Most owners get scared or stressed when their bearded dragon is turning black. The most common questions are ‘why is my bearded dragon turning black?’. Or ‘why is my bearded dragon’s beard black?’ and so on. There are many reasons why your bearded dragon might be turning dark. Thus, in this post, we will discuss different reasons why a bearded dragon is turning black. As well as how to act in these situations.
Why do bearded dragons turn black? By turning black, your bearded dragon just wants to make sure that it gets the body temperature up quickly. As a result, most of the time you can see that in the morning. The light turns on, your bearded dragon lies there. Ready in full pancake mode and completely black. Thus, by going full pancake they create a bigger area that absorbs more of the heat. Thereafter, your bearded dragon will slowly turn back to the normal color during the day.
The following information will be addressing reasons why bearded dragons turn black and likely solution:
- Your bearded dragon is cold and trying to warm up
- Your Bearded Dragon is Ready to Mate
- Your Bearded Dragon Feels Threatened
- Your bearded dragon might be stressed or sick
- How to help a stressed bearded dragon
- Bearded dragons having stress marks due to stress or age
- Your bearded dragon wants attention
- There’s rot on your bearded dragon’s tail
- Your bearded dragon has a black mouth and recommendations
Your Bearded Dragon is Cold and Trying to Warm Up
The fact is, your bearded dragon might turn black to increase heat absorption. This can happen if the tank is cold, and your bearded dragon needs more heat. Also, this happens after a night, because temperatures drop.
But this is not likely to happen in the terrarium if you have automated lighting and heat.
What are ideal temperatures in a bearded dragon’s tank?
- make sure that the temperature in the hot spot under the basking + UVB light is 92-105. Even up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (33-43 Celsius).
- the temperature in the cool spot should be around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (23.8-29.4 Celsius). During the night, temperature should not drop lower than 65 F (18.3 Celsius).
- make sure that the fixture or bulb that you have in the tank emits UVB light. Some fixtures (for example for plants or people) are not for reptiles. So they don’t emit any UVB. Also, make sure to replace UVB lights every 6 months. This is because UVB lights stop emitting any UVB with time. And you won’t be able to tell the difference.
- one of the best choices for a UVB light source is to get a Reptisun 10.00 (not less than 10.00) HO (high output) UVB fixture. Then, place the fixture 6-8 inches above your dragon (highest point). Not less and not more.
- Also, you will need to place a basking light near the UVB source. However, if you wish to combine UVB source and light source into a bulb. You can use a mercury vapor bulb that produces
- visible light and
Be careful and don’t use it in a tank that is smaller than 40 gallons. This is because the mercury vapor bulb gets very hot.
Your Bearded Dragon is Ready to Mate
Believe it or not, your bearded dragon’s beard can turn black during a breeding season. This often happens to male bearded dragons when they are ready to mate.
Male bearded dragons mature faster than females. Males can start showing breeding behaviors at 5-6 months. Thus, if your male is also being anxious, bobbing its head. These might be the signs of a sexually mature bearded dragon.
However, females might also turn black during a breeding season, but this is more unusual.
Meanwhile, breeding behaviors should start roughly a month after the end of brumation. Brumation is a winter shutdown. When bearded dragons become mostly inactive and eat little to nothing.
After the end of brumation, breeding behaviors should start with the beginning of spring. In this case, you can let your dragon roam the room so it can use this energy.
Your Bearded Dragon Feels Threatened
If your bearded dragon’s beard turns black, but it also puffs it. Then this is a sign of aggression. Your bearded dragon might be aggressive when it meets another bearded dragon and feels threatened. It can also be a sign that your bearded dragon doesn’t want to mate. And wants to be alone.
Also, your bearded dragon could see its own reflection in the glass of a tank. Thinking that it’s another bearded dragon! Therefore, if your bearded dragon sees its own reflection in the glass, it can also bob its head. Wave its arm and turn its beard black. Try to cover the glass and see what happens.
Your Bearded Dragon is Stressed or Sick
If there is something wrong with the setup, your bearded dragon might become stressed. This includes
- the wrong setup
- lack of lights
- lack of supplements and so on.
If your bearded dragon is turning black and is also lethargic, doesn’t eat much. There might be something wrong.
Your bearded dragon might also feel stressed if it is new to your home. It can blacken its beard to show attitude, so be patient. Your bearded dragon should become comfortable in its new home within 2 weeks.
How to Help a Stressed Bearded Dragon
If your bearded dragon feels stressed and turns black, the easiest way to help is to get some hides for your bearded dragon. Therefore, I recommend getting a hide.
You should also cover the sides of the bearded dragons’ tank. This way your bearded dragon does not see what is going on around the tank. And it will calm down and show normal colors quickly.
I recommend plants to cover the sides of your tank. The plants make your bearded dragon feel safe inside the tank. Because your bearded dragon can also use them as hides.
Also, you should make sure that your bearded dragon eats and drink well. And that its eyes are open and looking shiny and healthy.
Look for any threats that could freak your dragon out. If your dragon does not turn normal it could be one of the next reasons.
Your Bearded Dragon Has Stress Marks Due to Stress or Age
When your bearded dragon feels stressed (due to lack of heat, light, attention, bad diet, small tank, etc.) it can develop temporary stress marks. Stress marks are often scattered on the belly and beard. And can have a shape of
- circles or
Thus, if your bearded dragon is new to your home, it might be stressed. Stress marks can fade away after a few days to a week.
However, if your bearded dragon has stress marks all the time and they won’t go away, this might be normal, too.
This could be normal only in baby and juvenile bearded dragons, and these stress marks should start fading away with age. If your bearded dragon has always had these marks (if it’s a baby). These marks can start disappearing soon.
But only assume that your bearded dragon is fine if everything is set up correctly (tank size, lighting, substrate, etc.). Your bearded dragon should also be pooping, eating and basking regularly.
Don’t assume everything is fine unless you are sure everything is correct with the setup and diet.
Your Bearded Dragon Wants Attention
Some bearded dragons might turn their beard black to get attention. This might happen if your bearded dragon gets bored. And wants to come out to explore.
If your bearded dragon is eating, pooping and basking fine, this might be a reason. Try to spend more time with your dragon outside the tank.
Your Bearded Dragon Has a Tail Rot or Broken Tail
If your bearded dragon’s tail darkens, this can be a sign of tail rot. There are few reasons why your bearded dragon’s tail can become black. One of the reasons is when a retained skin accumulates around the tail tip and compresses the blood flow.
Another reason might be a
- mechanical injury
- cage mate attack or
- even hungry crickets attacking and biting on your dragon.
Any cut can also cause infection, leading to tail rot. With a tail rot, the tail will look dry. Sometimes, bearded dragon’s tail might also darken before shedding.
Your Bearded Dragon Having a Black Mouth and Recommendations
A discolored, or blackened mouth could be the symptoms of mouth rot. Mouth rot is a bacterial infection that affects the mouth and gums of bearded dragons. It is typically as a result of unsanitary conditions and low temperatures. Hence, a reptile veterinarian must be the one to treat your bearded dragon if you observe it on your bearded dragon.
Produce and keep a routine cleaning schedule. Clean
- the terrarium
- all decor items, an
- food/water dishes regularly.
Use a cleaning solution safe for reptiles such as Healthy Habitat.
Monitor the temperature and humidity levels within the terrarium by using a good thermometer/humidity gauge. If temperatures tend to be too cool use a basking bulb or heat lamp with a higher wattage. Also, add an under tank heater to warm the substrate, if necessary.