Bearded Dragon Care Q&A

Behavior Why is My Bearded Dragon's Beard Black?

Is Bearded Dragon Color Change Normal?​

Bearded dragon displaying black beard
People often ask, why do bearded dragons turn black? Indeed, seeing your pet bearded dragon suddenly turn his beard black may be alarming, especially if you're new to owning a bearded dragon. "Black bearding" is a typical bearded dragon behavior and usually is not a sign of a severe issue. Before assuming something is seriously wrong with your bearded dragon, consider the context.

How is your bearded dragon's overall behavior--are they lethargic, refusing to eat, or exhibiting signs of illness? Did you recently change something in your beardie's enclosure? Is there a new pet in the house? Did your beardie recently have a stressful or frightening experience? Is your bearded dragon exhibiting classic mating signs, such as doing a head bob or showing any signs of being territorial?

If your bearded dragon's beard stays black for prolonged periods or often recurs, especially when accompanied by other troubling symptoms, this would be more concerning than an occasional, fleeting behavior.

The truth is that bearded dragons' beards turn black for various reasons. Sometimes, we can only take an educated guess by examining the context.
Some of the more common reasons include the following:
  • Discomfort/stress
  • Fear
  • Territorial aggression/seeing own reflection
  • Mating behavior
  • Changes to the environment (something new in their enclosure or the home)
  • Illness/health issue/distress/pain
  • Brumation
  • Improper husbandry/temperature issues
Even a beardie's gender may play a role in how often you see a black beard--a male bearded dragon tends to exhibit this color change more frequently than a female bearded dragon. Even after a few years of ownership, some bearded dragon owners don't observe a black beard in female beardies. However, owners of male beardies report their dragon sporting the black coloration a lot more frequently. It is likely because males tend to be more territorial, aggressive, and exhibit more courting behaviors during the mating season than female bearded dragons.

In many cases, the actual cause is impossible to identify. As long as the darker color returns to normal, and you aren't seeing it frequently, there is probably no reason to worry.

The Physiology of Reptilian Color Changes​

According to a 2022 article in the Veterinary Sciences journal, many reptiles, including bearded dragons, possess pigment cells known as chromatophores that allow them to change colors rapidly. These color adaptations help with communication, camouflage, and mate selection.

Wild Magazine reported that darkened skin helps beardies heat their bodies faster, and this ability can help them save up to 22 minutes of basking time per day!

Scientists have observed that bearded dragons can change the color on their backs in response to ambient temperatures. In addition, color changes on the chest and beards were strongly associated with social displays.

Scientists even observed bearded dragons shift colors in relation to their circadian rhythm--being lighter during sleep and darkest in color right before waking up.

Now that we understand the scientific reasons behind the color changes, let's look at common reasons these wonderful pets darken their colors.


General stress and discomfort can cause your bearded dragon's beard to turn black. For example, perhaps your beardie hated the recent bath you gave him. Maybe, you forgot to add a good hiding spot to your beardie's tank.

Perhaps, you recently got your bearded dragon, who is still getting used to the enclosure. Other signs of general stress could include glass surfing, pacing, stress marks, and clawing at the enclosure/decor.


Bearded dragon feeling threatened or fear
Sometimes bearded dragons will show fear by suddenly getting puffed up, and their beards will turn black in response to feeling threatened. Look for other possible indicators of fear or anxiety, such as hissing and flattening the body while tilting it to the side.

Loud noises, other pets, such as cats and dogs, other bearded dragons, being unexpectedly grabbed from above, unexpected movements, seeing or hearing birds, ceiling fans, and many other things can frighten your beardie and cause them to temporarily black beard.

In these cases, the beard will return to normal color shortly after the perceived danger has passed and your beardie has had time to calm down.

Territorial Aggression/Seeing Own Reflection​

Bearded dragons are territorial reptiles and typically cannot be housed in the same terrarium. If male bearded dragons see another bearded dragon (even if they are housed separately), they could display aggressive behaviors such as head bobbing and a dark/puffed-out beard. Female beardies are typically less territorial but can still exhibit these signs when faced with another beardie in their perceived territory.

Even if your bearded dragon cannot see other beardies, sometimes he will react to his reflection in the glass, assuming it's another male dragon. A good terrarium background can significantly reduce or eliminate this particular source of stress.

Mating Behavior​

Mating behaviors could also cause your beardie to have a black beard. Head bobbing, arm waving, leg stomping, and darkening the chest and beard can all be part of normal courting/mating behaviors in these fascinating reptiles.

