Post Mortem Help Please, I can’t stop thinking about it.


New member
Hi guys. I’m new here, first ever post. I’ve been a long time reptile enthusiast and kept a Hognose snake in the past with no trouble. I always do extensive research while considering a new animal and my bearded dragon was no exception other than she was a surprise. My coworker needed to rehome her approx. 8month old female bearded dragon which she had purchased as a hatchling from a pet smart (I know abt pet smart it was not my choice.) the dragon looked great coming into my care as far as I could tell. Clear eyes nose and mouth, good weight, no signs of metabolic bone disease or any stuck shed, she was eating all the live BABY crickets and enough of the greens I was giving her (my coworker had her on dried adult crickets & a dried veggie/meal worm mix that you add water too but I changed her diet the first full day I had her), and she was pooping once a day a normal solid brown-green poop with a normal urate. All seemed well, I added a heating pad and a better UVB light then what was given to me by my coworker. I was taking her out in the sun. She never seemed really stressed or anything maybe mildly annoyed if I pet her before feeding with a grumpy eye close, but she never was mad. And she also was never that excitable…(one of the things I wonder about a lot according to my coworker and what i saw in my week with her she wasn’t the most energetic but I wouldn’t say completely lethargic. She spent a lot of time in one spot though but I was trying to give her and myself time to adjust and figure out what she needed. Any way about 5 days goes by all seems to be going well until I give her her first little warm soak as I clean her tank. 1) I notice that she didn’t digest some of the meal worms I had given her. A couple were almost whole in her poop. I was trying those vs. crickets bc I didn’t have good system for crickets yet and she seemed to like the wormies more and over ate, however they were the SMALLEST ones you can get and I gave her maybe 5-8 baby worms equaling about 2 adult meal worms worth of meal worm meat. So I soak her in some warm water in case she was feeling funky from that but she was appearing and acting fine and even enjoyed some greens and a bit of strawberry and drank some of her bath water which was purified bc she was spoiled. After a 15 min soak or so, I take her out to dry and warm up and we kick it together for about 15 min or so until I put her in her tank. I take a nap for about an hour and a half maybe 2. Had to be around 2:00pm when I woke up. To find her unresponsive laying under her hide, somewhere I have never ever seen her before. I touched her and she doesn’t react so I pull her out and she looked dead but doesn’t feel dead. Her eyes were closed but not sunk, she is limp and unresponsive but not hard, or dark on the bottom. Through my tears and panic and also having to be at work within an hour and half,, I tried another soak and rubbing her and when that wasn’t working i thought she had tried to escape the heat so I turned off the lamps and put her back under the hide for a bit but obviously that did nothing as well. I wanted to take her to a vet but 1)no car 2) had her for less than a week and had not saved up enough for an emergency vet bill at that time. I checked her up until I had to leave for work , she wasn’t fully dead then but I didn’t know what to do other than things I wasn’t able to do such as stay or take her to the vet (u can cuss me out if u want I get it). My coworker had offered the idea of brumation but I highly doubt it sets in that quickly? Other stats: tank was at 100-80 Fahrenheit 80 was at night it may have dropped to like 75 on the first couple nights bc I didn’t have the heating pad yet and I also was questioning the reliability of the thermometers my coworker had given me and had planned to replace those but when I put another working thermometer in the tank it read the same… I DONT KNOW GUYS PLEASE!! It’s been months since I’ve buried her and I didn’t have her for long, but I can’t get her out of my mind. And I would love to have another beardie one day but I can’t until I feel like I’ve done everything I possibly could to find out what I did wrong. If anyone has any ideas or relatable anecdotes please share them with me! I am happy to answer any questions I only have a few pics, didn’t take too many in the period I have her, the ones of her in the little tub of water was the morning of the day she died and the last one I believe was the the first morning she woke up in my apartment and I had her just hanging on her rock on the carpet while I deep cleaned her tank. I DID NOT USE ANY CHEMICALS OR SCENTED SOAPS. She also was shedding and the head was the last bit to go. Couldn’t bare to take pics of her dying although I’m hindsight that could’ve been helpful as well as springing for an autopsy for answers but animal deaths really throw me especially ones that come from out of nowhere. So again if anyone has any info on sudden deaths in young bearded dragons that came with few to no symptoms or maybe really sneaky bearded dragon sickness and what behavior I should have categorized as strange? I’m thinking she should have been way more energetic for being a juvenile..? Or maybe she was really sensitive to the cold and I shouldn’t have waited that long to upgrade her lights but she was using the lights she had been using this whole time?! Dang. Help sorry I’ll keep rambling if I don’t just post it. Thanks guys.


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AHBD Sicko
Oh wow, that's really sad and I'm sure it was a real shock for you. Unfortunately there is no way to say at all what happened but at times a beardie will die suddenly, possibility of organ failure, heart attack, aneurysm or other things. She was pooping so you can rule out severe impaction and usually there are signs like struggling to poo, black beard, obvious discomfort. Even though she had a bad diet before you got her it should not kill a dragon suddenly. There's a slight chance it could have been a tumor or atadenovirus as well but really it's impossible to know. So sorry this happened to you but you should not feel that you can't raise a bearded dragon. What happened was unusual and not a common event. So when you're ready, get yourself a beardie because they are great reptile pets. Luly was a very pretty dragon !

Drache613 Sicko
Staff member

Good grief, I am so sorry about Luly, she was beautiful. That happened very quickly & without a necropsy, it is virtually impossible
to know for sure what could have happened. Since it was so sudden, it was most likely organ issues that are related to inbreeding,
or other disease. They hide illness very well so it's hard to know if they are sick until they are very ill.
I am so sorry for your loss! This was definitely not your fault though. It takes time to grieve, so take your time & try to heal. :cry:



Extreme Poster
Not knowing why is a hard pill to get swallow for sure. I am sorry for you loss.
Not meaning to upset you but I have to ask you this. Was your dragon left unsupervised while you were cleaning the enclosure ? The water in the pic you posted seamed a little deep. My dragon "Charlie" likes to dunk his head under water if it's deep enough. Your dragon may have aspirated some water.

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