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Why Is My Bearded Dragon Turning Black?

Do you notice your bearded dragon’s beard turning black? It’s something that many bearded dragon owners don’t understand and may try to figure out the cause of. If you notice your dragon’s beard turning black or a darker shade, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern, though it’s crucial to determine the possible reasons why this happens to provide the best care for your pet.


A Change in Temperature


A common reason for your bearded dragon’s color change may be a sudden drop in temperature. Since black and darker colors absorb and retain heat better than lighter tones, your bearded dragon transforms its beard black to stay warm. If you notice this change, it’s best to check the temperature in your bearded dragon’s tank and the UVB lamps to ensure they are providing enough light and heat. If needed, make the required adjustments to ensure your pet enjoys a healthy temperature.


Your Bearded Dragon May Be Angry


While bearded dragons enjoy interacting and socializing with their owners, sometimes they prefer to be left alone. This situation may occur if other pets or children are tapping on the glass or making noise that may frighten or disrupt your dragon’s space. In many cases, they may be frightened and angry at once, though it’s essential to give them the quiet they enjoy. Most reptiles enjoy a mellow atmosphere, and you should minimize outside stimulus or noise to give them peace.


They May Be Scared or Feel Threatened


If your bearded dragon feels threatened or frightened, it will puff itself up as its beard turns black. This bearded dragon behavior is expected in the wild when they encounter a predator and want to appear larger and robust to prevent the attack. When this occurs in your pet bearded dragon’s tank, they may get scared when they see another pet, such as a cat approaching their terrarium or your dog barking.


While your dragon isn’t in any danger, it may feel insecure or become frightened until it becomes acquainted with its surroundings. If you recently adopted it, it may not be comfortable with you or its new home. For this reason, bearded dragons may exhibit signs indicating they feel uncertain or afraid of their environment, including darkening their beard.


Ideally, it’s best to keep your bearded dragon in a quiet area of your home so that it doesn’t encounter too many noises, people, or pets at once. Once it gets used to its new environment, you can gradually introduce it to your family.


They’re Looking for a Mate


During breeding season, which begins in the spring, your bearded dragon will become more active. A male bearded dragon will produce a black or darker shade than female bearded dragons, though generally, they both darken their beards and begin bobbing their heads to attract attention for mating. This behavior doesn’t typically start until your pet is close to six months or older when it’s grown enough to begin mating with other bearded dragons.


A Sign of Brumation


Brumation is a form of hibernation which occurs during the winter. Bearded dragons prepare for their brumation period by slowing down their metabolism and bodily functions, including their beard turning black. Your pet makes these changes to adapt to a colder seasonal temperature, so they can survive while conserving their energy. They will consume less food and may not interact or move as much during their brumation period.


Bearded dragons may not exhibit all the signs of brumation consistently, and it’s not always common for some pets. If you’re concerned about your dragon slowing down and changing some of its eating and activities during the winter season, it’s because it spends more time resting and reserving its energy.


Dietary and Habitat Issues


Another reason for your bearded dragon’s change in color may be diet. If your pet’s diet isn’t optimal, it may be suffering from deficiencies. An unexpected change to their diet may also cause them to change their beard color to black. In addition to your dragon’s eating behavior and nutrition, it’s vital to ensure its terrarium is clean with adequate lighting and temperature control.


Your Bearded Dragon Might be Lonely


A less common, though possible reason for your dragon’s black beard may be due to loneliness. Similar to how they change color when looking for a mate or changing their appearance before a perceived threat, they change color slowly to indicate a craving for attention. Since this isn’t a typical reason for your bearded dragon’s black color, it may not seem obvious. Once you get accustomed to your pet’s personality and behavior, you’ll have a better idea of understanding its needs.


Claiming Their Territory


When your bearded dragon gets comfortable in its environment, it will claim this as its territory and prefer to keep a specific space to itself. When it turns its beard black, your dragon is exhibiting territorial behavior, and for this reason, it is best to respect its need for space, especially if the tank is smaller in size. If you have more than one male dragon, separate them so they do not share the same tank.


Summary


Bearded dragons turn black for many different reasons, and in most cases, it’s a harmless change that’s due to a variety of natural reasons. If you suspect that your dragon is suffering from nutrient deficiencies, a poor habitat, or a medical condition, you’ll typically notice other symptoms that accompany their color change. In most situations, a color change signifies that your dragon is a healthy, thriving reptile that’s experiencing various stages of brumation, mating, and enjoying its new home.

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