If you have more than one bearded dragon and are not planning on breeding them, house them so they cannot see each other during the breeding season.

Changes to the Environment​

Many well-intentioned owners upgrade their beardies' terrariums to a larger size or buy them a new accessory for their tank, only to find their beardie seemingly unhappy.

Bearded dragons can be sensitive to change. Sometimes, even a minor change can cause a temporary black beard. If you haven't changed anything inside the terrarium, consider if you have moved the terrarium to another room, introduced new pets or kids into the household, adjusted the temperature, or altered your beardie's home environment in some other manner.

If the answer is yes, and you aren't seeing any troubling signs of illness or pain, then sometimes all you can do is give it time. Then, as your bearded dragon adapts to the changes, you should see a black beard less frequently.


Health issues can profoundly affect your dragon's skin color--the color can appear dull, paler, or darker than usual.

If your beardie's beard suddenly turns dark, one place to look for clues is the stool/urate. Sick beardies may exhibit signs of diarrhea or dehydration (dry, chalky urate). A dark beard accompanied by vomiting would also be concerning.

Sick lizards tend to be lethargic, could have sunken eyes, and frequently will refuse to eat or drink.

Bearded dragons who are very sick or near death will frequently have a black beard and other troubling symptoms. If your bearded dragon is showing signs of illness in addition to a black beard, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Chronic illnesses such as MBD (metabolic bone disease) can cause your bearded dragon to experience pain, resulting in bouts of darker color.


Many significant physiological changes occur in bearded dragons preparing for or coming out of brumation. There are remarkable changes to their hormone levels, metabolism, and behavior.

Beardies preparing for brumation or waking up after brumation can be cranky, groggy, and lack an appetite. Not unexpectedly, these hormonal changes can lead to temporary color changes. A male dragon could also be gearing up for the mating season after brumation, which could affect his color.

Brumation is a normal and natural process, so if you witness your bearded dragon turning black before or after brumation, give your pet time to adjust while providing supportive care.

Improper Husbandry​

While bearded dragons are sensitive to many improper husbandry practices, the most crucial one is UVB lighting. If your beardie's beard turns black frequently, make sure you're using a long tube fixture (Arcadia and Reptisun are best) and not a coil UVB. Improper lighting is the number one reason bearded dragons develop health problems in captivity and could contribute to a sickly beardie whose beard is frequently turning black.

The second bearded dragon care practice to review is basking temperatures. Proper basking temperatures are essential for reptiles to digest food properly and regulate their body heat and temperature. If they cannot thermoregulate properly, you may see signs of stress, including color changes.

Review all your husbandry practices if your bearded dragon experiences unexplained bouts of beard darkening. But first, ensuring your beardie has proper UVB and a good heat source is essential.

Other Possible Reasons for Color Changes​

You may see a primarily black bearded dragon in the wild, depending on the species. While black bearded dragons are not found in captivity, some morphs have more black pigmentation than the standard brown/tan bearded dragon colors.

On our bearded dragon forum community, concerned bearded dragon owners frequently ask if it's normal for their beardie to have some black scales on their beards, backs, or bellies or have some black spots.

Depending on your dragon's natural color, this could be very normal. In fact, the black color in the natural pigmentation can be very vibrant--for example, if your bearded dragon has just finished shedding.

At times, color changes could indicate a medical condition. Once, a concerned bearded dragon owner asked for advice from our forum community regarding her beardie. The dragon's beard scales were staying black, and some were even starting to fall off. In that case, the problem was likely a fungal infection.

In rare cases, a black color change can indicate a spreading infection, such as tail rot or scale rot. In instances of tail rot, the tail would appear to wither away and be very dried out, brittle, and thin. Be mindful not to confuse tail rot with regular lighter or darker tail coloration seen during shedding.

Scale rot is also distinctive, and the flesh appears diseased.


Like many behaviors exhibited by bearded dragons, color change in bearded dragons can have varied causes. However, by carefully examining your beardie's environment, you can glean some clues as to why your beardie is displaying a black beard.

In most cases, this behavior will be temporary, and the color will return to normal shortly. However, since black bearding is one of the ways bearded dragons show pain or illness, it is imperative to observe them for other signs that could indicate a more significant problem in need of medical intervention.
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General Do Bearded Dragons Need Baths? How Do I Bathe My Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragon in bath water

While bearded dragons don't require baths, it is helpful to bathe them under certain circumstances. Some reasons why a bearded dragon might get a bath include the following:
  • hydration (only if your bearded dragon prefers to drink bath water)
  • hygiene
  • easing a particularly uncomfortable shedding process
  • easing constipation
  • enjoyment of baths
Bearded dragons can be bathed in anything that holds water if the water level is shallow (not above a bearded dragon's elbow height). In addition, the temperature should be slightly above lukewarm (86-91 degrees Fahrenheit/ 30-33 degrees Celsius). Tap water is acceptable in most circumstances, although some bearded dragon owners prefer to add a reptile water conditioner. Never use any soaps or detergents when bathing your beardie.

