With a large number of bearded dragons becoming obese, it has become the norm to have a fat beardie pet. You might dote on your pet profusely, which might make you overfeed it at times. Let’s be honest, none of us wants to end up with an overweight bearded dragon. An obese bearded dragon is more likely to develop health complications as it grows old. In this guide, you will learn about how to make bearded dragon lose weight in a controlled manner.
We know that consider your beardie as a family member but you shouldn’t express your love by letting it eat whatever it wants. It would only be counterproductive for its health if you don’t control its diet. An obese bearded dragon is more likely to suffer from organ dysfunction and early death.
In the wild, bearded dragons patrol their territory, which helps them burn calories. On the other hand, captive bearded dragons don’t get the chance to ramp up their metabolism. With easy access to delicious food, your bearded dragon is more predisposed to becoming overweight. He or she doesn’t have to make any effort to find or catch live bugs. All they need to do is lie down in the tank and wait for the owners to feed them. This is the reason reptile keepers should be extra cautious while designing a diet plan for their pets.
How Do I Know If My Bearded Dragon is too fat?
You are highly unlikely to run into an obese bearded dragon in the wild. The males guard their territories on a daily basis, which helps maintain their metabolic rate. They also have to wait and hunt for food every day to survive.
On the other hand, captive bearded dragons are entitled to daily meals without any physical exertion. This disrupts their body’s self-regulation mechanism and exposes them to getting fat. So, you should be able to identify whether you have a fat dragon at home.
There are various telltale signs that can tell that your bearded dragon has become too fat. You can assess their current health status by viewing body parts such as the abdomen, rib cage, jowl, and arms. You might notice fat deposits slowly accumulating over these body parts of your bearded dragon. You might also notice that its tail is slowly becoming bulkier.
It might also have a protruding belly, which indicates that they have an excess amount of fat. This can also affect the way they move and walk. Your bearded dragon would adopt a wobbly walk if it is becoming overweight.
Bearded Dragon Fat Pads
The fat pads are located just behind the eyes on the head of a bearded dragon. These fat deposits are the best indicators of the reptile’s health. The indentation of the fat pads tells the reptile is becoming malnourished. On the other hand, bulging of the fat pads reveals about obesity. A healthy bearded dragon should have a slightly curved fat pad that is not sticking out.
Bearded dragons go through the hibernation period during the winter season, which is known as brumation. During this period they store fat layer in these pads. Once they stop eating food they get nourishment from these fat pads. As long as the fat pads are not bulging excessively, then you can tell that your beardie is healthy.
How Do I Get My Fat Bearded Dragon to Lose Weight?
Before starting out the weight loss program for your pet dragon, you should keep their slow metabolisms in mind. Unlike mammals, reptiles would go through the weight loss phase in a slow manner. You would have to make gradual changes in their diet to keep up with their metabolic rate.
You need to come up with an effective caloric deficit plan to start seeing changes. Your pet lizard should be burning more energy than the energy is it getting from its food. This would help target the stubborn fat reserves in the body.
There are various weight loss tips you can try out to help your obese dragon lose excess weight.
Reduce the meal size
If you are serving a large number of feeder insects in one sitting, then your beardie is likely to gain weight. You would have to distribute food quantity in a way that they don’t consume large proportions. If you are feeding him two dozens of dubia roaches daily, then you would have to make some reduction. You can slowly decrease the number of roaches or crickets you feed them in one session.
You should only focus on making small increments rather than making sharp adjustments. Your beardie can suffer from starvation if you suddenly cut down on the amount of food.
Slow down the feeding pace
We tend to eat a great quantity of food when we stack it up in a single plate or bowl. Similarly, your bearded dragon would gulp down more food if you simply put it in a bowl. You can try out some games or tricks to stretch the feeding time. This way your beardie would end up eating less proportion of food in a single sitting. You can do this by spreading meal in a large container. This would propel your beardie to move its body continuously to reach food.
Encourage your beardie to take part in physical exertion
You might be thinking that it isn’t a dog that you can simply put on a treadmill to
burn fat. We know that bearded dragons mostly prefer to remain stationary in their enclosure. You can still try out some strategies to help your beardie burn more calories.
If you have a small tank, then your bearded dragon is more likely to put on weight. He or she would less space to walk around if it lives in a small enclosure. By installing a large terrarium in your household you would be able to give more space to your beardie.
You can also pick feeder insects, such as crickets and roaches, to encourage a chasing behavior. Your beardie would be less motivated to move around if you feed it wobbly worms. You should add active insects so that your bearded dragon can hunt them down.
Adult bearded dragons go into hibernation during the fall and winter season in their natural habitat. The food sources in the wild are scare when it gets cold, so this helps bearded dragon survive. This is not just a survival tactic but it also helps burn lipids – which are fat reserves.
In order to induce your bearded dragon to brumate, you would have to make some adjustments in the tank. You would have to reduce the temperature and create different temperate zones. This would help your bearded dragon to find a suitable cold place to sit during brumation. Towards the end of the brumation cycle, your bearded dragon would likely use its fat reserves. This would help him reduce weight in a natural manner.