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Reptiles/Juvenile beardy strange behavior


QUESTION: My new and young beardy who is somewhere around 4-5 months old I believe head to butt around 3 1/2 inches long. Healthy coloring, alert, head up, fed gut load crickets and escarole with occasional bell peppers. 20 gal breed 75 watt uv lamp and next to no humidity. Alfalfa pellet substrate. No gaping twitching or side effects of illness that are identifiable. However, I noticed today, around 8pm while basking alll is fine except this occasional yawn like gasp. Normal breathing, or occasional normal breathes. But every 1-3 minutes give or take, (no pattern set) I see a 2 or 3 beard puff then open mouth deep breathe.

Nothing online about what I'm seeing... Any advice?

ANSWER: With a good appetite, and no other signs of issues (such as gaping or gasping at times other than when he's basking), it's possible he's just sighing while he gapes.  Gaping is a normal temperature-regulating behavior while they are basking.

Keep an eye on him, of course, and if there's any change in appetite or behavior, take him into a vet for a checkup.  If he is developing a respiratory infection, you should notice other signs within the week.

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QUESTION: Have you seen them at times have a small struggle breathing due to shedding or something like a common cold at passes. Maybe even holding breathe? She dis some running and glass surfing just now when I shut the light. And is now in her usual sleeping corner with this same behavior. What I noticed is every few mouth breathes I also get a series of 3 or 4 deep breathes then back to square one. I just truly see no signs of agony or sickliness. Standing upright closed eyes then opens up for a breathe soon after. My hope is she is ok until after I work tomorrow...

She shouldn't be gasping or gaping unless she's basking.  If she is, time for a vet checkup - schedule an appointment right away.  Respiratory infections in reptiles are usually types of pneumonia or similar bacterial infections, and can be treated with a course of antibiotics.  I recommend you have the bacteria cultured, to make sure the right antibiotic is used (though usually something will be given while you're waiting for results, and you can then continue, or switch to a more effective one, based on the results).  There are more and more resistant bacteria out there, so it's worth it to have the culture done.

Most reptiles with a respiratory infection will also show decreased or absent appetite, and lethargy, once they start to feel unwell.

Reptiles tend to simply get worse if a respiratory infection is left untreated, and waiting means increased risk of death. Caught early, they're virtually always survivable, and the antibiotics aren't expensive.  (The culture is a little pricey, but all in all, it's less than getting a dog its shots).


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Donna Fernstrom


My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.


I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Nebraska Herpetological Society (

I have many care sheets published on my own website.

High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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