If your bearded dragon doesn't like baths, just a few minutes to clean them off in the water is sufficient. Beardies who enjoy bathing can bathe for about 10-15 minutes. Never leave your bearded dragon unattended in a bath because they can aspirate water into the lungs or drown. While many beardies will drink from the bath, please, do not allow your beardie to submerge their head in the water.

It is essential to thoroughly dry your beardie after the bath to avoid any potential fungal problems from taking hold. After the bath, it's usually a good idea to let your bearded dragon bask for a while to warm up.
Now let's get into the specifics of why baths can be helpful or even necessary, at times, for bearded dragons.


There is a common misconception that simply placing a bearded dragon into a bath for a while will help with hydration levels. However, bearded dragons cannot absorb water through their skin or vent. Thus, the only way a bath would aid hydration is if a bearded dragon chooses to drink the bath water.

Luckily, many bearded dragons will readily drink bath water, so bathing can help meet your beardie's water intake needs.


Bearded dragons in the wild have a large area to roam and usually don't experience the same hygiene issues as those beardies who spend much of their time confined to a relatively small enclosure.

Thus, unlike their wild counterparts, pet bearded dragons need occasional baths if they step in their own excrement or track it throughout their enclosure.

Some bearded dragons can be messy eaters or consume particular fruit or berry that can stain their scales or leave a sticky residue. In those circumstances, it is advisable to bathe your bearded dragon to maintain cleanliness.

Easing Difficult/Bothersome Shedding Process​

While shedding is a natural process that all bearded dragons go through, shedding can be stressful and uncomfortable for beardies. However, healthy bearded dragons, raised with proper animal husbandry practices, typically don't require assistance with shedding.

Of course, since animal husbandry practices vary significantly among bearded dragons owners, bearded dragons can develop "stuck shed" or feel itchy and uncomfortable during shedding (especially if they don't have any rougher surfaces in their enclosure for rubbing and loosening the shedding skin).

In these situations, bathing your beardie can prove beneficial and ease discomfort. Some bearded dragons enjoy it when their owners use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to brush shedding skin during the bath. Using the soft toothbrush method while bathing your beardie can help loosen particularly stubborn old skin.

Adding a shed-ease product to the bath if your bearded dragon struggles with a particularly challenging or stubborn shed can also be beneficial. In these situations, it is always a good idea to review your husbandry practices to see if anything needs improvement since healthy bearded dragons can usually shed old skin without much intervention.

Easing Constipation​

Warm water can help bearded dragons relax their muscles, and bearded dragons commonly poop directly in the bath. If your bearded dragon has been constipated, a warm bath can get things moving again, especially when combined with certain foods such as plain canned pumpkin.

On rare occasions, a beardie may try to pass a particularly hard stool that gets stuck in the vent. In those cases, a warm bath can also help loosen everything up and allow the beardie to pass the stool safely. Please note that if your beardie experiences hard stools or dry/chalky urates, they are likely dehydrated.

If your bearded dragon poops in the bath, remove them immediately and replace the water before continuing the bath.

Enjoyment of Baths​

Some bearded dragons enjoy soaking in the tub/basin or splashing/paddling around. Being in the water can be a stimulating sensory activity for some beardies.

Many owners also enjoy bathing their beardies since it provides an excellent opportunity for bonding.

If your bearded dragon enjoys baths, it is ok to give them somewhat frequent baths but be sure to do just what is necessary. Too frequent bathing can dry out the skin, or if the bearded dragon is not thoroughly dried after each bath, it could lead to certain fungal diseases.

If your bearded dragon does not like baths and looks very uncomfortable or tries to escape the tub, only bathe them when necessary to keep them clean.

Other Tips for Bathing Your Bearded Dragon​

Picking Where to Bathe Your Beardie​

As stated earlier, you can bathe your beardie in anything that can hold water as long as the water level is shallow. However, if you choose to cleanse your bearded dragon in the same bathtub you use, be prepared to clean it beforehand to remove any soap and shampoo residue. You will likely have to clean it and sanitize it after your beardie's bath since many beardies will poop during the bath.

