Someone once said the eyes are windows to the soul, although they surely weren’t talking about bearded dragons, their eyes can still tell you a lot about them and their health. Believe it or not, bearded dragons have very expressive eyes. You may notice their eyes are bright, full of color, or they could be sunken in, dull, and honestly, sad looking.
So, what does it mean if your bearded dragon has sunken eyes? There are several reasons a beardie could have sunken eyes, from dehydration to parasites, but most times, sunken eyes will require a visit to the vet.
Bearded dragon health can be a complicated subject to pinpoint, but once you figure it out, you’re on your way to giving your pet the help it needs!
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What Could Be the Cause of Sunken Eyes?
Let’s say you come home from a long day at work and look forward to greeting your pet because he understands you and helps to take away the stresses of the day. When you go to pick him up you notice something wrong. His eyes aren’t as bright and excited as most days, in fact, they are actually sunken in.
That feeling when you know your pet isn’t feeling great is like a punch in the gut. Our pets provide massive amounts of love and joy in our lives and we, in turn, try to provide the best care for them. So, when you see your beardie has sunken eyes, you want to know why this has happened and how you should go about fixing the problem.
Just to be clear, we love that you are doing research for your pet, and are very glad that you come to us for all your reptile, and beardie information. That being said, if your bearded dragon has sunken eyes, it’s probably best to go ahead and take them to the vet. There could be a serious illness happening that only your vet can treat.
Alternatively, there can be a few sunken eye issues that can be treated at home. To find out if this is something that can be treated without the vet, and to stay informed when you do visit your vet, please read on.
Sunken Eyes Could be Dehydration
Dehydration is very common in bearded dragons, and one of the most common causes of sunken eyes in beardies. Other ways to determine if the sunken eyes are caused by dehydration and not something more severe is to check the skin and inspect their poop.
Does he have very wrinkly-looking skin? Usually, a healthy bearded dragon will have tight, plump-looking skin but if it’s looking rather wrinkly, that’s a clear sign of dehydration.
Gently tug at the skin then let go, it should snap right back in place. If the skin does not go right back, your dragon is dehydrated.
You can also check her poop. Beardies don’t urinate, instead, they pass urates in the form of that white part of their poops. If there is little to no white, that’s another sign of dehydration.
Bearded dragons come from very dry and hot regions of Australia. They don’t have a strong instinct to drink, so they get the vast majority of their fluids from the foods they eat. You should still provide clean drinking water every day, who knows, your beardie might be one that likes to splash around or drink frequently.
One of the best ways to fight bearded dragon dehydration is the tried and true bathtime. Beardies will often “taste” their environment, so when she sticks her tongue out to taste the water, she will get a few gulps of water. She might also lick some of the droplets off her skin, which helps to hydrate her more.
Another way to help with dehydration is to feed your beardie a lot of water-rich foods. Greens have a lot of moisture, as well as cucumbers, watermelon, mango, and broccoli. I like to mist my beardie’s food before feeding them, that way they get an extra dose of fluids when they eat.
Sunken eyes on a bearded dragon could certainly be dehydration, and if you’re certain that’s the cause then try these methods to help them out. But if your pet doesn’t respond to the extra fluids, please contact your vet sooner rather than later.
The Tank Could Be Too Hot
Sometimes it happens. Maybe your room is rather warm because the temperature outside is blazing, or maybe there’s a malfunction in the tank’s equipment. I have seen heating pads and lamps short out and get very hot.
When the environment for the bearded dragon gets too hot, he will try to find a cooler area, or start gaping to try and cool off. You can check the temperature of your enclosure with an infrared thermometer. The basking zone should be between 95℉ to 110℉.
If the enclosure has somehow become too hot for your dragon, then the heat could contribute to dehydration and sunken eyes. Take the necessary steps to provide the correct temperature inside the enclosure, then work on rehydrating your dragon.
Too Much Weight Loss
Weight loss can be a contributing factor to sunken eyes. Bearded dragons don’t have to go on diets (I only wish I had that problem) so if they start losing weight there could be underlying issues. Illness or impaction are two of the main reasons behind weight loss.
