Does anyone know what is happening to my beardie?

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I am so glad I found this forum! My 2 year old beardie has been not eating normally for about 6 months now. I took her to the vet within a week of when this first started and they tested for parasites and did an Xray, with no abnormal results. At the time, her weight was fine, too - but I knew something was strange. They said it might be the start of brumation.

Time goes on, she eats a couple of dubia roaches or pinches of veges once a week or so for the next few months. She is still waking up each day, unprovoked, but is less likely to stay under her heat lamp. She has always been a mellow and lethargic beardie, so that did not change. We gave her baths regularly, she does not have dangerous substrate, her heat day and night is to standard, etc.

About 2.5 weeks ago she stopped eating altogether. She would still lap some water that I dropper onto her nose about 2 days/week. It became my mission to slip in some Repta-Boost liquid in during that drinking session, but as soon she sensed the Repta-Boost, she would stop drinking.
About 7 days ago I got a UV Intensity Meter and discovered that both her 46" Arcadia 12% UV bulbs that we got 6 months ago were putting out ZERO UV. Zero. I could not believe it.

SO ON A SIDE NOTE- PLEASE EVERYONE BUY A UV STRENGTH TESTER/SOLARMETER (less than $40 on Amazon) AND CHECK YOUR BULBS REGULARLY FOR OUTPUT OF ABOUT 3-4...even if they are brand new and from a reputable seller.

OK, so now I bring her outside for UV light as much as I can each day (about 4 hours of Las Vegas sun - between 3-9 on the solarmeter), along with her heat lamp, but still she is not eating. I take her to the vet yesterday. They weigh her - which was a big drop from 6 months ago of course - but they feel around and her belly is full and squishy. They also said her bones are good, so the lack of UV was probably not the main issue. They do an Xray.

I need to figure out how to attach this photo of her Xrays side by side. On the right is her X ray from 6 months ago, on the left is yesterday. The vets do not know what this is. They are hoping it is parasites, infection, blockage or worms. We started her on meds for all of these things yesterday. But this also might be cancer. Does anyone out there know what we are looking at? Is she in pain?
I am supposed to do the meds for 2 weeks and return to the Vet. I am ok to do that - but if she is in pain (not sure how to tell this is a beardie) and this is terminal, then that is not OK with me. I want to do what is humane.

Thank you!

**Can someone direct me as to how to post a jpg?

Claudiusx Sicko
Staff member
Hi Kim,

You can upload pictures to the site here:

And then you can copy and paste the XIMG link to your post.

Very odd that your arcadia bulbs were producing 0 UV. That makes me think they were fake. Even decaying ones will still produce some measurable amount of UV. Can you take a picture of the markings on the tube? It might be worthwhile to send an E mail to Arcadia. They take issues like this very seriously, and will want to know the batch numbers on your bulb.

Have you replaced the bulb to verify it wasn't just your fixture that was bad?

The lack of UV could contribute to the lethargy.

What was the previous weight and what is the weight now?

Some pictures of your setup and your dragon would help.



Juvie Member
Hi! Has she ever brumated? At age 2, it's certainly something to consider, though that UV issue would be my first guess as to what's going on. How is your viv. set up for heat, because that's another big factor in beardie wellness and their ability to properly metabolize food? If you can provide pics & details on your setup, we may be able to spot something that would explain things.

I agree a UV meter is a very good investment. I had a bulb going flat well before its supposed expiration date, and bad batches are certainly possible.


Original Poster
Thank you for some great advice and questions, Brandon and aaradimian. I have now posted Taz's Xrays. It is quite a mass in her lower abdomen. Her weight in the past six months has gone from 375g to 302g, but her fat pads are now gone and all the weight is coming from the mass in her belly. ...whatever that is.

She is sunning herself outside right now, sweet as ever and handled my first force feeding of Repta-boost this morning like a champ. Usually I let her choose if she wants to eat or not, but the Vet wants me to make it happen. I hope she turns around and this is just a crazy blockage in her digestive system and not cancer.

I agree, Brandon, that the bulbs were likely bogus. My fixture holds two 46" and the chances of both giving off zero UV only 6 months down the road is extremely unlikely. I will bring this up with the person who sold them to me once I get Taz's health improved, for sure.

Taz wanted to do a brumination these past months, and I think she tried her version of it (napping a lot), but she did not do it fully, still craved light and still occasionally ate. She has not produced any eggs yet and currently does not have any in her.

Taz's enclosure is a bit disassembled right now, as I set her up with some of her equipment outside during sunshine (until the new UV bulbs arrive). She has an 18x54" daytime playpen with an open top and an open-sided area so she can look out the window and so I can watch her while I work. My work desk is right next to her playpen- at about the same height. A 46" two-bulb UV fixture spans across her enclosure and she has a heat lamp with a ramp, branches, a big rock and a hammock to climbing so she can better control how much heat she does or does not need. She also usually has a food bowl of greens and a food bowl of home-colonized, gut-loaded dubia roaches. She also has a "hide" with cut up fleece for burrowing into and a water fountain, which she ignores. We live in Vegas and our air is crazy dry at all times...I thought she would drink the dripping water, but is pretty much just nice white noise.

