Bearded dragons have a multitude of behaviors, both normal and abnormal. Learning the distinction between them is critical for understanding your beardie’s health status, its state of mind, and what it’s trying to transmit.
This allows you to detect dangerous health issues in time and address them before they aggravate. You would be amazed to learn how fast even the smallest issues, like a mild skin lesion, can become deadly.
So today, we will discuss bearded dragon twitching, which is never a good sign but can have multiple causes that require investigation.
Let’s look into those!
Causes of Bearded Dragon Twitching
Bearded dragons are known to twitch or exhibit involuntary muscle movements for various reasons, some of which may relate to their physical health, while others may be behavioral or environmental.
Here are some possible causes to consider and investigate:
- Stress – Bearded dragons may twitch when they feel stressed or anxious. This can be caused by various factors such as loud noises, bright lights, changes in their environment, or the presence of other animals. Stress is a common issue among reptiles that are bred and raised in captivity due to their feral nature. Beardies require precise living conditions and personalized care to remain comfy and healthy over the years. Stress can cause them to become vulnerable to diseases and parasites, which can impact their health dramatically over time.
- Nutritional deficiencies – Twitching can be a symptom of nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of calcium or vitamin D3, which can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. The lack of calcium, specifically, is known to cause involuntary muscle movements and lead to spasms and cramps. Always take your reptile’s nutritional deficiencies seriously because they can become deadly.
- Neurological issues – Certain neurological disorders or diseases can cause bearded dragons to twitch or have seizures. These are more serious situations that demand the insight of an experienced veterinarian. Many neurological disorders are genetic and require specialized palliative care, while others are mild and can be cured with the right approach.
- Parasites – Parasites such as mites, ticks, or intestinal worms can cause bearded dragons to twitch, scratch, or show other signs of discomfort. These also require immediate treatment because they can cause more extensive issues, including infections due to frequent scratching that leads to skin lesions. Intestinal parasites also place your reptile at risk of experiencing nutritional deficiencies, and we’ve already discussed where those can lead.
- Temperature or humidity fluctuations – Fluctuations in temperature or humidity levels can cause bearded dragons to twitch or exhibit other symptoms of stress. You should provide your beardies with a stable and healthy habitat with ideal parameters to keep them comfortable and in good shape. Drastic fluctuations in temperature and humidity are responsible for a variety of health problems, including stress, skin infections, respiratory infections, constipation and impaction, overheating, dehydration, and so much more.
- Muscle fatigue – Overexertion or fatigue can cause muscles to twitch or spasm, which is more often associated with an overly active lifestyle. This isn’t a dangerous situation, and your beardie should recover fairly soon with some good food and a good nighttime’s rest. Juveniles are more prone to this issue because they tend to be more active and exploratory, whereas adults conserve their energy for the most part.
Figuring out the trigger behind your beardie’s twitching issue is critical for preventing more serious health problems.
Especially since, as you can see, there are quite a few to account for.
Other Signs of Illness in Bearded Dragons
In addition to twitching, there are several other signs of illness that bearded dragon owners should be aware of.
- Lack of appetite – Bearded dragons are known for their hearty appetites, so a loss of appetite can be concerning, especially in a reptile that seemed healthy until that point.
- Lethargy – If your bearded dragon is spending more time sleeping than usual or seems less active than normal, check its health status more closely. There may be some issues you may not be aware of.
- Diarrhea or constipation – Abnormal bowel movements can be signs of digestive problems or parasites. Tackling these early on is crucial for a fast and safe recovery.
- Discolored or sunken eyes – Sunken or discolored eyes can signal dehydration or a respiratory infection or eye infection. I recommend contacting your vet, in this case, to diagnose and address the issue immediately. Dehydration, for instance, can kill a bearded dragon in a couple of days or even faster.
- Respiratory problems – Bearded dragons with respiratory infections may wheeze, cough or exhibit fluid discharges from their noses or mouths. These need immediate treatment to prevent more severe problems like pneumonia.
- Abnormal shedding – Bearded dragons shed their skin regularly, but if the shedding itself is incomplete or takes longer than usual, the reptile may be experiencing dysecdysis. This condition increases the risk of infections and restricted blood flow to the affected areas, which can lead to gangrene and even death.
