Obesity in Exotic Pets: Part 1

Just like cats and dogs, all exotic pets can become overweight. Extra weight can contribute to a number of health problems and decreased life expectancy.

Below are some exotic pets that commonly struggle with weight:

Bearded Dragon

When overweight:

  • Prone to hepatic lipidosis (a type of liver disease).
  • Prone to joint issues.

How they become overweight:

  • Improper adult diet of predominantly insects.
  • Feeding too much/too often.
  • Small cage preventing adequate exercise.

How to prevent obesity:

  • Feed an age-appropriate diet –adults require 80-90% vegetables and 10-20% insects.
  • Feed an appropriate amount/frequency –adults should be fed every other day.
  • Provide a large enough cage.
  • Supervised out-of-cage exercise.
  • Consult with your veterinarian. 


When overweight:

  • Prone to atherosclerosis (cholesterol deposits in blood vessels) arthritis, liver disease, diabetes.

How they become overweight:

  • Not enough exercise (small cage, limited out-of-cage time)
  • High-fat diet such as seeds.

How to prevent obesity:

  • Feed a predominantly pelleted diet with some fresh produce.
  • Supervised out-of-cage exercise.
  • Consult your veterinarian.


When overweight:

  • Prone to health problems, including hepatic lipidosis (a type of liver disease).
  • Prone to ulceration of the feet due to excess weight.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) upset and/or stasis.

How they become overweight:

  • Improper diet – too many pellets, not enough hay.
  • Improper exercise – not enough room to move around.

How to prevent obesity:

  • No more than ¼ cup of pellets per 4-5 pounds of rabbit per day.
  • Unlimited hay.
  • Some vegetables (predominantly greens).
  • Supervised out-of-cage exercise.
  • Consult with your veterinarian.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 506.857.4271. 

Written by: Dr. Nicole Mann, DVM

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