect and 2/3 vegetation
Final Thoughts: When Your Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating
Do not panic if your beardy takes a break from eating; more often than not, the cause is temporary and will resolve on its own.
If you notice a change in bearded dragon behavior and they stop eating, try adjusting the heat source or food to see if that helps. Remember that these adult beardies can survive for up to two months without eating.