A bearded dragon turning black in the sun could be scary for inexperienced owners, but this metachrosis or color-changing pigmentation is nothing to worry about.
Usually, bearded dragons turn black under the sun to regulate their body temperature because they are exothermic.
Secondly, you should not worry because this behavior is temporary.
There are several factors that can make your beardie turn black, especially their beards. Below is a detailed insight into these factors to help you pinpoint and understand why they display this behavior. They include:
Regulate Body Temperature
This is the foremost reason a bearded dragon turns black in the sun because they are exothermic. Meaning, their body temperature depends on the external heat sources. Due to this, their whole body can also turn completely black and go full pancake mode on the surface to help them absorb more of the heat quickly.
If this is the reason, you’ll notice your beardie getting paler and paler later in the day when they get warm. This fact has also been backed up by Science Daily that Bearded dragons turn their whole body black during the mating season to allow them to absorb more heat quickly and spend less time basking and more time mating.
Turning black is also common when they are colder until their body gets warm. Therefore, this behaviour is harmless and it indicates your beardie is healthy whether you notice it in the morning or when the weather is extremely cold.
However, if you observe this behaviour while your beardy is in the tank, we recommend adjusting the basking area temperature to range between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, always ensure the temperature is correct both day and night depending on the age of your beardie.
To Signal Dominance and Protect their Territory
Beardies are solitary and territorial reptiles and thus, if you house more than one beardie of the same sex in a tank the probability for a dominance fight to erupt is high. Therefore, your beardie will turn its beard black to signal dominance over the other one and to protect its territory.
Besides, this display can also be accompanied by aggressive behaviour including puffing up, fast bobbing of the head, and laying on top of another dragon.
This will induce fear and stress to other beardies making them lose appetite and not get enough basking time, which is also harmful to them. If you notice dominance behaviour, it is advisable to keep beardies of the same sex in separate tanks to eliminate dominance behaviour among your beardies.
They feel Intimidated/Stressed
Your beardie can also turn their beards dark/black when they feel intimidated or stressed because of the following reasons;
- If they notice life-threaten creatures within their surroundings.
- The presence of other pets in the room or near its tank.
- When introduced to the new surroundings or changing their tank setup.
- When you place your beardie’s tank near the window. This triggers them to get some stimulation and thus causing tension in your beardie.
When other pets or life-threatening creature is within their surrounding it can make beardie feel intimidated and thus turn its beards in an attempt to appear tougher and larger.
Besides, they will also display this behaviour when their tank is facing a window. They feel intimidated by birds or any other creature that might induce stress in them. To combat this issue, you should keep your beardy or the tank away from the window and restrict human or pet movement near your beardies room.
Lastly, if you made recent changes in their tank setup or moved their tank to another location it can induce fear and stress to your beardie.
Hence, it will turn black and display other behaviour like aggressiveness to make it feel safer or comfortable.
Your beardie can also turn its beard dark for as an act of dominance. This is to flirt with female beardies or show off.
Female beardies can also turn their heads black to flirt with male beardies. However, this behavior in females is rare.
This is natural during the mating season. Indeed, their hormone level has increased and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes they may even become aggressive during the mating season making them difficult to handle.
Baby or Juvenile beardies can also turn black because of the above mentioned reasons. They display this behavior when you make changes in their tank.
If your beardie turns black it is completely natural and harmless to its health unless it displays symptoms of infection.
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