Even experienced Bearded dragon owners are not indifferent when they see that their pets’ beards have changed color. However, it can be a horrifying experience for first-time owners when they see this phenomenon for the first time. Let’s see the typical reasons for your Bearded dragon’s black beard.
The black beard in your Bearded dragon is expected during the mating season and brumation. It may also mean your pet is territorial, feels threatened, stressed, scared, aggressive, or you annoy it. A new environment, poor tank cleanliness, temperature, and lighting are also common causes.
This article aims to show you all the possible reasons for your bearded dragon’s black beard appearance, both positive and worrying.
Reasons for Your Bearded Dragon’s Black Beard
A Bearded dragon’s beard can become black in numerous situations. Even though some are harmless, you should always be careful since such a color change is often a symptom of severe issues. Let’s see.
1. Bearded dragon feels threatened, aggressive, angry, or scared
Both male and female Bearded dragons change their beard color when they are scared, annoyed, or feel threatened. In such a case, gaping mouth, puffing up, and hissing follows color change.
In its world, turning darker is a warning sign that makes this reptile more threatening, protecting it from danger.
It is a successful technique to deter a potential threat in the wild. Even though your pet faces no real risk in captivity, a defense mechanism is its natural reaction when feeling scared or angry.
Tip: If you want to learn more about beardie body language, read our beardie behavior guide here.
2. Your Bearded dragon is territorial
Bearded dragons are highly territorial and dominant creatures that hate sharing space. Therefore, you should never keep two or more in the same terrarium. Otherwise, be prepared for constant fighting over territory.
In such a situation, you will often notice your reptile has a black beard since it is the way to establish dominance over others when it considers them a threat and intruders on its territory.
Even though color change is not a reason for concern, in this case, you should separate your reptiles to avoid injuries. Otherwise, you can end up with one of the rivals dead.
Note: We explain in detail why beardies should not be kept together here.
3. Your Bearded dragon feels uneasy with you
No Bearded dragon owner likes to hear that, but sometimes you are the reason why your pet shows a black beard. Such a change can appear when your pet is:
- Uncomfortable with you, particularly after adoption, since it still doesn’t know you well
- Unsatisfied, unhappy, and nervous with too fast connection with a new owner and want some space
- Mistrustful initially
- Annoyed with a treatment and too crowdie environment
Be aware that no one can tell you how long your Bearded dragon wants to be left alone after coming to your family.
Each reptile takes a different period of adaptation, and the only thing you can do is to let it become comfortable in your presence in its rhythm. Once it starts recognizing you and accepting you as its owner, things will change.
4. Breeding season
Bearded dragons older than half a year show a black beard during the mating season. It is a sign of dominance and this reptile’s way of showing it is ready to breed.
In most cases, you can spot such a change whenever your male pet is near females.
If you notice a combination of black beard and head bobbing in the spring or summer season, you can be sure about a reason for such physical transformation.
In general, the sexually mature male’s ultimate goal is to impress and attract a potential female and frighten rivals located nearby.
The terrifying black beard is an excellent way to achieve that goal.
Interestingly, you can sometimes see your pet showing its black beard in this period, although there are no adequate partners to mate within sight.
Brumation is a natural process for most lizards, including Bearded dragons. In that period, you can expect to see that your pet slows down its activity, prefers resting for hours, and stops eating.
After this calming period, you can sometimes notice its beard turns black while its body gets back to regular activity level.
It is a time when reptiles need to increase their body temperature, regulate their appetite, and accept old habits again.
Tip: We recommend reading our brumation guide here. Brumation is important for a strong and healthy dragon.
6. New environment
Sometimes, Bearded dragons turn their beards black during an adaptation period because they feel anxious and under stress.
For instance, moving to a new tank is always a stressful experience for your pet, and it needs time to get used to new circumstances.
Be prepared that it probably can’t immediately accept the new habitat as a safe and comfortable place to live. As soon as your pet starts feeling protective, its black beard will disappear.
Here are a couple of articles that will help you making sure that your beardie tank is perfectly set up:
- The best substrate for bearded dragons
- Humidity for bearded dragons made easy
- The 23 best plants for beardie tanks
- Get this background for your bearded dragon tank
7. Problems with thermoregulation
Believe it or not, thermoregulation is the most common reason a Bearded dragon turns its beard black.
Like other reptiles, it is a cold-blooded creature without the possibility to regulate its body temperature. Therefore, your pet depends on external heat as the only way to warm it up.
If you know that darker-colored scales increase heat absorption, you can understand that your Bearded dragon tends to make its skin darker when it is cold.
It is an excellent way to absorb extra heat from the environment. You can see such a change, particularly in the morning when the temperature is lower.
