If you notice that your bearded dragon is regularly closing one eye, you may become concerned or curious as to why this is occurring. In some cases, this is nothing to worry about but if there is an underlying issue, I should hopefully have you covered in this article.
So, why do bearded dragons close one eye? Bearded dragons close one eye for a variety of reasons including:
- Responding to stimuli
- Mites or parasites
- Shedding issues
- Damage to the cornea or a trapped foreign object
- Improper lighting in their enclosure
- The improper humidity level in their enclosure
This article will outline how to properly care for your bearded dragons’ eyes in order to prevent or treat issues that may cause eye irritation. A proper living space can go a long way in preventing most issues and will rule out some common causes for beardies to close one eye.
Causes and Treatments for Bearded Dragons Closing One Eye
Bearded dragons may close one eye periodically for some perfectly benign reasons. For example, if you notice this behavior when your dragon is trying to focus on something then it’s fairly commonplace and usually nothing to worry about.
Being that beardies have eyes on either side of their head, closing one eye can help them to focus on a particular object such as prey. If your bearded dragon is closing one eye around feeding time then they are most likely just trying to get a better look at their meal. Just note which eye is being closed and you’ll usually find it’s the one farthest from whatever your dragon is paying attention too.
However, if your bearded dragon is closing one eye consistently then you may need to take further action. They may be suffering from parasites or the eye could be irritated for some other reason.
Mites and Parasites
A common issue that may cause your bearded dragon to close one eye persistently is parasites. Parasites are fairly commonly found on wild animals and do not cause too much of an issue. However, in captivity, they can often build up to a more problematic level.
Your bearded dragon may have contracted mites. Mites can be observed as tiny small, red, or black dots around the eye but they might not always be so easy to detect.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has parasites then it is best to take them to a reptile vet. They will be able to properly diagnose the problem and will help you with the correct course of action.
One cause for a bearded dragon to close one eye could be dehydration. Ensure that your pet consistently has an adequate water supply and is not overheated. Sunken eyes and lethargy are also signs of dehydration.
Bearded dragons tend not to want to drink water from a deep bowl. If you think that dehydration could be the issue, you can try using alternatives such as a special water dispenser for reptiles (click to view on Amazon).
There’s a chance if your bearded dragon has been shedding that this may be leading to the closing of one eye. Check carefully to see if there is any remaining shed around the circumference of the eye.
You can remove excess shed from the eye with a soft cotton pad that has been soaked in water. Soak the cotton pad in warm water and place it on the eye for a few minutes.
Bearded dragons will also often look for spots to rub their bodies to remove shed. This is also why it is important to make sure that there are no sharp objects or edges inside the tank that the bearded dragon may try to rub against.
Damage or Objects in The Eye
Scratches or other damage to the cornea may occur due to excessively bright light, infections, or an accidental injury.
Your bearded dragon may also have a foreign object stuck in their eye such as dirt or some loose substrate. If this is the case you may also notice your bearded dragon trying to remove it by bulging its eye out.
You can use reptile drops (click to view on Amazon) to help remove foreign objects from the eye. Some reptile eye drops even have mild antibacterial properties that may also be able to help treat any infection if there is one.
You should not really wash the bearded dragon’s eyes with tap water to remove material. Tap water may not be completely sterile and may lead to an infection.
Rather, you should alternate between the reptile eyewash and a saline eye wash until you feel the situation has been resolved or until you feel that further treatment is necessary. If things do not improve you will most likely have to schedule a veterinary appointment.
Also, check the tank to make sure there is not excessive loose substrate or material on the bottom of the tank. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended to use something such as a newspaper or reptile carpet (click to view on Amazon) rather than a loose substrate.
Bearded dragons may close their eyes in response to incorrect lighting within their enclosure. If your Bearded Dragon is closing one eye or both eyes frequently, you should check the lighting.
