One of the scariest things to realize is when your bearded dragon has come down with something like yellow fungus. While it doesn’t sound all that scary, it can wreak havoc on your beardie and should be caught early to ensure proper treatment. If caught early, there will be ways to manage it so your beardie can live a long, comfortable life without too many issues.
But what exactly is yellow fungus and how do they get it? Let’s deep dive a bit to find out.
What Is Yellow Fungus?
Yellow fungus has a more scientific name, known as Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nanniziopsis vriesii. It is a fungal infection that takes over the body and affects the external as well as the internal if it gets bad enough. This fungus affects the scales and can cause them to break off, revealing swollen and sensitive tissue underneath.
This can be incredibly painful and can lead to issues below the surface as well if the fungus is allowed to spread. It can affect your beardie’s internal organs and cause failure if not addressed. So if you’re starting to notice signs of yellow fungus in your bearded dragon, you should consult your vet as soon as possible.
While there is no definitive cure for yellow fungus, your vet may know how to stop the spread if you catch it early enough.
How Do Beardie’s Catch It?
One of the unfortunate parts of diagnosing yellow fungus is that between the time they contract it and the time it starts showing up on their body, it can be difficult to decipher what led to the infection. It can catch you off guard if your beardie is in good conditions or you’re a new pet owner. But if you keep them clean and make sure to watch over them, what causes it?
Improper Tank Conditions
Your beardie’s habitat is the most important thing to them. Because they don’t have access to the same things they would have in the wild, they need to have certain things supplemented to keep them safe and healthy. They need plenty of light, heat, and for things to stay clean so they don’t get sick.
Their access to UVB light is important as it affects their immune system and digestion. So making sure you can keep track of how much UVB light they are getting is imperative to their wellness. Keeping it too warm all the time can also cause significant issues to their wellness and dehydrate them, just as keeping it too cold can lower their immune system and cause respiratory infections.
This also makes them susceptible to fungal infections. Especially if you aren’t cleaning their tank regularly and they have bits of food or excrement that are lingering around in their substrate. The best thing to do to ward off infections and issues that come along with unclean environments is to set up a weekly clean and a bath for your beardie. I’d recommend using a Veterinary Grade Disinfectant for cleaning.
Making sure to keep them and their environment neat and hygienic is the best way to stave off infections.
If they end up exposed to the fungus, it can mean infection for sure. If your beardie is otherwise healthy, they can get exposed through a few different methods. If you’re someone who lets your beardie play with other dragons, they can become exposed through an infected playmate.
This can also be possible if they have been handled by someone who owns an infected beardie or has been around one recently. If you’ve unknowingly handled an infected dragon and then handled your beardie, it is easy to pass on the pathogen without realizing it. If you’ve also recently taken tank accouterments from an infected beardie’s tank and put it in yours, the pathogen can be spread that way as well.
If you believe that your little buddy was exposed via another dragon, at the vet, the pet store, or anything else, you should try to disinfect everything as soon as possible. Anything they’ve been around should be cleaned and sanitized to try and prevent further infection.
Can Humans Get It?
It isn’t common for humans to contract yellow fungus, but it isn’t impossible either. If you’re someone who is immune system is compromised and has an easy time contacting illnesses you may find yourself in trouble. The best way to fight against that is by washing your hands every time you touch your bearded dragon and clean the different fabrics and surfaces they come in contact with.
This is incredibly rare though, so it isn’t likely that you would catch yellow fungus from your bearded dragon. Taking precautions is still recommended so that you don’t get sick.
Symptoms of Yellow Fungus
It can be hard to diagnose at first, but you should be looking out for any signs that something is going awry with their health. Beardies are good about notifying you when something is wrong. They tend to showcase symptoms of illness easily, so you’ll be able to tell what is deviating from their normal behavior.
Lethargy and Discomfort
They may be showing signs of lethargy or even restlessness. They could be moving around their tank unable to get comfortable, or they may be laying in one space for a long period. Whether they want to move or not, these long stints of restlessness or lethargy are usually a clear sign they are uncomfortable.
This discomfort may also show up as aggression or a lack of appetite as well. If this persists, you’ll want to consult your vet for their opinion.
One of the most noticeable signs of yellow fungus in bearded dragons is a distinct discoloration of their scales. As the name suggests it will typically turn a dusty yellow color, but can also come across grayish or white as well. If it starts to get severe as the infection progresses untreated, you may even see spots turn black as they start to rot.
Beardies tend to shed every few months, but if your beardie is shedding more regularly and they are ending up with discolored and roughened scales even after a shed, this is an obvious cause for concern. You’ll want to bring that to the attention of your vet if it continues.
The skin that is underneath those roughened and crusty scales is typically inflamed. You’ll likely see these scales begin to flake off and then behind will be swollen wounds that are possibly leaking. These seemingly random wounds can be alarming and could be causing your little guy a great deal of pain, so get them looked at as soon as possible.
Solutions & Treatment
If you have any inclination at all that your little guy might be suffering from yellow fungus, you’ll want to start treating them as soon as possible. The best thing to do is to take them to a vet right away that knows how to treat them and their specific illness. They will be able to formally diagnose your beardie and prescribe something to begin helping clear up the fungal infection.
They will likely prescribe you an antifungal product of some sort and even suggest a few other options for you to consider to help make your beardie more comfortable as well as stop the spread. A mixture of betadine baths and an over the counter antifungal cream may help clear up their yellow fungus with little hassle as well. If you’re seeing a lot of skin come off of your bearded dragon and there is irritated skin underneath, you might try out some raw honey and then wrapping up the site.
Raw honey has antibacterial properties that help heal minor wounds and infections. You have to be sure to use the raw and unpasteurized version as it has the best for treating these kinds of infections. You’ll want to wrap up the wound up so that the honey can properly treat the wound without it getting rubbed off or irritated more.
The most important things you can do for your beardie regarding yellow fungus though are to keep up with preventative measures and seek help as soon as you start noticing signs. The quicker your beardie can start getting proper treatment, the more likely their infection is to clear up. If you’re noticing any truly alarming symptoms like darkened or blackening skin, puss, and complete lethargy, you need to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
Your little buddy is one of the most important things in your life, so their health and wellness should be a top priority. Yellow fungus isn’t the end of the world, but it does need to be taken as seriously as possible. Using a combination of cleanliness, holistic methods, and veterinary advice will ensure that your bearded dragon lives a long and happy life even with a yellow fungus diagnosis.