Sunken Eyes in Bearded Dragons – Causes and Fixes

Sunken eyes in bearded dragons are a sign that something is wrong with their health. You might want to have the reptile checked out as soon as possible to find out the problem and prevent heightened risk.

A healthy bearded dragon will always be vibrant with bright coloring around the eyes. In most cases, sunken eyes – is an indicator of illness – will be accompanied by other unpleasant signs. This is why you will want to ensure you have the reptile checked by a veterinarian to ensure his/her health is well taken care of.

Reasons for Sunken Eyes in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragon sunken eyes

There are many reasons for sunken eyes in lizards. When you discover this problem, the first thing you want to suspect is an illness, which is true in most cases. However, many other reasons that can make the eyes of your bearded dragon appear unhealthy.

Here are the reasons for sunken eyes in bearded dragons:

1. Dehydration

When bearded dragons are not getting enough water, dehydration can be a serious risk. This is why you need to make sure your pet has access to clean and fresh drinking water at all times.

If dehydration is the cause of sunken eyes in bearded dragons, there will also be other signs that accompany it, such as dry mouth, excessive drooling, or lethargy.

In most cases of dehydration – which is one of the leading causes of this condition – the animal will have sunken eyes with bloodshot whites and dull skin coloration around them. As dehydration sets in, give fluids by dropping food soaked in water into their mouths or putting drops on their tongue using an eyedropper.

Extreme dehydration in lizards can cause serious discomfort and can even kill the pet if not treated or fixed soon enough.

READ ALSO: Blood in Bearded Dragon Poop: Causes and Remedies

2. Extreme heat

Extreme heat is a major cause of sunken eyes in bearded dragons. When the reptile is exposed to extreme temperatures, it will suffer from dehydration and other health problems that are related to this condition.

Exposure to excessive heat in the environment can happen if they live in a warm place, such as inside of an enclosed space without ventilation or on concrete flooring with no protective covering (such as a tarp).

If your lizard has sunken eyes – which you should suspect as extreme surface temperature- there will also be signs of extreme restlessness or lethargy, drooling more than usual, breathing with difficulty, or heavy panting accompanied by red skin coloration around the face and throat region.

In most cases, when it’s due to extreme heat exposure, the lizards might show flattened scales on their bodies and such distinctive behaviors as trying to seek shade/cooler areas while still moving about even if they’re unable to find any relief.

This may occur when the enclosure’s temperature is too high, or if there’s poor air circulation in the tank. Keep in mind that extreme heat poses a high risk to the reptile and can easily be the cause of death if not fixed soon enough.

You want to turn off the heating mat in the tank as soon as possible if there’s a problem with the high temperature in the vivarium. Next, check to ensure the cooling area is cool and the lizard can access it. Ideally, remove the reptile from the tank and provide enough water to fix the sunken eyes as soon as possible.

3. Illness

Illness is one of the leading causes of sunken eyes in bearded dragons. Depending on what illness this might be, there will also come other signs such as a change in sleeping pattern (excessively sleepy or awake during nighttime), weight loss, refusal to eat, lethargy, and drooling more than usual.

If you suspect illness to be the cause of your dragon’s sunken eyes – which can have many different symptoms- make sure you take him/her to a veterinarian right away because some diseases are curable while others may progress too fast. Bearded dragons that show any sign of illness should be isolated as soon as possible from other pets.

Extremely sunken eyes in bearded dragons can also mean the bearded dragon’s illness is advanced and may need treatment as soon as possible.

Common illnesses in bearded dragons include respiratory, gastric, and kidney illnesses.

4. Parasites

Parasites can cause a lot of discomfort in bearded dragons. When they bite around the eyes, they can easily lead to sunken eyes. When parasites infect the pet’s body, the symptoms will depend on which one it is, but there may also be other signs such as weight loss or refusal to eat.

If your dragon has an eye infection because of parasites (a symptom that can have many different variations), you should take him/her to see a veterinarian right away so he/she can prescribe medication and treatment- if needed – even though parasites don’t always need immediate attention.

The most common type of parasite in lizards is roundworms, followed by tapeworms. Roundworm infestation causes worms inside their intestines while tapeworm infestation occurs when they ingest part of another animal.

The worst parasites are external ones. In fact, these are more likely the cause of sunken eyes because they bite the area around the eyes, causing not only discomfort but also infections. If your bearded dragon constantly closes one eye that appears sunken, you might want to check for parasites such as fleas, mites, and even small ticks.