We will cover illnesses later. Impaction can happen rather easily with bearded dragons. If they accidentally consume too much loose substrate, they can get compacted, or if they consume food that is too large for their system to handle, that could also cause a bowel obstruction.
If your bearded dragon looks rather thin but still has a wide belly, or if you feel a hard lump in the stomach, this could be a sign of impaction. You will most likely have to visit your vet to clear this up, go ahead and make that call.
Most other causes of weight loss in bearded dragons concern illness, so let’s go ahead and cover that topic.
Illness Could Be a Factor
Some illnesses in your little dragon can cause the eyes to sink in. An eye infection could be the cause of sunken eyes, or it could be something as serious as kidney disease. Most other illnesses if not caught and treated early can cause weight loss, which then can lead to sunken eyes.
Other signs of an eye infection include frequent squinting, keeping the eyes closed a lot, and crust or discharge that looks almost like a yellow fungus around the eyes. These symptoms will need to be treated by your vet.
Kidney disease can be a cause of sunken eyes. Other symptoms of kidney disease in bearded dragons include loss of appetite, a foul smell, and lethargy. If you suspect any kind of illness, especially kidney disease, make a visit to your vet.
Vitamin A Deficiency
This could be a simple diet mistake causing a Vitamin A deficiency that gives your bearded dragon the sunken eye look. Baby beardies require plenty of insects as they are growing because they have more need for protein. As they grow their diets change as well.
Adolescent and adult beardies need more leafy greens. If they are not getting the required veggies, they could develop a vitamin deficiency. Their diet as adults should consist of about 80% vegetable matter like leafy greens, and 20% insects.
Leafy greens like watercress, kale, and mustard greens contain a lot of Vitamin A. Make sure your beardie is getting a properly balanced diet.
Check for Parasites
This is one that always makes my skin crawl and feel itchy all over. Parasites are organisms that require a host to live and feed off. Bearded dragons unfortunately are not immune to parasites.
Beardies can get mites, fleas, ticks, and internal parasites. When it comes to sunken eyes and parasites, the culprit here most times will be external parasites. Unfortunately, mites are easily transmitted between bearded dragons and are difficult to spot.
Mites are tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye, but when a heavy infestation is present, you may see what appears to be pepper flakes on your dragon or yourself after handling him. Mites usually congregate on sensitive areas of bearded dragons like the eyelids, which if the infestation is big enough, could cause shrunken eyes.
Do not mistake sunken eyes for a swollen eye.
Fleas, although rare on reptiles, can happen and cause the same thing, as well as ticks. Do a close visual inspection of your pet to see if it has external parasites. If you see them, you will have to contact your vet for treatment, then thoroughly clean and disinfect anything your bearded dragon has touched to prevent reinfestation.
Do bearded dragons’ eyes bulge out?
A: Sometimes their eyes do bulge out. It is thought they do this when they are preparing to shed, as a way to stretch the skin around the eyes. Most times it happens so quickly that owners do not notice it happening.
What is the fastest way to hydrate a bearded dragon?
A: A warm bath is probably the fastest way to hydrate a bearded dragon but feeding fruits and vegetables with high water content and misting your bearded dragon help hydrate fast as well.
Do bearded dragons’ eyes sink in when they die?
A: Sunken eyes can be a symptom of a dying bearded dragon, as well as a symptom of other issues. Other symptoms of a dying bearded dragon include lethargy, problems moving, staying on the cool side of the enclosure, respiratory problems, and dull, discolored skin but not shedding.
Wrapping This One Up
Sunken eyes in your bearded dragon could be the result of many different causes. Although there are a few causes of sunken eyes that can be treated at home, most will require the aid of a veterinarian.
Dehydration, an enclosure that’s too hot, or vitamin deficiency are some causes of sunken eyes that can be treated at home. If your bearded dragon presents sunken eyes with other symptoms such as lethargy, constipation, and refusal to eat or drink, then please contact your vet because it could be something serious that needs treatment fast.
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