Have you ever noticed that on a lot of occasions a Bearded Dragons beard will turn black and sometimes their whole body too? It can sometimes be hard to understand exactly why they do this.
In this post, we will take a close look at the reasons why a bearded dragons beard can turn black and exactly what this behaviour can mean in each of the individual situations.
So why does a Bearded Dragons beard turn black? When a Bearded Dragon turns it’s beard black it is usually to regulate body temperature. Another common reason why Bearded Dragons turn their beard black is to display aggressive behaviour because they feel threatened or intimidated.
Now let’s take a look at all the situations where your Bearded Dragon might want to turn it’s beard black and find out which situations might be unhealthy.
The 8 Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Turn Their Beards Black
Bearded Dragons can turn their beards black for a number of reasons and sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint why they are displaying this behaviour and if it’s unhealthy or not.
Let’s take a look at the 8 common reasons why Bearded Dragon can turn their beards black.
1. Turning Their Beard Black to Regulate Body Temperature
The most common reason why a Bearded Dragons turn it’s beard black is to try and regulate its body temperature.
This is not restricted to their beard though, they can actually make their whole body turn black in order to absorb more light/heat if needed.
Bearded dragons generally start the day dark/black when they are colder and gradually get lighter as the day goes on and they get warm. Source:
This is backed up by Science Daily who say that Bearded Dragons often turn the colour of their whole backs black during the mating season in order to allow them to absorb more heat so they can spend less time basking and more time mating and they also go on to say that Bearded Dragons are thought to save approximately 85 hours of basking time with this method during the mating season.
Bearded Dragons need to regulate body temperature from external sources such as the sun.
Obviously, in captivity, the external heat/light source becomes their basking bulb. In the morning, the temperature in the tank is much lower because the lights have been off through the night so your Dragon will often make its beard or whole body turn black to absorb as much heat and light as possible and get back up to the required temperature in the shortest amount of time.
If you notice your Bearded Dragon becomes a blackish colour on a morning and gradually turns back to their normal colour after a couple of hours of baksing then this will usually be the reason.
This is fine and quite common but you just need to make sure that the temperatures in the tank are correct.
Is Your Tank Temperature Correct?
It’s very important that you make sure the temperature for your Bearded Dragon is correct at both day and night so they are getting the right amount of heat and light so they can digest their food and grow properly.
Below is a guide to the correct temperature for your Bearded Dragon:
The basking temperatures provided can be backed up by beardeddragon101 who also state the same temperatures for baby, juvenile and adult Bearded Dragons.
Bearded Dragon Tank Temperature Guide
|Bearded Dragon Temperature Guide|
|Basking Area 95°-100°F|
|Cool Spot 75°-80°F|
If you need to learn more about the temperatures your Bearded Dragon needs in the tank and why it’s important then you should check out this post here! Where I cover everything you need to know as an owner.
2. Is Your Bearded Dragon Turning It’s Beards Black Through Dominance?
As mentioned at the top of this post, one of the main reasons for a Bearded Dragon turning it’s beard black is through an act of dominance.
This is especially common if two of more Bearded Dragons are housed in the same tank.
They are usually solitary reptiles and having two or more Dragons in the same tank can cause one of the Dragons to display dominant behaviour over the other one.
When a Bearded Dragon changes the colour of it’s beard to black as a sign of dominance there are usually other behaviours that accompany this.
These behaviours can include fast bobbing of the head, laying on top of the other dragon and puffing up its beard.
This situation is actually one that you want to avoid as the less dominant Bearded Dragon can end up getting very stressed out in this situation.
They can lose their appetite and not get the daily basking time they require as the other Dragon won’t let them bask. These two things alone can be very harmful to the health of your Bearded Dragon so it’s a good idea to diffuse the situation as soon as possible.
Check out this post If you want to understand more about housing 2 Bearded Dragon in the same tank and why it’s not a good idea.
