Beardie Suddenly Turned Dark and Stopped Eating

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Gray-bearded Member
Alright guys, I'm at a loss and I need some opinions, advice, help, whatever can be offered because I can't figure out why my young, male beardie suddenly has turned very, very dark in color and stopped eating. Let me start off by saying that this started last Tuesday, so almost a week ago, and he had just finished a full body shed (his first shed) the week prior with no issues at all. He had started his shed on his tail, then his legs and feet, then his head. All of that took a month, and then all of a sudden after a week or two of no shedding, one morning I turned his lights on and his back and stomach were all peeling off. But the shed finished with no issues and at no time during the shed or for two weeks after it ended did he stop eating, turn dark, or look stressed at all. Normally he is white with very light beige coloring and a light brown stripe pattern, he's a very light colored beardie overall. He has yet to have any health problems, he eats very well, is very, very loving and tame to the point that he already will come running to me if he's out of his tank on the floor and I say "Come on Iggy!"...He snuggles with me every night while I'm watching TV, playing guitar, or reading. He loves being inside my hoodie or inside the front pouch of a hoodie. He's not very active while he's inside his tank, once in a while he'll climb his hammock thing or climb a fake plant, but in general he just loves to bask in his driftwood log or soak in his large soaker dish. But when he's out of his tank with me he absolutely loves to run around on the floor, to swim in the bathtub, and to play "catch" back and forth with his little plastic ball.

So two weeks after his shed ended, last Sunday afternoon, I had decided to move his UVB tube inside his tank instead of having it resting on top of the screen lid. I had done this originally with my other guy because he's in a 55 gallon regular aquarium (he's 6 years old and huge), and his tank has a screen lid with no plastic grid or anything else on the lid, just screen. So it was easy to mount the fixture to the flat screen. My new guy is in an EXO Terra that measures 36"x18"x12". Let me explain how I got this new beardie, as it was not expected or something I had even thought about, but rather a situation that just popped up and I had no choice but to buy him and give him a loving home.

I was in my local Petco getting crickets for my 6 year old beardie, Bowie. My local Petco is actually a very well maintained store, and is full of employees that love animals and take very, very good care of ALL of the animals in their store. I have 2 dogs, 4 parrots (a Senegal, a Quaker, a Green Cheek Conure, and a Cockatiel), 7 English X American Budgies that I bred and hand-fed/hand-raised myself, 7 breeder Budgies, and at the time 1 bearded dragon. I order most food and supplies online because I save a fortune, but I buy my live feeders for my beardie and my parrot's pellets at this Petco (actually Petco is 1 of only 2 pet stores left in State College, PA, which is a pretty large town/city due to Penn State University; we used to have MANY very cool little pet shops that were privately owned, one that was all fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other small, exotic pets...But they're all gone now but the 2 big box pet stores ?). So I'm in this Petco probably once a week or so, and I know all of the women that take care of the birds, the reptiles and amphibians, and the fish, including the animal manager and assistant animal manager. They all have many pets of their own, they know their stuff, and they treat the in-store animals like they are their own. You could walk in at any time and every cage and tank will be spotless, every animal will have food, clean water, treats, toys, etc., and usually the employees will be walking around with one of the birds on their shoulders or will be holding a snake or a lizard, petting it. So for Petco it's very above average, though they still have to adhere to Petco corporate policies unfortunately. So last November I noticed they had gotten a baby Monitor! He was in a large tank at the bottom of the reptile case, so I crouched down to look at him. I then noticed they had gotten a very small baby beardie that wasn't there the prior week. He was noticeably smaller than the other 4-5 babies in the tank, and they were only 2-3 months old. This guy was only a month old and was being scratched and beaten up by the other babies. I asked the animal manager about him and she said they had gotten him the day before by himself for some reason and they had no choice but to put him in the one tank they were allowed to use for beardies under 6 months old... Petco policies suck and so do district managers that don't know anything about animals or care at all about them. Anyway, this guy was surely going to die, she got him out and showed me his left eye, which had already been scratched badly in less than 24 hours of being in the tank. They were treating him with turtle eyedrops, but it was obviously infected already and Petco would not OK a vet visit for antibiotics....I got pissed, worried, felt horrible for him...And so I bought him.

