Bearded dragons have unique behaviors that you don’t see in other animals. If you are new to caring beardies, those behaviors may concern you.
One of the unique behaviors is changing color. Bearded dragons undergo color changes from time to time. However, those changes may indicate health issues.
So why bearded dragon turning black and not moving?
The changes in color in bearded dragons are normal. However, if your bearded dragon turns black especially the neck area and does not move, it probably the sign of impaction.
Impaction is a bowel obstruction in many kinds of animals. This happens when they eat something that cannot be digested by their digestive system.
In most cases, impaction in reptiles including bearded dragons is caused by the rocks or sand they have accidentally ingested when they eat their food or prey.
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What is the Difference Between Impaction and Constipation in Bearded Dragons?
These terms are mostly used interchangeably. They seem to have similar implications and meanings.
However, there is a distinct difference between the two. Impaction refers to the buildup of solid materials accidentally ingested by a bearded dragon. It could be rock or sand. These materials will remain in the digestive tract.
Constipation is a little bit different. Instead of blockage due to inedible materials, constipation is the result of a hard buildup of food and stool in the digestive tract of the bearded dragon.
In other words, the only difference lies in the type of materials that make up the blockage within the digestive tract.
Other Not Obvious Causes of Impaction in Bearded Dragons
Aside from the ingested inedible materials, there are many not obvious factors that could cause compaction in bearded dragons.
Beardies can get impacted when…
1. Exposed to Inadequate Temperatures
Bearded dragons are accustomed to the temperatures in the wild. So if you bring them in the artificial habitat, you should give them an environment similar to what they used to.
That said, you need to keep the tank warm. Monitor the temperature. For adult bearded dragons, keep the temperature at 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. For babies and juveniles, make it 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Warm temperatures help bearded dragons’ digestive system functions well.
Dehydration is another factor that could cause impaction. This happens when your beardies do not receive enough water which in turn results in improper functioning of their digestive system.
3. Inappropriate Diet
Bearded dragons need a proper and balanced diet. If they get an inappropriate diet, they could suffer some digestive issues. Fruits and green leafy vegetables are great to keep your bearded dragon’s digestive system healthy.
If your beardy is an adult, he/she needs more greens than insects. While a baby or juvenile bearded dragon needs more insects than greens.
There are other factors that could contribute to impaction. This may include infection, tumors, and injuries.
As an owner, it is very important to constantly monitor your bearded dragon’s health. When impaction happens, you will be able to respond to it immediately and effectively.
How to Resolve Impaction in Bearded Dragons?
Impaction affects bearded dragons in many ways. Your beardies become unstable in terms of their eating and pooping behavior.
You don’t want to see your bearded dragon suffer from impaction. Fortunately, there are ways you can do to help get your reptile pet stay in normal condition.
Before sharing the tips, I would like to emphasize here that I am not an expert. The tips that I am about to share below are coming from my personal experiences in taking care of my bearded dragons for years.
Here are the basic steps you can do resolve impaction in your bearded dragon. I hope this helps.
1. Bathe Bearded Dragon in Warm Water
One of the quickest ways to deal with impaction in bearded dragons is warm bath. Soak your beardy in a warm water and give him/her a gentle massage in his/her stomach. Gently run your fingers from Snout to Vent. This will stimulate his/her gut.
In doing so, you need a large but shallow container. If you don’t have one, you can use a sink or a tub. Depending on the size of bearded dragon, the tub should have enough depth to completely soak the body of the reptile. Let him/her swim if he/she wants to.
Let your beardy enjoy the bath for about 30 minutes. You also need to maintain the warmth of the water at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As the water cools down, add warm water to maintain the temperature.
Allowing the bearded dragon swims in the warm water helps his/her digestive system to digest the blockage inside. Not only that, but also a warm bath will help rehydrate the bearded dragon.
If your bearded dragon is constipated or often have impaction, you should implement regular bathing schedule. This will help maintain his/her digestive tract healthy.
2. Give Natural Laxatives
You can give laxatives to your bearded dragon. But make sure that it is all-natural. Do not use synthetic laxatives that are created for humans. It will not work and could only harm your reptile pets.
The best natural laxatives I can recommend is fruit. There are many ways you can make a natural laxative out of fruits. Great examples of this are unsweetened pureed blueberries or prunes.
This will help solve the digestive problem of reptiles. Since purees are soft, they can be easily fed to bearded dragons.
3. Olive Oil
Aside from natural laxatives, you can also add olive oil in bearded dragons’ food to help resolves the impaction issue. Add a few drops of olive oil (preferably 2-3 drops) into their food. You can also do the same trick with their puree.
The quickest way though is to put a couple of drops of olive oil to the tip of beardies’ nose. Just make sure that they can reach it licking.
One more thing, do not use vegetable or other kinds of oils. Just olive oil.
4. Adjust the Diet
As mentioned, impaction is caused by hard ingested objects. To prevent impaction to linger, you need to make some adjustments in their diet. Just limit the hard food you’re giving to them. Instead, feed them with soft foods that are easy to digest.
You can give the following:
- Pureed pumpkin
- Natural juice
- Warm applesauce
When preparing these foods, it is very important to refrain from using any artificial ingredients. Sugars should also be avoided because it will not help solve the problem.
5. Rehydrate Your Bearded Dragon
Impaction can be the result of dehydration. It means that your bearded dragon receives not enough water. So rehydration is a good idea.
One of the best ways to do this is by soaking your bearded dragon in warm water for 30 minutes to two hours.
If you have consulted with a vet, he/she may inject some fluids under the skin of the beardy. This is one of the fastest ways to rehydrate a bearded dragon. But don’t do this with yourself. Seek professional help.
Enema is another remedy for impaction done by a vet. This strategy will help resolve the impaction a lot quicker. A vet will insert a catheter or feeding syringe into the bearded dragon’s cloacal opening. Then, using the warm water, the vet then will flush the obstructed area.
7. Surgical Remedy
In some cases, home and or simple impaction remedies may not work. In this case, the problem must be severe and needs a more advanced strategy.
The ultimate way to resolve impaction is surgery. Again, this is done by a licensed vet. Unfortunately, this procedure is harmful. I learned from other bearded dragon owners that surgical remedy to impaction in bearded dragons can be fatal.
So the best way to keep the bearded dragons safe from digestive issues is prevention. Preventive measures will keep your beardies healthy and safe.
Final Thoughts on Bearded Dragon Turning Black and Not Moving
Bearded dragons would change their color every now and then. Mostly, this is due to the temperature in their immediate surroundings.
However, in some cases though, color changes may indicate health issues in bearded dragons. For instance, when a bearded dragon turns black especially on its neck area, there is a chance that your beardy suffers from impaction.
When this happens, you can try some of the home remedies shared in this post. Giving a natural laxative such as fruit puree could absolutely help improve impaction.
However, in severe cases, do not hesitate to bring your bearded dragon to a vet. Professional help and intervention can be the ultimate and quickest way to save your bearded dragon from potential danger.
Learn more about bearded dragons here.