Knowing how to care for your Bearded Dragon can be tricky along with understanding all their behaviours. I’ve seen some good guides as well as some books and manuals that leave more questions than answers.
After researching many of the top resources out there I have decided to write a post that shares the only guide I actually recommend as it covers all aspects of care plus topics such as how to get cheap food and equipment. You can see why I recommend this guide in this post here.
How Can You Stop This Happening?
There are only two real solutions to this situation. The first one is to get a second tank and split the Dragons up into separate tanks.
To be honest this is what I would recommend right from the start. Whenever you have more than Bearded Dragon in the same tank you are always risking problems at some point.
You might also need to keep them in separate rooms in the house because if they can still each other the dominance behaviour can still continue and it can cause stress for both Dragons.
The second option is to give one of the Bearded Dragons away to a good home.
I know this could seem a little heartless but if you can’t split them up into separate tanks then you really have no other option.
You can’t keep them in the same tank as it’s not healthy for either Bearded Dragon and over the long term the stress it will cause will have a negative effect especially on the less dominant one.
3. Is The Beard Turning Black Due to Other pets?
If you have other pets in your household such as a dog or a cat then it’s very common for your Bearded Dragon to feel intimidated by them.
Displaying their black beard is a way for them to say ‘i’m feeling threatened’. Source:
This can often also an attempt to appear tougher and meaner to any pets you may have in your house.
If this is something that only happens on the odd occasion then you don’t really need to take any action.
Pets such as dogs can get giddy, if they do this close to your Bearded Dragons tank then it could cause them to be startled and frightened and turning their beard black is often just a defence behaviour.
I’ve written a post here that shares how you can help your Bearded Dragon and dog get along together.
Once the situation has calmed down then so will your Dragon and everything will usually go back to normal.
If your Bearded Dragon is getting intimidated every time your pet comes in the room over a long period of time then you should think about taking some action such as moving your Dragon to a different room in the house that is less accessible for the other pet as the constant stress levels for your Dragon will not be healthy over time.
4. Having a Tank Near The Window
Having the tank facing a window can actually be a great opportunity for your Bearded Dragon to get some stimulation from the outside world.
They will see the clouds go by, the colour of the sky change as well as the trees blowing in the wind.
Of course, this will totally depend on where you live and the scenery you are surrounded by.
If your Bearded Dragon is showing no sign of stress then this is a very good option, however, if your Dragon is constantly turning it’s beard black then there’s a good chance that something from the outside is making him/her feel intimidated.
This could be the birds in the trees, a cat outside, children playing outside or many other things.
Again, this will totally depend on where you live and what you have going on around you.
If you suspect your Dragon is turning it’s beard black as a result of what it’s seeing on the outside of the window than simply move the tank away from the window for a few days and see if the behaviour stops.
This is the only way that you will know if something on the outside is causing the stress to your Bearded Dragon.
Always remember that if your Dragon is turning it’s beard black on rare occasions then it’s not really going to be a problem but if it’s happening constantly then you will want to think about taking action.
5. New Surroundings
If you notice your Bearded Dragons beard turning black for appears to be no apparent reason then it could be to do with recent changes to their surroundings.
Have you changed anything in their tank? moved them to another corner of the room? or added new furniture to the house?
Small changes like these can make your Dragon feel uncomfortable for a while and make them feel like they need to display behaviours that make them feel safer such as turning their beards black.
They might also bob their head as this is an aggressive act that is often seen when a Bearded Dragon is in an uncomfortable situation.
The good news here is that usually this will calm down pretty quickly and you will see things go back to normal in a short period of time.
If this isn’t the case then you will want to reconsider any change that you have recently made as it is clearly causing too much stress for your Dragon.
6. Is It Simply Mating Season?
When it’s the mating season a male Bearded Dragon will often turn it’s beard black as an act of dominance over females. Source:
Even if you only have one Bearded Dragon and there are no females present this behaviour is still common as the hormones increase.
Females are also known to turn their beard black to attract males although it’s not as common.
