Bearded Dragon Care

Bearded Dragon Choking? What To Do Quickly

If your bearded dragon is choking, you need to act fast and give them as much care as possible.

When a bearded dragon is choking, get its mouth open to see what it is choking on. There is no Heimlich maneuver for bearded dragons, so seeing what the problem is will be the best course of action. From there, use a pair of tweezers and carefully remove the food. After, take it to the vet to check for any additional problems.

The rest of this article will cover how to know if they’re choking, what to do, what to do if they’re gagging, what to do if they’re choking on water, and what to do after the problem is solved.

How To Know If A Bearded Dragon Is Choking

The first step is identifying the problem. To do this, observe your dragon and look for the following signs: gagging, puffed beards, breathing issues, and twitching. Your dragon may vomit or spit the substance back up. If it doesn’t, get to work with removing the food.

Common causes of choking are foods that are too big, and large substances like bark. Make sure the bottom of your reptile’s cage is smooth and solid with no loose particles for your dragon to eat such as bark, sand, and/or styrofoam.

Also be sure that the food is small enough to digest. To determine what is too big, look at your dragon’s eyes. The food you are feeding it shouldn’t be larger than its eyes. Small crickets are good sources of food, and so are silkworms.

What To Do If A Bearded Dragon Is Choking

After identifying that your dragon is choking, open its mouth and find the source of the choking. Do not put your finger inside to get it out. Use a swab or tweezers. Something small enough to get inside, but not too sharp that it’ll hurt the dragon.

Be as careful as possible. This will be the most difficult part since the choking bearded dragon will make a gagging noise, therefore it will be twitching and hard to keep still. Do your best to keep it still and calm it down by petting it and setting it on a flat surface.

Using a small tool like tweezers, remove the food blocking the throat. After, check to see if there’s any bleeding. If there is, take it to the vet right away for further care.

What To Do If A Bearded Dragon Is Gagging

If your bearded dragon is gagging, check out the problem by opening its mouth. It will be difficult with the gagging, but you can open their mouth. From there, you can see what the blockage is in their mouths and get it out.

There is also another possibility. If your dragon is gagging, it’s possible it has a respiratory infection. If you can’t find anything in your dragon’s throat, take it to the vet to get its lungs checked out. This treatment is different than if your bearded dragon is choking on water.

What To Do If A Bearded Dragon Is Choking On Water

Treating water blockage is different from if they’re choking on food. Luckily, the fix is simple and easy. Hold your dragon gently and tilt it downwards so the water can spill out of its lungs. Open its mouth if it isn’t open already, and let the liquids drain out of its lungs.

To tell the difference between choking on food and choking on water, listen to the noises your dragon is making. You will hear coughing and wheezing, and listen for any liquid sounds like sloshing and bubbling coming from the dragon’s throat.

If you hear these noises, bend your dragon down and open its mouth so the liquid can spill out. If that doesn’t work, check its throat. If no liquid comes out, that means it’s choking on food instead of liquid, so get your tweezers ready and investigate the inside of its mouth.

What To Do After The Problem Is Solved

When the problem is solved, take your pet to the vet and make sure there’s been no internal damage or bleeding caused while you were removing the blockage. Also, monitor them for a few days while they are eating to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.

Consider hand feeding them for a couple days. They may be scared to eat after the ordeal, so ease them into it by giving them comfort and feeding them yourself.


Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

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