If you bathe your bearded dragon in the sink, be prepared that your dragon may try to escape the sink area and could fall onto the hard tile and hurt itself. This is especially true for bearded dragons who fear baths or hate the feeling of water. On the other hand, if your beardie is generally docile and at ease during bathing, they may not have an issue with being bathed in the sink.

Also, please be aware that most lizards will be afraid if you run the tap while they are in the sink or the tub and could seriously injure themselves in an attempt to escape from perceived danger.

Many bearded dragon owners choose to bathe their beardies in smaller containers --Tupperware for baby or young juvenile dragons, flat-bottomed baby tubs, turkey roasting pans, new/unused cat litter pans, plastic food storage bins, and other similarly-sized containers.

Suppose you bathe your bearded dragon for the first time and don't know how it will react. In that case, it is probably a good idea to set the container on the floor or a low table so that there is less potential for injury if they try to escape.

Testing Bath Temperature​

Always make sure to double-check the temperature of the water before placing your beardie inside. For example, you could use a thermometer or test the water by running it over the side of your wrist to ensure it feels slightly warm.

Since reptiles are cold-blooded, ensure the water doesn't get too cold. It is ok to scoop some cooled water out and add some warmer water back in (make sure it's not too warm).

If you must replace the water multiple times, your beardie's bath should be shorter. Usually, a ten-minute bath is sufficient for making sure your beardie is clean and has had a chance to drink some water.

Finishing the Bath​

After the bath, dry your bearded dragon thoroughly with a towel and encourage them to bask to warm up. Basking will help warm your beardie up and lessen the chances of any upper respiratory infections (URIs).
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General How Do I Keep My Bearded Dragon Hydrated?

Bearded dragon in bath

The best way to hydrate your bearded dragon depends significantly on your beardie's personality and preferred habits. For example, some bearded dragons have no problem drinking straight from a water dish in their enclosure.

However, many bearded dragons ignore their water dish, likely because they cannot always recognize still water as something they can drink. Instead, they prefer to drink water while they get a bath. Please note that your bearded dragon must drink the bath water to hydrate in this fashion since bearded dragons cannot absorb water through their skin or vent.

Some bearded dragons dislike water and get stressed by baths. In those situations, it may be necessary to slowly drip droplets of water on their snout using a dropper and wait for them to lick it up (assuming your dragon is showing signs of dehydration).

All bearded dragons should receive daily fresh feeder insects/worms and greens/veggies. The moisture content in their food is crucial for helping beardies meet their daily water intake needs. Certain feeders like hornworms are excellent when your beardie needs extra hydration.

Another way to incorporate extra hydration is to spray the greens/veggies with water before offering them to your dragon.

Bearded Dragon Hydration Safety Considerations​

Water Dishes​

If you use a water dish, please ensure it is shallow to prevent accidents. Many bearded dragon owners don't use a water dish since beardies frequently ignore it.

Tap water is acceptable without any reptile water conditioner since bearded dragons can drink water that is safe for humans. However, if you have bad water, feel free to use bottled water, filtered water, or add a reptile water conditioner.

Even though it may be tempting to add a small water fountain or a bubbler to your beardie's enclosure in the hopes that they would recognize moving water, please note that this would likely raise the humidity too much in the confined space of a bearded dragon enclosure.


When bathing your bearded dragon, please ensure the water level only rises to its elbows. Bearded dragons must always be carefully attended to during baths since they can easily aspirate water into their lungs or drown.

Dropper/Syringe Method​

If you're putting droplets of water on your beardie's snout, stop dripping the water if your beardie moves away since that probably means they have had enough. Never squirt or force water directly into your beardie's mouth since that could cause your bearded dragon to aspirate. Let your bearded dragon drink as much as they are willing, but never force it since bearded dragons originated from arid environments and do not need a lot of water.

If you must offer water via a syringe directly into a bearded dragon's mouth, go exceptionally slowly and allow your beardie to swallow the water gradually to avoid aspiration.

Hydration from Food Sources​

If you use hornworms to give your bearded dragon a hydration boost, always use worms you purchased from a vendor instead of catching your own since wild hornworms may have ingested poisonous plants or may carry parasites. Also, be sure not to over-feed them to your beardie since they may cause diarrhea or watery stool due to their high water content.

Recognizing Signs of Dehydration in Bearded Dragons​

Examining their stool and urate is the best way to tell if your bearded dragon is well-hydrated. Stool should be formed, and moist and urate should be white and moist. If you notice that the stool is dry or the urate is dry, rock-like, or chalky-looking, your beardie is likely dehydrated. On the other hand, if the stool has water around it, the dragon may be trying to eliminate some excess water. In most cases, this is only a problem if you see diarrhea.