- Abnormal behavior – If your bearded dragon is behaving differently than normal, such as showing aggression or hiding more often, consider the possibility that it may be sick. The nature of the disease may still be unknown at this point, so a more in-depth diagnosis is necessary to clear the waters.
If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary care right away. Many illnesses can be treated successfully if caught early while delaying the treatment can lead to more serious health problems.
How to Care for a Bearded Dragon with Twitching
If your bearded dragon is experiencing twitching or muscle spasms, it’s important to identify the underlying cause and seek veterinary care if necessary.
In addition to that, consider the following recommendations:
- Ensure proper nutrition – Bearded dragons require a balanced diet that includes a variety of insects, vegetables, and fruits. Make sure that your bearded dragon is getting the right nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D3, which are important for bone health.
- Maintain proper temperature and humidity levels – Bearded dragons require a specific range of temperatures and humidity levels to stay healthy. Use a thermometer and hygrometer to track the temperature and humidity in your bearded dragon’s enclosure and make adjustments as necessary. Aim for a temperature range of 75-110 F, with the latter representing the basking spot, and a humidity level of 30-40%, which is normal for beardies. These desertic reptiles don’t need nearly as much humidity as other species.
- Provide proper lighting – Bearded dragons need access to full-spectrum UVB lighting to help them produce vitamin D3, which improves calcium absorption. The diet matters significantly too, but without adequate UVB radiation, the lizard’s body cannot process vitamin D3, so it cannot absorb calcium from the food. And we all know what that leads to.
- Minimize stress – Reduce stress by providing a comfortable and safe environment for your bearded dragon. This includes providing hiding places, avoiding sudden loud noises, keeping other pets away from the reptile’s enclosure, monitoring and addressing any health issues in time, etc.
- Follow veterinary recommendations – If your bearded dragon’s twitching is due to an underlying health condition, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for treatment and care. Also, take your lizard to regular vet checkups at least 2-3 times per year, even if there’s no sign of disease overall.
Preventing Twitching in Bearded Dragons
As we’ve already discussed, twitching is the result of a cumulation of factors, many of which influence one another.
The best way to prevent twitching and keep your beardie in good health over the years comes down to 2 overarching points:
- Understand your beardie’s needs – While all bearded dragons are similar anatomically and biologically, they are also different individuals with slightly different needs. Bearded dragons have different food preferences, different personalities, and different environmental requirements that you need to consider. So, the first thing to achieve is to learn about your beardie’s unique requirements and preferences. This allows you to set up a personalized care routine to provide your dragon with the top housing and care conditions.
- Speak to a professional – This is especially necessary if you’re not exactly accustomed to reptiles in general. Speak to a vet or a bearded dragon connoisseur to understand what these reptiles need in general and how to personalize their diets, housing conditions, and overall care routine. Sometimes, even the smallest details can make a massive impact.
These approaches, combined with the tips we’ve mentioned during the previous chapter, should keep your beardie in good health for the rest of its life.
When to See a Veterinarian?
You should see a veterinarian if your beardie shows signs of additional health issues, such as:
- Twitching is persistent or severe – If your bearded dragon’s twitching is persistent or severe, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem that requires veterinary attention.
- Respiratory problems – Respiratory infections can be serious and require prompt veterinary care. If your bearded dragon is wheezing, coughing, or has visible discharge from their nose or mouth, seek veterinary attention immediately.
- Digestive problems – Digestive problems, such as diarrhea or constipation, can signal parasites or other health problems. These may require the attention of a professional to prevent more severe complications, such as dehydration or impaction.
- Abnormal shedding – Dysecdysis can become a deadly problem if it cuts the blood circulation to one of the lizard’s limbs, which could result in tissue death and blood poisoning. Always have your vet on the line if your beardie shows signs of incomplete or abnormal shedding.
- Behavioral changes – Monitor your beardie’s behavior because the lizard will often express its discomfort and pain via a multitude of behaviors. These include aggression, lethargy, keeping its mouth open, wagging its tail, etc. Each of these can hold clues regarding the nature of the disorder that’s bothering them, but you’re better off relying on an expert for a proper diagnosis.
I recommend contacting your vet even if your beardie’s symptoms are mild. You never know the full extent of their condition and the symptoms may aggravate without warning anyway.
Bearded dragons can experience uncontrollable twitching at times, but this doesn’t mean that their condition is severe.
It all depends on the reason for twitching, the intensity, and whether the twitching is recurrent.