I never realized just how much I’d be concerned with poop once I got a bearded dragon. Did she poop? When? How much? What’s it look like? When did she poop last? We even keep track of it, do you? Well, you should, because knowing the last time your beardie pooped is essential if you want to keep them healthy and happy.
Impaction, stress, and dehydration are all possible causes for a bearded dragon’s not pooping. While short-term solutions may be as simple as a warm bath, this is an issue that compounds with time. Act immediately to address the problem, then root out the cause to prevent it in the future.
Let’s go over possible reasons that your bearded dragon isn’t pooping, what you can do to fix those issues, how to treat impaction, and when home remedies aren’t enough.
How Often Bearded Dragons Should Poop
First of all, you should know that the lowest frequency of bowel movements you can expect from a Healthy adult bearded dragon will poop every 2-7 days. This frequency will vary with a beardie’s age and diet. Every beardie develops its own poop schedule and you will get to know what is “normal” for your beardie. If they go outside of their norm, home remedies or a vet visit may be needed.
Younger beardies will poop more often than adults. A baby bearded dragon (3 months or younger) will poop very often: 1-3 times per day. As they’re growing and developing at this stage, they have faster metabolisms and go through food more quickly.
A juvenile (4-18 months old) should poop about every other day, slowing down as they reach maturity near 18 months.
Adult beardies (older than 18 months) can poop as little as once per week or as much as once per day.
Your beardie’s diet will play a big role in how often they poop: for instance, beardies who eat a lot of silkworms will poop more often because of their high calcium content. Check out our complete feeding guide here! You can also download a complete food list for your bearded dragon here!
Why Your Bearded Dragon Isn’t Pooping
The most common causes of a bearded dragon not pooping are impaction, stress, lack of exercise, and dehydration. These can be remedied with a warm bath, a fruit laxative, or dipping its food in olive oil before feedings. If home remedies are not working after 7-10 days, consult a veterinarian.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so here’s how to recognize why your beardie isn’t pooping:
This is the most serious possibility for your beardie not pooping. In fact, it’s one of the most common causes of death for bearded dragons. It’s time-sensitive, so it requires immediate attention and care. If you are concerned about impaction, make sure to check out our in-depth article here.
Signs: Aside from the absence of poop, signs of impaction include:
- Trouble walking
- Loss of the use of back legs
- A bump or curvature in the lower spine
- Weight gain
- Continued eating without pooping
If you see any of these signs, take immediate action to help your beardie get its system moving. (Source)
Impaction can be caused by a diet imbalance, poor temperatures, or substrate.
Bearded dragons require a diet of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals balanced to their age. Younger beardies need more bugs, whereas older beardies need more greens. The fiber in vegetables is important for promoting proper digestion, and feeding them too many big bugs might block up their intestines, causing impaction.
Low temperatures will slow down their digestion, causing buildup. Bearded dragons need a basking spot that’s 88-100°F, and night temperatures should be between 70-75°F.
Loose substrate such as sand, soil, or gravel can cause impaction if your bearded dragon eats it. This goes back to the diet balance because your beardie will only eat substrate if it feels it needs more minerals. You can prevent this by offering calcium in a little bowl so that they always have access to it and don’t have to resort to eating substrate. (Source)
Want to know the best substrate for your beardie? Check out our detailed article here!
Not sure about calcium and other supplements? See exactly what your beardie needs and how often here!
There are many things that can cause your bearded dragon stress, but a common effect of stress is that your beardie will refuse food. And, naturally, beardies who won’t eat won’t have anything to poop.
Stress can be caused by environmental issues such as temperature and humidity. If it’s too hot, bearded dragons will dig and scratch around, trying to escape the heat. If it’s too cold, they’ll become lethargic, and may develop indigestion. High or low humidity imbalance could lead to parasites or dehydration, respectively.
Keep a thermometer in the tank so that you can monitor and adjust the temperature of the tank. You can also get a humidity meter to keep track of how humid the tank is. Don’t mist the tank too often, as that increases the humidity.
A tank that’s too small or a bullying cagemate can also cause stress, which can cause beardies to refuse food, tense up, and not poop.
Changing their setup can also cause stress, especially if changes occur often. Because of that, when you do make changes, make sure that those changes will be able to fix the problem and remain in place for more than two months (don’t make big setup changes within two months of the last change). This includes making changes to the substrate.
Water is essential for proper digestion, but beardies often ignore water, especially if it’s just sitting still in a bowl. They might pay more attention to running water and drink from that, but they get most of their hydration from their food, such as the water found in salads, as well as from soaking and bathing.
Signs that your bearded dragon is dehydrated include sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lethargy, and lack of appetite. If you see these signs, there’s a simple test you can do to see if your beardie is dehydrated: the loose skin test.
To perform this test, hold your beardie firmly with one hand. With your other hand, gently pinch or pull the skin on their back or side. Watching carefully, release the skin. How quickly does it return to normal? If it goes back to normal quickly, then your beardie is hydrated, but if it’s slow, they’re dehydrated.
