Bearded Dragon Not Using One Leg: What To Do?

Who doesn’t want their bearded dragon to be a healthy pet? We guess you’re on that team too. But what if all of a sudden, you start to see that your lizard is not using one of its legs? What will you do then?

When your bearded dragon is not using one leg, let your vet know the issue immediately and arrange a proper diagnosis. This can happen due to anything like Metabolic Bone Disease, injuries, broken bones, and paralysis. None of these can be fixed without professional attention. So, ensure immediate veterinary care.

Now the question is – what is causing these issues in the first place? And is there any way to prevent it in the first place? Well, let’s find out.

Why Your Bearded Dragon’s Leg Is Not Working?

There’s no way to deny that when a bearded dragon’s leg is not working, the next best thing you can do is call for the vet. But we believe you should also be aware of the possible causes happening something like this. Usually, the list of causes starts with –

1. Metabolic Bone Disease

You’re probably more comfortable calling it the MDB. Not only in bearded dragons, but it’s a common issue for almost all reptiles. This issue is usually triggered by a deficiency of vitamin D3 and calcium. Even if you’re feeding your lizard food with an improper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, it can still develop MDB.

In this disease, a bearded dragon starts suffering from weakened bones due to a lack of calcium. Not only that, but it can also cause nerve damage or spinal deformities. And FYI, all of these can lead to paralysis and make the legs of a beardie stop working. 

2. Spinal Injury

In lots of our blogs, we’ve promoted the practice of not handling a lizard forcefully or roughly. That’s because things like that can lead to spinal injuries and stop the functionality of the legs.

Not only that, but also a fall or any other traumatic incident can do the same to a bearded dragon. In such cases, a disruption takes place in the nerve function due to the trauma to the spinal cord. As a result, the lizard loses its ability to move its back legs.

3. Infections

Who thought infections could also snatch a bearded dragon’s ability to make a move? Basically, infections like abscesses or inflammatory conditions such as spinal osteomyelitis are good at affecting the nerve. This can later lead to paralysis.

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Plus, viral or bacterial infections too can do major damage to a beardie. After all, these can trigger inflammation in the lizard’s spinal cord, which can impair its leg function.

4. Tumors

Like humans, bearded dragons too can develop abnormal growths or tumors. So, if there’s any tumor developing on a beardie’s spinal cord or the surrounding tissues, it can exert pressure on the lizard’s nerve and make it paralyzed.

5. Neurological Disorders

You already know how much of our body’s functionality depends on the brain. The same goes for beardies. But certain neurological conditions can leave the paralyzed. Yes, we’re talking about spinal stenosis, nerve damage, or autoimmune disorders.

6. Impaction

Impaction is indeed an old nemesis of the beardies. But things can take a worse turn with impaction. When it reaches a severe stage or any blockage in the digestive system, there can be a lot of pressure on the nerves. And the result? Hindrance in the leg movement or paralysis.

7. Gout And Pseudogout

When the blood’s uric acid levels go too high, gout pops up as the next worst thing. But what’s the problem with gout? Well, this is how urate crystals pile up in the joints or tissues, especially the joints around the lizard’s legs.

And once these step in, paralysis can take place at any time. And if you’re asking about Pseudogout, it kind of works in the same way as gout but with calcium deposits. These issues can happen mostly when you’re letting the beardie have high-protein diets or it’s suffering from kidney failure and chronic dehydration.

What Should You Do If Your Bearded Dragon Is Not Using One Leg?

Leaving your pet sick is never a good idea, especially not when it’s not being able to use one of its legs. So, what should you do then? Well, you can always start with –

1. Observing And Assessing

The first thing you need to do is check out the reptile’s behavior along with its leg movement. Try to find out if there’s any kind of swelling, injury, or pain in the leg it’s not using. In case you notice anything like bleeding from an open wound, or seeing a visible deformity, let the vet know immediately.

2. Creating A Comfortable Environment

Before you go for the treatment, make sure that the reptile is getting a comfortable environment. Not only it’ll save the beardie from getting injured again but will also promote the healing process with perfect temperature and lighting. Also, get it a comfortable substrate and surface where it can move and even climb without putting extra strain on the affected leg.

3. Separating Feeding Area

In case your beardie is finding it difficult to reach its food as the leg is not giving it enough support, try separating the feeding area. Make sure that it’s in a convenient location.

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In case you find a perfect place like that, put the food close to it or simply hand feed it. Doing it is essential because not getting the proper nutrition through food might slow down the recovery process.

