As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. And if you have multiple reptiles like we do, it sure rings true! A sick bearded dragon, though the treatment is worth it, can get expensive.
Maintaining a clean, properly heated enclosure with UVB and the right diet and hydration goes a long way in keeping your bearded dragon healthy. One of the most reliable ways you can keep a tab on bearded dragon health is by weighing him/her on a weekly basis and writing it down. You can do this with a kitchen scale. Simply calibrate the scale with a bowl, then place the dragon in the bowl. Gaining weight indicates forming eggs or that you need to feed your dragon fewer bugs. Losing weight means you need to feed more or make a trip to the vet.
Not sure if your bearded dragon is at a healthy weight? Here is some preliminary weight data from wild P. vitticeps in Australia, collected by Dr. Jonathon Howard. Keep in mind that captive-bred bearded dragons tend to be larger than their wild counterparts. However, if your bearded dragon is heavier than the maximum, it is likely to be overweight.
- Average female: 290g
- Average gravid female: 333g
- Average male: 345g
- Maximum recorded: 475g
Make sure your dragon sees an ARAV-certified reptile veterinarian at least once annually. Twice is better, if you can afford it. That way if anything is developing, your vet can catch and treat it early. And if you have any questions or suspicions about a developing illness, you can ask them then.
A checkup will generally run between $50-$75, but that’s better than spending hundreds on a surgery that could have been avoided.