Bearded dragons, although famous, are still considered exotic pets, and most first-time owners lack the general knowledge necessary for raising a beardie. Therefore, sometimes even normal things can seem scary and red flags can be overlooked. In these terms, beardie owners are often puzzled by the presence of fat tails on their pets.
Bearded dragon fat tail – what does it mean? If your bearded dragon’s tail looks fat, the explanation is quite simple and means your beardie has few extra grams. However, before blaming your bearded dragon for being overweight, you need to make sure the tail is not just swollen due to an underlying issue.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about fat tails in bearded dragons. We will also talk about other possibilities that can result in a more giant tail than it should be.
FAT TAIL IN BEARDIES – A RED FLAG FOR OBESITY
Fat tail in bearded dragons is a telltale sign of obesity. As unusual as it may sound, bearded dragons store the excess fat at the base of their tails. The normal bearded dragon tail is slightly rounded, but it is classified as fat if wobbly and overly bulging.
There are other fat-storing locations such as neck and belly but their size enlargement can also be caused by other issues meaning the true indicator of a fat beardie is the oversized tail.
COMMON CAUSES OF OBESITY IN BEARDED DRAGONS
In its natural habitat, the wild bearded dragon needs to travel a great distance to find food. Plus, before eating, it needs to catch its food. Therefore, wild beardies can spend days without eating insects or without eating in general.
In captivity, things are different – pet bearded dragons spend most of their time in small enclosures and do not have to do anything to earn their meals. All food is practically served before them.
The lack of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle paired with poor dietary choices is the reason many pet beardies are overweight.
SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MY BEARDIE’S FAT TAIL?
Obesity means your bearded dragon is carrying a few extra grams. This may not seem like much, but it definitely increases the load on the joints. Considering the high incidence of MBD in these pets and the already present risk of joint issues, these few grams can make a huge difference.
Additionally, carrying too much weight will make your beardie less eager to move around and play, and the lack of physical activity will aggravate the issue. In more severe cases, even mild activities will make your bearded dragon gasp for air.
Obesity also increases the risk of fatty liver – a potentially life-threatening condition that can result in liver failure. What is more, the stored fat can be released into circulation, and in such cases, it is likely to cause organ dysfunction.
Female bearded dragons face another danger if obese. Excess weight leads to hormonal imbalance, which can trigger egg issues. Even if the eggs form, they are likely to bind and get stuck. Egg-binding can be a fatal condition.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT MY BARDIE’S FAT TAIL?
If your bearded dragon has a few extra grams, it is time for a special diet and exercise regimen. Here are simple things you can do to get your beardie in normal and, most importantly, healthy shape.
Choose low-calorie insects
We understand that mealworms, butterworms, waxworms, and superworms are extra tasty for beardies and even addictive, but they are also loaded with calories that pet bearded dragons cannot spend. Instead of these treat choices, you can give your bearded dragon dubia roaches, crickets, or locusts.
Limit the insect intake
Changing the feeder insect type is not enough – you should also limit the overall intake. The ideal feeding time lasts 15 minutes. During this time, the average adult bearded dragon can eat between 15 and 20 crickets.
Make your beardie work for its meal
Put few insects in the tank at the same time and let your bearded dragon do some hunting – that way, it will eat fewer insects during the 15-minute mealtime. You can mimic the hunting with veggies too. Just hang some salad pieces around the enclosure and let your beardie climb to get them.
Add more salads to the menu
Young bearded dragons need more protein to grow and develop. However, once adults, they need limited protein intake and thrive on veggies. In fact, obesity issues occur in adulthood when the nutritional needs change, and the insect-rich diet remains. Teach your beardie to eat healthy salads starting from an early age.
Ensure your beardie is physically active
Once the diet is adjusted, it is time you do something about your beardie’s physical activity. The simplest solution would be to install high branches, hammocks, or other climbing toys inside the enclosure. Additionally, you can get an outdoor playpen and let your bearded dragon spend some time outside.
IS IT FAT TAIL OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Not every fat tail is truly fat – sometimes it can be swollen due to tail injury. The most common reason for swelling is a broken tail. Bearded dragons can get a broken tail due to two main reasons – biting injury from another beardie and metabolic bone disease.
There will be visible bite marks and possibly infection in the first case, and in the second case, there will be no outside indicators. Although scary, tail injuries in bearded dragons are never fatal and can be easily managed.
SUMMING UP: BEARDED DRAGON FAT TAIL
All in all, if your beardie’s tail looks fat, it is either filled with fat deposits or swollen due to tail injuries.
In the first case, you will need to make dietary and exercise changes, so your bearded dragon loses the extra grams and gets back in shape. You will have to visit your favorite herp vet and address the tail injury correctly in the second case.
Differentiating between fat and injured tail can be tricky, especially if you are a first-time bearded dragon owner. To avoid further complications, we recommend consulting with a vet.