Bearded Dragon Overweight? (Simple Weight Loss Tips)

Bearded Dragon Overweight

Unlike some animals who are great at self-control diet-wise, bearded dragons aren’t. Whatever you put in front of them, they’ll likely eat.

Obviously, this can cause these lizards to become overweight or obese.

There are numerous reasons why a bearded dragon might appear overweight so it’s important to spot the signs early in order to make changes to their diet and lifestyle.

The biggest sign of an overweight bearded dragon is if you see oversized fat pads on their body. This would be on their belly, jowls, head, under the arms, and on their tail.

To help your bearded dragon lose weight faster, you should reduce high-fat foods like hornworms and increase their intake of dark leafy greens.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to recognize the signs of an overweight bearded dragon and what you can do to help your bearded dragon lose weight.

Can Bearded Dragons Become Overweight and Obese?

If a bearded dragon eats too much or isn’t active enough, he can become overweight or grow obese. A bearded dragon should be between 22 and 24 inches long when they’re fully grown.

A bearded dragon’s weight should be between 400 and 800 grams. Overweight bearded dragons are those who weigh more than 800g.

Bearded Dragon on Green Grass

There is a growing problem with bearded dragons becoming overweight as these reptiles don’t have great self-control when it comes to their eating habits.

So long as you provide food for them, they’ll keep on eating. Thus, it’s likely they will become overweight and show some of the signs mentioned in the next section.

Bearded dragon obesity signs

If your bearded dragon is overweight there will be some telltale signs. There are some key body parts to check to see if you have an overweight dragon.

Firstly, if you run a finger along their ribcage and spine, you’ll feel if your bearded dragon is overweight.

If you’re unable to feel their ribs or spine protruding through the skin, it means their fat layer is too large and they are overweight.

Another way of checking is by looking at their fat pads and belly to see if these are too large.

Here are the signs of an overweight bearded dragon in more detail:

The Fat Pads on His Head Are Large

One of the first signs of a fat bearded dragon is enlarged fat pads on the head. Though there are many reasons for this, it’s usually because your bearded dragon has eaten too much food, in particular too many fatty foods.

A bearded dragon’s fat pads are usually fleshy and soft but they aren’t large. Instead of a gradual curve on the head, there will be an exaggerated one. This indicated that your bearded dragon is overweight.

He Is Acting Sluggish

Sluggishness could be a sign of bearded dragon weight gain. You would notice your dragon being lethargic and not very active. This is due to excess body weight.

Low energy levels are common in overweight bearded dragons because the increase in fat puts strain on their legs and means it is harder for them to move around.

Distended Abdomen

A bearded dragon’s belly should be pretty flat with only slight distension on its sides. If you think your bearded dragon has gained too much weight, you should check his abdomen size.

In healthy and thin bearded dragons, you will see an abdomen that is lean and slightly squishy – there won’t be loose areas of fat.

In overweight bearded dragons, you will see a lot of loose material on their bellies and you’ll be able to feel fat in their distended belly.

Large Jowls

Large jowls are an indication of weight problems. This is an area of loose skin that hangs under their chin below their ‘beard’.

When there is too much fat, the jowls will be a large bulge hanging from their jaw. If excess fat accumulates here, it puts pressure on the lizard. Their lower lip might droop, for example.

A bearded dragon with a healthy weight will have flat jowls that curve downward slightly.

There are other reasons for large jowls though – like infection, irritation, or injury – so it’s worth ruling other things out too.

Trouble Climbing

Overweight bearded dragons will struggle to climb walls or vertical services due to their extra weight. They might no longer be able to jump onto logs, for example.

Their weight, and the sluggishness it causes them, make it more difficult when they want to get on a rock or a branch. It’s worth checking your bearded dragon’s weight if you notice he’s having difficulty doing or not wanting to do these things.

A bearded dragon who has a healthy body weight should have no problem scaling any object. If, though, they seem to struggle getting around their enclosure, there could be a weight issue.

