It can be quite funny to look over at your beardie’s tank and see they look like they might be winking. Why would your bearded dragon just be hanging out with one eye closed like that? It can be puzzling at first to figure out, but the reasons may vary.
They have rather sensitive eyes so it can be due to any number of reasons that they might just keep one closed regularly. While it may not be due to anything serious that you can see, it is important to figure out why exactly it is happening so you know if there’s something you need to fix with your beardie or their environment. Even though it can be something as simple as some off lighting, it could also be something far more concerning.
So what exactly could be causing this behavior and how do you identify it, as well as ultimately fix it? Lucky for you we’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you. Let’s take a peek, shall we?
Beardies have such incredibly sensitive eyes that are able to detect far more than we can even manage to see. But this also means that improper lighting setups in their environment can be hard on them and their vision. Your bearded dragon may happen have one eye closed because things are too bright.
If the bulbs are too close to them or too strong, a bearded dragon will have one eye closed as a way to try and balance out the brightness. You need to use a strong UVB but not one that will make the space too bright or too dim. You don’t want them squinting to see something they can’t pick up in the dim lighting, but also don’t want them squinting because the light is too harsh.
You want UVB bulbs that are high output and span across the tank so the lighting isn’t just concentrated in one spot. The lighting you use for your little buddy’s habitat should be specifically marketed for bearded dragons or reptiles. Using other light bulbs that would be used around your house is too much for such a small space and can harm your beardie greatly.
They may also squint because the lighting is making it hard for them to focus on something that is around their cage. If it is too dim they may not be able to pinpoint where what they are looking for is. This can also happen if the light is too harsh and is straining their eyes.
Debris, Shedding, or Damage
There are a lot of things in your little one’s environment that can end up getting stuck in their eyes. If they have a loose substrate, the particles are likely to get places that can be uncomfortable for your pet. Their eyes are sensitive and it is easy to get bits of sand or dirt in them, which can cause them to close one out of discomfort.
There may also be some issues with shedding that can make it difficult for them to keep both of their eyes open. There may be shedding around the eye they are trying to dislodge, or there may even be shed that has gotten stuck in one of their eyes. If it stays stuck, it can cause a lot of issues for them such as irritation or even infection.
Things like sand, dirt, and shed can be removed with some gentle eye washing with warm water and soft cloth. If you feel like it is really bad, you can use a gentle saline solution to fully remove any debris. Sand, sharp objects, or bigger irritations can cause damage to the cornea which will need special treatment so they don’t lead to infection.
If you’re worried that your little buddy may be suffering an infection, look for the signs of irritation and consult your vet or a valued pet specialist.
While too high humidity can cause other medical issues in beardies, if the humidity is too low it can dry them out. It is important to keep an eye on the temperature and humidity in its enclosure so you can keep it level at all times. Their humidity level should be between 30 and 40% to keep their eyes from drying out.
As the temperature changes during the day and night so will the humidity, so it is imperative you can level them out as they shift. Other ways to keep your humidity level is keeping a secondary water dish that you change out by the day, as well as occasional misting and the addition of plants. These little additions will help keep your humidity at the right range.
Keeping an eye on their actual water supply can stave off the possibility of dehydration as well. The right amount of water in their bowl daily, as well as minding that the temperature doesn’t overheat them, will ensure they stay hydrated.
Like dogs and cats can get fleas, in captivity beardies can be prone to infestations of mites and parasites that can really do a number on their health. If you’re noticing they are keeping one eye closed more often as well as small specks of red or black around the eye or their habitat in general, you’ll need to contact your vet. They will know the best way to get this issue under control right away.
Due to the positioning of their eyes, they may have trouble really getting a good look at things that are at a distance. This may actually alarm them as they won’t be able to distinguish what they are looking at properly, which might lead your bearded dragon to try seeing with one eye closed as an attempt to see better. If it is exhibiting other behaviors that are similar to their fear signals, you might want to identify what they might be trying to focus on.
If you can get an idea of the things at a distance that they might be struggling to see, you might be able to soothe them by either removing it or moving it into their line of sight. Beardie’s get very frustrated and even fearful if there are things in their environment that they can’t identify. It is best to designate a space specifically to them and their terrarium so they feel at ease.
Bearded dragons are truly fascinating creatures, and they make sure to signal you when there is something up in their environment. If you’re a first time beardie owner, you may not be attuned to those little signals, but there is an easy way to match them up to identify the root cause of their behaviors. We have a little additional guide to give you a general idea of how to fully identify what might be causing your little buddy to keep one eye closed.
If lighting is the issue, in addition to them keeping one eye open they might exhibit behaviors like hiding or waving. If the light is too bright it could easily make them uncomfortable as well as alarming them so this might be their way to either get away from the light, or waving to get your attention that they are uneasy.
Debris, Shedding, or Damage:
If they are having issues with debris or damage they may be more lethargic and low energy, because it can cause them a great deal of pain. Shedding is something you’ll be able to see easily enough as they will not only have bits of shed littered about the cage, but they may also be leaving their licking or puffing up in order to try and get some of the residual shed off of them.
Issues with temperature and humidity can actually cause a lot of little issues with your beardie. If there isn’t enough humidity in their environment they can actually get very overheated so in addition to leaving one eye closed, they will also leave their mouths open, as well as possibly glass surf if the temperature gets too high. It is important to keep track of the humidity level as it can be very detrimental if there’s too much of it. Your beardie can ultimately get sick if it is too high, so keeping it from reaching either extreme is recommended for optimal beardie health.
This issue may also come with your beardie appearing more lethargic or even irritated if they are particularly bothersome. The easiest way to spot this issue is just spotting those little dots that may be crawling around their eyes.
Whatever is keeping your beardie’s eye closed can be easily tended to if you know what to look for. Hopefully with this guide and some cues from their other behavior, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what’s going on in no time. If you think there might be something else going on that you can’t figure out, your veterinarian is a key component to ensuring the wellness of your beardie.