Why Do Bearded Dragons Turn Black? Here Is The Real Reason

a couple of months ago
Bearded Dragon Is Completely Black

When I first started with reptiles I thought that only Chameleon can change their color. I remember observing a huge veiled chameleon turning completely black in a pet shop. I went to the pet shop owner to tell him that something is wrong with his chameleon, but he just laughed and told me the real reason for this color change. It was just bugged by my presence, lol.

When I got my bearded dragons and I first saw them completely black I thought they would have died. Luckily this was far from the truth. Everything was alright with my little pancake beardies. Maybe the exact same thing happened to you right now and before rushing to the vet you want to get some information on the internet. Great that you are doing your research! The number one reason for your bearded dragon turning black really is totally harmless.

(BTW: We are not talking about a black beard here!)

Why Do Bearded Dragons Turn Black? - The Number One Reason!

Without further ado, let´s get right into the truth! The number one reason for your bearded dragon turning black is simply temperature regulation.

Bearded dragons are ectothermic, which means that they regulate their body temperature with external heat sources which would be the sun in the wild, or the heat bulb in your terrarium. In captivation your bearded dragon needs multiple climate zones inside the terrarium.

For example one hot zone on the right side of the tank. A "normal" zone in the middle of the tank and a cool zone on the left side of the tank. So if a bearded dragon gets cold it will lie in the hot zone. If it gets to hot you might see your bearded dragon opening its mouth to regulate its temperature and after that it will most probably go to the cool zone. If you need help with your lighting, read my lighting guide!

By turning  black your bearded dragon just wants to make sure that it gets the body temperature up quickly. 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. By going full pancake they create a bigger area to absorb more of the heat. Your bearded dragon will slowly turn back to the normal color during the day. Sometimes they stay a little bit darker, sometimes they have an even lighter skin tone. There is nothing to worry about. 

Unfortunately the reason for your bearded dragon turning black is not always this harmless. Here are some other reason for this behavior.

Get started with Bearded Dragons in 5-Steps!

Your Bearded Dragon Might Be Stressed Out

This really can be anything. If you just got your bearded dragon and it is black all the time just give it some time. Most of the time it will turn normal after a couple of days. However it could also be that they feel threatened by something. For example other animals that could be in sight distance of your beardie. Especially birds that sit in front of your window can freak beardies out.

Make sure that your bearded dragon eats and drinks 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 Lighting Is Not Sufficient

This happens to all of us. Especially as a beginner. Most people just do not know what the correct lighting for bearded dragons is and I totally understand that. There is so much information on the internet which is downright confusing. To make sure that your lighting is sufficient, read my beardie lighting guide here!

There is one simple rule when it comes to lighting if your temperature and UVB is set up correctly: If you have enough hides for your bearded dragon there is never enough light for a bearded dragon tank!
Seriously, they love light!

Is Your Bearded Dragon Sick?

In most cases there is no need to panic, but on the other side it is never too early to visit the vet. Your bearded dragon could be sick. However just turning black is not an indication for an illness. Here are a couple of symptoms your bearded dragon might show if a disease really is a factor.

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    Rejects any kind of food (except during brumation)
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    Sunken eyes
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    Your bearded dragon is shaking
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    Abnormally smelling feces 
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    Inactivity
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    Orange, black, yellow or red dots moving on your bearded dragon (parasites)
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    Bloated Belly
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    Unable to hunt and eat due to convulsions or similar behavior 

Okay, I think that this is enough of the negative stuff. As I said in most cases your bearded dragon is just enjoying the sun, happy and healthy. However never feel bad for going to the vet too early. It could save your bearded dragon´s life! So I think that I answered your question: Why do bearded dragons turn black? I hope you weren´t as shocked as I was when I first saw my bearded dragons completely black! 🙂

Any questions? Any stories? Leave a comment in the comment section below!

Pierre

About the Author

Pierre

Hey! I am Pierre. I own bearded dragons and many other reptiles for a very long time. I know from experience that it can be very hard to find the right information about a specific reptile, since there is so much misinformation out there.That´s why I created this website. To help other people to have the best time with their reptiles.

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