Right now she is basking outside and is opting not to stay under the heat lamp, which has been her M.O. for months now. She gets her second dose of medicines in 2 hours, so I am crossing fingers we are headed in the right direction.

If anyone has encountered this sort of abdominal growth in a Beardie before, I would love to hear about it.

I have included photos of her disassembled enclosure, her new set up outside and a close-up of her.
Thank you so much fellow Beardie lovers!


Juvie Member
I'm not in a position to comment on the x-rays, but I do notice a potentially big issue if your setup doesn't have a basking bulb. By a basking bulb, I mean a white light, non-LED bulb like a flood-lamp that can provide a temperature of around 105*F to your beardie. They sell these at pet stores, but I just use a regular old 75W flood light bulb like you'd use in an outdoor spotlight. These are more rugged and less expensive than the ones in stores, and they work fine.

The key is that beardies need a range of temperatures to properly digest food and the UV to metabolize it. In most setups I've seen, people will set up a basking log or similar surface that exposes their beardie to about 105*F as read by an IR gun, which you can get for about $20. Don't use the little dial ones the pet stores sell- these can be inaccurate to the extent of being useless. 105 is the spot temperature not the ambient air temperature, btw. Took me a while to tease out that detail. I actually let my spot temp to go up a bit higher because my two guys will instinctively move when they're warm enough and I want to give them a chance to choose, but that is my own decision and not one I've seen on the board.

For your setup, I'd recommend getting a lamp/bulb combo with a dimmer switch in-line so you can fine tune the temp. Otherwise, it requires changing the height of the bulb, which is a major pain. I'd recommend a timer so you don't have to remember to turn it off at night (no light on at night and no need to heat unless your room gets below around 65F at night). If you do need to heat, use a CHE and not a red light bulb, which can hurt a beardie's eyes. Also with either the basking or CHE bulbs, be VERY careful that nothing can knock the lamp down and that she can't get to it somehow. I very nearly torched my place when I accidentally left a lamp on a timer on the floor when I was cleaning the cage.


Original Poster
My beardie does have access to a basking bulb/105 degrees in addition to her UV lights. I called it her "heat lamp", but it is actually a large flood bulb that provides basking temperatures.

Thank you for the responses and making sure my girl is being kept took us months to get up to speed with everything a beardie needs on a daily basis...obviously still learning, but I think we finally have the basics in place. I think there should be a handbook that goes to every owner when they buy their beardie. They require A LOT of detailed items and unfortunately are silent about their needs. It is really up to the owners to do their homework.

Thanks again!

AHBD Sicko
Hi there, Taz looks great sitting there in the sun ! She actually looks quite healthy. :) Too bad you git bogus bulbs, where did you get them ? I'm afraid that's happening to a number of people sadly. Just so you know, if you can have her out in the sun for 2-4 hours every day or at least 3 times a week she will get all the uvb she needs. If need be you could buy or construct an outdoor enclosure. And I don't know if it was mentioned but try a new or more enticing food item. Sorry if it was already mentioned but hornworms are irresistible to almost ALL beardies.


Original Poster
Thanks, AHBD!
I appreciate the hornworms suggestion and UV details. That came in handy today, especially, as it is cool and cloudy today and your advice made me realize that Taz and I did not have to withstand that for too long in order for her to get what she needs!
She is a sweet and beautiful animal...even when she is not well. I am lucky :)

Drache613 Sicko
Staff member

So sorry that Taz has some type of mass, I do see it.
They confirmed that it wasn't egg binding, etc? I have seen x-rays where the dragon had
a cluster of calcified eggs which appeared to be a mass. They did blood work on her, correct?
She looks good overall, but I definitely wouldn't let her brumate since something is definitely
going on internally.
Are the pads on top of her head doing alright or are they sunken down?
How is her appetite doing?
I am alarmed as well that the ArcadiaT8 12% tube didn't register any UVB after only 6 months.
I'm glad that you got a UVB meter, they are really invaluable.
Let us know how she is doing!

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Wow I haven't logged in for years. Hi!
So to any reading this, how on earth do I post a thread 😅 New here, possibly too old for this

Just Hazel in a filter I need so not posting on forums.
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I have questions about bubbles on our bearded dragons eye.

So he’s gotten bubbles on his eye. We wiped them off and it’s only been twice in the last few weeks. Should we be concerned? No coughing or congestion. He’s very hungry and sleeps well. He’s 8-9 month range. His humidity is 30-40 day time and as high as 50-55 at night to early morning.
Should we be concerned?

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