How Long Does It Take for Bearded Dragons to Digest Food?

You may know how often to feed your bearded dragon, but do you know how long your pet takes to digest that food? Going to the bathroom regularly is a sign of good health, so it’s important to know how long beardies take to digest after eating!

So, how long does it take for bearded dragons to digest food? Bearded dragons can digest food in as little as 24 hours or as much as a few days. 

Read on to find out more about how long bearded dragons take to digest. We’ve also provided some great tips to help you make sure that your beardie digests its food properly. Finally, be sure to check out the information we’ve provided on common digestive problems in bearded dragons and how to identify and treat them.

How Long Do Bearded Dragons Take to Digest?

For bearded dragons, the digestion process can take as little as 24 hours from the time your pet gets done eating. But it’s normal for your beardie to go to the bathroom as often as every day or as infrequently as once or twice a week.

The most important thing is that your pet has a regular pattern to its digestive process. Consistency is key! Also remember that as bearded dragons get older, their metabolism begins to slow down, resulting in slower digestion. 

Brumation and the shedding processes are two other situations when your beardie’s typical digestive patterns might change. Brumation is similar to hibernation. It’s a low-activity state that bearded dragons go into during the cold winter months.

Your pet won’t eat or go to the bathroom much during this time. Shedding can also slow down digestion, but once it has completed successfully, things should return to normal.

How Can I Make Sure My Bearded Dragon Digests Its Food Properly?

There are a few important aspects of bearded dragon husbandry that will ensure that your pet’s digestion always goes smoothly!

Balanced Diet

Of course, it’s essential to feed your beardie a balanced diet of about 75% feeder insects to 25% greens and veggies. And always remember to provide fresh water for your pet as well! Give your pet a balanced diet, and you’ll be off to a great start as far as digestion goes.

Thermal Gradient

Since bearded dragons are cold-blooded, they rely on their environments to thermoregulate. They need access to warmer and cooler temperatures so they can easily adjust their body temperature as needed.

Your beardie’s enclosure should have a cool end of about 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a warm basking area of 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use a thermostat and digital thermometers so that you can accurately monitor temperatures on a regular basis.

Humidity

Proper humidity levels are also important to your beardie’s digestion. Use a hygrometer, which measures humidity, to ensure it stays no higher than 20-40%. Bearded dragons need a humidity level similar to that of their native habitat, Australia, which tends to be pretty dry.

UVB Light

UVB rays play a huge part in your beardie’s digestive process by helping in the production of Vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium! So be sure to have a UVB light in your pet’s basking area.

Oftentimes, bearded dragons will bask directly after eating because the heat and UVB rays help them to digest. Remember, UV lights typically only last six months to a year before they need to be replaced!

Soaks in Warm Water

If your bearded dragon hasn’t gone to the bathroom in awhile, a soak in warm water should help things along. Fill a plastic storage tub or your bathtub with warm (not hot) water up to the height of your pet’s shoulders. Let it soak for about 20-30 minutes. Never leave your beardie unsupervised while soaking!

What Are Common Digestive Issues in Bearded Dragons?

Beardies run into a few common digestive issues including impaction, parasites, and vitamin deficiencies. 

Impaction in Bearded Dragons

Impaction is a condition similar to constipation. It happens when your pet eats something that it can’t digest, and the food or material forms a hard lump in the digestive tract and can’t make it through. Luckily, there are some home remedies for impaction, and a trip to the vet should fix things up in more severe situations.

Causes of Impaction

Impaction is most often caused by ingestion of substrate. Some types of substrate, like sand and pellets, come with a high risk of impaction. Your beardie might consume some on accident while trying to eat its greens (if you don’t serve them in a bowl) or while attempting to catch prey insects.

In addition, feeder insects that are too large can also lead to impaction. Grasshoppers’ back legs are known to cause impaction, so many owners cut off their back legs before feeding them to their pet.

Symptoms of Impaction

Here are a few signs that your beardie might be dealing with impaction.

