Bearded dragons are a type of lizard that is popular as a pet. It has an attractive appearance and comes in many colors, including orange, pink, green, blue, brown and black. The bearded dragon gets its name from the spikes on its head that resembles the hair on a man’s beard.
However, if your bearded dragon turns black all over (not just on their face), there may be some underlying issues going on with them that need to be addressed quickly: or not. It may be that it’s simply regulating its temperature or sick. Read on to find out more.
Why is my bearded dragon so dark?
Temperature regulation is the primary reason your bearded dragon has turned black or developed black spots.
As you may know from your study about colors, darker colors will absorb and retain heat better than brighter colors. As such, when the bearded dragon turns black, it will essentially be making its body absorb heat faster than it does at its normal color.
This color change is often accompanied by a change in body shape to a flat stature, increasing the dragon’s surface area for heat absorption.
This results from the bearded dragon’s inability to regulate its temperature. Bearded dragons are ectothermic animals which means that they regulate their body temperature through external influences.
If the bearded dragon cannot do this, it will have to come up with a way to stay warm and one of these ways is by changing color so that its skin can absorb more heat from the sun or other sources.
This change in colors does not affect your pet’s health but rather his ability to maintain an optimal body temperature.
If you see your bearded dragon laying flat and close to a source of heat and is black or has black spots, it’s a sign that it would just be soaking up the heat faster.
Inadequate heating or airflow can cause the bearded dragon to turn black: Switch them over to another heat source with better control features, like an infrared bulb with dimming capabilities, so they’re not left in too high temperatures overnight when they don’t need as much warmth.
With the right actions, the black spots on bearded dragons will soon disappear.
Other causes of black color in bearded dragons
The change in color in bearded dragons from their normal color to black can also be caused by other issues such as the following:
The black color is also a result of the bearded dragon shedding its skin, which can take up to half an hour to do so. As a result, the skin underneath will often be dark in color and when it comes off, may leave behind marks on the body that are still easily visible even after they’ve turned back into their normal colors.
It would help if you did not worry about this since as soon as your beardie turns back into its original colors, all traces of the previous condition will have disappeared too.
Other signs that your bearded dragon is shedding skin include:
- In addition, your bearded dragon will often rub its back and head up against hard surfaces, resulting in the skin on its back becoming dry.
- The surface underneath your beardie’s eyes may be covered in scales because they’re trying to shed them there too.
If you see any of these signs happening with your bearded dragon, it is possibly shedding skin. However, if nothing like this happens within another week or so and the black color remains unchanged for at least 24 hours, then it might be something else entirely.
You should consult a vet for professional advice as soon as possible before things get worse or your bearded dragon gets sicker from not being treated properly.
Besides changing its skin color to black, other signs that your bearded dragon is sick are:
- Lack of appetite for food.
- Loss of weight or incomplete growth in young bearded dragons.
- The bearded dragon may also show signs of lethargy and have a higher body temperature.
- Poor shedding quality.
- Sores around the bearded dragon’s mouth or eyes.
Keep an eye on the behavior and look of your dragon for these aspects.
The quickest way to diagnose your bearded dragon’s condition is by taking its temperature. If the thermometer shows a high temperature, it might have an infection and you should take it to see a reptile veterinarian as soon as possible. Some other conditions like digestion problems can also affect how warm your bearded dragon feels.
Your bearded dragons may also change to a dark color if they harbor parasites on or in their bodies. Other signs of parasites in your beardie include swelling, a lack of appetite and lethargy.
Some parasites common to bearded dragons include amoeba and other free-swimming microorganisms.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your bearded dragon, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Parasites are infrequent but can be fatal if left untreated for too long or not at all – they must be treated immediately.
Several different environmental factors can cause a vitamin deficiency in bearded dragons. An irregular diet often brings about a vitamin deficiency in bearded dragons, or lack thereof, from the animal’s owner.
A vitamin deficiency can also happen because the dragon has trouble digesting things properly due to their food and environment allergies. This can cause problems with absorbing certain vitamins, leading to blackened skin patches, weight loss, change in appetite, lethargy etc.
Some bearded dragons may develop a vitamin deficiency over time due to having too many empty stomachs, which can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down and not absorb nutrients as quickly as they need them. This is especially common in dragons with less food than they normally need.
A lack of vitamins D, A, E, and B can lead to the bearded dragon’s black skin patches.
The easiest way to ensure that your pet does not have any deficiencies is to feed him live prey regularly and provide plenty of fresh vegetables and water for them to drink. Often, this will suffice, but if you think he still needs some more help, supplements should do it.
If you notice your bearded dragon turning black it may be a good idea to check into their diet with an animal nutritionist or vet. They will then recommend what food sources to be added to make up for the missing vitamins and minerals they might not have enough of in their current diet.
This could mean adding certain fruit, vegetables or supplements depending on the deficiency’s severity. Blackened spots should start clearing within a few weeks after making dietary changes. Still, more drastic cases may take longer before resolving themselves completely, so continue checking in on them during this period, just in case something else is going on too, like a fungus or infection.
When your bearded dragon feels threatened or is in a stressful situation, it may turn black. Stress can come from many different sources: irregular feeding times, handling too much and/or too often and heat exposure to name just three.
If the stress continues for a prolonged period (days), your bearded dragon will not be able to digest food properly, which could lead to hindgut stasis.
Other symptoms of stress include a lack of appetite, decreased activity level, and anorexia.
If you notice these symptoms, please consult with your veterinarian right away. Your vet should do some tests, including faecal exams and blood work, to determine when the last meal was eaten and if any other underlying problems need treatment.
Another reason your bearded gecko may develop black spots is a burn mark. You may notice these dark-brown to black spots in your bearded dragon’s skin, which can be caused by:
- UV light exposure.
- Overheating from basking too close to the heat source or heating pad.
- Chemical burns such as lime sulphur and hydrogen peroxide solutions are used for scale scraping (these should never be applied without veterinary supervision).
Any or combination of these can cause stress in your bearded dragon.
If you suspect your beardie has been burned, seek medical attention immediately with an emergency vet clinic nearby instead of continuing treatment at home since it could worsen. Allergic reactions are also possible if they come into contact with toxins or irritants, so make sure their environment is safe for them.
Other causes for black color or black spots on your bearded dragon include freckles from skin shedding, a normal color pattern, dirt, abrasion, fungi infections, scale rots, it’s ready to mate, a sign of aggression, camouflage, getting ready to poop, and even stress marks. With each issue, consult your vet for the best solution depending on the bearded dragon you have.