I had been thinking about getting Bowie, my 6-year old beardie, an Exo Terra for a long time, but I actually had cancer and was off work for a while and very broke with late bills. So I've just recently started to get back to normal. I got onto Craigslist to look for used light fixtures, bulbs, thermometers, decorations, etc., and I ended up finding a 36"x18"x12" Exo Terra, barely used at all, for $50...Sold! Well after having Iggy in it now since the end of November I have to say there are good and bad things to it over just a normal aquarium. The main drawback to it that drives me crazy is the stupid plastic grid that sits on top of the screen top and divides it into 4 squares. I hate it sooooooo much! The Mini Deep Dome fixture fits in one square so it can sit on top of the screen, but not where I want it really. But a UVB tube fixture does not easily sit on top at all because you have to test it on top of the plastic trim, so it's actually about a half an inch above the screen, and the plastic gets in the way of where you want the light to be (alongside the basking lamp) and actually blocks some of the UVB. His Exo Terra is only 12" high, so I thought I should leave it on top of the screen lid, which puts the light about 8-9 " away from his normal basking area. He's been good with that setup for almost 3 months, no illness, temps are good, no problems at all. But after worrying forever about not having the UVB inside his tank, thinking the screen was blocking the UVB he was getting (every time I look at Bowie's tank), I decided last Sunday to move it inside. It was a pain in the ass attaching it because of that stupid plastic grid on the lid, but I managed to get it inside to where the light was about 6-7" away from his basking spot. That was Sunday afternoon. Tuesday morning he was really dark, tons of stress lines all over his belly and legs, and he slowly reduced what he ate until yesterday he wouldn't even eat anything I was hand feeding him (he had been taking a few crickets or worms in the morning and then at night if I presented them to him with tongs). He has noticebly lost weight, and last night I knew he was hungry because he was gobbling up the slurry I made him when I put it on his snout. But he won't eat ANYTHING by himself at all, or drink at all...His poops are completely normal, normal urates, and he has gone at least once a day.
He's between 3-4 months old, is 11 inches long, male, and prior to this was eating 20-30 gut-loaded crickets a day, a few wax worms a day as a treat, all dusted in calcium powder with D3 every day. He is a very weird eater as he LOVES salad and he also LOVES beardie pellets soaked in fruit juice. So every day he gets a salad that always has collard greens, dandelion greens, carrot slivers, and broccoli (broccoli is his favorite so I give him a little) and then one fruit each day (sparingly), usually apple, banana, strawberry, pear, or peach. Then I'll mix in a different veggie everyday for variety like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, peas, brussel sprouts, etc. Then I always give him an additional bowl of RepCal pellets soaked in fruit juice. He typically eats at least half of the pellets I give him and 3/4 of the veggies and fruits. I use calcium powder with D3 everyday on the insects and his salad, and depending on how many pellets he eats I'll add his vitamin and mineral powder 3-4 times a week to his salad and insects. He was a great water until this.

He's been getting a 15-20 bath everyday since I got him because he loves it. My 6 year old is indifferent about baths, so he has always gotten one every other day, but with Iggy I figure if he likes it then why not. This past week I've added unflavored Pedialyte to his baths and he typically drinks a little bit, but not enough. He is a bit dehydrated today, I can tell. I got him to take some straight Pedialyte this morning, but this is the first morning he wouldn't eat any insects at all, even with me feeding him. So I made the decision to take the UVB out and put it back on top about an hour ago. I just want to see if that's his problem or if it was just a coincidence. I had taken him to my certified herp vet last week (I took him the week I got him for a well-beardie check-up) along with my 6-year old to make sure this wasn't a parasite or an infection. Both of their fecal smears were negative for parasites, and his blood work was completely normal (he called me this morning). He was a bit underweight last Tuesday so said my vet, so now he is really underweight. I am a bird breeder, and I also have a master's degree in animal science and a bachelor's in pre-med and animal medicine. So I typically keep certain IV, IM, and SUBQ meds on hand along with syringes, topical meds, etc. This morning when he called with his blood work hee told me that I could put him on Baytril daily for 10 days if I thought it necessary (I caught him with his mouth gaping once last Friday, but he was in his hottest basking spot and dehydrated, so who knows). If he does have an upper respiratory infection or something similar my vet doesn't see it, so I'd be treating him prophylactically with the Baytril (I also have a nebulizer and have done treatments for upper respiratory infections very successfully with both my Quaker parrot and my older beardie using Tylan 50). I almost wish he would wheeze or show a sign of an obvious infection so that I can treat him....UHG. I'm hoping taking the UVB out of his cage and putting it back on top will fix it, but so far no change, though it's only been an hour or two since I moved it. Any ideas, suggestions, opinions, anything, please, I'm very, very scared and worried for him. Usually I have an answer, but I'm at a loss on this one. I thought maybe the UVB was too close to his basking spot while it was inside the tank, since his Exo Terra is only 12" tall, but it was still 7-8" away and they don't throw much heat at all...I don't know, we'll see I guess. I have not started any meds, just doing slurries that he is eating pretty well from an eye dropper. I started with babyfood, Pedialyte, calcium, and vitamin/mineral powder, and progressed last night to soaking RepCal Beardie Fortified Diet Replacement Pellets (he needs protein!) in Pedialyte, adding some liquid calcium without D3, and blending it into a thicker slurry to put into a 1ml syringe...He loves this one! So I'm going to go mix this up again now, and will continue to offer his normal food in the meantime, hoping he snaps out of this...But he looks so lethargic and sad...