Folds in The Skin of The Limbs, Abdomen, and Neck.

If you notice excess folds in your beardie’s skin, you should take note. With healthy body weight, any skin creases will be barely noticeable and very thin. If you notice thick skin folds, it could be a sign of a weight problem.

Lizards have different amounts of excess skin but usually, you wouldn’t notice pronounced skin folds. So, if you notice ballooning or extra weight hanging on their body, it could indicate a fat bearded dragon.

However, be careful not to mistake excess skin for an obesity problem. When bearded dragons are around to shed their skin, you might notice excess folds becoming apparent due to the skin not fitting anymore.

Tail Fat

If you look at a bearded dragon’s tail, it should be a compact and dense structure. It isn’t like an African fat-tailed gecko or a leopard gecko’s tail as these are a fat store.

In a bearded dragon, the scales are pretty fixed in their place and the scales don’t move. A healthy tail will feel solid and dense.

In obese bearded dragons, however, the tail base will look and feel thicker. It will also feel squishy.

If your beardie has a tail like this, it will mean that they have a fat layer on the tail’s surface, which means there is too much fat in their body.

The tail shouldn’t have excess weight to it as it is used for balance.

How to Help an Overweight Bearded Dragon to Lose Weight

If you’ve determined that your bearded dragon is overweight then you’ll need to do all you can to make adjustments to its diet to help them get back to its ideal weight.

If your bearded dragon is grossly obese, you’ll need to act quickly and put them on a strict weight loss program before their weight starts to seriously affect their health. In this case, seek veterinary advice.

Here are some tips on improving your bearded dragon’s diet and body condition:

Reduce Sources of Fat and Protein

Overweight reptiles end up weighing too much due to being given the wrong diet. One of the best ways to help your bearded dragon lose weight is by changing the sources of fat and protein.

It’s pretty easy to change their food. You can, for example, swap a meal of superworms or feeder insects with veggies.

It’s worth remembering that the majority of protein sources have a high-fat content, and so this could be why your bearded dragon has become overweight.

In baby and juvenile bearded dragons, rapid growth can occur if they are given more calories and more food than they need.

If bearded dragons gain weight too quickly when they’re young, it can affect their health. Juvenile dragons, for example, can experience early sexual maturity/

Substituting fatty foods like super worms, black soldier fly larvae and other feeder insects with vegetables like cilantro is a good idea. Don’t forget, though, that your bearded dragon needs calcium to keep bones healthy.

The Importance of Calcium

Most calcium is consumed through live insects so it’s important to provide a calcium supplement when on a diet.

If your bearded dragon doesn’t get enough calcium, he could end up with health problems and extra stress on his leg bones.

Reducing fat and protein sources can help reduce your bearded dragon’s weight so that he can reach a normal weight and good body condition.

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have any insects but opt for healthier options like gut-loaded insects.

Bearded Dragon eating a Gut-Loaded Cricket.

Increase Vegetables in The Diet

Pet owners need to be aware of what a good bearded dragon diet looks like. Getting your beardie to eat veggies over fatty foods can help reduce his fat pockets and improve your bearded dragon’s health.

With an increase in vegetables, an obese dragon can lose weight rapidly and be a healthy bearded dragon once again. Green leafy vegetables are very low in fat. What’s more, the fiber content means they feel fuller faster and so won’t consume as many calories.

Offer Food on A Larger Plate

Another technique is to serve their food spread out on a large plate. This means that they will have to work harder and move in between bites, which means they will feel full more quickly and have more time to digest.

Some great vegetables to include in their diet include cilantro, spinach, and arugula. This will reduce the fat content of their meals.

Provide Opportunities for Exercise

Like humans, obese bearded dragons can benefit from exercise and physical activity. It’s not as simple as enrolling them in a gym like we might do though!