Some manufacturers sell lights on the market that are not appropriate for reptile enclosures. Bearded dragons need a strong source of UVB light (UVB 10.0- 12.0). This lighting is often called T5 lighting and may also be called HO- High Output. The best choice is to install tube lighting that will go across the tank.
The tank should be bigger than 20-25 gallons in size to set up such a tube light. If the tank is not large enough, it may be difficult to achieve proper temperatures and gradient. The light may be too light for bearded dragons.
Do not install coiled bulbs made for plants or people. The light from these sources may be too strong, particularly in the case that they are placed too close to the bearded dragon. The lights themselves may also be too small to distribute UVB light evenly throughout the entire surface area of the tank.
You can try to turn off UVB lighting for two days or so to see if it helps the bearded dragon’s eyes.
Users in online forums report that they have seen their dragons closing their eyes after they have changed out the bulb in the reptile tank. Though, some also note seeing bearded dragons exhibit this type of behavior while basking under the sun in the wild. This may be because they are simply shielding an eye that is directly in the sunlight.
It’s worth checking the humidity in the tank using a hygrometer (click to view on Amazon). If the humidity levels are too low this may also contribute to the closing of one eye.
The ideal humidity for a bearded dragon tank is in the range of 30-40% [Source].
Note that the placement of your hygrometer can make a big difference to the readings you get. The main thing to remember is that humidity is relative to temperature. As the temperature inside your bearded dragon’s enclosure can vary up to 68° F, it is best to place the hygrometer centrally between the warm and cool areas of the enclosure to give the best reading.
As the air gets warmer, it can hold much more moisture and so as the air in the enclosure cools the humidity level will increase. This is also why you should really measure humidity during the day when temperatures are warmer in the enclosure.
How to Raise Humidity
Here are a few ways you can raise the humidity level in your bearded dragon enclosure:
- Place an additional water dish at the warmer end of your enclosure. replace the water daily to maintain hygiene.
- Plants, particularly broad-leafed plants can help provide moisture. Just ensure they are bearded dragon friendly.
- Mist or soak branches and place them near your heat source. Just be aware that the moisture will evaporate in a few hours and the branch may become a fire hazard if placed too close to the heat lamp.
- Set a reptile fogger (click to view on Amazon) to come on at certain intervals during the day. This is probably a little bit overkill as most bearded dragon enclosures do not require a fogger. However, if the environment surrounding the enclosure is particularly arid, this may be a good option.
Just be aware that too much humidity can be a big issue too. With increased moisture comes a higher risk of bacterial infections and respiratory diseases. If you are taking measures to increase humidity you should monitor it closely so as not to overshoot it.
Probably the easiest and best way to reduce humidity is to increase ventilation to the enclosure.
Did You Know These Bearded Dragon Eye Facts?
The Eye of The Bearded Dragon…
Bearded dragons have been found to have excellent eyesight. They are even able to see more colors than humans. This is because bearded dragons are tetrachromatic which means they have four color receptors (whereas humans only have three). They are even able to see ultraviolet (UV) waves.
One area where a bearded dragon’s vision is not so good is when it comes to depth perception. While having eyes on either side of your head gives you an excellent field of view, it isn’t so great for judging distances. It’s not uncommon for beardies to try to leap from one platform to another and totally miss!
Nonetheless, beardies are able to clearly see objects from a long distance. Some people may express concerns about Bearded Dragon Behavior, such as changing color or hiding all day. This is often due to them catching a glance at something in the distance which may startle them, whether it be a bird outside or even their own reflection!
A Third Eye?
Bearded dragons even have a third eye-like structure located on the top of their head between the eyes. It is called a parietal eye, and it allows them to observe shadows and light changes.
The parietal eye is covered by a transparent scale and can be used to sense the presence of predators. It has been reported that most wild bearded dragons will run for cover if they sense a shadow above them.
A group of scientists ran a study that showed that bearded dragons may also use the parietal eye as a compass of sorts. They found that lizards that had their parietal eye covered were significantly less likely to find their way back home when released in at a distant location from their own territory.