Well, I feel like the worst owner ever

So yesterday I was offering my 5-yr-old male beardie some of his favorite leafy green food. He turned away from the food and bit me so hard he perforated my thumbnail (photo on request, it’s not as gross as it could be but I’m gonna err on the side of caution here). Now he won’t eat anything and avoids me trying to touch him anywhere. My heart is broken; he’s my therapy animal but if this refusal of food and contact continues it will be in his best interest to get him back to the rescue as soon as their area is not on Covid-19 lockdown.

A sudden act of aggression and refusal of food could mean something is bothering him. How long have you had him and what’s his home like?

Don’t take this as harsh as it will seem typed out.
With any animal you run the risk of being bit, especially with reptiles… They lack the bonding ability that mammals can have and at best tolerate humans.
Don’t take this as your dragon saying “I dont like you, indefinitely”… More like a “I’m really not in the mood today”.
They have very few ways of communicating with us, but biting is a universal “F*ck off”.
Or as @zooophagous said, he could be trying to communicate something to you.


A reptile is a wild animal the unexpected is to be expected whether it’s from a snake or a lizard no matter how mellow they may have been in the past, no matter how used to you they are anything can happen, if it has a mouth it can and will bite. Having a wild animal and expecting it not to bite you is like having a puppy and expect it to never have an accident on the carpet.

Now if this is a big issue than yes rehoming and looking into more traditional pets is likely a better option but even than there is NO guarentee there never is with an animal.

What I can tell you is that you will be ok and it happens I have been bitten by anything from rats, snakes, geckos, iguanas, dogs, cats, horse, kids :roll_eyes:, you name it it probably bit me and I am still fine. :+1:


THIS. They are not mammals. Not all reptiles have the same amount going on upstairs some lizards are certainly more intelligent than say a BP but still.

Check your enclosure etc and fix anything that seems amiss, if everything is good you will be fine and good luck lick out there

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Adopted him almost exactly a year ago. He’s in the same 36-inch-long, 18-inch wide & tall glass tank he was turned over to rescue in by his only other owners. He is on a 12-hour light cycle, 12 on, 12 off, on the advice of his veterinarian. He has shown aggression to a couple of stuffed animals and a certain color combination on socks, but this is a first as far as aggression toward humans. He gets daily soaks, passes waste regularly, and enjoys a varied diet of mostly plant material. He hasn’t eaten since he bit me and he’s refused five different kinds of food offered throughout today by two different people. At least he hasn’t bitten again.

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This doesn’t seem harsh to me at all. I know that reptiles have very small brains with limited capability for any emotion whatsoever.

What worries me most is that he gave no warning signs, not even a flush of dark under his chin, no shaking his head to refuse the food, nothing like that. He tongue-flicked it (an arugula leaf), I dropped it to the surface he was on in case motion was going to attract him (he’s highly variable on this), he watched it fall then turned and bit my thumb. I wasn’t holding onto him, so he can’t have felt squeezed. If he doesn’t warn me, how do I tell what I did to provoke him? He is, in day-to-day life, NOT a nippy animal.

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Sometimes we just don’t know why, it might just be a off day/week. About a week ago I made post in here about never being bit by my Boa… If you go and look at my Instagram you’ll see I spoke to soon, a few days ago I got a decent tagging.
Air pressure, vibration or any random thing could be making him wary. Have you added ANYTHING new to the room he stays in?

For example have you put a Xbox on the same unit as his enclosure?

They are the worst ones, at least reptiles let go :joy:


The bad news is that thanks to my roommate’s plans (sprung on me 5 weeks ago) I had to move.

The good news is that I’m not only in the same apartment complex one small building to the east, the room he’s in is the same size as the other one, in the same location in the floor plan, window faces the same direction and view, and all the furniture has been arranged as close to exactly like the other room as heating vents will allow. He’s been moved for about 2 weeks now, and had been visiting the ‘new’ apartment for more than a month previous to the move, so there’s nothing here he hasn’t seen or smelled A LOT.

And yesterday was the first time he refused food?
If you see no physical signs of anything being wrong, I would just leave him for a day or two and try again with something full of flavour.

A healthy bearded dragon can go a few weeks without eating, so as we’re in the early days don’t worry too much. Double check the temps, give him fresh water daily and just leave him be for a few days.

Keep us updated on how it goes.

He’s been known to refuse this kind of food or that kind of food; he’s one of those dragons whose least favorite veggie is whatever he ate yesterday. He has never bitten or attempted to bite while doing so, never mind perforating my thumbnail in the process. When he STARTS a shed cycle he sometimes refuses more food than usual, but as far as we can tell he is ENDING a small shed cycle. Again, he’s never shown aggression under those circumstances. I don’t plan to change his care schedule other than not actively handling him until I see signals that seem more welcoming (he sometimes climbs into my lap & falls asleep at bedtime, for example).

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Gojiradad has called the vet, they’re only setting appointments on the day of the visit & by severity of problem, so if we’re still worried tomorrow Jaws Junior over here might be going to see his vet.

I really wouldn’t worry to much. Of course a check up by a vet never hurts but still I wouldn’t worry. You never know what’s going on in their little brains. It might be he mistake your finger for a nice piece of food, or hormones are bothering him, or he decided he needs some time off.

