Bearded Dragon Poop 101 (PART 1)

This is part 1 of a small series covering poop, parasites, treatment and cleaning, and the continued wellbeing of your Bearded Dragon (but relevant to most species)

*Poop 101* (poop photo included and needed for the explanation, so don’t moan)

One question I’m constantly asked is, “does my dragons poop look okay?“.
Unfortunately, and honestly, you can’t answer this question properly without a proper Vet/Lab based faecal screening being done.

There are visual clues that can indicate issues are present though.
• Loose poop
• Blood in poop
• Excess water
• Hard orange urate
• Just urate

[1] Not good (from google images)
But the cause for such issues are plentiful, from food being fed, gut-load being used. To obviously illness and stress.

So lets go over some basics you can try are rule out –
Loose poop can be a reaction to certain greens. Also, feeding fruit (which you shouldn’t) can also cause such.
But it obviously can indicate that there IS a parasite issue present.
Fruit can cause blood in poop. Again, fruit shouldn’t even be in the diet really, nor used as a gut-load for your insects IF they are also being fed to the dragon.
This can also be linked to a parasite issue with Coccidia being likely, but also other health related issues.

Excess water with the poop is exactly that, the dragon is being over hydrated and simply trying to expel this unneeded fluid.
This is a very common issue and can be fixed by restricting fluid intake.
Water should only ever be provided via a small water bowl in the enclosure (not big enough to lay in), and, fully gut-loaded and hydrated live-food.

Hard/orange urate is often instantly linked to dehydration, but high yeasts can also cause this issue.
High yeasts are cause by too much sugar within the dragons’ diet with bee pollen being a major cause here.
Bee pollen is a great addition to the diet but can be overly used.
Best delivery for bee pollen would be using it as an insect gut-load and using the Arcadia products such as their supplements and Dragon Fuel, which has it in safe low yet effective levels.
High sugar food items such and fruit (again, shouldn’t be fed), peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, for example can also cause these issues.

Slightly orange urate isn’t an issue, so don’t start dunking that dragon in a bath forcing hydration. This can cause more issues in both trying to hydrate, and trying to get them to poop so don’t do it (more info, here).
Often the section of urate attached to the poop can often cause orange discolouration, again, nothing to worry about, and with that, the longer urate is in the body, the more it will crystallise and turn orange.
This is often an issue with dragons that are NOT eating greens (more green = more regular poop), so of course, this can be an issue and needs to be rectified – seek vet assistance.
It can also mean dehydration. But with that, the issue would already be severe, and vet assistance would be needed ASAP.

Just urate – This, in my experiences is either due to an impaction (mainly food impaction, not substrate), or, it’s a female wanting to, or in the process of laying eggs.
This could mean there is an issue, and my advice would be to seek out your exotic vet for assistance.

Heat and UVB is also vital for proper food digestion. Any of the above issues can be caused by inadequate heat and/or UVB
Check those temps 38c (100f) air-temp, and make sure that UVB is in date, and within the correct distance.

You can NOT tell a potential issue from smell alone. Shit stinks, regardless.

What to do then? –

If you see any of the above issues on regular occasions (2 or 3 times in a row), get a proper vet/lab faecal test done, not a test from some member/breeder who has a microscope at home and wants to make a bit of money.

To be able to get the medication needed to treat any parasite/ailment, the vet will want results from a real vet practice or lab, otherwise you’ll just have to pay for a test to be done officially anyway. So don’t be conned into cutting such corners.

[2] Willows healthy poop
Willow had a faecal test in December, and had the all clear, so I know the photo [2] is a normal poop.

  • She eats weeds and greens daily (zero fruit) with Arcadia Dragon Fuel used daily on-top, and is fed several varied species of live-food each week [a]
  • Live-food dusted with Arcadia supplements, following the Arcadia regime [b]
  • Basking zone 38°c (100°f)
  • Arcadia 12% UVB at around 13″ at the closest point providing a UV-index of 6, and around 4 at basking.
  • Verm-X parasite prevention aid given 3x in a row, once monthly [c].
  • Faecal tests every 6 months.

The above information is just a rough guide as to what poop could mean. As always, if ever in doubt, or things are not quite right 2 or 3 poops in a row, get your exotic Vet to do a health check and that Faecal test done for reassurance.

[a] More information of feeding regimes, here.
[b] Arcadia Supplement schedule, here.
[c] Verm-X information, here.

Part 2 – coming next month

Continue the discussion on my Bearded Dragon Facebook group – Bearded Dragons Network

– Pete

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Pete Hawkins

Award winning Published author of Herpetoculture.
Featuring articles on many species within,

  • Practical Reptile Keeping magazine (some linked on site as .pdf files)
  • Canadian Hobbyist magazine
  • Reptiles magazine

Also, Reptile/Amphibian blog article writer and reptile specialist for;

  • Exotic Direct (links on this site)
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Public talker at Reptile meetings, for various organisations.

Founder of several huge Reptile and Amphibian related Facebook groups (links on this site)

Reptile Reports - "Lizard Personality of the year" 2016 & 2017

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