In bearded dragons, respiratory infection (RI) is caused by a bacterial infection in the lungs. Respiratory infection is a common disease that every beardie experiences at least once in their life.
Bearded dragons develop a respiratory infection due to a number of reasons such as incorrect lightning and temperature, high humidity, prolonged psychological stress, and poor captive conditions.
Infections in beardies can be very tricky to treat and require supportive care during treatment. It’s tough for the owners to notice any signs in the initial stages because bearded dragons are very good at hiding illnesses.
In the wild, bearded dragons try their best to hide any symptoms of weakness. If a beardie shows any symptom of illness, it will be perceived as a weakness by a predator.
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Symptoms and Diagnosis
- Weight loss due to decreased appetite.
- Gaping of the mouth
- Bubbly, stringy or sheeting mucous appearing on the sides of the mouth.
- swollen or bloated body
- Breathing difficulties (open mouth breathing).
- Wheezing or clicking noise when breathing.
- Sneezing or snorting.
- Puffing up their throat constantly.
- Lack of energy.
- Black beard for more than 6 hours.
When you notice signs of respiratory infection in a bearded dragon, the first thing you should do is to take your beardie to a vet and correct the environmental problems.
It is recommended to raise the cage temperature by about 3 – 5 degrees. It will help dry up the moisture in their lungs. Make sure the humidity is under 40% at all times, if not, it could be the cause of respiratory infection.
When you take your beardie to a hospital, the vet will evaluate your dragon for systematic antibiotic therapy. If the antibiotics and environmental corrections don’t work, the vet may suggest doing a culture and sensitivity. Depending on the conditions of the bearded dragon, the vet may also perform a trans-tracheal wash.
Treating bearded dragon respiratory infection needs two things: correction of the environment, and the attention of a reptile vet who will evaluate the dragon for systemic antibiotics therapy.
Bearded dragons with respiratory infections should be kept in a cage where the humidity level is under 40%, and the temperature is raised to at least 109 degrees.
How to Prevent Respiratory Infections
In order to prevent respiratory infections in bearded dragons, keep a proper temperature and humidity level in the cage. Installing a humidity and temperature gauge in the enclosure will help you maintain proper humidity levels and temperatures. Cleaning the beardie’s terrarium on a regular basis is also a good way of preventing respiratory infection in beardies.