Bearded Dragon Atadenovirus (Adenovirus)

Like other reptiles, bearded dragons are susceptible to a range of illnesses. Some of these infections are more dangerous than others, and atadenovirus is one of the most dangerous.

What Is Atadenovirus?

Atadenovirus, formerly known as adenovirus and sometimes known as ADV (not to be confused with adenovirus in or skunks), is a highly infectious virus found in bearded dragons ( Pogona vitticeps ). Because of the symptoms shown by bearded dragons with ADV, it is sometimes referred to as "wasting illness" or "stargazing sickness."

Like all other viruses, this virus is microscopic, so you cannot see it with the naked eye. There are also a number of different strains of this virus that affect different kinds of animals.

Many different types of lizards can be infected with atadenovirus. This virus can infect agamid lizards (bearded dragons, water dragons, and Rankin's dragons), chameleons, gekkota lizards (fat-tailed geckos, leopard geckos, and tokay geckos), helodermatid lizards (Gila monsters and Mexican beaded lizards), monitors (savannah monitors and emerald monitors), and skink Snakes, chelonians (turtles and tortoises), and even a Nile crocodile have been reported to be infected with ADV.

Atadenovirus Symptoms in Bearded Dragons

For a reason, this sickness is known as the "wasting disease" or "stargazing disease." A juvenile bearded dragon with ADV is unlikely to live past three months of age and will struggle to grow during its brief existence. It will become sluggish, lose weight, and refuse to feed. Your exotics vet may just remark your beardie is "wasting away" or is a "poor doer" if the symptoms are "non-specific." This is mainly due to a weaker immune system in a bearded dragon with ADV. Intestinal parasites like as coccidia can have a detrimental impact on it, causing it to be unable to grow weight.

Neurological signs such as body twitching and convulsions can occur in bearded dragons with ADV. Because of the virus's effects on its neurological system, it may extend its neck and gaze up into the sky (stargazing). Adult bearded dragons infected with atadenovirus often develop liver and kidney problems, as well as encephalitis, diarrhea, stomatitis, and other illnesses. Unfortunately, the majority of these discoveries are only made after the bearded dragon has died and a necropsy has been undertaken. Surprisingly, some bearded dragons never show any symptoms and carry the virus for the rest of their lives.

How Bearded Dragons Get Atadenovirus

If a bearded dragon is exposed to the excrement of a carrier dragon, is touched by someone who handled an infected beardie, with an infected dragon, or consumes leftover food from an infected dragon, it can get infected rapidly. Because the virus is very infectious and carrier bearded dragons may never display symptoms, it's easy to believe a bearded dragon is healthy until it's exposed to another seemingly healthy bearded dragon, at which point one of the beardies begins to exhibit neurological and visual signs.

How Is Atadenovirus Diagnosed? 

Your will prescribe a fecal swab for PCR testing, which checks for viral DNA, to determine if your beardie has atadenovirus. Many owners are concerned about the price of disease testing for their exotic pets, yet tests are required to confirm ADV in their bearded dragon. Alternatively, if a bearded dragon in your collection dies, you should have the corpse examined and tested for ADV as a probable cause of death.

How Is Atadenovirus Treated?

Sadly, there is no treatment for atadenovirus. The only way to help a dragon with ADV is to cure its symptoms. To prevent future infection of other bearded dragons and to limit food rivalry with other beardies, it should be housed alone. UVB illumination and heat will be required in the future. Antibiotics may be recommended if it develops a secondary infection as a result of a reduced immune system. Warm water soaks may be advised if the beardie is dehydrated, and syringe feeding may be required if it is not eating properly. Its quality of life must be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that euthanasia is not a preferable choice to palliative care.


"Adenovirus. Veterinary Information Network.", "Coccidia Parasites Infect Reptiles. Veterinary Information Network." ;