10 Reasons Why A Bearded Dragon’s Beard Turns Black

There are many reasons why your bearded dragon may turn its beard black.

Some of these reasons give nothing to worry about, others though may be an indication that something isn’t quite right for them.

Keep reading to find out what the reason may be and also what you can do to improve things for your beardie.

Emotional Distress

1. Your Bearded Dragon is Feeling Afraid

Your bearded dragon can turn their beard black in order to scare away individuals that may harm them.

Bearded dragons use their dark beards and puffed out chests to scare predators in the wild.

This makes them seem larger and more intimidating than their opponents.

They may also practice the same behaviour as pets. It is good to work with your bearded dragon in order to get them used to you.

2. Your Bearded Dragon is Feeling Anger

It can be hard to differentiate anger from fear sometimes. Both reactions may be caused by an unwanted action.

For example, a hand reaching into the terrarium may cause a bearded dragon to be afraid or angry.

However, your bearded dragon may seem more aggressive when they are angry.

They may try to bite you. Anger may also be accompanied by hissing and a gaping mouth.

These actions can signify a bad mood or your bearded dragon may want to be left alone.


3. Your Bearded Dragon is Trying to Court Another

Your bearded dragon may use their darkened beard as a way to attract the opposite gender.

Male bearded dragons may be sexually mature as early as 5 to 6 months old. The males tend to sexually mature faster than females.

In addition, male beards differ from the beards of female bearded dragons.

Males tend to have larger beards than females. Their beards also tend to puff out more.

It is normal for a male to darken their beard for mating purposes when there is no other bearded dragon present in the tank. This is due to the rise of hormones in the lizard.

What Does Courtship Look Like?

During courtship, you can expect to see a male darken his beard at a female. This action will be accompanied by a slap at the ground.

The bearded dragon may also bob his head. This signals to the female that the male is ready to mate.

The female will do an arm-waving gesture if she agrees to the mating offer.

Wrong Temperature

4. Your Bearded Dragon is Too Cold

The colour black naturally absorbs more heat. That is the reason why wearing a black shirt on a hot summer day is a bad idea.

Bearded dragons naturally use their black beards to their advantage. If they are feeling cold, they will darken their beards.

The black colour helps to attract more heat. Temperatures in the tank should never drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is normal for your bearded dragon to darken their beard at night when the temperatures drop.

Their beard may return to normal after being exposed to regular light.

If you find the temperature dropping too low at night you could invest in a ceramic heat emitter which will ensure your beardie stays warm enough.

You will want to avoid any red lights at night though, these can really disrupt your beardie’s sleeping routine.

Zoo Med Repticare Ceramic


5. Your Bearded Dragon is Trying to Show Control

Bearded dragons are usually solitary creatures. It is best to house these lizards alone.

If you house multiple bearded dragons in one tank, you may see territorial aggression.

A territorial bearded dragon may also have a darkened beard. They use their beard as a show of authority.

Additional Gestures to Show Control

You can also expect the bearded dragon to head bob when it is being territorial. This head bob is a rapid movement.

The dominant bearded dragon may also lay on the threatened bearded dragon. This territorial aggression may be aimed towards males or females.

A male may also use territorial actions to display that a female is his.

Changes in Your Tank

6. Your Bearded Dragon May Be Distressed by Change

You can stress a bearded dragon out with something as simple as their own reflection in the glass of the tank.

A stressed bearded dragon will darken their beard.

The beard will go back to the normal colour when the lizard calms down again.

It is a good idea to put a terrarium background in place, this will help prevent some of the glare and stop your beardie from stressing out so often.

Galapagos (05401) Arid Terrarium Clings

Your lizard normally just takes time to calm down and get used to their surroundings again.

If this isn’t the case, the change may have been too stressful for the bearded dragon. You may want to reverse whatever change you made.

What Do I Do If My Bearded Dragon Still Seems Stressed?

Bearded dragons can be stressed from a variety of things. There is also a possibility that the negative reaction wasn’t to the change at all.

Your bearded dragon may just be sick.

Look for other signs that may indicate that your bearded dragon is feeling unwell.

If you’re unsure, you can consult a veterinarian for advice.

Distress to Changes Can Cause Aggression

Aggressive behaviour can make a threatened creature feel more dominant. This gives them a feeling of control in a scary situation.

A new bearded dragon is more than likely to be stressed and may show aggression.

Look at Me!

7. Your Bearded Dragon May Want Your Attention

A darkened beard doesn’t always mean something bad. It can also just mean that your bearded dragon is bored.

They may darken their beard because they are trying to get your attention. You can tell a bearded dragon’s mood by paying attention to their behaviour.

Does the bearded dragon seem excited when you look like you may interact with them? Your bearded dragon may just want to be taken out of the tank for a bit.

Bathroom Time

8. Your Bearded Dragon May Just Need to Poop

It is unclear as to why some bearded dragons darken their beard before they poop.

Not every bearded dragon will have a darkened beard before they poop. However, this is a normal behaviour in bearded dragons.

A bearded dragon may darken their beard a few hours before pooping. Their beards will return back to the normal colour after they poop.


9. Your Bearded Dragon May Be Sick

A bearded dragon can darken its beard when it is sick. This is because being sick is a stressful experience for bearded dragons.

It is also possible to look at other symptoms to determine if your bearded dragon is sick.

A lack of appetite is a more obvious sign that your lizard is sick. If your tank conditions are ideal but your bearded dragon refuses to eat, then they may be sick.

You may also want to look to see if your bearded dragon is creating any discharge. The best places to check are the ears, nose, and rear end for discharge.

You should also check to see if there are other darkened body parts. A darkened or black belly may also be a sign that your lizard is sick.


10. Your Bearded Dragon May Be Ready to Shed

It is normal for a bearded dragon to darken its beard when it is close to shedding.

You can also tell if your lizard is shedding by looking at the skin directly. If the skin seems to be peeling, then the lizard is just shedding.

There should be nothing to worry about and there’s no need to call the vet.

If you are unsure if shedding is about to occur, you can also look at the eyes of the lizard. They may seem glossy before it is time to shed.

What Can I Do to Help the Shedding Process?

Just be sure to keep your bearded dragon hydrated. You can achieve this mainly through your beardie’s diet but you can also do other things such as giving your beardie a bath.

It is also a good idea to provide some driftwood inside the tank for your beardie to rub up against. They will certainly thank you for this.

Koyal Natural Grapewood Vine Branch


As you can see there are so many different reasons why your beardie may be showing off their black beard.

Some reasons are nothing to be concerned about whereas others are indicators that something may be wrong.

Just keep yourself familiar with your beardie’s usual habits, this will help you to recognize when a change does occur.

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bearded dragon black beard

  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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