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Reptiles/Bearded Dragon Poisoning by Lightening Bug


Is there anything I can do to expedite getting the phosphorous poison from a lightening bug out of my Bearded Dragon's system before it poisons him to death? My Bearded Dragon ate a lightening bug that we weren't able to get out of his cage quicker than he could catch it himself. It entered though the top screen. This happened approximately 3 hours ago and I have called every emergency vet within a 2 hour radius of our home and no one has a reptile vet on duty today. So far he remains as active as he normally is, he is eating and drinking normally since, he has had one normal poop and his color is good. I am human medically trained so I am willing to do what it takes to try to save him until I can get him to a reptile vet on Monday if it isn't to late.

Crosby is a male bearded dragon. He was purchased from a pet store. Currently 14 months old. 15" long from head to tip of tail. weight N/A. Lives in a 40 gallon tank. Tile bottom with heat mat under 1/3 of floor and Spot / flood lights on top. Wattage for day lamp is 150. Red night lamp. UVB lamp. Zoo Med bulbs (?), Humidity is 25-30%, Temperature 90 degrees. Last shed was one week ago without difficulty. No other animals living in the same terrarium. He eats well; crickets calcium gut loaded twice a day approximately 10-15. He also eats Soft Bearded Dragon diced food from the pet store (I'm not sure of the brand) and fresh, organic fruits and veggies from our garden or store bought. These include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, squash, zucchini, carrots, collard greens, red peppers. He eats our own yard grown dandy lions which are not treated with chemicals or pesticides. He is fed 2-3 times daily. They seem to be his favorite food along with crickets. The crickets are live from Fluckers via mail order. He defecated as normal at approximately 1400 hours. Since eating the lightening bug he has eaten crickets and dandy lions, drank water and pooped. Fresh water is always in his cage. He is awake during the day and always active. Sleeps at night. He has a very set routine. So far since this accident his routine has not changed. So far we have not used a vet. He does not take any dietary supplements.
Any advise you can offer would be wonderful. Thank you so much for your time.

What was the outcome? Did the Beardie die or no?

What was the outcome here? Did he die?


You REALLY need a vet. IMMEDIATELY. A single fire fly is enough to be fatal. The chances are that he will be dead by tomorrow. If he is going to die he will be dead well before Mon. I just had another case a couple of weeks ago. That dragon died after being fed only one.

I suggest you contact me and stay in touch on my facebook page at
for updates on his progression.

Barring a vet this is going to require you getting a lot of stuff that is really a much bigger waste of his time than just finding a vet ANY VET who can deal with ingestion of a toxic insect.

He would need a gastric lavage and/or ipecac (can't speak to effectiveness) and/or activated carbon via gastrostomy tube. The INSECT needs to come out if at all possible. The longer it sits there and he is digesting it, the worse he is going to progress and once this starts happening you had already be having his treatment underway or you are behind the curve.

I don't care what vet you find. His life is most assuredly over if SOME VET doesn't perform lavage on him TONIGHT.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research & easily find the answer yourself. My standards are that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me any question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer each of those questions to provide that background, will result in your question being rejected. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,, educational content contributor to, and a Dept of State Health Services accredited animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house, including minor surgery and necropsy. I am most experienced in Chelonia with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes FIRST with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer, despite how it might make you feel.


I am a non-academic herpetologist with 25+ years reptile experience, and I am an accredited Texas Dept of State Health Services Animal Control Instructor for Reptiles (CE). I am a reptile rescuer, reptile wildlife rehabilitator, and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet, and article/journal content contributor to Lafebervet. I have medical and scientific resources available, and I perform in house reptile veterinary care for my rescues. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct quite a few in the past. The average vet is not well versed with reptile physiology and medical treatments.

Animals that I am currently caring for, or have significant rehabilitation and husbandry experience with: Horned Lizards (5 species); Eastern and Western Box Turtles; Painted, RES, YBS, Soft-Shell, and Cooter aquatic turtles; Russian Tortoises; Fire Bellied Toads; Fire Bellied Newts; Ornate Horned Frogs; Green Iguanas; Desert Iguanas; Spiny Lizards; Long Nosed Leopard Lizards; Anoles; Racerunners; Collared Lizards; Bullsnakes; Eastern Ratsnakes; Great Plains Ratsnakes; Kingsnakes; Gartersnakes; Cornsnakes; Boas; Pythons; Bearded Dragons; Water Dragons; Massasauga Rattlesnakes; Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes; Leopard, Mediterranean, Golden, Indo-Pacific, African White-Spotted Geckos; Savannah Monitors; Jeweled Curly-Tailed Lizards; Long-Tailed Grass Lizards; Fox Squirrels; Deer Mice; Hispid Cotton Rats; Merriam's Pocket Mice; Eastern Cotton-Tails; Blue Bar racing pigeon; Budgies; Asian Forest Scorpions.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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