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.

3 thoughts on “Why Is My Bearded Dragon Coughing”

    1. Hi Jenna, is there someone else who can take you? Just like us with doctors, he may need treatment that only vets can provide.

      In the meantime, this might be of help, until you can get him to the vet 🙂


      ** Beardie respiratory problems **

      Sorting through my beardie gear today, I came across this Repti-fogger. I bought this when Stumpy became poorly with a respiratory infection (RI) four years ago, and he wasn’t responding to veterinary treatment of antibiotics.

      For anyone unaware, respiratory infections can be deadly in bearded dragons, and in desperation of not wanting to lose my little boy, a fellow beardie keeper suggested I buy a Repti-fogger and nebulize him using the following method (below). I checked with my vet before going ahead, who saw no problem with it and said it’s ‘worth a try’.

      Well I could hug the friend who told me about this, because within a month the stubborn RI that had threatened to overwhelm my little boy, disappeared for good. He has been happy and healthy ever since, and I’m putting our story out there in case it might help someone else.

      Obviously I’m not a vet and this should not be used instead of professional treatment, which should ALWAYS be your first port of call. But there’s no reason you can’t also check with your vet if this could work for your beardie.

      **F10sc nebulization method**

      1. Mix 4ml F10sc (*NOT* F10SCSA) in a litre of pure, bottled water (dilution ratio 1:250).

      2. Using a Repti-Fogger (Like the one by Zoo Med), put your beardie in a large tub with air holes, with a hole in the lid to put the tube in from the Repti-Fogger. Nebulize your beardie for approx 30 – 40 mins every day until the RI is cleared

      (The F10sc liquid and Repti Fogger (by Zoo Med) are both available online, good luck!)

  1. Thank you for that. My beautiful boy has started coughing since I moved up north (CA) where we were experiencing some of the worst fires in California history. The fires are out, but we’re all (my beardie my dog and I all are having respiratory issues. Like the young lady who couldn’t get to the vet, neither can I. I’m about to try the nebulizer, but I swear by colloidal silver as pet after pet was literally brought back to life after using it. I was wondering if I can add it to the nebulizer because he doesn’t like to drink no matter how long I drip water on his nose during his bath. He’s also starting his brumation a month earlier than usual and don’t want him to go to his rest(he doesn’t sleep) with this cough.

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