4. Scheduling A Veterinary Visit

This is probably the step you were expecting to see from the beginning, as it’s the most important one. So, once you see inactivity in the leg of your lizard, take it to a reptile veterinarian. Make sure he’s an experienced one.

The vet will go for a thorough examination and might even take X-rays to diagnose the reason for the leg issue. Depending on the current situation and health condition, he’ll suggest further treatment process.

5. Following Veterinary Recommendations

If the leg is suffering due to some kind of minor injury, we don’t think the vet will suggest anything more than rest and supportive care. But things can be in a serious stage too, like fractures, infections, or any other medical conditions.

In such cases, the vet probably will suggest medication and splinting. Under serious circumstances, they might go for surgery. No matter what it is, strictly follow their instruction regarding the medication and medical procedure.

6. Providing Rehabilitation And Support

In order to make the beardie recover, you might have to go for rehabilitation, where the lizard will need some physical therapy or exercise as per the vet’s suggestion. Simply follow their guidance to execute the exercises, massages, or gentle stretches, as these influence the leg’s strength and mobility a lot.

7. Monitoring Progress

Make sure that you’re monitoring and tracking the recovery progress on a regular basis. Even if there’s any change in the lizard’s apatite, behavior, or mobility, note it down. In case you’re seeing the condition is downgrading or not improving at all, consult with your vet for further evaluation.

In this whole process, the one thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to prioritize the vet’s advice. Any personal effort to fix the issue without any prior experience or knowledge can be harmful to the bearded dragon.

Cheapest Bearded Dragon

How To Prevent Back Leg Paralysis In Bearded Dragons?

Like they said – prevention is better than cure. So, if you’re really not into seeing your beardie dragging itself around, then you need to make sure all of its legs are functional in the first place. Now the question is – how? Well, let’s start with –

1. Proper Nutrition

Don’t forget to get your lizard a balanced diet. Make sure the list includes leafy greens, gut-loaded insects with a variety, and occasional fruits. And when you’re serving the insects, just them with a calcium supplement. You should also add a bit of dusting of vitamin D3 supplement, but cross-check first if it’s appropriate for your beardie.

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And no matter which food you’re putting in their plate, it needs to have a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Otherwise, their muscle function and bone development will be hampered.

2. UVB Lighting

To synthesize vitamin D3, what a bearded dragon needs the most is exposure to UVB lighting. After all, that’s what aids in calcium absorption as well. Get a UVB light bulb that is not only high in quality but also specifically designed for reptiles. And set it up in a way where the manufacturer’s recommendations for the right distance and exposure duration can be perfectly maintained.

3. Enclosure Setup

The one thing a bearded dragon needs the most to stay healthy is a suitable enclosure. So, when you’re setting one up, make sure it’s offering enough room to move around, hide, bask, and climb.

Add multiple levels and branches in the enclosure, which will promote muscle development through exercise. Plus, you need to ensure the required temperature gradients to maintain a balanced heat level, as these reptiles can’t generate their own body heat.

4. Avoiding Rough Handling

Whenever you’re picking up or handling your bearded dragon, do it gently and with enough care so that it doesn’t get injured or traumatized. Give its body proper support, especially while lifting it. And don’t even think about making a sudden move or dropping it, as that can lead to potential spine injuries.

5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups

The eyes of an expert can track a lot of things that you and we can’t with our untrained eyes. So, make sure that you’re scheduling regular veterinary check-ups to have a tap on the beardie’s health.

If they find any trace of paralysis or leg injury, ensure proper treatment ASAP. Also, don’t forget to share the beardie’s diet plan with your vet and any other relevant information regarding the lizard.

6. Clean And Safe Environment

You already know how much infections can land a negative impact on a lizard’s leg movement and overall health. So, you better keep the enclosure clean to make sure no bacteria or parasites are slipping into your beardie’s body. And yes, you need to get rid of any sharp object within the enclosure that can cause harm to the lizard.

7. Observation And Awareness

The easiest way to track down any changes in a lizard’s behavior is by observing them regularly. So, if you’re doing that properly, finding out any sign of limping, abnormalities, or weakness shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Before We Go…..

Pet owners who think of keeping the beardie within the enclosure only, they’ve got less chance of getting the lizard hurt on its legs. But what about the ones who want to let the reptile be free? Well, in our blog – Can Bearded Dragons Roam Freely Inside The House? we’ve shared some on-point views. Click and have a check!

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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