Why Do Bearded Dragons Close One Eye? 8 Reasons Why

Sometimes you may notice your bearded dragon is closing one of their eyes often. Since you don’t know why you may become concerned about it. Depending on the reason, it could be minor or could be serious.

So, why do bearded dragons close one eye? Bearded dragons close one for many reasons. It could be from dehydration, parasites, shedding, objects in the eye, basking, improper lighting, low humidity, or they are scared.

Above are usually the 8 main reasons why they close one eye or both eyes.

In this article, we will go through each reason and explain why they close their eyes. Also, it will discuss ways to prevent and treat the issues related to their eyes.

1. Dehydration

If your bearded dragon is suffering from dehydration, they may close one of their eyes in response to it.

When dehydration occurs, sunken eyes and lethargy will usually be a sign. The fluid in their eyes will be lost which causes that.

If you suspect them of being dehydrated, you’ll need to correct the issue as soon as possible or it could lead to serious health issues.

One of the reasons for dehydration could be a deep bowl. Bearded dragons tend to not drink from a bowl that is too deep. If that’s the issue, you can try to use a bowl that’s lower in height.

If the weather is really hot, it could also cause them to be dehydrated. If that’s the case, you can try to feed them some iceberg lettuce. While iceberg lettuce isn’t recommended for them, it can be fed to them as a quick way to hydrate them.

2. Parasites

In the wild, parasites are common with bearded dragons. They tend to stay on the reptiles for protection and to feed particles off their skin. Usually, the parasites will go elsewhere once they are done feeding.

In captivity, parasites are another story. Since the bearded dragons are in an enclosed cage, there are not many places to go. Therefore, the parasites such as mites and ticks will often stay longer than they should on the beardie.

If your bearded dragon contracted mites or ticks, you may notice them acting unusual especially with their eyes.

Mites and ticks found in captivity are small, red, or black dots. They will usually stay around the ears and eyes of the bearded dragons. If the parasites are around the eye area, the lizard will close their eye.

If you suspect your bearded dragon has mites or any other parasites, it’s best to take them to the vet. Some parasites are too small to see and some will hide in the ear canal or under their eyelids.

Another reason is the diseases that they could carry. These parasites are known for transmitting dangerous diseases to their host.  This could cause serious health issues later on so it’s best you take your lizard to visit the veterinary as soon as possible.

3. Stuck Shed

Bearded dragons will try to look for an object to rub against to remove their old skin. When they are done shedding, some parts of their body will still have the old skin attached.

The eyes are usually the most difficult part of their body to shed. If there are still old skin around the eye area, the lizard may close their eyes to try to shed the old skin off.

After they have shed, if they are closing one of both of their eyes repeatedly, look for any remaining shed around their eyes.

If there is some shedding, use a soft cotton pad to remove it. Soak the cotton pad in warm water and gently put it on the eye for a couple of minutes.

After a few minutes, gently peel the old skin off. If it seems stubborn, apply the cotton pad on their eyes for another few minutes.

Do not try to remove it barehand as it could damage the new skin around their eyes.

4. Damage or Objects in The Eye

If your bearded dragon has something that’s affecting their eyes, they may close it.

In their enclosure, they could injure their eye by a sharp object such as branches and decorations. A piece of it could be broken off and left the object with a sharp edge.

It may scratch or puncture the cornea of their eyes. If so, you may notice them keeping one of their eye closed.

Another thing that could happen for closing one of their eyes is a foreign object stuck in their eye. This could be things such as dirt, debris, or some loose substrate.

In response to it, your bearded dragon may close their eyes and bulging its eye out to try to remove it.

Sometimes, they can’t remove the foreign object from their eyes themselves and will require your intervention.

When washing their eyes, never wash it with tap water. Tap water may not be completely sterile and could cause an infection or make the injury worse.

Instead, use Repta Rinse Reptile Eye Rinse, which can be found on Amazon. This eye solution is formulated to help remove foreign objects from their eyes safely.

After washing their eyes with the solution for a couple of days, if it doesn’t seem to get better, your next only option is to take them to the veterinary. Keeping the injury longer could further cause more complications for them and may lead to losing an eye.

