Why Do Bearded Dragons Turn Black? Is It Normal?

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Bearded dragons are quite interesting creatures. They have unique personalities that altogether create a unique experience for every beardie owner and their pet. One of the regular behaviors of beardies, among many others, is the darkening of various parts of their body, especially their beards. Bearded dragons can change color and appearance depending on various reasons which we’d be thoroughly reviewing in this article.

Bearded dragons turn black mostly due to a reaction to stress. When your pet feels confused, threatened, or irritated, it will blacken its beard in response to the situation or the threat. Various scenarios lead to this behavior happening including the excuse of habit.

As a bearded dragon owner, you must be curious about everything that concerns your pet. It allows you to care for it properly and ensure a good relationship between you and your dragon. Let’s dive into it!

How Do Bearded Dragons Darken Various Body Parts?

Bearded dragons turn darker by cutting off the blood flow around the areas that get blackened. This is of course an involuntary action that is triggered by hormones during an aggravating or disturbing situation. When blood flow is cut off from the beard or body, the area gets more pigmented thus turning dark. There are various reasons for this to take place; some situations are direct responses to what the bearded dragon perceives, while others may be a rather gradual reaction to an indirect or internal process.

reasons why bearded dragons turn black

7 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Turning Black

Many things can cause your bearded dragon to wear a darker appearance than you’re used to. When this happens, it’s most likely one of these 7 reasons listed below:

1. Your Beardie Is Annoyed

When a bearded dragon is pissed off, it will display signs of displeasure by puffing the beard and darkening it. This is a staple sign language used amongst bearded dragons telling the aggressor to back off, so your beardie tries to communicate its displeasure to you the same way. Perhaps you are holding it in a way that it doesn’t fancy or it doesn’t want to be disturbed, take heed and leave it alone when your pet displays this. Other behaviors accompanied by the darkening of the beard in this specific situation are hissing and head bobbing.

2. Your Beardie Is Stressed

When beardies are in situations that don’t seem familiar, whether good or bad, they get stressed by it. This is because dragons rely on familiarity to feel safe. If you have changed your pet’s environment or your dragon is experiencing new sights and sounds, it could easily feel stressed by this which in turn blackens its appearance. Here are some things that can stress your bearded dragon:

  • It’s reflection
  • Loud sounds
  • Another bearded dragon
  • A predator-looking image like posters or wallpapers
  • Too much vibration or movement around the enclosure
  • Crowded spaces
  • Lack of a good hiding spot or shaded area in the enclosure
  • Too much handling

3. Your Beardie Is Trapping More Heat

To regulate temperature, bearded dragons may turn a couple of shades darker. This is to increase heat reception depending on the temperature of their environment. When you notice this, ensure that the temperature in your pet’s enclosure is correct. Perhaps the heat lamp is not as effective as it used to be. Ensure that you’re keeping tabs on all the equipment, including seasonal changes so that your pet remains as warm as it needs to be.

4. Your Beardie Is Asserting Dominance

Bearded dragons are solitary animals that are not too happy about having neighbors. Where there are two dragons, there would always be a contest for dominance. The dominant dragon will blacken its beard, stomp, and bob its head while the submissive dragon waves its arm and cowers away. This is particularly the scenario when bearded dragons mate.

5. Your Beardie Is Shedding

Shedding requires the entire outgrown skin of the bearded dragon to be peeled off revealing a new one underneath, and one of the processes through which this is attained is by restricting blood flow to the old skin causing it to darken. Coupled with this, shedding isn’t an enjoyable experience for your pet at all. It can lead it to get stressed which will further cause a darker appearance for your beardie.

6. Your Beardie May Be Sick

When beardies fall ill, they will look darker and paler than usual. This is because the ordeal is generally stressful for them and in response to anxiety, they will present with darker beards, bellies, and limbs. If you notice this happening more frequently than usual, despite the environment being normal, present this problem to your veterinary doctor immediately. Your dragon could be suffering from internal injuries, parasites, or other diseases.

7. Your Beardie Is Impacted

Impaction can happen to bearded dragons at any point in time. It’s a situation where the intestinal tract of the dragon gets blocked by undigested food causing constipation to occur. This is highly uncomfortable and somewhat painful for beardies so much so that it may represent itself as a darker coloration around the belly and beard. If you notice that your pet hasn’t pooped in a while, it may have gotten a blacker appearance from the impaction it’s suffering from.

What To Do When Your Bearded Dragon Is Turning Darker

Now that you know the possible reasons why your pet beardie is suddenly looking darker than usual, here are immediate responses you should take to rectify the situation:

Check The Temperature

Since your pet may be reacting to a change in temperature, ensure that the correct measurement is set at all times. In your beardie’s tank, the temperature should not exceed 104° to 107° Fahrenheit in hot areas and 71° to 73° Fahrenheit in shaded areas. There must be a stick-on thermometer (view on Amazon) to measure the temperature of the enclosure and a hand thermometer (view on Amazon) to get accurate data on the temperature of the basking site.

If you notice a drop due to seasonal changes, make sure you adjust the temperature by either including a ceramic heating lamp (view on Amazon) or replacing the basking bulb with a much more efficient one.

Move The Location Of Your Dragon

If your pet resides close to the window area where a lot of motion is being noticed, it could cause it to feel stressed. Perhaps you should move your dragon’s enclosure to a quieter and much more stable environment where it can relax better.

Never Put Two Adult Beardies In One Space

Putting two dragons in the same space when you’re not trying to breed them is a horrible idea. They would hassle and fight over everything causing injuries and a shortage of resources for the weaker dragon. This would specifically cause both the dragons to appear darker out of shear stress.

Eliminate Your Beardie’s Reflection

If you notice your dragon darkening its beard at the glass of its enclosure, it probably thinks its reflection is a threat and it’s uncomfortable by it. Covering three sides of the tank will help reduce or ward off the reflection that seems to be such a bother to your dragon.

Check For Injuries

Your bearded dragon may likely be uncomfortable due to an injury it may have acquired. Take note of its demeanor and movement; if it’s walking funny or refusing to relax in a particular spot, your pet may be in pain. Endeavor to report this to your vet immediately!

Can Female Bearded Dragons Darken Their Beard?

Darkening of the beard or other parts of the body is possible for both sexes of bearded dragons. It has nothing to do with the sex, and everything to do with the biology of the bearded dragon itself. Male bearded dragons may darken their beards more than female beardies as they assert dominance most of the time, but if your female beardie is pissed off or frightened, she will as well darken her beard in response.

Can Bearded Dragons Camouflage?

Bearded dragons are not known to actively camouflage for any reason at all. However, the Eastern Australian bearded dragon cleverly rests on logs that may resemble its body color to blend in. This species is distinctly darker in color – almost bearing all-black scales – and has a more streamlined body in comparison to the Central bearded dragons.

How Long Will My Beardie’s Beard Stay Dark?

Your bearded dragon’s dark areas will return to their normal color once the problem is resolved. It would depend on the problem to determine the particular duration. For example, if your pet is v has annoyed, simply leaving it alone or removing the visible threat can reverse the dark beard in 10 minutes. However, if it’s due to an illness, it may persist until the dragon feels better which could be anything from days to weeks.

Photo of author


EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Reptiles, renowned for his dedication to bearded dragons. As a passionate reptile enthusiast, Medi has developed a solid background in caring for these lovely creatures. He gained extensive knowledge about their diet, behavior, and how to create environments that mimic their natural habitat