Yellow Fungus In Bearded Dragons: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, And Prevention

Bearded dragons are friendly reptiles and they are becoming famous as pets. Compared to other pets, bearded dragons need less care and maintenance, so they are easygoing pets. Also, bearded dragons’ lifespan makes them unique, you can expect a companionship of at least 10 years from your bearded dragon.

During this long lifespan, bearded dragons face many challenges and yellow fungus disease is one of them. This article will help you to understand:

Yellow Fungus Disease (YFD) or CANV is one of the most common, contagious infections that may affect many reptiles including bearded dragons. CANV or Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis Vriesii is the fungus that causes the YFD. In this disease, the skin of the affected reptile turns yellow to yellow-brown color. Initially, there will be small random spots on the body, but with time, these will get bigger.

Yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons will cause yellow to yellow-brown skin color patches. Initially, a single small yellow-to-brown crust on the surface of a few scales. These crusts get larger with time. All other affected crusts can appear randomly anywhere on the body. With the severity of yellow fungus, they will turn skin dark, thickened, or rough.

Your dragon will be only exposed to yellow fungus disease if it has any skin problems or skin problem history.

Healthy bearded dragons usually don’t suffer from this disease. Their immune system easily fights the disease and prevents it from happening.  

Yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons is contagious which means it can spread from one pet dragon to another. The disease can spread by direct contact or through the air.

Baby or young bearded dragons are more exposed to yellow fungus disease as compared to adult bearded dragons.

In case, you have any dragon who is suffering from yellow fungus disease, it is recommended to isolate it. If you don’t have another tank available, then the situation can get worse for other bearded dragons. In that case, you must closely watch others for signs of disease, till the time you arrange another tank.

So, if the yellow fungus disease is contagious, can humans get it from touching their bearded dragon or from air? This must be the question that comes next in your mind. Luckily, this disease is only contagious for animals, especially reptiles, humans don’t get this disease.

YFD is not zoonotic. Humans cannot catch it by handling their bearded dragons.

There are very rare chances that you can get yellow fungus disease from your bearded dragon. This will only happen if you are already suffering from some severe skin disease. In this situation, you are already vulnerable your immune system is also at its low, and fungus can make its way to your body through existing skin problems. 

Yellow fungus in bearded dragons has many signs according to its severity and length of time. You can also determine the severity of the disease by noticing the signs. The early signs can be common with other diseases but in severe conditions, signs are unique and one can easily recognize the disease.

Lethargy is the first symptom that bearded dragons show when they suffer from any disease. It is a common symptom of many diseases including, metabolic bone disease, stress, prolapse, brumation, mouth rot, impaction, etc.

Bad shedding is one of the early signs of yellow fungus in bearded dragons. It leaves behind dull scales on the skin with a roughness. In some dragons, it may result in a shedding storm. The shedding storm is a state where the bearded dragon seems to be shedding continuously, all the time.

As time passes and disease progresses, yellow fungus may cause internal infection which may lead to poor appetite, weight loss, and death.

Due to appetite loss, bearded dragons will not get the essential nutrients and eventually, they will lose weight.

As time passes, you will notice the severe symptoms of bearded dragon yellow fungus. Such as:

  • Discolored yellow grey, or brown patches on skin.
  • Crusty dark yellow patches on the vent area.
  • Severe bad shedding with slow or no healing of skin.
  • Sunken eyes, open weeping sores, open lesions.
  • Necrosis of the limbs and body.

Yellow fungus in bearded dragons is also too dangerous as it grows internally and by the time the visible scales are present, the disease has already grown too deep. The only signs that you can notice initially are the early signs i.e. appetite loss, weight loss, lethargy, etc.

Usually, Bearded dragon owner doesn’t know that their pet dragon is suffering from the yellow fungal disease which makes this disease challenging to cure.

This is the main reason it is recommended to always call your vet when you notice any change in the routine or behavior of your bearded dragon. To understand the common behaviors of bearded dragons, here are some articles:

If you can spot the yellow fungal disease in its early stages, then you are lucky as your dragon will be cured.