Overly hard stool/urate can lead to organ prolapse in bearded dragons, so it is crucial to monitor the consistency of the stool/urate regularly.

Other signs of dehydration in bearded dragons to look for include:
  • loss of skin elasticity/saggy skin
  • changes in the color of the urate (should be white)
  • dry, flaky skin
  • overly wrinkled or puckered skin (if you gently pinch your beardie's skin on the side of the body, it doesn't quickly go back down and stays puckered)
  • sunken eyes
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite
  • constipation
If you notice signs of dehydration, see if your bearded dragon will drink water from the bath or try the method of gently dripping water on his nose. Many bearded dragons love hornworms, so this tasty treat may be perfect for temporarily boosting hydration levels.

While leafy greens should be the staple in your bearded dragon's diet (in addition to live insects/worms), if your beardie could use some extra hydration, it's ok to offer an occasional cucumber, strawberry, melon, pumpkin, or another safe food with high water content.

Bearded Dragon Hydration During Illness and Other Special Circumstances​

If your bearded dragon is ill, he may refuse to drink water. In this situation, it may be appropriate to use diluted grape juice or apple juice to entice your beardie to drink (do not use citrus juice). If you gently offer diluted juice via a syringe, clean off any liquid that may dribble down to avoid potential issues with bacteria, etc.

Suppose your bearded dragon comes out of brumation or seems significantly dehydrated. In that case, it may also benefit from some unflavored Pedialyte diluted with water. Some reptile supply companies also make reptile electrolyte formulas that can be mixed into water.

If your bearded dragon is very ill and shows signs of severe dehydration, an exotic pet veterinarian can give them subcutaneous fluids (fluids introduced manually under the skin), which should keep your beardie hydrated for a few days.

When dealing with a bearded dragon that isn't able to eat or drink, please carefully review your husbandry practices and adjust as needed.


Please give your bearded dragon clean drinking water regularly, but only stress out about all the various ways of keeping your beardie hydrated if your dragon is dehydrated. Bearded dragons raised with proper husbandry practices can get most of their daily water intake from their diet.

Your best indicator for hydration levels is your beardie's stool and urate. So keep an eye on those, which should be easy as part of your regular tank maintenance.

Always use common sense when giving water to your beardie. Please don't force your dragon to drink it; always go slowly. It's usually best to encourage your beardie to drink the water themselves to avoid aspiration.
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Enclosures What is the Ideal Humidity for a Bearded Dragon, and How Do I Maintain It?

Bearded dragon on log with hydrometer
The ideal relative humidity in a bearded dragon enclosure should be around 30% to 40% during the day. In most homes, relative humidity goes up at night, so aim for the humidity levels to be at most 50% to 55%. Always keep the relative humidity above 20% to 25% if possible. However, it is unlikely that your bearded dragon will suffer health complications if the humidity falls to 10% at certain parts of the day. Bearded dragons hail from arid and semi-arid regions of Australia, where the humidity sometimes drops to 10%.

Always measure humidity in your beardie's enclosure using a digital probe hygrometer. Please do not rely on analog hygrometers since they tend to be inaccurate. When you measure humidity, please place the probe on the back center wall of the tank.
Generally, bearded dragons suffer many more health problems from high humidity than from low humidity levels. For instance, high humidity levels can lead to fungal infections, such as the dreaded yellow fungus, and bacterial infections, such as upper respiratory infections (URIs).

Humidity levels that regularly approach 70% or higher (especially if you're seeing condensation on the glass) can contribute to unsanitary conditions in your bearded dragon's enclosure, leading to the proliferation of fungal and bacterial organisms that can harm your beardie.

Please keep in mind that if you measure humidity closer to the basking side of the enclosure, you will likely get humidity levels much lower than the average for your beardie's tank since the hot side of the enclosure is baked by the basking lamp during the day. Likewise, measuring the cool side will result in higher readings.

So what is the best way to control and maintain humidity levels in your beardie's habitat? Taking measurements with a digital hygrometer is an essential first step.

Another vital thing to remember is that only screen tops provide the proper ventilation for a bearded dragon enclosure. Adequate ventilation is essential for regulating humidity levels. Glass lids would increase humidity to unacceptable levels for bearded dragons.

Maintaining proper temperatures on the hot and cool sides of the enclosure can also help regulate humidity levels.

