Bearded dragons are a popular pet choice for reptile enthusiasts due to their friendly nature and easy care requirements. One of the most striking features of these reptiles is their ability to change the color of their “beard” (the area under their jaw) from its normal light color to a dark black. This change in color, known as “beard blackening,” can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, aggression, and illness. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why bearded dragons’ beards turn black, and what you can do to help your pet if this happens. Whether you’re a new bearded dragon owner or have been caring for one for years, understanding the causes and consequences of beard blackening is important for keeping your pet healthy and happy.
What causes beard blackening in bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons’ beards turn black when they are stressed, aggressive, or ill. This condition is known as beard blackening and is a common occurrence in these reptiles. Read in detail the below 5 reasons that can cause this condition:
- Stress: When bearded dragons are stressed, they may change the color of their beard to black as a sign of submission. This is a natural defensive mechanism in the wild, as it allows the lizard to blend into the dark shadows of its habitat.
- Aggression: Another common cause of bearded dragons’ beards turning black is aggression. When a bearded dragon feels threatened or challenged by another dragon or other animal, it may display aggressive behavior, including blackening its beard as a sign of dominance or territoriality.
- Illness: In some cases, beard blackening in bearded dragons can be a symptom of an underlying health condition such as a respiratory infection, parasitic infestation, or metabolic disorder. It is important to consult with your veterinarian if you notice other symptoms or suspect your bearded dragon is unwell.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes in the body can also lead to black beards in bearded dragons. This is especially common in males during the breeding season, where black beard coloration is a sign of maturity and dominance.
- Lighting: Some people noticed that their bearded dragons change color based on the lighting they are exposed to, especially when it’s not providing the adequate UVB rays needed for their health.
What can you do to prevent beard blackening in your bearded dragon?
Here are some steps you can take to prevent beard blackening in your bearded dragon:
- Provide a proper environment: Be sure to provide your bearded dragon with a comfortable and healthy environment that includes the right temperature, humidity, and lighting. Proper lighting is crucial for bearded dragons, as they need access to UVB rays to metabolize calcium and maintain their overall health.
- Minimize stress: Try to minimize stress in your bearded dragon’s life by providing a quiet and peaceful environment, avoiding overcrowding, and minimizing handling and disturbance.
- Proper diet: Feed your bearded dragon a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein sources such as crickets and worms.
- Regular vet check-up: Regularly take your bearded dragon to the vet for check-ups and to identify and treat any health issues that may be causing the beard blackening.
- Avoid overcrowding: If you have multiple bearded dragons, avoid overcrowding them in the same enclosure. This will help to reduce territorial behavior and reduce the likelihood of aggressive and stressed behavior.
- Handle with care: Bearded dragons are delicate and can become stressed easily, so handle them with care and avoid picking them up too often.
- Provide proper lighting: Make sure your bearded dragon has access to UVB lighting for at least 10 hours a day. This will help to prevent metabolic bone disease and other health issues that can cause beard blackening.
- Do not disturb during shedding: Bearded dragons shed their skin and this process can be stressful, so it’s important to avoid handling them during this period.
By implementing these steps, you can help to reduce the likelihood of beard blackening in your bearded dragon and ensure that it stays healthy and happy.
What treatment options are available if your bearded dragon’s beard turns black?
If you notice that your bearded dragon’s beard has turned black, it is important to identify the underlying cause and take appropriate action. Here are some treatment options that may be considered:
- Identify the cause: The first step in treating a blackened beard in a bearded dragon is to determine the underlying cause. This may include assessing the animal’s living conditions, diet, and overall health.
- Reduce stress: If stress is a factor, it is important to create a calm and peaceful environment for your bearded dragon. This may include reducing handling, minimizing exposure to loud noises or bright lights, and providing a comfortable and appropriate habitat.
- Address any health issues: If an underlying health issue such as an infection or parasite infestation is causing the beard blackening, it will need to be treated by a veterinarian.
- Provide proper nutrition: A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining the health of your bearded dragon. Make sure it has access to a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein sources such as crickets and worms.
- Medications: In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help your bearded dragon cope with stress or treat any underlying health condition.
- Separate aggressive dragons: If your bearded dragon is displaying aggressive behavior and blackening its beard as a sign of dominance, it may be necessary to separate it from other dragons or animals.
- Observe: Observe your dragon’s behavior and take notes, this will help to notice any changes and act accordingly.
It is important to work with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your bearded dragon’s blackened beard. With proper care and treatment, most bearded dragons can recover from beard blackening and return to their normal coloration.
How does the age of a bearded dragon affect its likelihood of experiencing beard blackening?
The age of a bearded dragon can affect its likelihood of experiencing beard blackening.
- Juvenile bearded dragons: Juvenile bearded dragons are more likely to experience beard blackening as a sign of stress or submission. This is because they are still learning to navigate their environment and may not yet be fully acclimated to their new surroundings.
- Adult bearded dragons: Adult bearded dragons are less likely to experience beard blackening as a result of stress, as they are more accustomed to their environment and have a better understanding of their place in it. However, they may still experience beard blackening as a sign of aggression or dominance, or as a symptom of an underlying health condition.
- Elderly bearded dragons: Elderly bearded dragons are less likely to experience beard blackening due to stress or aggression, but they may be more prone to developing health issues that can cause beard blackening. Regular veterinary check-ups and addressing any health issues promptly will be important to keep them healthy.
It is important to note that every bearded dragon is unique, and individual factors such as genetics, diet, and environment can also affect the likelihood of experiencing beard blackening. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that beard blackening can be a symptom of an underlying health issue and should be evaluated by a veterinarian if it occurs.
Are there any long-term effects of beard blackening on a bearded dragon’s health?
Beard blackening in bearded dragons can have long-term effects on their health, depending on the underlying cause.
- If beard blackening is caused by stress, it can result in chronic stress which can lead to decreased appetite, weight loss, and even a weakened immune system which can make them more susceptible to illnesses.
- If beard blackening is caused by an underlying health condition, it can result in more serious health issues if left untreated. For example, if a respiratory infection is causing beard blackening, it can lead to lung damage and chronic respiratory issues if not treated promptly.
- If beard blackening is caused by a lack of proper lighting, it can lead to metabolic bone disease, which can cause soft bones and other health issues.
Can bearded dragons recover from beard blackening or is it permanent?
Bearded dragons can recover from beard blackening, depending on the underlying cause.
- If the beard blackening is caused by stress, it is reversible, and once the stress is removed, the beard should return to its normal color.
- If the beard blackening is caused by an underlying health condition, it is reversible, but it will require treatment of the underlying condition. Once the condition is treated, the beard should return to its normal color.
- If the beard blackening is caused by a lack of proper lighting, it is reversible, by providing adequate UVB lighting and a proper diet, and the beard should return to its normal color.
- In some cases, if the cause is not identified and treated promptly, it can lead to a permanent color change of the beard, and this can affect the animal’s overall appearance and well-being.
It is important to consult with a veterinarian if your bearded dragon’s beard turns black to determine the underlying cause and take appropriate action to prevent any long-term effects on its health. Regular check-ups, a proper diet, and a healthy environment can help to maintain the overall health of your bearded dragon and prevent any long-term effects of beard blackening.