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Why is a bearded dragon coughing

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Coughing

It's not uncommon for bearded dragons to “cough” once in a while.

Maybe it's a new experience for you as a beardie owner and you're worried your dragon is sick, maybe you want more understanding as to why your beardie coughs and how you can treat or prevent it.

Continue reading for more detailed information on bearded dragon coughing.

Can a Bearded Dragon Cough?

Can Bearded Dragons Cough?

Probably the first question on your mind when you heard your beardie cough, is whether they can actually cough.

The fact is that bearded dragons and all other lizards cannot cough. They have what are known as salt glands in the nasal cavity that produces salt when absorbing fluid from food.

They often make a sound when cleaning the salt, which could be mistaken for a sneeze or cough.

If he is making a “coughing” noise and moving his head side to side, he could be trying to dislodge something.

What Does a Cough Sound Like?

When your bearded dragon coughs, it doesn't sound like a cough as we know it. Maybe it's best described as a slight squeak with a puff of air. Your dragon’s beard may puff out when coughing.

Why Does My Bearded Dragon Cough?

Why is a Bearded Dragon Coughing?

There are a number of reasons your bearded dragon may cough, these include:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Bathing
  • Respiratory Infection

Why is my bearded dragon coughing after eating?

There are two reasons your beardie may cough after eating.

The first is that it's not uncommon for bearded dragons to aspirate their food, much the same as a human. Coughing helps to dislodge the food.

Another reason your dragon may be coughing is to try and dislodge any food stuck in the throat.

Why is my bearded dragon coughing after drinking water?

The same as with food, your bearded dragon may aspirate its drinking water causing it to cough.

Whether to provide your dragon with a water bowl is a mixed subject between owners with many believing there is no reason to provide your beardie with a bowl of water if you maintain the habitat correctly and offer a healthy diet.

Not all dragons will drink from a bowl, some don't realize there is water in the bowl.

Misting is the most effective way to increase humidity to the level you need without having to provide a water bowl.

Why is my bearded dragon coughing after bathing?

It's very common for your bearded dragon to cough after bathing because they accidentally inhale the water and coughing works to clear out the fluid.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections can cause what appears to be coughing, this is often caused by poor hygiene in the habitat or incorrect temperature and humidity levels.

Some of the symptoms to look at with coughing include lethargy, gaping mouth, wheezing, weight loss, and problems breathing.

You may also notice runny discharge from the nose or mouth, a puffy throat or belly or coughing sounds.

If your bearded dragon has any of the symptoms of respiratory infection take it to the vet soonest.

Can Bearded Dragons Get a Cold from Humans?

Bearded dragons are not going to catch a cold from you or any other human.

Viruses are species specific, for the most part, which means that it is adapted to shrive and multiple in one species of animal only.

There are a few exceptions such as rabies, which is a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, human or not.

How to Treat and Prevent Coughing 

If your bearded dragon is showing symptoms of a respiratory infection, the only way to treat the infection is to visit the vet for antibiotics.

When you see your bearded dragon coughing up bloody mucus, you should take your dragon to the vet as well.

Prevent coughing can be done by ensuring you have a warm and cool side to the enclosure with a basking area, where your dragon can soak up the heat of the day.

Humidity levels should be at 20% to 40%. Humidity too high or too low can cause a respiratory infection.

Use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to accurately measure temperature and humidity in the enclosure.

If you keep a water bowl in the enclosure, this could be the cause of the coughing. Rather mist a few times a week, monitoring your humidity levels carefully.

Remember the more you mist, the higher your humidity will be and this can result in respiratory infections.


A coughing noise from your bearded dragon now and then is nothing to worry about. A cough can be from something as simple as aspirating water.

Always keep a close eye on humidity, temperature, and to see if your dragon has any other symptoms accompanying the cough, which may need a visit to the vet.

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1 comment
jenna kelley says November 19, 2020

i just need help i am 14 years old and cant take him to the vet plz help ?!

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