As for the substrate, if they are excessively loose substrates or material, it’s best to choose another type. For bearded dragons, I recommend Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner, which can be purchased from Amazon. This substrate is a carpet that’s developed and made specifically for reptiles such as bearded dragons.

bearded dragon basking

5. Basking

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded creatures which mean their body isn’t capable of regulating the correct temperature. Therefore, they need the sun to help maintain the right body temperature.

In the wild, the reptile will usually bask in the sun during the morning when it’s usually cool. They may also bask during the day if their body temperature drops to a certain point. They will bask throughout the day to maintain the correct body temperature.

While basking, they may close one or both of their eyes. This is to shield their eyes from the strong light of the sun.

In captivity, most of the time, the bearded dragon will be in a cage and away from the natural sunlight. To supply them the needed light, you’ll need to install artificial lighting.

As in their natural habitat, you may notice your bearded dragon closing their eye while basking. If you see this and they tend to do it often during basking, it’s normal behavior for them.

6. Improper Lighting

If the lighting is incorrect within their enclosure, your bearded dragon might respond by closing one eye or both eyes.

The closing of the eye prevents them from getting damaged by incorrect light settings.

Bearded dragons require UVB light that is 10.0 to 12.0. Anything less could cause them to not get enough of the UVB ray. Anything higher than that could damage their eyes and cause them to get sick from too much lighting.

Some manufacturers sell lights that are not correct for the bearded dragon’s enclosure. While they may be within the correct UVB range, it could be too strong for a small cage or not strong enough for a large cage.

Therefore, it’s best to check with the manufacturers for the correct sized cage.

When it comes to the type of lighting, you will have the option of tube lighting or coiled bulb lighting.

Both types of lights will produce the correct UVB light, but it will differ in the amount of area it will cover.

Coiled bulbs are great for using for plants and small cages. These coiled bulbs will not be a good fit for bearded dragons. They will be too small to distribute UVB light evenly throughout the entire cage.

Bearded dragons need a large cage and therefore, you should install the tube lighting. The tube lighting will go across the entire enclosure. This will ensure the whole area of the cage receives proper UVB lights.

7. Low Humidity

Low humidity is another reason why your bearded dragon may close one of their eyes.

The ideal humidity for a bearded dragon to be healthy is in the range of 30-40%, according to The University of Queensland.

Low humidity could cause dysecdysis (abnormal shedding of the skin). Due to shedding, the bearded dragons will close their eyes as well to help shed the old skin.

On the other hand, high humidity will cause blistering of the skin on the bearded dragon. Blistering can be very painful for them and you may need to seek medical attention.

Therefore, it’s important to keep the correct humidity level at all times. One of doing so is to keep a hygrometer in the enclosure. This Reptile Hygrometer, which can be purchased on Amazon. It’s perfect for your bearded dragon since it’s a hygrometer with an alarm function. It will sound off an alarm when the humidity is out of range.

How To Raise Humidity Level

Here are a few ways to raise the humidity level in your bearded dragon cage:

  • Keep an additional water bowl in the enclosure. As the water evaporates, it will help raise the humidity level in the enclosure.
  • Mist the entire cage, especially live plants and trees. These will help retain the moisture, which in turn raises the humidity level.
  • Buy a reptile fogger and set it to spray mist at a certain time of the day. I recommend this PETSPIONEER Reptile Humidifier, which is available on Amazon. It has the digital timer which is perfect for a pet owner who works or too busy during the day.

If you need to lower the humidity level in the enclosure, simply use a fan. Set it at the lowest setting to blow air directly in the enclosure. While it’s on, keep an eye on it so the humidity level don’t drop below the recommended range.

8. Scared

Like humans, when something gets to close to our eyes, we will close them. The same goes for bearded dragons.

Sometimes, when you pet your bearded dragon, they may close their eyes.

As you pet them close to their eyes, they are scared your hand or fingers might hurt their eyes. As a natural defense to protect their eyes from being harmed, they will close it. They may close one eye or both eyes.

As your hands go back further away from their eyes, they will open it back up. This is a normal natural response and there’s nothing to worry about.

Related Questions

Do bearded dragons sleep with this eyes open?

Bearded dragons sleep with both of their eyes open. However, if the lights are turned on while they are sleeping, their eyes may open.

Do bearded dragons have a third eye?

Bearded dragons have a third eye-like structure that’s located on top of their head between the eyes. It’s called a parietal eye, which allows them to observe light and shadows changes above them.

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