You’ll need to be creative so that your bearded dragon works hard. Here are some ideas:

  • Provide opportunities for exercise in their enclosure. These could be logs or branches that they can climb. You could also provide spaces for them to dig.
  • Include a greater number of obstacles in their terrarium. Moving around is a great way to lose weight as it burns calories. It could be as simple as making sure your bearded dragon has to work for a few minutes each day before you reward him with food.
  • If you’re giving treats, throw one to one end of his enclosure and then another one to the other end to make him move between them.

All of these activities provide opportunities for your beardie to improve their activity levels. If you think he needs even more of a workout, you can find toys online that can help.

Force Him Into Brumation

Brumation is excellent for weight loss if you have an obese bearded dragon. Brumation is a process whereby reptiles, like bearded dragons, go into a sort of hibernation during the cooler and darker months of the year.

Brumation helps weight loss because, during this time, bearded dragons will reduce their food intake and use up their fat reserves.

However, forcing brumation is quite difficult. It is possible though! You can brumate artificially by placing your bearded dragon in a cool, dark area for a period of around two months (to mimic winter).

Like in real brumation, your pet will only eat or drink sporadically. This forced brumation will mean that they will lose weight naturally and quickly.

If you don’t want to go down the cool, dark tank method, you could place their tank into a cooler space and provide a reduction in calories. You could, for example, reduce the night time temperatures to mimic seasonal changes.

It’s important, though, that you only do this with obese bearded dragons as you could be risking the health of a bearded dragon if they don’t need to lose a lot of weight.

A bearded dragon needs high-fat reserves to survive brumation well. Otherwise, you’ll then be looking at ways how to make a bearded dragon gain weight!

What’s more, you should only let a bearded dragon brumate if it is free of parasite loads too.

Beardie Eating a Worm

Let Your Bearded Dragon Roam Outside of Its Enclosure

Giving your bearded dragon the freedom to roam outside of his enclosure is a great way for them to use more calories and burn more energy.

Provided you watch them closely and ensure there are no risks of injury and escape, this is a perfect way to increase their physical activity.

It’s even possible to buy a bearded dragon leash to take your pet outside on a walk! Going on a walk will ensure a calorie deficit so that your beardie can lose body fat slowly.

Problems Caused by Obesity

If your bearded dragon has a taste for feeder insects and has consumed more calories than perhaps he should, it’s not just his weight that we need to worry about.

If a bearded dragon weighs too much, they can develop serious health problems. Many of these can be life-threatening.

In females, obesity can cause egg retention or egg binding. This happens when a female’s eggs are stuck inside their body and they are unable to lay them. This is, of course, uncomfortable for your beardie, but it is also life-threatening.

What’s more, both female and male bearded dragons are susceptible to organ dysfunction if they are overweight.

They might develop heart problems or fatty liver disease, for example. If you’re worried about liver problems, milk thistle is a great substance that supports a healthy liver.

Another condition that a fat bearded dragon is more at risk of developing is a prolapse. This is when their cloacal parts, bulge and distend from their bottom. This needs urgent treatment.

Finally, just like in humans, obese beardies tend to live a shorter life. This is partly due to the health problems associated with being obese but also due to them having fewer nutrients in their diet.

Final Thoughts

As in the case of humans, it’s much easier to prevent an overweight bearded dragon than it is to help a bearded dragon to lose weight.

As a bearded dragon owner, it’s important to watch your dragon’s diet carefully to avoid weight gain.

A healthy bearded dragon will have a fat pad that curves gently on their head. Though this serves as a reserve for brumation, it’s important that this isn’t too big.

If you do have a bearded dragon that needs to lose weight, the most important things you can do are provide fewer calories and increase their exercise and physical activity.

When your bearded dragon is losing weight, don’t forget to ensure he consumes the right amount of nutrients.

Losing weight alone won’t fix any health problems if you’re not ensuring a proper intake of calcium and other important vitamins and minerals.

Finally, ensuring you space out the food will make our bearded dragon eat slowly, which will help. Don’t forget, he would have to hunt for food in the wild!

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