Every animal eventually contracts a particular kind of illness or ailment from time to time, including bearded dragons. And like in every animal, a Bearded Dragon Respiratory Infection is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Some of the most common symptoms of this infection include loss of appetite and wheezing noises. If you notice any of these signs in your scaly pet, you need to take immediate action right away as it could turn serious or even fatal if left untreated.
Respiratory infections are a type of lung infection that is the result of excess moisture. So if your reptile buddy is going through this, keep reading on to learn about the symptoms, causes, ways to prevent it and how to treat it.
NOTE – Ive broken down the signs and signals of sickness unrelated to respiratory infection here..
- Preventing The Infection
- Main Causes For Respiratory Infections in Bearded Dragons
- How To Treat A Respiratory Infection
Preventing The Infection
A general rule of thumb is to take your scaly friend to the vet if you notice that it is acting unusual or is showing signs and symptoms of respiratory infection. I’ve also provided a few tips on how I would go about prevented this illness in the future.
1. Ensure Temperatures and Humidity Levels Are Ideal
By nature, they thrive in dry and barren regions, which is usually in a desert. Therefore, to lower the chances of it contracting this infection, you must ensure the humidity levels of the cage, terrarium or tank they’re in are kept between 30% and 40% (no higher).
These humidity levels are identical to their natural habitats in Australia. If your beardie receives too much moisture from the air, it could have a disastrous effect on their lungs. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels of your bearded dragon’s enclosure to ensure they meet the recommended readings as mentioned above.
Besides that, temperature levels also play a crucial part in its health. The right kind of terrarium should have the right amount of hot and cool side to it. For adults, the hot side of the enclosure should be between 35°C to 41°C or the cool side should be 29°C. When it comes to babies, the hot side should be between 41°C to 43°C.
2. Ensure Tank Is Cleaned Regularly
The tank needs to be cleaned every three months due to the eventual buildup of mold, moisture and other types of “mess” that it may leave behind. Although, once a month would be better for your pet.
3. Minimize Stress
Even cold-blooded animals like bearded lizards experience stress similar to that of their human owners. This is a crucial factor to consider because they can easily become stressed, which can result in a weakened immune system.
In fact, they can be stressed as soon as they move out of their natural habitat into an empty glass tank, or any tank that is not properly set. This means that you need to address and remove those stress triggers to keep your beardie feeling healthy and happy.
Main Causes For Respiratory Infections in Bearded Dragons
If you believe your little buddy is showing signs of an infection, then you obviously need to determine the sources or triggers of this condition. Here are some of the common causes…
1. Intolerable Humidity Levels and Temperatures
No living creature would ever want to stay in a place that doesn’t meet the requirements of their natural habitat. For them to be happy, owners must ensure the humidity levels and temperature of the tank is kept right.
And as we’ve already covered, the hot side temperatures for adults must be between 35°C to 41°C and the cool side should be 29°C. Babies on the other hand, need to have their hot side temperatures adjusted between 41°C to 43°C. So if the temperatures drop below and the humidity levels rise higher than the target levels mentioned above, it could cause a range of issues. These issues include respiratory infections.
It doesn’t matter how often or rarely you bathe it, you need to keep one thing in mind and that’s ensuring that the water level stays below your pet’s vents. If the levels are any higher, your pet may accidentally breathe in the water through their vents and it may end up in their lungs, leading to the infection.
2. Wrong Substrate
There are some bedding or substrates that are harmful for them. This including bark or mulch. These substrates not only retain humidity, but they also can lead to impaction. That’s why it’s essential for you, but more importantly your pet to have the most suitable substrate that keeps it both healthy as well as happy in the end. I wrote a substrate guide just for you here.
It can be really challenging to determine whether a bearded dragon is suffering from this illness or not. Part of the reason is because they are conditioned to conceal their weaknesses from predators out in the open.
However, if you pay close enough attention you might be able to notice some of the symptoms I’ve listed below.
- Little to no energy
- Black bearding for longer duration
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Weird noises coming from the throat
- Difficulty in breathing that’s leading to wheezing, or snorting and open-mouth breathing
- Running mucous discharge from the mouth
How To Treat A Respiratory Infection
Once you have determined that your bearded dragon is indeed suffering from this infection, then obviously the next step for you is to treat them right away. If for some reason you’re unable to escort your beardie to the vet immediately due to the severity of the symptoms, there’s a couple of things i’ve suggested that may decrease the amount of discomfort it’s going through.
1. Slurry Recipe with Serrapeptase
One of the best ways to treat this is by mixing up a healthy smoothie.
We recommend making a drink that is combined with Serrapeptase, which is an enzyme derived from silkworms capable of filling out the mucus in their systems, thus preventing any bacterial lung infection. We’ve included a link to the recipe. Now you can give your scaly little buddy the power they need to get rid of the infection once and for all.
2. Raise Tank Temperatures a Little Higher
When suffering from this infection, it means that there is excess moisture in their lungs. Fortunately, you can burn some of that moisture by raising the temperature of your pet’s cage just a bit. We recommend no more than 3 to 5°C.
If you find that the temperatures are not high enough, then you can raise them a little more. To reiterate the optimal temperatures once more, the hot side of the tank for adults should normally be between 35°C to 41°C. For babies, the temperature should be between 41°C to 43°C.
3. Use a Dehumidifier
There are times when the enclosure finds it really hard to maintain humidity levels under 40%. If you’re experiencing this situation, then we suggest getting a dehumidifier for this.
Living in a habitat where there is excess moisture will only aggravate the symptoms. If you want to go the extra mile and have the budget, you can invest in a more expensive, but highly efficient dehumidifier. This will give you a better opportunity to lower the humidity levels throughout the house, rather than just the tank.
But in most cases there really is no need for you to go that far because there are plenty of suitable cost alternatives such as this dehumidifier. It’s more than enough to prevent moisture buildup in the lungs of your little scaly fellow.
The best part about this dehumidifier is that it is completely wireless and that it requires only one recharge per month!
4. Manually Drain the Mucus Out Of Your Beardie
There’s an even simpler method that you can use to reduce these symptoms in your little guy. Try raising your beardie up while wrapping them up in a folded blanket or a towel with their face angled downward at about 10 to 15°. Hopefully this will get the mucus to drain from their throat on its own.
5. Use a Fogger for a Week
Foggers are devices that turn liquid into vapers and these vapors are then directly inhaled into the lungs. For bearded lizards, we suggest using a fogger like this one to help treat their lungs efficiently and directly. Although this device is not a better alternative for proper medical attention, it is a viable temporary solution for the ones whose lung infections are not fully developed and are very weak.
When it comes to the more severe cases, you should go straight to the vet without a second thought.
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And that’s that! Now that you are aware of the causes, symptoms, and methods on how to treat and prevent this illness, your bearded dragon will be able to enjoy a peaceful and happier life.
And if you love your beardie like we know you do, I am certain that you will act appropriately the moment you see something is off with your pet. After all, respiratory infections can be serious, as well as fatal if nothing is done to treat the symptoms of the condition right there and then.