What Are Bearded Dragon Fat Pads? – A Complete Guide

If your beardie had its first vet appointment and the veterinarian was grading its body condition, you probably heard the word “fat pads.” Chances are you were confused about what that might exactly mean and whether it is normal for a beardie to have fat pads. 

So, bearded dragon fat pads – what are they? In simple terms, the fat pads are like fat cushions or places where fat tends to accumulate. Bearded dragons have fat pads on several sites in the body. Based on how the fat pads appear, a beardie can be overweight and in need of a weight-loss diet or too skinny and in need of gaining a few grams. 

In this article, we will talk about fat pads in beardies – their distribution and normal appearance. Then we will help you determine whether your beardie’s body condition is healthy and, if not, how to make it lose or gain some weight. 

FAT PADS – MEANING, DISTRIBUTION, AND APPEARANCE

The fat pads can be defined as flabby body parts that serve as body fat reservoirs. Bearded dragons have fat pads in several places, including behind the eyes, the abdomen, and the tail base. 

The fad pads are critical during brumation – the shut-down state resembling hibernation in mammals. During brumation, bearded dragons do not move nor eat. They only sleep and rest. At this point, survival is based on wasting the body fat reserves stored in the fat pads. 

The same principle applies to starving bearded dragons. Starvation is not an option in captivity, but in the wild, beardies can go several days without eating. During those several days, they rely on the fat pads to thrive. 

WHY IS MY BEARDED DRAGON FAT?

The reasons for weight gain are rather straightforward and pretty much the same in all species. Unless suffering from a specific disease, all overweight bearded dragons eat too much and exercise too little. 

Becoming overweight or obese in captivity is really easy as pet beardies get all the food they need served in their tanks and rarely spend time on physical activities. In the wild, normally, a beardie would walk long distances and hunt in order to get all the necessary nutrients. 

Signs my bearded dragon is fat

Here are some telltale signs your beardie has a few grams of body weight. 

Sign number 1: Bulging and wobbly fat pads

If the fat pads are overly accented and with a rather wobbly consistency, it means your beardie is overweight. In an obese bearded dragon, basically, all fat pads will be protruding and on a much higher level than the rest of the body. 

Sign number 2: Distended belly

While a normally weighing beardie has a slightly rounded belly, an overweight bearded dragon will have a pronounced round abdomen. Depending on the exact amount of fat in the belly, the skin may look thin and overly stretched. 

Sign number 3: Fat tail

One of the most striking signs of obesity in bearded dragons is the fat tail. Beardies store the excess fat at the base of the tail, and its thickness is a good indicator of the overall body condition. 

Weight-loss tips for bearded dragons

Once you have determined your beardie is too skinny, it is time to help it gain some weight.

Tip number 1: Give a low-calorie diet

Diet is the foundation for managing your bearded dragon’s weight. While dieting, your beardie needs to eat more leafy greens and yellow squash veggies and less sugary fruits and fatty insects. 

Tip number 2: Ensure ample physical activity

Enrich your beardie’s tank with high branches, cozy hammocks, and other climbing toys, or clip some low-calorie veggies to promote physical activity. Alternatively, you can let your bearded dragon spend some outside time – get a vest and a leash and go for a walk. 

Tip number 3: Do not interrupt brumation

Your beardie’s body fat reserves are wasting at a high rate during brumation. Therefore, it is critical not to wake up your beardie while brumating. 

WHY IS MY BEARDED DRAGON SKINNY?

Captive bearded dragons can become too skinny if they do not eat enough. However, there can be several culprits for the limited appetite, including:

  • Offering foods that are not nutritionally dense
  • Inadequate ambient conditions in the tank 
  • Infestation with internal parasites or worms. 

Signs my bearded dragon is skinny

Here are some telltale signs your beardie is lacking a few grams of body weight. 

Sign number 1: Sunken fat pads

If, instead of bulging, the fat pads are flat or even sunken, it means your beardie is underweight. In a healthy dragon, worst-case scenario, the fat pads should be on the same level as the rest of the skin. 

Sign number 2: Flat belly

The side sections of the beardie’s belly should be slightly rounded. If they are flat and there is excess or wrinkly skin, your beardie is too skinny. The wrinkly skin can also indicate dehydration, so you need to consider the whole picture before making conclusions. 

Sign number 3: Slender legs and tail

In underweight bearded dragons, the legs and tail are slender with accented and protruding boney spikes. Plus, the overall head-to-body ratio will seem disproportional – like the head is too big for the body. 

Weight-gain tips for bearded dragons

Once you have determined your beardie is too skinny, it is time to help it gain some weight.

Tip number 1: Make the right dietary choices

Offering the right foods can be tricky, and we recommend talking to an exotic veterinarian to help you make a special diet for our beardie. If planning to fatten up your bearded dragon, you will need to add more high-calorie feeder insects to the menu like mealworms, butterworms, or super worms. 

Tip number 2: Ensure the right ambient conditions

The temperature, humidity, and UV lighting in the enclosure affect your beardie’s appetite and its ability to properly digest and utilize the nutrients. Therefore, it is critical to keep these ambient conditions within the ideal ranges. 

Tip number 3: Get rid of worms  

Even if your bearded dragon has a healthy appetite, worm infestations will make it lose weight. Talk to your vet about the right de-worming protocol for your beardie. 

SUMMING UP: BEARDED DRAGON FAT PADS

Fat pads in bearded dragons are typical indicators of the beardie’s body condition. Usually, the pads are well-defined with a somewhat squishy consistency. If bulging and overly pronounced, they indicate your bearded dragon is fat, and if sunken and hollow, they suggest it is too skinny. 

Luckily, both issues are solvable – a skinny beardie can gain weight, and a fat beardie can lose weight. However, it would be best if you were patient and consistent. Do not expect miracles – just like people, bearded dragons cannot achieve their ideal weight goals overnight.