What Does It Mean When a Bearded Dragon Shakes?


Bearded dragons are enjoyable and tolerable reptiles to interact with and handle due to their friendly nature. Besides they are also easy to notice when they are physically unhealthy because it affects their behavior, unlike other pets.

One of the signs that indicate physical illness is when a bearded dragon shakes like it’s twitching or having a seizure.


Why is your Bearded Dragon Shaking?

A shaking bearded dragon is suffering from a lack of Vitamin D3 and B or calcium. Lack of these nutrients in their body increases the risks of developing Metabolic Bone Disease and eventually death. Besides, sometimes they may even shake as a result of vitamin poisoning.

Well, below we have provided detailed information about the causes of shaking, what to watch for and how to handle this condition. They include:


  1. Calcium Deficiency

Like humans, bearded dragons need a sufficient amount of calcium in their diet for healthy bones, growth, and development.

If they lack calcium their bones will get soft and weaker and if it goes for an extended period without calcium the bones will start to deform.

This is the most common issue with inexperienced bearded dragon owners due to a lack of knowledge on the amount of Calcium they should offer their bearded pals.


What to Do

Avoid Too Much Phosphorus and Oxalate

Avoid feeding your beardie with vegetables or fruits that contain too much phosphorus and oxalate than calcium.

Too much phosphorus and oxalate in their diet will make your beardie have problems metabolizing calcium because it binds with calcium to form an insoluble organic compound.

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Thus, depriving their body of absorbing calcium.


Gut Loading or Offer them Calcium Powder Supplement

The best way of providing your beardie with enough calcium is either by gut loading your feeder insects before feeding them to your beardie. Or you can as well lightly dust insects, vegetables, or fruits with a calcium powder supplement.

However, be careful if you decide to offer calcium through gut loading or dusting calcium powder. If you intend to gut load your feeder insect make sure you feed them to your beardie between 12-24 hours.

Waiting between 12-24 hours gives your insect feeder enough time to digest the food and be able to pass the calcium and other nutrients to your beardie. Contrarily, do not dust too much calcium powder supplement because your beardie may find the food not tasty and eventually ignore it.


  1. Wrong Lighting Setup in the Tank

Light is a good source of Vitamin D and is an essential factor to all animals because it helps them process calcium in their body.

Therefore wrong lighting setup in the tank will make your bearded dragon not process the calcium in its body even if it gets enough calcium from food.

Due to poor calcium absorption, your bearded dragon bone will become soft and weaker and thus causing it to start shaking.


What to Do

Provide UVB Lights in the tank

UVB light is a good source of Vitamin D and when your bearded dragon absorbs the UVB rays it is transformed into Vitamin D.

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As mentioned earlier Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps bearded dragons process the calcium in their body, we recommend providing UVB lights with sufficient output.

Because without sufficient UVB output your bearded dragon won’t absorb enough UVB rays, leading to poor absorption of calcium in the body. However, it is worth noting that UVB bulbs lose their effectiveness over time; hence, it is advisable to replace them at least once a year or is even better after every six months.


  1. Vitamin D3 Toxicity

Too much Vitamin D3 can cause toxicity and make your bearded dragon start shaking over time.

That’s because too much Vitamin D3 causes excess calcium deposit into your beardie’s bones resulting in pain in the joints of your bearded dragon.

Besides the calcium might also be deposited into the kidneys and heart leading to the malfunctioning of both organs. Vitamin D3 is caused by a Vitamin D3 overdose from the supplement, food, and plenty of UVB light at the same time.


What to Do

12 Hours of UVB Light is Enough and Limit Vitamin D3 Supplement

If you have a UVB light you should limit the Vitamin D3 supplement you offer your beardie to prevent Vitamin D3 poisoning. Once a week is enough if your beardie’s tank has the right lighting setup.

That’s because adequate UVB lighting for about 12 hours per day is enough for your beardie’s liver to convert Vitamin D into D3. Hence, the Vitamin D3 supplement is unnecessary. After 12 hours of a steady light cycle, don’t forget to turn off the light at night.


  1. Metabolic Bone Disease 

MBD is the result of a severe vitamin and calcium deficiency in your bearded dragon body. This disease can cause paralysis in the rear limbs making them start shaking. Besides, it causes extreme pain and death because MBD symptoms are not reversible with treatment.

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However, don’t worry because MBD is preventable if you provide your beardie with the right lighting setup, enough calcium, proper diet, and avoid offering your beardie too much phosphorus. If you suspect your beardie is suffering from MBD, checkout for the following symptoms:

  • Bone deformities
  • Softening of the bones
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paralysis in the rear limbs


  1. Illness or Internal Parasite Infestation

Sometimes your beardie may shake due to internal parasites infestation or life-threatening illness. Parasites can feed on the nutrients in the body of your beardie. This deprives them the nutrients and energy that were supposed to absorb from the food.

Thus, your beardie will start getting weaker causing them to shake. Contrarily, a life-threatening disease can also make your beardie weaker due to the loss of appetite. Therefore, to combat diseases and parasites you should take it to a veterinarian for further diagnosis and treatment.