Here's the rundown on his setup (exactly the same setup as my 6 year old beardie that I've had since he was 3 months old): 36"x18"x12" Exo Terra, Reptisun 10.0 T8 UVB Tube (18"), ZooMed 100w white Repti Basking Spot Lamp on hot side over main basking spot, Zilla Black Night Heat bulb (not always used), ZooMed 50w white Repti Basking Spot Lamp on cool side, brown sand-textured Reptile carpet as a substrate, ZooMed digital probe thermometers on both the hot side and the cool side, ZooMed Hygrometer on hot side where his large soaker bowl is.

Basking Spot Temp....Between 99-105
Hot Side Temp....Between 92-96
Cool Side Temp....Between 80-85
Nighttime Temp....Between 71-75
Humidity on Hot Side Where Large Soaker Bowl Is....26-33%


Sub-Adult Member
I want to apologize as your post is verrryyy long, and I read about 3/4 of it and just came down to comment.

For what it's worth, as soon as I installed my tube lights inside the tank, my oldest got very dark and stressed out. It lasted a little over a week and he didn't want to eat. Now he's completely fine and bright and colorful again. I think the lighting change probably stressed him out. His tank looked differently with this bigger, brighter bulb inside his enclosure and probably just freaked him out as it seemed unfamiliar.

Based off your very very thorough (not a bad thing!) description it appears you are doing everything correctly


Gray-bearded Member
Original Poster
I apologize for the length of my post, lol, but I'm usually the person answering questions and I'm always frustrated that they give absolutely no information! I basically started studying to become a doctor and after undergrad I switched to veterinary sciences, so I'm also very anal and thorough, I tend to ask questions and also answer them like a doctor, it's a horrible habit...Plus I love this little guy a lot. I had absolutely no intention of getting another dragon but damn those freaking Petco policies that aren't made in the best interests of their animals but rather their wallets. They actually told an employee she couldn't take Iggy home and then to her own herp vet, on her own dime, to try and help his eye. It was against company policy, also they couldn't put him in a separate tank because their "animal environment researchers" (so made up) say that they can house up to 18 young beardies (anything under 6 months) together in one 10 gallon tank, and this looked more like a 5 gallon anyway. So I'm just worried about him.


I'm glad that other people understand what I meant by describing "that stupid plastic grid" on top of the Exo Terra screen lids! Lol, I thought maybe I was missing some fantastic reason or use for the screen to be divided into 4! Thanks so much for the Amazon link, ordering it right now. God I hate that thing! I have been using regular aquariums for reptiles and amphibians for 20+ years now, and I absolutely love the Exo Terra vivs with the front opening doors, substrate dam, and the 3D background with the routing for wires and hoses. But why do they have those lids!

I'm glad to hear that you guys think it's the light being moved, I think so too, but god knows the minute you don't take something seriously that will be the time it's serious.

Do you think I should leave it on the screen or move it back inside? If it was the 18" high Exo Terra I would have definitely mounted it inside in the first place. But at 12" high do you think it's too close? I have no problem cutting the screen out that is directly under the UVB tube and taping the sharp edges of the cut screen up, that way no screen would be blocking the UVB. If he's going to adjust to it I might just put it back inside once I make sure that's his problem. I really wish I had gotten the 18" Exo Terra, but at $50 barely used I couldn't pass this one up.

CooperDragon Sicko
Staff member
The T5 is a higher output bulb (newer technology) so it can provide sunlight levels of UVB at greater distances than the T8. The bulbs also tend to last longer without needing replacement (mine is going on 2.5 years old now). I recommend T5 bulbs for larger enclosures because they produce 3-5 UVI (basking levels) at 12-14'' above the basking area while the T8 produces about 3 UVI at 6-8'' depending on the setup. Taterbug put together a nice site that explains the output from different configurations. There is also some good reading about lighting on

I haven't run into a problem with the cross section on the mesh top. I found that it gives some support/stability and I can put the UVB light right on top. The T5 is strong enough so that even with some of the UVB intercepted by the mesh it provides plenty of UVB over the basking area. I don't have any other animals in the house though, so I just took the top off and leave it off. The lights are suspended on adjustable lamp stands. The thing that got me about the tank was the foam background. Bugs loved to crawl behind there and hide so I took it out. It provides some extra space which is good as well. I taped a paper photo background on the outside instead.


Gray-bearded Member
Original Poster
Well he's slowly getting back to normal, but very slowly. I can't believe that he got so out of whack simply because I moved his light, but he did. He's eating on his own again but not as much as he did or should, but every day it's a bit better.

I'm going to go and buy the Reptisun T5 tomorrow at Petco. I did some research and I agree that I should be able to place the tube fixture on top of the lid, using the plastic grid on top of the screen as a ledge for it to sit on. Everything that I have read indicates that he will get the proper UVB rays that he needs with the T5 even though the mesh screen is in between him and the light. So hopefully he'll be happier tomorrow once the fixture is on top of his tank again instead of inside it. Thanks for your help.

Moody beardies....
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