If your bearded dragon lazes around all day, they won’t digest as well as an active beardie. Activity helps your beardie’s digestion move along, so if they tend to be lazy, try to find some ways to promote or incentivize activity.
This could involve introducing new play items, such as a ball, a mirror, or a playpen, or you could take them on a walk.
As lethargy is a symptom of impaction, encouraging your beardie to move around could help you expose other symptoms, such as trouble walking with their back legs, so you can catch impaction before it becomes a problem or grows worse.
Brumation and Gravidity
These are both natural parts of your reptile’s life where they may eat less, and therefore poop less. The winter slowdown of brumation may cause your beardie to sleep a lot and eat little or nothing. If they are eating a little and not pooping, give them a soak every 10-14 days to help them poop.
Gravid females will also often refuse food towards the end of gravidity.
Brumation can be scary if you haven’t seen it before. If your beardie hasn’t brumated, or you just want to be well prepared, we have you completely covered with this article.
What You Can Do
Poop or no poop, stress reduction should always be something you’re looking to do for your bearded dragon, simply because a beardie who isn’t stressed out is happier than a beardie who is always stressed.
Consider the factors mentioned earlier that contribute to a bearded dragon’s stress load. Is there anything in your beardie’s setup that you can adjust to make them more comfortable?
Keep in mind, baths should be given several times per week no matter what. For full instructions, we laid it all out with pictures here!
This is the go-to solution most bearded dragon owners offer in the face of constipation. A warm bath, with the water kept at 100°F, will usually prompt your beardie to poop. Some suggest a belly massage as well, rubbing gently towards the vent.
An effective bath will be 15-30 minutes long. Make sure to keep the water at 100 degrees (you may need to keep heating it). If that doesn’t work the first time, you can also try a shower at 100 degrees (supervised) again for 15-30 minutes.
In addition to relaxing their digestion, baths relieve stress and help your beardie with hydration. In the wild, bearded dragons usually drink while they bathe, so a bath will entice them to drink while they soak up the water with their skin at the same time.
While this usually works as a short-term solution, you can’t depend on it to work every time, and doing it too often can lead to more problems. Your bearded dragon may learn to only poop in the bath and won’t do it in its tank, or frequent baths may cause your beardie to poop too often, losing both water and electrolytes.
If it works to clear an impaction, great, but take that success and use it to give you time to fix the deeper root of the problem (the cause of the impaction) and don’t depend on being able to use a bath every time to put a bandaid on the issue.
If the bath doesn’t work, you can try giving your bearded dragon a high-fiber fruit puree as a laxative to help out the blockage. You can use 1 ml of pumpkin, apple sauce, or banana, fed with a syringe.
If your bearded dragon doesn’t poop within the next 24 hours, try the bath and shower again.
The high fiber content of these foods helps move along digestion.
For our little Bacardi, we’ve found a ton of success with either pumpkin baby food or pieces of watermelon. She loves both of them and both tend to get her bowels moving in no time!
If none of those work, try feeding your beardie some olive oil for lubrication. You can do this by dipping bugs in the oil before feeding. Of course, this will only work if your bearded dragon is still eating at this point.
Alternatively, you can try mixing olive oil with water and giving it to them in a syringe. This should be 0.1 ml of olive oil per 100 grams of your beardie’s weight. So, if your bearded dragon weighs 400 grams, give them 0.4 ml of olive oil mixed with about 0.6 ml of water in a syringe. (Source)
If your beardie doesn’t poop by the next day, try the bath one more time. If that doesn’t work either, it’s time to see the vet.
When to See a Vet
If none of those solutions work to get your bearded dragon to poop, and they haven’t pooped for 7-10 days, then it’s time to see a vet. *Our vet will usually want us to wait until it’s been 2-3 weeks before we bring Bacardi in (as long as there are no other symptoms). Check with your vet for what’s right for your beardie.
Impaction is a time-sensitive condition, and it only gets worse as time goes on. Blockages continue to build up and add to the problem. The discomfort may cause your beardie to refuse food, causing them to get dehydrated, which only puts their digestive system in a worse state to handle the blockage.
This problem leads to paralyzation, which is why they have trouble walking and using their back legs, as well as the curve in their back. The blockage prevents waste from leaving their system, which can ultimately lead to death.
If you’re unsure about how long the problem has been going on, it’s better to be safe than sorry and take them to a vet without delay. You can probably fit in a bath before anything serious happens, but you may not have time to waste waiting for laxatives or lubricants to work. It’s always better to see a vet and be told you overreacted than it is to wait too long and not be able to help your bearded dragon because it’s too late.
You will need to see an exotic vet for your bearded dragon, which is harder to come by and more expensive than regular vets. Different practitioners will vary, but a visit could cost anywhere from $25 to $100, and since an impaction will require an X-ray for the vet to see the problem, it’ll probably tend towards the higher end of the range. But this cost is worth it to clear out the blockage and get your beardie back to its happy and healthy self.