It’s important to remember that parasites can be easily transmitted from one pet to another, so you’ll need to make sure your bearded dragon doesn’t have any contact with other animals while he/she has a parasite infection.

READ ALSO: 9 Reasons Why a Bearded Dragon is Waving: What It Means

5. Loss of weight

Loss of weight is a sign that the bearded dragon’s body isn’t functioning properly. When weight loss occurs, it can affect all parts of their life, including behavior and appetite.

Extreme weight loss can mean that the reptile has lost most of its muscle mass, making the eyes sink deep into the eye sockets. You will notice many signs of an underweight bearded dragon, including diminished fat pads, lethargy, protruding rib cage, and other undesirable signs.

It is important that you address weight problems if your bearded dragon is at a point where his/her eyes are sunken.

If your bearded dragon has lost weight or refuses to eat because they’re not feeling well, you should take them for a checkup at the vet as soon as possible so he/she can diagnose any illnesses causing these symptoms.

You can also fix weight problems by providing enough fatty foods more frequently, such as hornworms, waxworms, and superworms.

6. Low humidity

All reptiles depend on high humidity levels to survive. In low-humidity environments, bearded dragons are more likely to have sunken eyes and other signs of dehydration because of the lack of moisture in their humid skin folds and scales.

It’s not uncommon for low-humid environments such as deserts or cold climates to cause low eye pressure (which is a major factor when it comes to eye health) so reptile owners should make sure they’re providing enough heat sources as well as appropriate humidity levels at all times.

  • Mist the reptile and its enclosure lightly to improve humidity levels
  • Maintain humidity levels between 20-40%
  • Keep the enclosure’s temperature at 75-85°F

High temperatures can easily cause water loss in the environment, leading to dry, sunken eyes and skin.

READ ALSO: Bearded Dragon Tail Rot: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

How to Fix Sunken Eyes and Lethargy in Bearded Dragons

Sunken eyes are an extreme symptom and can mean the pet lizard is near death if mitigation is not done as soon as possible. You want to make sure you treat the reptile as soon as possible to reduce the risk of death.

Here’s how to fix sunken eyes in bearded dragons:

1. Provide water

If the reason for the sunken eyes is desiccation, provide adequate water for the bearded dragon to drink any time they feel thirsty. Simply place a bowl or two of drinking water in the enclosure to ensure the pet drinks every time they need to.

  • You can also provide more liquid by lightly misting the reptile and its enclosure.
  • Maintain humidity levels between 20-40%

If rehydrating the lizard does not help rid of the sunken eyes, I would advise you to take the beardie to a reptile veterinarian for a check-up and proper treatment.

2. Feed them with greens

Vegetables contain a high amount of water. Therefore,  green vegetables like arugula, cilantro, mustard greens, and broccoli can help in providing the lizard with fluid. Include some of these green veggies every time you feed your bearded dragon to make sure they get enough liquids and stay healthy.

Bonus tip: Cacti also contain a high amount of water so it is another good option for feeding if other green vegetables are not liked by your pet reptile.

3. Treat illnesses

If the bearded dragon has sunken eyes yet is drinking water and eating as normal, some illnesses might have caused the problem. The sunken eyes can be a symptom of some infection that needs special attention to treat.

In this case, the best course of action is to have the pet treated by a qualified veterinarian. Do not diagnose or treat the pet at home. Sunken eyes are an extreme symptom and can mean the pet lizard is near death if mitigation is not done as soon as possible.

4. Correct humidity and temperature

If the humidity is too low, it can lead to dehydration and sunken eyes. And if the temperature is very hot, this could also cause problems with your pet lizard’s health.

You should make sure that there are some water droplets on plants in their enclosure so they will have a continuous source of moisture regardless of the climate or location where you live.

In case of severe heat, ensure that you treat them by placing them under a cool running tap for at least 45 seconds before making any other changes to their environment. You want to provide increased ventilation when temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

5. Fatten up the beardie

A skinny bearded dragon won’t be pleasant to look at, so you want to ensure you provide adequate nutrition to prevent the eyes from sinking into the sockets due to weight loss.

Provide enough food, such as hornworms, waxworms, or superworms so they have fatty foods in their diet instead of protein sources that are not high in fat content.

Also, reduce the stress levels in the enclosure to make sure the reptile eats as much as needed – such as competition for food, extremely low temperatures, and lack of a heating pad.

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