Can Bearded Dragons Choke? Understanding Their Risk and Prevention

Bearded dragons can choke. Bearded dragons, like other reptiles, can experience choking, particularly when their food is not properly prepared, or they attempt to eat items that are too large or indigestible. This risk can be minimized by carefully selecting appropriate food items and providing a well-balanced diet.

Choking can be a life-threatening event if not attended quickly. When it occurs, the bearded dragon may gasp, struggle to breathe or exhibit distress. In such cases, it is advised to seek help from a qualified veterinarian specializing in reptiles. Preventive measures include ensuring that food items are no larger than the space between the bearded dragon’s eyes and providing enough hydration.

Choking Hazards

Bearded dragons are generally hardy creatures but also susceptible to certain risks and health concerns. One of the concerns that bearded dragon owners have is whether their pets can choke. While it is not common for bearded dragons to choke, there are still some choking hazards that owners should be aware of.

Food Size

Bearded dragons are known to have big appetites, but it is important to make sure that the food they are eating is an appropriate size. Feeding them food that is too large can cause them to choke. Cut food into small, bite-sized pieces is recommended to prevent choking.

Loose Substrate

Loose substrate, such as sand or gravel, can also be a choking hazard for bearded dragons. If they accidentally ingest the substrate, it can obstruct their digestive system and lead to choking. It is recommended to use a solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or paper towels, to prevent this.

Foreign Objects

Bearded dragons are curious creatures and may try to eat anything that catches their eye. Small objects like rocks or plastic toys can easily become lodged in their throat and cause choking. It is important to keep their enclosure free of any potential choking hazards.


While bearded dragons do not typically choke on water, it is still important to ensure their water dish is shallow enough to easily access the water without accidentally taking in too much at once. It is also recommended to supervise them while they are drinking to prevent any accidents.

Overall, while it is not common for bearded dragons to choke, it is still important for owners to be aware of potential choking hazards and take preventative measures to keep their pets safe.

Symptoms of Choking

Bearded dragons are known for their hearty appetite, but sometimes they can choke on their food or other objects. Knowing the symptoms of choking is important so you can act quickly if your pet is in distress.

Here are some common signs that your bearded dragon may be choking:

  • Coughing or gagging: If your bearded dragon is coughing or gagging repeatedly, it could be a sign that they are choking on something.
  • Difficulty breathing: Choking can make breathing difficult for your bearded dragon. They may be panting, wheezing, or taking shallow breaths.
  • Blue tongue: If your bearded dragon’s tongue turns blue, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough oxygen. This is a serious symptom that requires immediate attention.
  • Vomiting: If your bearded dragon is choking, they may vomit or regurgitate their food.

If you notice these symptoms, acting quickly to help your bearded dragon is important. The next section discusses what to do if your bearded dragon is choking.

First Aid for Choking

Bearded dragons are known to be voracious eaters and can easily swallow food that is too large or not properly chewed. This can lead to choking, a serious condition requiring immediate attention. If you suspect that your bearded dragon is choking, follow these first-aid steps:

  1. Stay calm: Your bearded dragon can sense your anxiety, worsening things. Stay calm and act quickly to help your pet.
  2. Check for signs of choking: Signs of choking in bearded dragons include gagging, puffed beards, breathing issues, and twitching. Your dragon may vomit or spit the substance back up. If it doesn’t, get to work with removing the food.
  3. Remove the obstruction: If you can see it, carefully remove it with tweezers or forceps. Be careful not to push the object further down the throat.
  4. Perform the Heimlich maneuver: If you cannot see the obstruction, perform the Heimlich maneuver. Hold your bearded dragon with its back against your chest and apply firm pressure with your hand just below the ribcage.
  5. Seek veterinary care: Even if you have successfully removed the obstruction, it is important to seek veterinary care for your bearded dragon. Your veterinarian can check for any underlying issues and provide further treatment if necessary.

Preventing choking in bearded dragons is important. Cut food into small pieces, especially stringy vegetables such as celery and green beans. Additionally, ensure that your bearded dragon has access to fresh water at all times. If you suspect your bearded dragon is choking, immediately provide first aid and seek veterinary care.

Preventing Choking

Bearded dragons can choke on food that is too big or if they accidentally ingest other foreign objects. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to take measures to prevent choking incidents from happening.

Here are some tips to prevent choking in bearded dragons:

  • Feed appropriately sized food: Always ensure that the food you are feeding your bearded dragon is appropriately sized. This means cutting up food into smaller pieces if necessary. Avoid feeding them food that is too large or difficult to swallow.
  • Supervise feeding: Always supervise your bearded dragon while they are eating. This will allow you to monitor their eating habits and ensure they are not choking on their food.
  • Avoid feeding insects with hard exoskeletons: Some insects, such as mealworms and super worms, have hard exoskeletons that can be difficult for bearded dragons to digest. This can increase the risk of choking. Instead, feed them insects with softer exoskeletons, such as crickets or roaches.
  • Provide clean water: Ensure your bearded dragon has access to clean water. Dehydration can lead to difficulty swallowing and increase the risk of choking.
  • Keep their environment clean: Bearded dragons can accidentally ingest small objects in their environment. Ensure their enclosure is clean and free of any small objects they could ingest.

Following these tips can help prevent choking incidents in your bearded dragon and ensure they stay healthy and happy.