For most homes, a room humidifier to increase the humidity in your beardie's tank is unnecessary. However, if you choose to use a room humidifier, please make sure that the humidifier automatically stops after reaching the desired humidity level. It is also essential to never mist your bearded dragon or the enclosure since they are not tropical species and will suffer various health problems from this practice. While many bearded dragons won't drink from a water dish, some owners choose to have a water dish in the enclosure to increase humidity levels.

Inversely, if you're trying to decrease humidity levels, ensure the room is well-ventilated, use a small dehumidifier if needed, and remove the water dish from the beardie's enclosure. If you are uncomfortable with completely removing the water dish, place it on the cool side of the enclosure to reduce evaporation. A rice sock placed inside the tank can also help lower humidity. Avoid using water features such as bubblers. If your enclosure contains live plants, put them on the cool side.

Please keep in mind that it is normal for humidity levels to fluctuate. In many cases, you may not need to do anything to increase or decrease the humidity inside your beardie's tank. It is far more essential to ensure that your general husbandry practices are sound than to monitor and control relative humidity levels compulsively. Healthy bearded dragons not stressed by their environment are more likely to manage normal humidity-level fluctuations without adverse health effects.
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Enclosures What Substrate Should I Use in My Bearded Dragon Enclosure?

Bearded dragon substrate decisions
There is a wide variety of bearded dragon substrates and much debate within the bearded dragon community regarding which substrate is best. The choice frequently comes down to personal preference, cost, the personality of your bearded dragon, and other special considerations, such as your beardie's age and whether or not your dragon is dealing with a new or ongoing illness or a parasitic infection.

Bearded dragon substrates can be grouped into particulate or loose substrates and non-particulate substrates. Examples of particulate substrates include specialized sand-based substrates, clay burrowing substrates, sand/topsoil blends, coconut and walnut substrates, and many bioactive substrates. Examples of non-particular substrates include paper towels, newspapers, non-adhesive shelf liner, non-adhesive ceramic or slate tile, reptile carpet, and fake grass.

Non-particulate substrates are typically recommended for beginner bearded dragon owners to reduce the risk of impaction--a dangerous condition in which a beardie's digestive tract becomes blocked by bits of the ingested substrate. Non-adhesive shelf liners and non-adhesive ceramic or slate tiles are the easiest to clean and maintain and eliminate the risk of impaction from swallowing loose particles found in other substrates. They are also aesthetically pleasing and fit into many decor styles.
Some quality sand-based blends and clay-based blends formulated by several reputable reptile companies tend to appeal to owners who prefer a more "natural" substrate for their beardie. Some bearded dragons also like to burrow, dig, or explore new textures, so a burrowing clay substrate or a dig box with a sand-based product may be needed.

However, just because a product is marketed for reptile use does not automatically make it safe. Many people have reported safety issues using sand mats, calcium sand, ground walnut "sand," and many other sand-based products. Sand, in its various forms, remains the most hotly debated substrate in the bearded dragon community, with many owners using some sand or sand-based blend either as a primary substrate or in a "sensory" dig box set up in a part of a beardie's enclosure.

Proper husbandry practices can significantly reduce loose substrate impaction risk because healthy dragons usually only ingest substrates accidentally during feeding (and not when searching for nutrients, for example). Healthy dragons are also more likely to eliminate small amounts of the ingested substrate without health complications.

Substrates that hold too much moisture, such as bark or mulch, or products that degrade or become moldy when exposed to water, such as alfalfa pellets, are not recommended. Another substrate that is not recommended for bearded dragons is coconut fiber. Coconut fiber tends to be too dry and can cause upper respiratory infections (URI), in addition to being hard to maintain and prone to bacterial buildup. Reptile carpets can also harbor bacteria and be more challenging to clean. In addition, reptile carpet poses dangers to beardies' toes if their nails get caught in the loops of the reptile carpet material (felt reptile carpets are especially problematic).

Paper towels and newspapers are less aesthetically pleasing than other substrates. Still, they can be suitable for beardies dealing with parasitic infections and other illnesses because they can be frequently changed. Quickly disposable substrates, such as paper towels or newspapers, are also an excellent choice for baby bearded dragons who are messy eaters.

Generally, non-particulate substrates are preferred for young and juvenile bearded dragons because they tend to be more clumsy and curious about their environment than mature beardies.

Please maintain the substrate regularly to prevent bacterial buildup, fungal growth, and other issues. Beardies living in unsanitary conditions can develop fungal, parasitic, and upper respiratory infections.
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Heating Do Bearded Dragons Need Heat at Night?

