Why Bearded Dragon Beards Turn Black

Why Bearded Dragon Beards Turn Black?

The most common reason that bearded dragons’ beards turn black is when they feel threatened or scared. Their skin may also turn black and stay black due to insufficient UVB exposure. A recent study suggests that males turn black during the breeding season in order to improve their thermoregulation

Do Bearded Dragons Normally Change Color?

Bearded Dragon on the cemetery fence
Credit: Ian Sutton

Undeniably, chromatic metamorphosis in bearded dragons is a natural phenomenon. These reptiles possess a unique biological mechanism, thanks to chromatophore cells, which allow them to modify pigmentation and light reflection depending on emotions, disposition, or ambient thermal conditions.

Gradual color shifts may occur as the scaly creature matures, with its integument expanding and stretching.

In contrast, abrupt transformations might transpire when a stimulus triggers exhilaration or trepidation in the bearded dragon.

Furthermore, these lizards can swiftly alter the hue of their dorsal region to adapt to environmental temperature variations.

By lightening this area, they minimize heat absorption when overheated, while darkening it maximizes heat retention during frigid outbreaks.

Although external factors may influence a bearded dragon’s appearance, genetic selection in certain lineages may also yield distinct colorations and designs, such as the rare ebony shades observed in albino black and blue flame black-bearded dragons.

It is crucial for caretakers of these pets to remain vigilant and inquisitive about any chromatic transitions. Scrutinizing these nuances can provide valuable insights into the well-being and habitat suitability of their scaled companions.

When to Be Concerned

While some color changes are normal, others may indicate underlying issues that require attention. It is crucial to monitor your bearded dragon closely and consult a veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes.

Reasons a Bearded Dragon’s Beard Might Turn Black

Bearded Dragons
Credit: David Torres Jr

Bearded dragons are ectothermic, meaning they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. A bearded dragon may darken its beard to absorb more heat, allowing it to maintain an optimal body temperature. This is a normal process and usually no cause for concern.

Stress can cause a bearded dragon’s beard to turn black. Common stressors include a new environment, handling, or the presence of other animals. Identifying and addressing the source of stress can help alleviate this issue.

A Desire to Mate
During the mating season, a male bearded dragon may darken its beard to signal its interest in a female. This is a natural part of their reproductive behavior and should not be cause for concern.

Emergence from Brumation
Brumation is a hibernation-like state that bearded dragons may enter during colder months. Upon emerging from brumation, a bearded dragon may darken its beard temporarily. This is a normal response to the changing environment and should not be cause for concern.

Establishing Dominance and Acting Territorial
Bearded dragons may display a black beard to assert dominance or protect their territory. This is particularly common in males, who may darken their beards to intimidate rivals or discourage intruders.

A black beard may be a sign of illness in a bearded dragon. It is essential to consult a veterinarian if you suspect your pet is unwell or if the black color persists without an apparent cause.

Inappropriate Lighting
Inadequate lighting in a bearded dragon’s enclosure can lead to stress, which may cause a black beard. Ensuring your pet has access to proper lighting, including UVB light, is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

Where Your Bearded Dragon is Turning Black and What It Means?

Understanding the specific areas where your bearded dragon’s color is changing can provide valuable insights into the cause of the change.

  • Bearded Dragon Beard Black or Bearded Dragon Dark Skin
    If the beard and body darken, this may be due to thermoregulation, stress, or a desire to mate. Monitoring your pet’s behavior and environment can help you determine the underlying cause.
  • Bearded Dragon Black Tail
    A black tail can indicate stress or illness. Consult a veterinarian if the black color persists or if your pet exhibits other signs of illness.
  • Black Spots on a Bearded Dragon
    Black spots may be a sign of injury or infection. If you notice black spots on your bearded dragon, consult a veterinarian for further evaluation.

Caring for Your Bearded Dragon to Prevent Black Beards

By providing a proper environment and care, you can minimize the chances of your bearded dragon developing a black beard due to stress or illness. Here are some essential tips to keep your pet healthy and content:

  1. Proper Enclosure Setup
    Ensure that your bearded dragon’s enclosure is spacious, clean, and provides ample hiding spots. This will help reduce stress and allow your pet to feel secure in its environment.
  2. Temperature and Lighting
    Maintain the appropriate temperature gradient within the enclosure and provide access to UVB light. This is essential for your bearded dragon’s health and well-being, as it aids in proper digestion and calcium absorption.
  3. Diet and Nutrition
    Offer a balanced diet, including a mix of insects, vegetables, and occasional fruits. Providing the right nutrients will support your bearded dragon’s overall health and help prevent illness.
  4. Regular Health Checkups
    Schedule routine veterinary checkups to monitor your bearded dragon’s health and address any potential concerns early on.
  5. Handling and Socialization
    Handle your bearded dragon gently and with care, gradually increasing the frequency and duration of handling sessions to build trust and reduce stress.

When to Call a Vet About Your Dragon’s Black Beard

Although a black beard can be a normal response in bearded dragons, there are instances when it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian. Here are some key indicators that it’s time to seek professional advice:

  1. Persistent Black BeardIf your bearded dragon’s beard remains black for an extended period without any apparent reason, it’s essential to consult a vet. This could be a sign of chronic stress or an underlying health issue.
  2. Other Signs of IllnessIn addition to a black beard, if your bearded dragon exhibits other signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, or irregular bowel movements, you should consult a veterinarian promptly.
  3. Injury or InfectionIf your bearded dragon has black spots, wounds, or swollen areas on their body in conjunction with a black beard, it could indicate injury or infection. Contact your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Behavioral ChangesIf your bearded dragon’s black beard is accompanied by significant changes in behavior, such as increased aggression, hiding, or unresponsiveness, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. These behavioral changes could be a sign of stress, illness, or another issue.
  5. Unsuccessful Remediation AttemptsIf you’ve tried addressing possible causes for your bearded dragon’s black beard, such as improving their environment, offering a balanced diet, and reducing stress, yet the black beard persists, it’s time to consult a vet for further evaluation.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your bearded dragon’s health. If you’re ever in doubt about your pet’s well-being, don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian experienced in reptile care.