bearded dragon on a rock

Why Does My Bearded dragon Turn Black? [Common Causes]

Bearded dragons are fascinating reptiles, and one of their most unique characteristics is their ability to change color. There are several reasons why a bearded dragon might turn black. From thermoregulation to communication, the reasons for a bearded dragon’s color change may vary. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the common causes of blackening in bearded dragons, as well as what owners should do if their pet turns black.

Reasons For Blackening

Temperature Change

Temperature change is the most common reason for a beardie to turn black. Since these reptiles are cold-blooded animals, they thrive on high heat, and darker shades help absorb more of the sun’s rays and maintain their body temperature.

When your dragon first comes out of brumation, his beard may blacken as he adjusts to the change in appetite, lighting, and temperature. This natural color change is completely normal, and you should expect your beardie’s color to return to normal in a few days or weeks.

Stress, Aggression, or Fear

Contrary to popular belief, a bearded dragon turning black is not always an indicator of aggression. In fact, it’s more likely that the dragon is showing signs of stress or fear.

This can be due to changes in environment, such as moving house or changing the type of enclosure, or even when a new pet is introduced.

Bearded dragons also turn black when they are feeling threatened, either by a predator or another dragon in the vicinity. In times of stress, the beard turns black to let other dragons know that they are being taken seriously and should be left alone.

With that said, it is also possible for dragons to turn black when they are feeling aggressive, but it’s not the main reason.

Mating

Mating is another reason why your bearded dragon may turn black. During the mating season, bearded dragons display a darkening of the skin that is due to increased blood flow and hormone levels. This color change is more pronounced in males, and it can be accompanied by an increase in activity and aggression.

In order to ensure that your bearded dragon is mating properly, you should provide them with a comfortable and secure environment. Make sure they have access to plenty of food and water during this time.

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Illness or Disease

Apart from the natural reasons why a bearded dragon might turn black, there are also health issues that can cause a change in color.

Common illnesses associated with this color change include respiratory illnesses and infections. If your bearded dragon is displaying signs of illness, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible to get them checked out. With appropriate treatment, these illnesses can be treated and your pet can return to its normal color.

Dominance behavior

If you have multiple bearded dragons, then one might blacken its beard to show dominance. This is quite common among male bearded dragons, who may blacken their beards to appear more intimidating.

The scales on the neck and chin can turn a deep black when trying to show dominance, and this is usually accompanied by a puffed-up beard.

It is important to ensure that all the dragons in your enclosure are given enough space and resources and that they all feel secure. If they are overcrowded or otherwise uncomfortable, then they may resort to dominance behavior as a way of asserting themselves, which could lead to blackening of the beard.

Hormonal Changes

When a dragon experiences a change in hormones, its chromatophores become more active and the pigmentation of its skin darkens. This is often caused by brumation, when dragons hibernate during colder months and experience changes in their metabolism and hormones.

Also, when dragons are nearing sexual maturity, they can also experience hormonal changes which can lead to a black beard. If your beardy is turning black due to hormonal changes, you may also notice other changes such as increased aggression or territorial behavior.

Mimicry/Camouflage

Bearded dragons have the ability to change their pigmentation in order to blend in with their environment, making them less visible to predators and allowing them to hide from potential threats. They don’t do this as well as other reptiles, such as chameleons, but they can still do it to a lesser extent.

What to Do When Your Bearded Dragon Turns Black

When your bearded dragon turns black, it is important for you to understand the reasons for color change. It may be a sign of stress, aggression, or fear, or it may be a sign of thermoregulation. In any case, you’ll want to provide an appropriate environment and check for external parasites. You should also look out for bacterial or fungal infections, as these could be the cause of the color change.

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Once you have determined the cause, you can take steps to return your bearded dragon to its normal color. As a general rule of thumb, it usually takes around two weeks to a month for your bearded dragon to return to its normal color. In order to give your lizard the best chance of returning to its normal color, make sure to provide a warm and comfortable environment where it can regulate its body temperature.

Understand the Reasons for Color Change

It’s important to understand the reasons why your bearded dragon turns black to know how to best help them. We went over all the reasons above, but as a quick recap:

Temperature changes are the most common cause of a beardie turning black. Since these reptiles thrive on high heat, darker shades help absorb more warmth.

Bearded dragons can also turn black to convey their emotions such as stress, aggression, or fear, show dominance, or thermoregulate. In the mating season and brumation, it is not unusual to observe a black beard in your pet.

It may also mean your pet is territorial, feels threatened, stressed, or is trying to mimic its environment for camouflage purposes. If your lizard remains black for a long time, then it might be indicative of an illness or disease.

Provide an Appropriate Environment

Providing a suitable environment for your bearded dragon is the key to helping it return to its normal color. It is essential to maintain the right temperature, humidity, and UV levels in their enclosure.

A thermometer should be placed on the warm side of the enclosure where temperatures should be between 95°F to 105°F during the day and 75°F to 85°F at night. Also, a temperature gradient should be provided so that your pet can move between areas of different temperatures.

A basking lamp or a heat emitter should also be used to provide basking spots in the enclosure. Provide a proper UVB light as dragons need UVB rays for metabolizing calcium and other vitamins that help them stay healthy and active.

Finally, make sure the humidity in the enclosure stays between 30-40%. Too much humidity can cause respiratory infections whereas too low humidity can cause skin shedding issues.

Check for External Parasites

Parasites include mites, ticks, and lice, all of which can cause irritation and itching, leading to blackening of the skin. If you suspect your lizard is infested with parasites, take them to the vet for a thorough examination and treatment.

Look Out for Bacterial or Fungal Infections

Common bacterial infections in bearded dragons can include pneumonia and tail rot. Fungal infections can also cause black spots on the tail or toes. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately to stop the infection from spreading.

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How Long Does it Take To Return to Normal Color?

Once you’ve identified the cause of your bearded dragon’s black coloration and taken the necessary steps to address it, you may be wondering how long it will take for your pet to return to its natural color.

Generally, the length of time it takes for your bearded dragon to go back to its normal color depends on the underlying cause. If the change in coloration is due to environmental stressors, such as temperature or humidity levels, your bearded dragon should return to its normal color within a few days.

If the cause is related to a hormonal change or illness, it may take up to several weeks for your pet’s color to return. In some cases, particularly when the blackening is caused by fear or stress, it may take months for the behavioral problem causing the blackening to be resolved and for your dragon’s normal coloration to return.

Key Points

Bearded dragons can change the color of their body as a response to external factors. Understanding why your bearded dragon has turned black can help you provide better care for them. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Temperature change can cause a bearded dragon to turn black or darken in color.
  • Stress, aggression or fear can cause them to turn black as well.
  • In males, a black beard can indicate dominance in their territory.
  • Hormonal changes and mimicry/camouflage can also cause the bearded dragon to turn black.
  • If your bearded dragon turns black, make sure you provide an appropriate environment, check for external parasites and look out for bacterial or fungal infections.
  • It can take up to several weeks for a bearded dragon to return to their normal color.