Warm bearded dragon
If your home gets colder than 65 degrees, you must obtain either a ceramic heat emitter or a deep heat projector. Ceramic heat emitters (CHEs) are not what people imagine when they search for a bearded dragon heat lamp. Many people associate reptile nighttime heat lamps with red or black bulbs (sometimes called moonlight bulbs). Colored light bulbs are inappropriate for bearded dragons because they disrupt their sleeping patterns. CHEs give off no visible light and instead use infrared heat to penetrate deep into the muscle. They are easy to use because the bulb screws into a standard-size ceramic socket and can be used with a regular dome fixture or a wire cage clamp lamp. One disadvantage of CHEs is that the heating element gets very hot and can start a fire if misused--a ceramic socket is a must!

Another newer and more efficient option for bearded dragon nighttime heating is called a deep heat projector. Deep heat projectors produce no visible light and penetrate deep into muscle tissue more effectively than CHEs.
Please never use heat rocks or heating mats for your bearded dragons. Beardies don't feel heat on their bellies very well and can get burned.
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Enclosures How Big of a Tank Does a Bearded Dragon Need?

Gaping bearded dragon
The minimum recommended size reptile tank for an adult bearded dragon is a 40-gallon breeder tank (36" x 18" x 18"). You can house a baby bearded dragon in a 20-gallon tank but prepare to upgrade to a 40-gallon tank (or larger) when the baby grows to about 10 inches long (around three months of age) to keep him happy and healthy. Likewise, you can house a baby bearded dragon in a 40-gallon reptile tank to avoid extra expenses and relocation stress for your beardie. When housing a young bearded dragon in a tank larger than 40 gallons, make sure that your beardie can hunt for food effectively.

If you have the space for it, upgrading to a 120-gallon tank (4'x 2' x2' or 48" x 24" x 24") is ideal. Maintaining a proper cool side and basking spot temperatures in a larger tank is much easier, and your beardie will have plenty of room to explore and hunt. If you're limited on space and looking for something in between, a 67-gallon tank (48" x 18" x 18") or a 75-gallon tank (48" x 18" x 21") would also work pretty well.
Larger enclosures help bearded dragons regulate their body temperature better because they can easily move somewhere different or hide if exposed to uncomfortable temperatures. When in doubt, prioritize floor space, and make sure that the depth (width) is at least 18 inches, so that your beardie can easily turn around. Fifty-five gallon tanks with dimensions 48" x 13" x 20" are not wide enough to house a bearded dragon, so definitely avoid them.

When searching for the right-sized tank, also be sure to avoid taller enclosures. Bearded dragons prefer having more floor space and can't use vertical space as effectively as other reptiles, such as chameleons.
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Lighting What is the Best UVB Light for My Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragon outdoors
Bearded dragons hail from Australia's arid and semi-arid regions and prefer to bask in the open sun. As a result, they receive plenty of natural sunlight in the wild and will not thrive in captivity without high-quality, tube-style UVB bulbs. In addition, having the proper amount of UVB helps beardies make Vitamin D3 and absorb calcium from food, which is essential for their health.

The best UVB bulbs for bearded dragons are Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 UVB T5 HO (high output) and Arcadia 12 % UVB T5 HO (high output). Reptisun 10.0 UVB T8 and Arcadia 12 % UVB T8 are acceptable light bulbs. Please, be sure to mount T8 bulbs inside your beardie's terrarium. Screen-topped reptile tanks block out 30 % or more of the UVB rays emitted by the bulb. Since the output produced by T8 bulbs is less intense than by T5 bulbs, your beardie may receive insufficient UVB exposure.


We only recommend Reptisun and Arcadia brands because other brands emit shorter, more intense wavelengths that can cause health problems for your beardie. Only tube-style fluorescent bulbs are acceptable for bearded dragons. Please do not use coil/compact fluorescent UVB bulbs that may be included in various reptile terrarium kits that you may find in the pet store. These will not produce adequate UVB, and may cause your beardie to develop serious illnesses such as metabolic bone disease. Beardies that do not get proper UVB exposure are frequently lethargic and refuse to eat.

When deciding between T5 and T8 bulbs, consider that while T5 bulbs are more expensive, they only need to be replaced about once every 12 months. On the other hand, T8 bulbs should be replaced every 6 months. Please remember to buy a terrarium hood (UVB light fixture) with a good reflector to maximize UVB output.

Another option for providing UVB is a mercury vapor bulb (MVB). It provides both UVB and serves as a heat lamp for your basking area. Mercury vapor bulbs are not the best choice for beginners and may be too powerful to use in smaller bearded dragon tanks.
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General Are Bearded Dragons Easy to Take Care of?

