Yellow Fungus

Bearded dragon yellow fungus is an extremely contagious infection, also known as CANV (Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii). This flesh-eating fungus works from the inside out and can infect any reptile species, but the most common are bearded dragons, leopard geckos, green iguanas, veiled chameleons, uromastyx, and Chinese water dragons.

There have been rare cases of yellow fungus infection in severely immunocompromised humans, such as AIDS patients. However, CANV is not recognized as zoonotic, and therefore does not affect healthy humans.

bearded dragon yellow fungus on head

Not all yellow fungus is easy to see. Inspect your beardie from head to toe once a month to catch it early.

Symptoms:

  • yellow, brown, or gray patches on scales which spread over time
  • discolored areas may have cracked/crusty/fuzzy texture (looks like popcorn butter)
  • frequent shedding, revealing rough scales underneath
  • weight loss
  • decreased appetite
  • sunken eyes
  • slow wound healing
  • sloughed lesions, exposing ulcerated wounds
  • blackened/dead body parts which eventually fall off

Cause:

  • poor hygiene
  • depressed immune response related to low temps, prescribed antibiotics, poor nutrition, or cohabitation
  • direct or indirect contact with an infected reptile

Treatment:

If you suspect that your bearded dragon may have yellow fungus, make an appointment with a certified reptile veterinarian immediately. They will perform a range of tests to rule out other, more treatable, causes for your dragon’s symptoms: a skin scrape test, blood work, a PCR test, and possibly a skin biopsy as well.

If yellow fungus infection is confirmed, aggressive treatment is required to extend the bearded dragon’s life. The most common course of action is prescription oral antifungal medication and daily soaking in a medicated solution such as chlorhexidine or Betadine. Applying a topical treatment such as providone-iodine, silvadene cream, or Monistat yeast infection treatment daily also slows the infection’s progress.

Some bearded dragon owners have also used immune system-boosting remedies such as probiotics, increased night temps, and increased UVB intensity. Food-grade bee pollen is also said to stimulate appetite and enhance the immune system.

There is no cure for bearded dragon yellow fungus. Most victims die naturally within 12-18 months of diagnosis, but if the animal’s health deteriorates to the point where they are suffering, the ethical course of action is euthanasia.