After getting a bearded dragon and studying its behavior for a while, you may notice that it often closes one eye. So, unsurprisingly, you will be worried and curious as to why your beardie closes one eye but leaves the other open.
This is not something to worry about in most cases. However, there must be an underlying problem behind this behavior, and it can be minor or severe.
Before you present your exotic reptile to the vet, understand some of the reasons your dragon will open one eye and close the other first.
The Reason Why Bearded Dragon Closes One Eye and Keeps the Other Eye Open
1. Disease or Infection
Infection inside the eye or behind the eye socket can cause the beardie to close the affected eye. Bearded dragon eyes can hurt after being exposed to a bacterial or viral infection. Other organisms can also infect it.
You may know your eye is infected if you notice swelling or discharge from it. The dragon will close the eyes of the infected to secure the affected tissue.
You may not always notice swelling. If this is the case, you may notice that reptiles close their eyes at different times throughout the day.
2. Responding to Stimulus
Bearded dragons are usually very responsive to changes in stimuli that make them feel somewhat unwell. However, as discussed earlier, some causes are minor and nothing to worry about, and these include excitability.
Just like humans narrow their eyes to see things better, beards cover one eye to allow them to focus on an object. These pets usually do this when they want to catch their prey.
You can also pay attention to this trait when feeding your beardie as he just wants to focus and visualize the food better. This happens especially when it is farthest from the food.
Dehydration takes a toll on beardies, and may turn a blind eye in response. Of course, these pets rarely drink water, so you may not know when they need it most. But cues like closing one eye and leaving the other open should give you a clue.
A dehydrated beardie will describe sunken and lethargic eyes because there is less fluid in the eye. If you suspect dehydration, try pinching the skin. It is hydrated if the skin bounces back and dehydrated if it takes longer to bounce back.
You should not take dehydration lightly as it can be fatal.
Mites and other parasites are common among Komodo dragons in the wild. So it’s possible that they may have infested your reptile friend, especially if he spends most of his time outdoors.
In the wild, these parasites usually stay in the beardie for food and protection but leave once they feel full and safe. However, it is not the same in captivity as these pets tend to live in the same place, so this parasite takes longer to leave the skin.
Mites and ticks usually live around the ears and eyes of bearded dragons and appear as small, red, or black spots. If these organisms remain in the vicinity of the eyes, the beardie will act unusually or close them. This will close the most affected eye and leave the better eye open.
5. Insufficient Lighting
Bearded dragons need a well-lit cage. You can tell the lighting system has a problem by looking into their eyes. These reptiles will close one eye or both to prevent them from being hurt by the wrong lighting.
The beard cage should have a UVB light output ranging from 8 to 10 percent. Less than eight could mean they weren’t getting enough UVB rays, while more than ten could harm their eyesight from too much lighting.
6. Objects in the Eyes
Decorative items such as twigs and stones in your dragon’s cage can hurt your pet’s eyes. It occurs when a branch from a tree breaks, exposing sharp edges that can scratch the eye and puncture the cornea. Reptiles can close the affected eye.
In addition to scratches and stabs, there are other things that can get caught in your dragon’s eye. It can be anything from debris, dirt, or stray substrate.
Your Beardie may close one eye to try to remove a snagged object. However, it may require your intervention if the foreign object is too stubborn to come out.
Beardies bask in the sun to help maintain the correct body temperature. They are cold-blooded creatures, which means that their bodies cannot independently control and adjust their desired temperature.
Reptiles bask in the sun in the morning when the weather is cold and sometimes in the afternoon when their body temperature drops to a certain level.
You may notice your dragon closing one or both eyes while basking, and this is normal behavior for them. He does this to protect his eyes from strong direct sunlight.
8. Low Humidity
Beardies may also close one eye due to the low humidity levels in the cage. The ideal humidity level for the room should be between 30-40%. Lower or higher levels can throw off the heat regulation system and cause various diseases.
For example, low humidity can cause dysecdysis, which is abnormal shedding of the skin. So, reptiles will close their eyes to help shedding.
High humidity causes blistering of the skin, which can be so unbearable that you may need to seek veterinary services.
9. Stuck Warehouse
Beardies will often look for any object to help scrub and remove their old skin as it falls out. However, pets may not be smart and still have some old skin stuck to their bodies.
These reptiles usually have difficulty shedding the area around the eyes. So, they may close their eyes if there is still some remnants of old skin around them to try to remove it.
Always check sheds jammed around their eyes if you see your beardie turning a blind eye.
10. Can Be Afraid
Bearded dragons also close their eyes when something gets too close to them, just like humans do. So, if you stroke your dragon close to your eyes and close your eyes, it means that you are afraid that your finger will poke their eye.
This will cover one or both eyes as a natural defense to protect them from harm. You may notice your pet opening it again when you pull your hand or your pet away from your eyes.
It’s just a natural response and nothing to worry about.
How to Overcome Bearded Dragon’s Eye Problem
1. Clean the Cage Regularly
You can only remove dirt and debris in the cage if you clean it regularly. Remove any loose objects that could injure or get caught in your pet’s eyes.
2. Set Enclosure to Correct Condition
First, provide your bearded dragon with the light it needs in the cage by installing artificial lighting. Be wary of manufacturers selling lamps that may be unfriendly to bearded eyes.
However, while the lights can be in the eight to ten percent UVB range, they may be too strong for a small cage or too dim for a large tank. Therefore, it is very important to consider the size of the tank when installing the lamp.
Also, make sure that the humidity level in the cage is always in the correct range. The best way to do this is to use a reptile hygrometer, which you can get at your local pet store or online store.
The reptile hygrometer will let you know when humidity levels are outside the recommended range, thanks to the included alarm system.
You can increase humidity levels by:
Use a larger bowl or keep an extra bowl in the cage. This will increase the evaporation rate and help increase the humidity level in the tank.
Mist branches and leaves inside the cage to help retain moisture. This will help increase humidity levels in return. Be careful not to overdo it and cause mold.
You can purchase a reptile fogger to spray mist at certain times of the day if you are a busy owner. This fogger has a digital timer, so you can set it to spray at a specific time.
You can lower the humidity level by using a fan. To do this, make sure it is on the lowest setting and set it so that it allows it to blow air into the tank directly. However, it would be best to keep an eye on the humidity level while doing so. It should not fall below the recommended range.
3. Tell your Vet
Some problems such as infections and eye problems can be too difficult to treat on your own. Take the reptile to the vet if you suspect the eye could be infected. Unfortunately, some infections can damage the retina or cause blindness.
Your doctor may recommend antibiotics, or reptile eye drops to help treat the infection. Eye drops can also help remove foreign bodies in the eye.
4. Pets with care
Be careful when stroking your beard. Do it calmly, so as not to be afraid. You can also help get rid of dirt that sticks around the eyes.
Your beardie will close one eye and leave the other eye open if a foreign object gets in the eye or the lighting and humidity levels in the cage are not friendly. Anything can cause this behavior, even some as serious as an eye infection.
What you can do if you notice this behavior is to pay attention to your surroundings. If there’s something you need to adjust, do it. But if it’s due to an eye problem, ask your vet for help.
Featured Image Credit: KobchaiMa, Shutterstock