Bearded dragon in tank
Bearded dragons are easier to take care of than many other reptiles. Most beardies have a calm disposition and don't mind being handled by their owners. Since they are active during the day and sleep at night, their owners have plenty of daytime hours to interact with them and take care of their needs. However, bearded dragons require specialized equipment, reptile supplements, and a diet of live insects to thrive. Most people underestimate the cost of owning a bearded dragon. You will need a reptile tank that is at least 40 gallons, a high-quality UVB bulb (tube-style only), a basking light, and an accurate reptile thermometer. You must maintain a proper temperature gradient in your beardie's basking area, or your beardie may become lethargic and stop eating.

You must also buy a basking rock, some terrarium accessories, and a safe substrate, such as slate tile, a nonadhesive shelf liner, a reptile carpet, or even paper towels. If your house gets cooler than 65 F, you will need another specialized bulb called a ceramic heat emitter (CHE). Finally, make sure you're not squeamish about live insects because your beardie needs to eat between 40-60 live roaches, worms, or crickets daily!
Pet store employees frequently tell you that bearded dragons are great for beginners. They will sell you a terrarium kit with "everything you need." Unfortunately, these kits' poor-quality compact UVB bulbs, loose substrates, and inaccurate reptile thermometers have harmed many bearded dragons.

Some new bearded dragon owners think they can simplify their lives by giving their beardie dry food, like their dog or cat. Unfortunately, this leads to many health problems and future costly vet visits for the new beardie. Like people, bearded dragons are omnivores, so they need fresh veggies/greens and occasional fruit to stay healthy. Another thing potential beardie owners overlook is the need to dust the insects and/or veggies with specialized reptile supplements regularly to avoid a severe medical condition called metabolic bone disease (MBD).

Beardies can make excellent pets! However, before buying or adopting one, please research their care requirements carefully and understand that bearded dragons require a significant commitment. Beardies also have a life span of 7 to 12 years, so be sure you can provide proper bearded dragon care for many years to come.
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Behavior Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave?

Bearded dragon waving
Bearded dragons wave as a form of communication. However, males and females exhibit this behavior for different reasons. An arm wave combined with a slow bob usually shows submissiveness. It is a way for your beardie to communicate that they are not a threat and wants to be left alone. Female beardies use slow head bobbing and arm waving to show submission when encountering an aggressive male. In their natural habitat, male dragons also arm-wave and head bob as a sign of dominance and mating behavior.

Bearded dragons will frequently wave to acknowledge the presence of their owners, visitors, and other pets. Bearded dragons sometimes wave at their own reflection in the glass because they confuse it for another beardie.
Another reason bearded dragons arm wave is to let their owners know that there is something in their tank that they don't like. Poor lighting, improper temperatures, and high humidity could be some of the things that make your beardie unhappy. It is always important to check that your bearded dragon tank is appropriately set up before trying to interpret your beardie's behavior.
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General How Long Do Bearded Dragons Live?

Basking bearded dragon
Bearded dragon pets can live for 7 to 12 years if kept properly. However, insufficient UVB exposure, incorrect basking temperatures, undersized reptile tanks, and poor nutrition can drastically reduce the lifespan of beardies in captivity. On average, female beardies have a shorter lifespan because of the risks of frequently laying infertile eggs and breeding. In their native Australia, wild bearded dragons live for only 4 to 8 years. They are commonly hunted by predators such as dingos, Australian monitor lizards, and birds of prey. The oldest recorded pet beardie lived for 18 years and 237 days!
Many bearded dragon babies that are sold too soon after hatching are too fragile to survive into adulthood or suffer from viral diseases that reduce their lifespan if they reach adulthood. Housing more than one beardie in the same tank can also lead to a premature death due to injury or malnutrition. Larger species of bearded dragons, such as pogona barbata, tend to live longer than their smaller counterparts due to improved ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions and fend off predators.
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Im needing some questions answered about my female beardeddragon, I honestly have no idea on age , she was a recuse, as ive had a couple in my life an have experience. So 9 weeks in , she earing well pooping well getting comfortable, then approx 3-4 days ago the digging started. So I got a dig box set up in her 75 g tank. Well within 2 hours she dropped an egg. Now only one egg an its been 10 hours.shouldiBworried
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I just set Swordtail's timer for his bath and paused it so I could actually fill his soaking bowl up and he crawled over my phone and canceled the timer 🤣
Mirage came out of brumation on April 26. He was doing great. On May 2 he started acting funny. We just redid his tank, and he keeps going into one of his hides. He just lays there. He shows no intrest in food. HELP!

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