Ask a Vet

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Have Sunken Eyes?

By Kerry
Updated on

Pet owners often worry that they won’t know when something is wrong with their pet. Bearded dragons as they have very striking physical features,

Why does my bearded dragon have sunken eyes?

it can be easy to detect and notice when your beloved pet might not be feeling too well, sunken eyes are a key telltale sign of this.

In this piece, we look at what sunken eyes in bearded dragons could mean and what you can do to help.

Main Reasons For Sunken Eyes In Bearded Dragons

Below we look at the three main reasons why bearded dragons may appear to have sunken eyes and also give you useful information as to what you can do to help your pet.

Your Bearded Dragon Could Be Dehydrated

In most cases, the reason why a bearded dragon has sunken eyes is that they are dehydrated. It can be difficult

to know how much water to give your bearded dragon as typically they do not need a lot of water, they mostly absorb all the hydration that they need from their food.

If your bearded dragon has a nice balanced diet, including plenty of greens, then dehydration can be rare but a frequent mistake made by bearded dragon owners is that they give their pets a water bowl.

Bearded dragons in the wild only drink water that is moving, from flowing streams or drops of dew falling from flowers or drops of rain falling from a leaf.

Often these animals don’t recognize that a still bowl of water is there for them to consume and this can cause dehydration.

Bearded dragons are incredibly intelligent so over time they may come to realize that a certain place always has water,

such as a water bowl, but this can take some time for them to realize purely because the water doesn’t move.

How To Help

Firstly you can check for other signs of dehydration, you can check that their feces have a white part and if it doesn’t then this is another telltale sign of dehydration. Other signs include wrinkly skin and lethargic movement.

Try to remember the last time you fed your dragon or filled the water bowl, then check the levels. Sometimes bearded dragons can lose their appetite when they are dehydrated.

So how can you rehydrate your bearded dragon? Simply give it a bath. As you bathe your pet they will recognize the moving water and they will drink enough water to rehydrate themselves as well as some extra to store as a reserve.

It can take a few hours for your bearded dragon to return to its normal self but if symptoms linger for longer than 24 hours after bathing your pet you should speak with your local veterinarian.

Incorrect Habitat Set Up In The Tank

When you are setting up a tank for a bearded dragon it is important to educate yourself on what requirements you should follow to create an optimal environment for your pet to thrive in.

Often owners can pick cool or aesthetic pieces for a tank but this can be harmful to your animal.

The main thing to consider when setting up a tank is that bearded dragons originate from an area that is very close to a desert landscape, meaning they are used to a very dry environment with a lot of sunshine.

They are used to fighting for their territory, which is why often they do not like to be handled, particularly during the shedding process when they are most vulnerable, and lastly, they are used to hours of hot sunshine.

Being in an unsuitable environment can cause stress to your pet, which could lead to them refusing food which would then cause dehydration, one of the main reasons for sunken eyes.

How To Help

If you haven’t already then the first thing you need to do is educate yourself. Every pet owner should know a huge amount about their pet, its species, and things that might benefit the quality of life that their pet experiences.

The key things that you need to do to create a perfect environment for your bearded dragon are to ensure you have it in a large glass tank, linked here for convenience,

that has a great lighting setup that can replicate the amount of sunshine they would be getting in the wild.

UVB lighting is very important for bearded dragons and these types of lights can easily be bought at your local pet store.

We have linked a great light for an affordable price that you can buy directly from Chewy here.

The final additions you need are a heat lamp and some greenery to replicate your pet’s natural environment. You can purchase a fantastic heat lamp here from Chewy online.

Why does my bearded dragon have sunken eyes?

Pieces of wood or a reptile carpet can also be useful for your pet. By having all of these items in your pet’s tank you will be able to ensure that they will be happy in their home and if they are happy they will be healthy.

Underlying Illness

Unfortunately, sunken eyes can also be a sign of an underlying illness in your bearded dragon. There are a number of different illnesses that sunken eyes are a symptom of, we explain each of these below.

Metabolic bone disease can develop in bearded dragons who have not had the correct lighting and sunken eyes is a physical symptom of this sometimes deadly disease.

Sunken eyes could also be a sign of an eye infection or if you are not using the right substrate it could be impaction,

which could also be signaled from a huge swollen belly on your bearded dragon. Sunken eyes can also be a signal of a parasitic infection.

How To Help

If you want to help your bearded dragon and you don’t believe they are suffering from dehydration or stress due to being in an unsuitable habitat then your pet could be suffering from one of the above illnesses.

If this is the case it is hugely important that you take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Seeking professional help will enable you to help your pet as quickly as possible.

While it can be expensive to get help from a veterinarian if you do not get help your pet will continue to deteriorate and this could ultimately lead to death.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has given you some peace of mind and that you have been able to help your scaly friend feel better.

If you are still not entirely sure what may be causing your bearded dragon to have sunken eyes we highly advise that you consult with your local veterinarian.

Speaking with a professional can help diagnose a problem within minutes and allows you to help your pet and have them get the treatment they need to get them on the path to recovery.

While bearded dragons are independent animals for owners you should be checking in at least once a day, other than feeding time, to check your pet is doing ok and looking bright and scaly as ever.

This will allow you to help your bearded dragon as soon as they begin to feel unwell.

Why does my bearded dragon have sunken eyes?


What Do Sunken Eyes Look Like In Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons are usually very aware creatures, while they may not be reactive to movements their eyes are constantly watching. Their eyes are very noticeable as they are slightly raised from the head.

If your pet is suffering from sunken eyes the skin around the eyes will look quite deflated and the eyes will look as though they have sunken into the animal’s head, hence the name of this condition.

Sunken eyes can be easier to spot than you may expect if you know your pet well.

Are Bearded Dragons Difficult To Care For?

Bearded dragons make fantastic pets for anyone genuinely interested in reptiles. As long as you do your research before getting one of these creatures you will give your pet the best opportunity to thrive.

They are relatively easy to care for as they are quite independent creatures and do not like to be handled often.

The most important thing with bearded dragons is to keep an eye on their physical appearance to ensure your pet is in good health.

How Do You Bathe A Bearded Dragon?

When you hear the word bathe you may imagine running a bubble bath and washing your pet with a loofah but bathing a bearded dragon is an incredibly easy process and it is a great way of keeping your pet in good health and hydrated.

To bathe your bearded dragon simply fill a plastic tub, or your bathtub, with lukewarm water to a low level to avoid drowning, no higher than your pet’s rear knees.

Place your pet in the water and allow them to get comfortable. Once they are happy take a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently rub them down in the direction of the scales, avoiding the cloaca and eyes.

Rinse your bearded dragon using a very small amount of water, a few drops will suffice. Leave them to soak for 15 to 20 minutes before taking them out and drying them off, gently blotting them to get rid of the excess moisture.

Try to get them under their heat lamp to warm up again as soon as possible after removing them from the bath. You should aim to bathe your pet as often as three times a week.

If your pet hates baths then aim for at least once a week. Try to base how often you bathe your pet around how much they enjoy it.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.