When most people think of getting a pet reptile, they assume that only a chameleon will change color. As such, one of the most alarming things among bearded dragon owners is the reptile turning black.
On some occasions, the body of this lizard species will turn black, while sometimes only the beard will turn black. Understandably, the color change in your bearded dragon will concern you.
Even so, the change might be your pet’s way of communicating something that is happening in its body since it cannot vocalize.
Also Read: Why Bearded Dragon Turning White?
Below are a few tidbits on why a bearded dragon might turn black and some answers to the common questions pet owners have on the color change.
Reasons Why Bearded Dragons Turn Black
The following are the common reasons why a bearded dragon might become black:
– Cold Temperature
Temperature regulation is the leading cause of a bearded dragon’s body becoming black. This lizard species thrives in heat because it is cold-blooded. Its ideal basking temperature is between thirty-five and forty-one degrees Celsius.
When the temperature in its environment falls below the ideal, a bearded dragon will turn black so that its body can retain maximum heat. As is common knowledge, black will absorb heat faster than other colors.
When you notice your pet lizard turning back, your first step should be checking its enclosure’s temperature using a thermometer. If the black discoloration in your bearded dragon is coupled with the animal lying flat under its basking light, this is probably a natural method for it to control its body temperature.
Owing to its natural sunny environment in the deserts of Australia, a bearded dragon’s physiology needs enough exposure to UVB light. You thus should include special UVB lighting in your pet’s enclosure along with the basking light to keep the reptile comfortable and healthy.
Young kids will often have puffed up, reddened faces when they get mad. In the same way, a bearded dragon can turn black when it gets annoyed or mad. In most cases, the black discoloration will resolve after the reptile calms down.
This might take some days, but it should not worry you. Some of the things that might cause aggression in a bearded dragon include:
- Loud noises
- Improper handling
- Shared spaces with other reptiles (two male bearded dragons should never be kept in one tank)
- Lights constantly being turned on and off.
- Animals bugging your pet’s enclosure (this is mostly done by cats).
If your pet bearded dragon is annoyed, you can try to calm it down by removing its stressors from the environment. The constant aggression will affect your pet’s immune system, so try keeping it as happy as possible throughout
– Mating Behavior
Bearded dragons often turn black when they are ready for mating. In most cases, this happens when the male is ready for mating. Males will mature earlier than females and will thus start exhibiting signs of mating by the time they turn 5-6 months.
If you notice that your male bearded dragon is anxious and bobbing its head, these are signs that it is sexually mature.
Females can also turn black during the mating seasons, but this is rare. The breeding season for bearded dragons starts about a month after their brumation ends.
– Health Problem
Usually, the first indication of illness in a bearded dragon is the black discoloration of its body or beard. In their natural habitats, bearded dragons will turn black so that they can camouflage and hide from predators because sickness will make them easy targets.
As pets, this behavior is still ingrained in them. You should pay close attention to your bearded dragon so that you notice the black discoloration that the animal uses to keep you in the loop with its health status.
Promptly noticing the color change and getting a vet could make a huge difference in your pet’s life, more so when battling conditions like yellow fungus and metabolic bone disease that can quickly get out of control.
Illness is commonly accompanied by other signs like appetite loss, coughing, a swollen abdomen, inability to move, and heavy breathing.
– Old Age
The black discoloration in your bearded dragon could be a result of stress marks. These are generally scattered on the reptile’s beard and belly as ovals, circles, or lines. A common reason for stress marks is advancing age, as this takes a toll on the body of your bearded dragon.
Thankfully, this is nothing to worry you, provided your pet’s environment has everything the reptile needs and the animal is not sick.
Why Is The Tail Of My Bearded Dragon Turning Black?
If you notice the darkening of your bearded dragon’s tail, this might signify tail rot. The condition often follows the accumulation of retained skin around the animal’s tail tip that, in turn, inhibits the flow of blood.
Other than this, tail rot can be caused by a cage mate attacking the bearded dragon, a mechanical injury, cuts, and bites from a hungry cricket. When affected by tail rot, your pet lizard’s tail will often look dry.
The affected tail can fall off on its own after drying, or the rot might spread to other body parts and cause systemic infections. In most cases, a vet will recommend the excision of a tail tip affected by tail rot.
To prevent retained skin, always bathe your bearded dragon twice weekly. The darkening of your dragon’s tail might also be an indication of shedding, a normal process that the reptile goes through several times annually.
Why Did My Bearded Dragon Turn Black Then Die?
The death of your bearded dragon after turning black might have been caused by an infection or the inability to retain enough heat to keep it warm. Some infections progress quickly, and by the time you notice the color change in your pet lizard, they have turned deadly.
Moreover, if you do not turn on the heat quickly when the temperatures in your lizard’s surroundings drop, the animal might freeze to death.
Why Has My Bearded Dragon Turned Black and Is Not Eating?
The most common reason for this is brumation. This is a normal process that your bearded dragon will go through annually when it is cold to conserve its energy and body temperature.
It is a natural survival instinct picked in the reptile’s natural habitat to get it through the winter. During brumation, the animal will eat less food, but this is not a cause of concern because it is not moving much. However, the lack of appetite and discoloration might also be a sign of illness.
How Long Will My Bearded Dragon Stay Black?
There is no guaranteed timeframe for how long your bearded dragon will remain black. It all depends on the reason. For instance, if the color change is because of brumation, it might take four months, while if sick, the color will change to normal when the cause of an illness is addressed.
If the darkening of your pet’s body is due to stressors, it will revert to its usual color if the stressor is removed. As long as you are sure of the cause of the darkening of your pet reptile and have addressed it if need be, the time it takes to change to its usual color should not worry you.
In most cases, as the information above has shown you, color change in a bearded dragon is not a cause for alarm. With a few simple steps and checks, your pet lizard will be ok. A black bearded dragon should not be ignored and assumed to be undergoing normal changes.
You can only know whether the discoloration of your pet is normal or not when you know the normal behavior of your pet. Take time to connect with the animal so that you can readily pick any issues that need an expert’s input.