You can quickly solve this problem by keeping the temperature in the terrarium at 95 to 100 F (35 – 37.8 C) during the day and 75 to 80 F (23.9 – 26.7 C) at night.
If the inadequate temperature is a reason for beard color change, your pet will quickly turn it to normal when you solve that issue. Otherwise, it is time to look for another reason for this change.
Tip: Read our bearded dragon temperature guide here.
8. Inappropriate lighting
Bearded dragons living in the wild spend most of the day sunbathing. It is their way to keep their bodies warm and synthesize enough vitamin D necessary for calcium absorption.
The only way to meet those needs when living in captivity is exposure to UVB rays. Therefore, you should install a full-spectrum UV bulb as an excellent way to provide enough light for your reptile pet.
Once the lighting level decreases, you will notice that the Bearded dragon’s skin turns black and stays that way until the light level increases.
Tip: Read our bearded dragon lighting guide here if you have any problems with setting up your beardie’s lights.
Sometimes, your Bearded dragon may show a black beard as a sign of dehydration or malnourishment. Since these reptiles are often picky eaters, you need to provide the food they like and free access to water.
It is crucial to pay particular attention to food quality and always offer calcium-rich ingredients to prevent possible problems.
Tip: Need a food list for your bearded dragon? Click here!
10. Poor maintenance
Your Bearded dragon can be healthy and entirely satisfied but sometimes show its black beard because of the incorrectly set and dirty habitat.
Give your best to improve the care plan and make necessary changes to make your pet satisfied.
Bearded dragons have their ways of expressing stress. They typically do it by atypically rapid opening and closing mouths, clawing the tank sides, and skin color change. Standard stress triggers in these reptiles include:
- Lack of adequate places to hide
- Loud noises
- Too frequent heat or lights turning on and off
- Relocation and terrarium change
- Their habitat cleaning
- Lack of food
- Other pets’ presence
- Excessive handling
In all these situations, your Bearded dragon will react by turning its beard black, but it will quickly regain the original color when you remove the stressor. Leaving it under stress for too long may result in illness and possible death.
The quickest way to solve the problem is to leave your reptile alone and provide a quiet, safe, and stable environment.
If you notice a Bearded dragon’s beard turns black and remains like that for a long time without any visible reason, you should suspect some injury or health problem typical for captured individuals.
This color change is a natural defense tactic and one of the ways for your pet to hide possible weakness by looking intimidating. Be aware that such reaction is always combined with additional symptoms in a case of disease, such as:
- Reduced activity and lethargy
- Nose or eyes discharge
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite
- Swollen belly
- Irregular pooping
- Diarrhea (Read our guide on that here)
In this case, you shouldn’t think twice before taking your pet to the vet since some severe diseases can be potentially lethal for these reptiles.
Here are a couple of articles we recommend reading:
- Is your bearded dragon dying? Watch out for these signs!
- Tail rot in bearded dragons – what to do now?
- Bearded dragons and mouth rot – Do this!
When To Visit The Vet?
Once other symptoms follow the beard color change, it is time for immediate reaction and visiting a vet. The warning signs include:
- Fatigue and irritability
- Lack of appetite
- Swollen belly
- Difficulty breathing and nose or eyes discharge
You should also seek help when your Bearded dragon’s beard has stayed black for over a week.
Let’s have a look at some of the most frequent questions people have when it comes to their beardie’s black beard.
Why is my Bearded dragon’s beard staying black?
Such a case typically occurs in two cases, when your Bearded dragon is ill or when the lighting in the tank is inappropriate. In the first case, you should take it to the vet immediately. On the other hand, you can quickly solve the problem with lighting by changing the bulb or upgrading the lighting system.
Why is my Bearded dragon sleeping with a black beard?
In most cases, you will notice beard color change in Bearded dragon while sleeping when the temperature in the tank is too low. Sometimes, it is a way to respond to atypical sounds and too bright lighting since these reptiles prefer sleeping in absolute darkness.
Why is my Bearded dragon showing a black beard and head bobbing?
A combination of black beard and head bobbing in Bearded dragons is always a sign of domination.
You will face this physical change in your reptile pet when trying to keep two males in the same tank as a sure signal that both are unhappy with an intruder’s presence.
This combination is also typical for male Bearded dragons when they are prepared for mating in the spring or summer.
Reasons why female Bearded dragons’ beards turn black?
- Has a problem with egg-laying
- It is unable to lay eggs
This disorder is common in reptiles, so you should be careful. Taking your pet to the vet as soon as possible is crucial when suspecting it has this life-threatening problem.
In some cases, a black beard in female Bearded dragons may signify a defense mechanism. If it feels scared or threatened by a male presence, it will react by changing color.