It can be hard to recognise when a Bearded Dragon is intimidated or in the mating season and simply trying to find and show off to other Dragons.
They can also get quite aggressive in these periods and not like to handled as much.
There isn’t really anything you can do to stop your Bearded Dragon from turning it’s beard black if the mating season to be honest as this is just a natural behaviour.
7. Bearded Dragons Turn Their Beards Black to Protect Their Territory
Bearded Dragons can get territorial and can sometimes turn their beards black to keep you their owner and anybody else away from their tank.
They like to be alone most of the time and it’s not unheard of for them to protect their habitat when a pet or even you the owner comes near.
This kind of behaviour is usually also accompanied by fast head bobbing also sometimes hissing.
Territorial behaviour like this is usually be seen around mating seasons and will often not last very long.
You should act with caution if your Dragon becomes very aggressive towards you and give them an opportunity to calm down.
Can Bearded Dragons bite? I’ve written a post on biting here that details everything you need to know as an owner.
Can Creating a Natural Habitat Stop Them Being Territorial?
A lot of the time your Bearded Dragon can become aggressive and display behaviours such as turning it’s beard black because it feels unsafe in its tank.
It’s very important that you try and create a habitat for your Dragon that is close to its natural environment.
It’s a good idea to have lots of rocks and plants with a branch for them to climb but I think the most important things to add to the tank are hides.
Hides will allow your Bearded Dragon to escape from what it perceives as a danger instead of having to face it front on all of the time.
Take a look at this post if you’re unsure about what hide you should get for your Dragon as well what other tank decor will make them feel at home as it details everything you need to know as an owner.
These simple hides can save your Dragon a lot of stress and help them feel safe and comfortable in their tank.
You should notice negative behaviours being reduced if you have a tank that is well equipped for your Dragon.
They should also feel much happier, playful and energetic with a good tank habitat.
8. Why Do Baby Bearded Dragons Turn Their Beards Black?
A baby Bearded Dragon can turn its beard black due to all the reasons we have already talked about in this article, although I think the most common reasons are certain changes in the environment.
When you first bring a baby Bearded Dragon home it can take them a while to adapt and you can certainly see your Dragon being nervous in the first couple of weeks until they get used to their surroundings, new home, new tank and maybe even new pets.
This will often make them feel the need to turn their beard black if they are feeling intimidated by all the new things that are going on around them.
If this is the case you will probably see other behaviours too, like the ones we already mentioned such as arm waving and slow head bobbing.
The main thing is to make them feel as comfortable as possible and help them settle in as soon as possible.
This should pass pretty quickly, if it persists then you will need to try and pinpoint another reason that could be causing your Dragon to be feeling uneasy and take action if you feel it’s necessary.
Is It Unhealthy For Your Bearded Dragon to Turn It’s Beard Black?
Bearded Dragons will turn their beard black when they feel they need to and can do so for many reasons.
Most of the time this is completely harmless and just part of their natural behaviour.
There are two main reasons that this behaviour could be harmful to your Dragon, the first is is through the incorrect temperature in their tank and long term stress.
If the temperature in their tank is incorrect and they are having to constantly turn black to try and get some heat and light then this situation isn’t good.
Make sure that you provide them with the correct temperatures and if they still turn black to regulate heat from time to time then this is perfectly normal.
The second reason is stress levels, If your Bearded Dragon is turning black due to intimidation or acts of aggression every once in a while then that’s nothing to worry about but if this is happening every day then you need to take action to stop their stress levels being raised for long periods of time.
Apart from these types of reasons, it’s not really unhealthy for a Bearded Dragon to be turning it’s beard black once in a while as it’s a natural part of their behaviour.
I hope you got a lot of value from this post. You should now have a good understanding of why your Bearded Dragon is turning it’s beard black and in what situations this could be unhealthy.
You just need to look at each situation differently and as a general rule of thumb if only happens once in a while or settles down pretty quickly then it should be fine but if it happens for a long period of time and constantly then you may want to consider taking some action.
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