Why Do Bearded Dragons Poop In Their Food Bowl? (When You Should Worry)

Why Do Bearded Dragons Poop In Their Food Bowl

You would think that any animal would avoid using the bathroom where they eat. After all, it’s just not sanitary and it kinda ruins the rest of their meal.

Even so, some bearded dragons make using their food bowl as a toilet a habit. As a beardie owner, it can be something frustrating to deal with. It can also leave you scratching your head, wondering the “why” behind this bizarre behavior.

So, why do bearded dragons poop in their food bowl?

Your bearded dragon might poop in their food bowl because they’re stressed. It could also be caused by their food bowl being in the spot they like to poop in, or it could be a coincidence. Evaluate any changes in your beardie’s tank or move their food bowl if it seems to be a habit. 

Below, we’ll take a closer look at these three reasons your bearded dragon might be pooping in their food bowl, as well as what you can do about it and when it’s cause for concern.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Poop In Their Food Bowl?

Without further ado, let’s explain this toilet mystery!

Reason 1: Your Beardie Is Stressed

In some cases, your bearded dragon is pooping in their food dish because they are stressed. There are a lot of things that can cause stress. If pooping in their food bowl is a new behavior, then start by evaluating any changes that might have them feeling stressed.

For example, the light output of UV lightbulbs decreases over their lifetime, so their lighting might be off. Having too much or too little humidity or a temperature that is outside of their ideal range might also cause stress.

In addition to these environmental things, your beardie may be stressed if you’ve recently rearranged their tank, added something new, or moved their tank to a new area of your home.

Even handling might cause your bearded dragon stress, especially if they aren’t used to being handled. While any beardie owner will tell you that every dragon has their own personality, and some really love being handled, some bearded dragons may become stressed when being handled too frequently.

Reason 2: Their Food Bowl Is In Their Pooping Spot

Another simple explanation for why your bearded dragon poops in his or her food bowl is that it’s been placed in the area where they like to go to the bathroom. This might be the case if your bearded dragon is regularly pooping in their food dish.

You’ll know if you move their food bowl to a different spot and the behavior stops, especially if they keep using the bathroom in the area the food dish used to sit in.

Reason 3: It’s A Coincidence

Sometimes, the answer to why bearded dragons poop in their food bowl is as simple as they had to go. Many bearded dragons don’t go out of their way to poop in strange plays like on their owner or in this case their food bowl- they just happened to need to use the bathroom while they were eating.

While it normally takes a few days for food to move all the way through your bearded dragon’s digestive tract, meaning they aren’t going to use the bathroom as soon as they eat, eating food does put more food in their tummy.

So, that added food might cause something they ate days ago to make its way out, and it just so happens that they are standing in their food bowl at the time.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Poop In Their Water Bowl?

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, if you keep a water bowl in your beardie’s tank and they poop in it, it could be caused by the water relaxing them when they climb in their bowl.

Of course, this is only likely to happen if the water is deep in their bowl because it’s the movements of swimming that help stimulate your dragon’s need to go potty.

Is It Normal For Bearded Dragons To Poop In Their Food Bowl?

Yes, pooping in their food bowl is a pretty normal behavior for bearded dragons. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many pet forums full of beardie owners asking the same question.

While this is a normal behavior, it can also indicate that your bearded dragon is stressed. This could be caused by their lighting, temperature, or humidity being off. They also may need more areas to hide in their tank, especially if it’s in a busy room in your house.

Should I Worry About My Bearded Dragon Pooping In Their Food Bowl?

In most cases, a bearded dragon using the bathroom in their food bowl isn’t a cause for concern. They might be a little more stressed than normal, their food bowl might be in their favorite bathroom spot, or it could just be a coincidence.

If it’s happening all the time, however, even after you’ve moved their food bowl to a different location, they could be trying to communicate that they are stressed. While stress doesn’t always warrant a vet visit, it does mean you’ll want to take a look at their living environment for any changes.

Something like their lighting, humidity, or temperatures being off could stress them out. Additionally, these things all affect things like your bearded dragon’s health and quality of life. For example, too much humidity might make it harder for them to shed.

Additionally, if you’ve recently cleaned their tank, moved their tank to another room, or are handling your beardie more than usual, it could also cause stress. Even something like shedding their skin might make your bearded dragon more stressed.

That being said, there are instances where your beardie is stressed because they are sick. If their bowel movements look or smell abnormal, it could be a sign of being sick or having parasites. It’s best to have your local exotic vet check them out if you are worried, it’s always better to be on the safe side!

Final Word

So, why do bearded dragons poop in their food bowl? There are several reasons, including being stressed, their food bowl being where they like to go to the bathroom, or just coincidence.

You can try moving your beardie’s food bowl to a new spot in the tank to see if the behavior continues. If it does, evaluate for signs of stress or think about any changes that might have your bearded dragon adjusting to something new. Even minor changes in their living environment can stress them out, such as putting something back in the wrong spot when you’ve cleaned their tank.

If their poop doesn’t look normal, however, or you can’t quite figure out what is stressing them out, it’s best to have them checked out by an expert. It’s one of those situations where it’s better to be on the safe side in knowing your beardie has a clean bill of health!