That he doesn’t eat would also not worry me a bit. Bearded dragons can for example choose the craziest time to start hibernating and they don’t announce it. They simply one day deside to stop eating. Mine started last year in august till about oktober. This year in oktober till december. But I know of beardies who start in spring. Sometimes mine is waiting to come out, and other times he just tries to dodge me. He can refuse food for months when he wants to do some extra sleeping, and every year he does that at least two to three months. In that time I don’t even buy life food for him because they all go to waste. Once a week I try to feed some repashy grub pie and every day I put some veggies in his enclosure. When he starts eating his veggies I know it’s time to start buying insects again. In that time he also hides a lott, almost all the time and doesn’t want to be bothered. You never know when they deside to start hibernate. They really don’t use a calender for that. It can be almost every month of the year as long as there was a big or small temperature drop. One day not eating for a reptile is very normal if they are full grown and have a healthy weight. They have very slow metabolism. But it’s good to check him every day. If you see him really losing weight, blocked nose, sitting with his mouth open a lot or looking lethargic than you should worry.

It’s not bad at all to check his poop for parasites just to be shure. And I can imagine your worry. I also rushed to the vet the first time he suddenly stopped eating without warning and started hiding all the time. But now I know it’s normal. Just give him some peace and most likely he will be fine in a few months. It was only yesterday this happened. One lesser day should not be a reason to send an animal back. Even my dogs are sometimes in a grumpy mood, or bite me in my fingers ( mostly because of food I have) in fact, you should have hear my child today when I send him to do homework :scream: Reptiles don’t have that kind of emotions so it is never personal, but they do know when they want to have some time off.

You mentioned daily soaks. That is really not neccesary. Once a week to two weeks is enough. If they get wet to often they might get a respiratory problem because they are really not used to that. They come from an area around Alice Springs /Northern territory in Australia and it’s really a dry area.

Good luck with your beardy and don’t despair to much.

He might have a minor parasite load, his last test was before we went on a road trip last October & he had none then. The vet also advised us to try to keep him from hibernating to reduce aggression, so we are very careful to monitor his temperature in all situations to avoid sudden changes.

After thinking it over I’m mostly worried that his not eating might be due to a sore or injured mouth because he bit through my thumbnail. (I can post a photo, it’s not terribly gruesome)

I certainly wouldn’t send him back to the rescue for one bad day! If, however, he establishes a pattern of biting me without clear provocation, that would be a very different situation. That would make me suspect he wouldn’t be happy with me any longer.

This might sound REALLY daft as im a snake guy, but i had a mate years ago who had a Beardie that suddenly went on a bit of a protest. Someone asked when the last time his UV bulb was changed…

I may be completely wrong but its worth a shot!

Again, i know nothing too much about them but it most definately sorted Lewis’ out.

Even bearded dragons have bad days. Give him a few days of alone time.


He has 2, in hoods because it’s a big tank and all the hoods are pretty small. One bulb went out a couple of days ago, at the end of his shed, and was replaced later that day. It’s as possible as anything else!

Goji has no mouth injuries but will be laying off the fruit before his teeth get tartar. He does have a minor parasite load & is on his way home with meds included. Doc says I’m not the worst ever.

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It never hurts to check for parasites, so you can always do that.

I’m not concluding it is hibernation, but it is an option.
Preventing hibernation if your lizard feels he wants too is very difficult or even impossible. I know people who really actively take care their beardy hibernates by reducing the light circle, temps and food, but I also know a lot of people who don’t and still their beardy hibernates. Mine is one of the last ones. I myself don’t do anything to promote it, but my beardie still hibernates and there is nothing I can do about it. His instincts are stronger than my wish. One day he simply stops eating. He has one cave in his enclosure on the cooler side. He crawls inside and digs in his ground cover till the entrance is blocked. He comes out sometimes but even though he’s totally crazy about grasshoppers, at that time they can sit in front of them and do a dance and he still doesn’t eat them. He will crawl inside his cave or underneath a piece of wood again and I will not see him for days. I never found out what triggered him, beside a slight temperature drop but that might be only a few degrees, or a really rainy day, of something like that. I think he knows best what is good for him so he wants to, I just leave him to it. But like I already said, the first time I was also very worried that he was sick so checking for parasites doesn’t hurt.

I’m honestly not a fan of blocking his chance to do so if he wants to. It’s part of his nature so I respect that. I honestly never heard about a beardy getting aggressive from hibernating, but I know mine gets annoyed if I don’t let him. I regularly have contact with a woman who has a kind of shelter for beardies, she has about 30+ and let’s then all hibernate, even sends out a kind of newsletter about it to other owners ( she does the active type) and never heard anything about aggression because of it. My leopard gecko’s also take their time off without me actively doing something, so it’s just part of nature and if your animal is healthy there is nothing wrong with it.

I don’t think your finger or nail can hurt the inside of his mouth but if it makes you feel better just let him be checked. I think your plan to not handle him to much might be a good one for now. No mather what…a beardie is not an emotional animal, they go on instinct, so don’t worry he suddenly is not happy with you any longer unless really something terrible happened like you dropped him or so. If you are now scared yourself to pick him up I always advice to put some (gardening) gloves on if that makes you feel more secure.

What @xflavell said is really not crazy. I don’t know what light you use but mine also stopped eating when I changed his mercury vapor light with a hid- light. I now change close to or in summer.

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