Bearded dragons carry excess weight in five main areas of their body and checking these is a sure-fire way to determine if your pet is piling on the pounds. Too much weight can cause problems for these reptiles, so it is important to make sure that they have a healthy lifestyle to prevent becoming overweight.
Introduction to Is My Bearded Dragon Overweight?
Owning a bearded dragon means that you are responsible for all aspects of his care, and one of these aspects is ensuring that he has a healthy diet and does not become overweight. Much like humans, excess weight can mean a higher risk of certain health problems which could significantly shorten your pet’s life or at the very least, reduce the quality of life.
In this article, we are going to be looking at how to tell if your bearded dragon is overweight, what you can do to help him and how he might suffer if his weight is not properly managed.
How To Tell If A Bearded Dragon Is Overweight
Unfortunately, there are more and more ‘fat’ beardies out there, and for this reason, many people are led to believe that this is normal. If you constantly see images on Instagram or Pinterest of chubby bearded dragons, you might think that your pet is perfectly healthy the way she is.
But this is not the case. Just like us, these beautiful animals can put on some weight, and this is not healthy. Of course, being underweight can cause health problems too, so it is important to try to maintain a healthy weight by offering a balanced diet.
In the main, the bearded dragon will put on weight in five key areas, and simply looking at these can give you a clear idea of whether your pet might need to watch what she is eating.
- The tail base will be thicker than normal.
- If you cannot feel the ribs or the spine, then this could be a sign that your beardie is overweight.
- A larger belly can indicate being overweight. But it is equally important to check whether this is due to fat or eggs if the animal is female.
- The jowl of the lizard will be distended.
- Bearded dragons have small fat pads behind the arms, and when they become overweight, these fat pads will noticeably bulge.
What Health Problems Do Overweight Bearded Dragons Face?
There are several things that can become an issue as a result of being overweight. We talk about it in humans frequently, with more focus than ever being put on living a healthy lifestyle, but it is rare that we extend this to our pets.
However, a bearded dragon that is overweight is at risk of developing some serious health conditions, some of which could end up being life-threatening. One of the biggest problems in overweight female bearded dragons is that they are at a much higher risk of egg binding. This is a condition where the eggs remain inside the body, and the female lizard is unable to pass them. Not only can this be uncomfortable for your pet but may also put her life at risk.
Both make and female bearded dragons are far more susceptible to developing problems with the internal organs when they are overweight. This can include problems with the heart, which could be fatal.
Furthermore, your pet may become more at risk of a prolapse, where the cloacal region comes out of the body, this will look like a pink bulge distending from your beardies rear end, and it is vital that you get treatment for this condition as soon as possible.
Finally, bearded dragons who are too big may live shorter lives. This is mainly in relation to the associated health conditions and lack of correct nutrients. We see this shorter lifespan in humans who are obese, but many people do not realize that this weight condition can drastically affect their pets as well.
How Do Bearded Dragons Become Obese?
It would appear that overweight and even obese bearded dragons are becoming more and more common, but we almost never see this problem in the wild. In the main, this is because the animal will follow a natural and strict diet. They will eat when they are hungry and will only take what they need.
Furthermore, in the wild, bearded dragons will alter their diet throughout their life according to their size, age, and current condition – for example, gravid females may have an increased appetite.
In captivity, however, pet owners develop such a loving bond with their pets that they offer them incredible amounts of food, and often, this is far too much. There is no doubt that no bearded dragon owner seeks to make their pet obese, but this misplaced affection certainly does contribute to the issue.
When they are in the wild, a bearded dragon will brumate. This period of brumation involves the animal lying dormant for several weeks; you might compare it to the way in which mammals hibernate. During this time, the bearded dragon would conserve her energy ready for the colder months, and she would also lose weight.
However, when kept in captivity, not all reptiles will brumate. They simply do not have the need to although they may feel a natural instinct to do it.
How To Make A Bearded Dragon Lose Weight
Unless you feed your bearded dragon a diet that perfectly replicates what he would eat in the wild, then there is a chance that he will gain weight and potentially become obese. But there is no reason to fret just yet; there are ways that you can put your pet on a diet and improve his overall health.
One of the first things that you should remember is that these animals have a much slower metabolism than us so it may take them a long time to lose weight. So, you must be patient, but if you keep to a routine and consistent diet, there is no reason why your pet shouldn’t reach a healthier weight over time.
Make Him Eat More Slowly
When you add food to a bowl, this can make your bearded dragon eat quite quickly, and when you notice that all of his food is gone – what is your instant reaction? To fill the bowl up again, right?
But this can quickly lead to obesity since he will be getting far more food than he needs. In this wild, your beardie would have to hunt for his food, and it certainly wouldn’t all be offered in once sitting. So, by spreading the food out on a large plate or placing it around the enclosure, you will be encouraging him to eat a lot more slowly.
Change Her Diet
When humans decide to lose weight, one of the first things that they do is to adjust what they are eating, and this is just as important with your bearded dragon.
You can try offering more greens and low-calorie foods but do make sure that you still include protein-based foods like insects and crickets as these form an important part of her diet—everything in moderation.
Cut Down On How Much He Eats
It can be tempting to offer your pet as much food as he can eat, but this can be counterproductive when you are trying to get him to lose weight. For this reason, it is important that you try to reduce the portion sizes. Now that you have got your pet looking around the enclosure for his meals, he won’t notice if there is slightly less food which makes it easier on him and makes you feel less guilty.
Of course, you want to try to cut out the foods that have the highest fat content so avoid removing things like greens and gut-loaded insects and focus on removing fruits.
Mimic The Wild
Animals were never meant to be kept in captivity, so the least we can do now that we have domesticated them is provide them with an environment that is as close to nature as possible, and this might be easier than you think.
Altering the living conditions can be done quickly and simply using supplies from the pet store and a variety of plants and other things that your lizard may have experienced if he had been a wild animal. Furthermore, there have been studies that have shown that these animals will thrive far better in an environment that is similar to their natural habitat.
Let Her Brumate
We mentioned earlier that captive dragons might not brumate and this is large because the owners won’t allow it. If your beardie is showing signs that she wants to brumate – let her. This is one of the best ways that can help her to lose weight and is not a process that should be underestimated.
Obesity in bearded dragons is a real problem, and pet owners should be looking at five key areas of the body to determine if their pet is overweight. This includes the tail—spine, behind the arms, belly, and jowl. If any of these areas are large or distended, this could mean that your bearded dragon is overweight.
However, there are things that you can do to reduce her weight and make her more healthy. Not only will this give her a longer life, but it will also stop her from developing a series of health conditions associated with obesity, some of which could be life-threatening.