Bearded dragons have been a favored house pet by many pet owners for quite a number of reasons. These docile pets are not only quite tamed, but they are also easy to look after. Once they have settled in their new habitat, you only need to do a few things to maintain their health. If they are provided with adequate and proper nutrition, provided the right level of heat and humidity, as well as cleaned regularly, they may stay with you for the next 10 or more years.
That does not mean that they are free from any sickness that may cause their health to deteriorate. Like any other animals, they are also susceptible to disease-causing microorganisms widely distributed in the environment.
Yellow Fungus: A Lethal Bearded Dragon Disease
One of the diseases that most bearded dragons fear is called Yellow Fungus. It is colloquially known among hobbyists as the Yellow Skin Disease. This fungal infection can cause severe skin infections or fungal dermatitis. If not treated properly, the condition can be fatal to a birdie. Such a skin condition has been proven to be lethal to other reptile species as well.
This skin condition is clinically known as Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii or CANV. It is a skin condition that is caused by aggressive flesh-eating fungi. The fungi attack both the superficial and deep layers of the skin. The infection will first appear as yellow, brown or grayish patches on the surface of the scales. It is normally seen as a small spot that gets bigger in time. More spots may appear on other parts of the body as time passes by. As the disease progresses, the color of the patches will become dark. It will also be cracked or crusty.
The discoloration of the skin is accompanied by the formation of necrotic lesions. This formation will eventually scrape the outer layer of the skin and reveal sensitive ulcerated tissues underneath the scales. It can also spread painful swelling and inflammation under the skin. In more severe cases, hyphae of the fungus (main mode of vegetative growth of the fungus), can extend deeper into the body cavities and internal organs of the reptile. This often causes marked pathology and the eventual death of the beardie.
Symptoms of the Yellow Skin Disease
Bearded dragons are quite active during the day if they are healthy. However, if they are infected with the Yellow Fungus, they may be quite restless.You may also observe them to lose some weight, have a poor appetite, have sunken eyes, shed irregularly. When they shed, what is left behind are dull or discolored scales with a rough appearance. They may also have wounds that have discolored scales around them. These wounds may also be swollen badly, with a discrete puss, and with a foul smell. A bearded dragon that is sheds constantly but does not gain any weight can be manifesting early signs of yellow fungus.
Causes of the Yellow Skin Disease
1. Dirty enclosures. Bearded dragons may be exposed to elements within the enclosure that are already contaminated. Choose the best Bearded Dragon enclosure.
2. Overcrowding. When too many dragons are housed and handled together in a single enclosure without proper quarantine measures. Yellow Fungus is a contagious disease. A new bearded dragon needs to go through a quarantine phase until it is considered clear of any health issues. This ensures that only healthy dragons are added to the crowd.
There are many instances, however, that an infected dragon in a pet store, breeding facility, or rescue center is also kept and becomes a host that can carry the disease and infect the other animals within the facility.
3. Stress. Stress, in this case, pertains to the quality of living condition provided for the bearded dragon. If the dragon is not provided the right amount of heat, for instance, it might not be able to maximize the heat it needs to do its normal activity. In the same manner, if other elements within the enclosure hinder the dragon to live as it is meant to, it may create stressful situations for the reptile. This may drastically lower the efficiency of its immune system and make it vulnerable to infections.
4. Bites, cuts, and other lacerations. When an infected dragon or other reptile bite another dragon, the disease could pass on to the other. Also, if a dragon gets to be wounded or lacerated frequently as it moves within the enclosure, it may be more susceptible to infectious diseases.
5. Yellow fungus antibiotics. Many bearded dragon owners discover that pets that are given constant dosages of antibiotics are more likely to develop Yellow Fungus. Antibiotics can destroy the dragon’s natural defense system if used too much. Eventually, they will be more likely to be vulnerable to infections. Experts advise to keep a bearded dragon healthy, probiotics should always be given every time antibiotics are administered to the reptile.
Treatment For Yellow Fungus
As already mentioned earlier, there is no cure for this disease. There are several treatment methods available that can help keep your dragon in a “healthy state” longer, however. These treatment methods include the following:
1. Antifungal drugs. This can be a combination of oral medications like Itraconazole, Terbinafine, and so on.
2. Antibiotics. Antibiotics are also used at times to treat or guard against secondary bacterial infections.
3. Topical cleaning with Chlorhexidine. This skin treatment is also recommended. This is done together with the application of topical antifungal agents like Miconazole or F10 ointment.
Note that you can not just use any of the treatment methods mentioned above. A consultation with a licensed veterinary is first required. The vet will first diagnose the condition of the beardie.
He may need to scrape a portion of the affected skin to rule out mites, parasites, skin conditions, and any other kind of infections. A blood test may also be necessary to give an accurate prognosis. This will also allow the vet to determine if the blood analysis has picked up any underlying diseases that the dragon may have. Once the vet has determined the stage of the illness, he will prescribe the appropriate dosages for the recommended medications.
At this early, it is best that you add to your dragon’s diet a daily dose of probiotics. This will help boost the beardie’s immune system. Other supplements may also be added to his food to help build his immune system. For any changes in your pet’s diet, always consider a specialist’s advise.