But if you are late and the disease is in its later stages, there are chances that your dragon will not be able to fight it or your dragon will suffer some permanent losses.

Like all diseases, yellow fungal disease in bearded dragons also has many triggers. The main two reasons for yellow fungal disease are stress and poor hygienic conditions. Let’s discuss all the causes one by one:

Yellow fungal disease is usually associated with stress, especially when dragons share their tank or space. Yellow fungal disease is often observed in dragons which are raised in groups, shipped in groups, or sharing their tank in any way.

By nature, bearded dragons don’t like sharing territory, and the sharing of territory can cause stress in them.

Bearded dragons are aggressive when they share their tank or space. Due to the stress of sharing, they will fight and bite each other. While sharing the tank, injured toenails and minor bite wounds result in damage to the skin. This damaged skin provides an opening for the fungus to infect the dragon and cause the fungal disease.

One of the main reasons your bearded dragon contacts the yellow fungal infection is the poor hygienic conditions. These poor hygienic conditions are especially worse when bearded dragons share their tank or cage.

The fungus can easily grow in poor hygienic conditions, especially in shared tanks and your dragon will be exposed to yellow fungal disease or YFD.

To save your dragon from yellow fungal disease (YFD), you need to keep the tank and dragon clean all the time. In case you are keeping more than one dragon, try to have a separate tank for each bearded dragon. This will reduce the stress as well as the unhygienic environment.

Humidity is also a part of good hygienic conditions. It is directly related to the growth of the fungal or bacterial growth in the tank.

If the humidity of the tank is too high, it will promote bacterial and fungal growth in the tank.

A humidity level of 30% to 40% is recommended in the tank for your bearded dragon.

In case you are facing issues in achieving lower humidity, you can remove the water bowl from the tank and stop spraying the water in the tank. In this way, the humidity level will be reduced. You can use a water dropper and let your dragon drink water through it.

Similarly, if you are facing very low humidity, you may need to spray the tank with water and place a water bowl in the tank. In any case, you need to achieve the proper humidity level for the well-being of your dragon.

Poor immune system can cause many skin issues including yellow fungus disease. As already mentioned, the crowding of bearded dragons in a single cage causes stress. Stress is also a cause of a poor immune system which can lead to yellow fungus disease. Similarly, poor diet, poor tank setup, and poor heating and lighting arrangements can also cause a poor immune system.

The dragons with a poor immune system are more exposed to skin issues including yellow fungus disease as compared to healthy bearded dragons.

So, if your dragon is sick, you need to be more careful. But, it doesn’t mean that your healthy bearded dragon is safe. If your healthy bearded dragon is injured and a fungal infection makes its way to the bearded dragon’s body, your dragon will also get the yellow fungus disease.

Yellow fungus in bearded dragons is extremely contagious. It can spread from one bearded dragon to another by direct contact or through air. To remain on the safe side, you need to quarantine the new dragon before adding it to your existing dragon’s cage and you need to make sure that your new dragon is healthy. If your new dragon or any existing dragon is suffering from any disease including the yellow fungus disease, you need to call the vet.

Humans can’t get ill from yellow fungus disease, but they can become carriers to shift this disease from one dragon to another pet dragon.

Remember that, humans can’t get this disease but they can spread this disease. If you touch a dragon who is ill and then touch another dragon who is suffering from the disease, you become the carrier of the disease. The healthy dragon will get the yellow fungus disease through you. So, you need to wash hands after handling each bearded dragon, separately.

The vet will have to run many tests as per the severity of the disease. Following are some of the steps that your vet will follow:

The vet usually starts with a thorough physical examination of your dragon. He’ll also inquire about the complete medical history to check the previous skin issues that your dragon has faced.

After the physical examination and medical history, if your dragon is ill, your vet needs to run other tests to know what is the actual disease.

Yellow fungal disease in bearded dragons is difficult to distinguish from other diseases just by physical examination.