  • Visible lump on stomach or back from impacted material
  • Regurgitation
  • Straining when going to the bathroom
  • Trembling legs
  • Dragging the back legs while walking

Treatment for Impaction

Many cases of impaction can be treated at home, but in more serious situations, your pet might need to go to the vet for surgery to remove the impaction. For minor cases, give your beardie a soak in warm water and very gently massage its stomach. You can also feed your bearded dragon a few drops of olive oil to help things along. 

In addition, you can switch up your pet’s diet to soft, easily digestible foods such as warm baby food or applesauce–just make sure there’s no sugar added. But if more than a week has passed and your beardie still hasn’t gone to the bathroom, it’s time for a trip to the reptile vet. 

Parasites in Bearded Dragons

Parasites are another health problem that can cause issues with the digestive system. If you think your beardie has parasites, don’t delay in getting it to the vet! Unfortunately, there’s not an effective way to treat parasites at home.

Causes of Parasites

One way your bearded dragon can get parasites is by spending time outdoors. Another way is if they are housed with another beardie that has parasites. Mites and ticks are common and can be seen on your pet’s skin.

Pinworms, on the other hand, make their home in your pet’s digestive tract. Oftentimes, this type of parasite lives on feeder insects and is transferred to bearded dragons through their diet. 

Symptoms of Parasites

Parasites don’t always come with symptoms, but you might notice these signs that your beardie has a parasitic infestation.

  • Diarrhea or other change in stool
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Visible mites or ticks

Treatment for Parasites

It’s recommended to have your bearded dragon’s stool checked for parasites once or twice a year, since they often don’t cause any symptoms. If your beardie is suffering from a parasitic infestation, the veterinarian will provide medication.

It’s very important to thoroughly clean out your beardie’s cage and maintain optimal conditions so that the parasites don’t return!

Vitamin Deficiencies in Bearded Dragons

Without the necessary nutrients, your beardie won’t be able to thrive. One common illness that’s a result of vitamin deficiency is metabolic bone disease. Other types of vitamin deficiencies can also wreak havoc on your bearded dragon’s digestion.

Causes of Vitamin Deficiencies

The most common vitamin deficiencies in bearded dragons are a lack of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Most of these vitamins are found in your pet’s diet, while Vitamin D production is also a result of exposure to UVB rays.

Metabolic bone disease is a result of a diet that is too high in phosphorus and too low in calcium and Vitamin D.

Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiencies

Signs of a vitamin deficiency include:

  • Faded coloration (Vitamin A)
  • Spasms and twitching (Vitamin B)
  • Bruising, bleeding gums, and diarrhea (Vitamin C)
  • Swollen nodules under the skin (Vitamin E)

Symptoms of metabolic bone disease, which involves Vitamin D deficiency, include:

  • Swelling and softening of the jaw
  • Swelling of the hind legs
  • Tremors, muscle twitching, and seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of energy

Treatment for Vitamin Deficiencies

Your vet can perform tests to determine whether your bearded dragon is suffering from any vitamin deficiencies or metabolic bone disease. For most vitamin deficiencies, a supplement or modification to your beardie’s diet will be enough to get things back to normal. Metabolic bone disease can be more serious, requiring changes to husbandry as well as medication.

Conclusion

Bearded dragons can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days to digest food. You can encourage successful digestion by providing a balanced diet and fresh water, ensuring temperatures and humidity are at recommended levels, providing access to UVB rays, and giving your pet soaks in warm water. 

Bearded dragons sometimes suffer from impaction, parasites, and vitamin deficiencies, all of which cause problems with the digestive system. If you think your beardie is sick or has a parasite infestation, get it to the vet as soon as possible!

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About Devin

I’m Devin Nunn, an average joe that just so happens to have a deep love and passion for everything to do with reptiles. Because taking care of them for the vast majority of my life wasn’t fulfilling enough, I decided to begin educating others about them through my articles.