Other fungal diseases, some viruses, bacterial diseases, and things like burns have the same visual representation, which is why, the vet will run some more tests.

A biopsy gives the details at the microscopic level. In this test, a small tissue sample is taken from a bearded dragon while your dragon will be anesthetized. This small tissue is observed under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis of yellow fungal disease in bearded dragons.

PCR and culture are other tests that are necessary to determine the type of fungus and cause of the disease. PCR and culture help in indicating the fungus that is causing the infection.

As required by the situation, your vet can recommend one or all of these tests to know and estimate the current health condition of your bearded dragon. After these tests, your vet will know the internal spread of the infection and he’ll recommend the medical treatment including the medication.

The first step of treatment is quarantine as yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons is very contagious. Infected bearded dragons should be kept in separate cages or tanks from other bearded dragons to save them from yellow fungus disease. Your vet will recommend ways to prevent the transmission of disease to other dragons.

Any area of infected skin or lesions (infected skin patches) should be cleaned or removed as the dead skin also contains the fungus that is out of reach to the antifungal medication. The process is called debridement.

These drugs are given by injection as the infection usually roots deeper than just the skin.

Furthermore, your vet will also use a combination of antifungal drugs as per the condition of your bearded dragon. He may choose any of the following:

  • Voriconazole.
  • Amphotericin B.
  • Terbinafine.
  • Itraconazole.

The vet may also recommend treating any infected skin or lesions with an antibiotic cream or iodine once or twice a day.

Prevention is the best medicine. Yellow fungal disease is a dangerous disease. If your bearded dragon is suffering from it, it is a very sad sight and your dragon will face a lot of pain. The best thing is to care for your dragon and provide him with a clean environment and good health so that this disease can be prevented. The following are some ways by which you can prevent your dragon from YFD:

Yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons is highly contagious and if you have any bearded dragon who is infected, you need to keep him away from other bearded dragons.

Another reason for isolation is to reduce stress among bearded dragons as stress is a cause of YFD. Stress can make your dragon more exposed to several infections and diseases and taking out your bearded dragon from crowed will ease him and calm him down.

Quarantine is best when you get a new bearded dragon. In quarantine, you will notice if your bearded dragon is healthy and doesn’t suffer from any infection or skin disease. In this way, you can stop the spreading of disease among other bearded dragons.

If the new dragon is healthy, well, he is good to go in the tank with other dragons. But if he’s not healthy, you need to call the vet.

Proper sanitation and hygiene of your pet dragon, tank, and environment are necessary to stop the growth of fungus in the tank. A dragon in a clean environment will be healthier as compared to a dragon who has to fight bacteria on a daily basis. You can say that cleanliness is key to reducing the risk factor of YFD.

A good tank setup with proper heating, lighting, and humidity control is very necessary for the well-being of the dragon. If the heating or lighting setup is not good, your dragon will fall ill, he’ll not be able to digest the diet, and he’ll also face many diseases including metabolic bone disease. In this situation, your dragon will also be exposed to YFD and a little presence of fungus will make him suffer from YFD.

Similarly, humidity level is also very important, the higher humidity level (more than 60%) will help the growth of fungus in the tank which will cause YFD. You need to keep the humidity level to 30%-60%.

A balanced diet can do miracles for the well-being of bearded dragons. Your dragon will remain healthy and his immune system can easily fight the fungus or other causes of disease.

YFD is very deadly and can be cured when the vet diagnoses it in time. You need to be very careful in observing the signs and symptoms of disease and in case you have any hint that your dragon is might suffering from YFD or any other disease, you need to contact the vet immediately. Don’t wait for evidence, let the vet do his job.

Yellow fungus disease in bearded dragons is a very dangerous fungal infection that can even cause the death of your bearded dragon. It is difficult to spot YFD in the early stages and you need to understand the symptoms so that you can help your dragon in time.

The good news is that YFD is curable and also preventable. So, if your dragon is suffering from YFD, you can cure it by following the guidelines of the vet and you can prevent it from happening by taking care of your dragon.

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