Top 9 Reasons for Bearded Dragon Black Beard (Plus When to Worry…)

An alarming sight for many first time owners, a bearded dragon black beard can often incite worry and concern! I mean let’s face it… the scales on your beardie’s neck and chin turning pitch black doesn’t exactly seem like a happy or friendly bodily reaction, right?

Naturally, you’ll want to know why exactly your bearded dragon goes from perfectly normal to black bearding in a matter of seconds.

If you’ve poked around this site already or have done much reading on bearded dragons, then you’re probably already guessing that the reason for your bearded dragon’s black beard could be due to any wide number of reasons.

Elusive by nature, beardies sure love to keep their owners guessing when it comes to not only how they’re doing but why they’re acting a certain way.

Luckily, a bearded dragon black beard is a pretty hard to miss. This means that you’ll have an advantage when it comes to quickly figuring out if something could in fact be wrong with your beardie. After all, when it comes to our pet’s health, time is most certainly of the essence.

What Causes A Bearded Dragon Black Beard?

Why do Bearded Dragons Black Beard

Much like other bearded dragon behavior, there isn’t one sole reason behind why beardies show a black beard. From internal reasons to their environment, it’s up to you to pay attention and put on your thinking cap to determine what is affecting them.

To learn more about the specific reasons, read on to discover the top 9 reasons why bearded dragons demonstrate a black beard below!

Reason #1: They’re Feeling Threatened/Scared

Much like a cat that might hiss or yowl, a bearded dragon will attempt to deter what they consider to be threat by black bearding.

A black beard is both a sign of distress and a warning to those around them that they find threatening.

In the wild, it is not uncommon to see male bearded dragons demonstrate a black beard when they encounter one another. Think of it as their way of trying to intimidate one another. The last thing any bearded dragon wants is another male encroaching on his territory and making moves on his ladies…

Which leads us directly into Reason #2…

Reason #2: They’re Looking to Mate

Okay, okay maybe a little TMI but it’s totally true! Male bearded dragons that are looking to mate will often display black beard pretty regularly, especially when in the presence of a female.

Don’t be surprised if you see your male bearded dragon showing black beard in the springtime. I’ve even heard of female owners saying they think their male beardies are flirting with them by doing this!

If you suspect your male bearded dragon is showing black beard because it’s that time of year again, pay special attention to see if you notice any head bobbing as well. Head bobbing and black bearding almost always go together when male beardies are looking to sow their oats.

Reason #3: They’re Mad/Annoyed

Like a small child’s face that may puff up and become red with anger, a bearded dragon’s beard will often times turn black in situations where they find themselves mad or annoyed. Think of it as their way of saying “I am NOT happy right now, so don’t mess with me!”.

I’ve often seen bearded dragons demonstrated behavior like this when in the bath or around other pets. It’s a clear indication that whatever is going on around them is upsetting them enough for you to step in and remedy the situation. 

After all, there’s no need to put your dragon in situations that cause them distress, this just strains their immune system and stresses them out. Try to keep them happy and content by instead acting in their best interest.

If they don’t like baths? Well, try misting them instead or giving them water droplets on their snout to lick off. Only bath them to help with sheds.

If the family dog bothers them (which it should!), try to keep the dog out of the room their tank is in and for God’s sake do NOT ever put them face to face or near one another. This especially goes for the family cat as well.

Reason #4: They’re Sick

Sick bearded dragon with black beard

Often times one of the first indications that your bearded dragon is not doing so well is a black beard. In the wild, bearded dragons do everything they can to disguise being sick or hurt as this surely makes then an easy target for predators.

And unfortunately for us loving pet parents, this behavior is so ingrained that they demonstrate it in captivity as well! This means that we need to pay especially close attention to our beardies considering they’ll do everything they can to keep us out of the loop with their health.

Now, of course there are other signs your bearded dragon could be sick as well, so I highly recommend you acquaint yourself with more than just black bearding.

Knowing the obvious signs of a sick bearded dragon is key to tackling serious diseases like Metabolic Bone Disease and Yellow Fungus head on before they spiral out of control.

Reason #5: They’re Feeling Territorial

If you have two bearded dragons together in the same tank… first of all WHY? And second of all, be ready for some pretty bad (potentially lethal) fights over territory, including black bearding!

Never should you ever house bearded dragons together. As solitary creatures they are not meant to share space with one another. 

From bloody limbs to even fatalities, this living situation is nothing short of reptile abuse and should be avoided at all costs.

A male and female will result in constant sexual harassment of the female, and can include fights as well. The male will in part try to mate with the female all the time and should she put up a fight and say no? Well, expect a fight in which the bigger lizard, typically the male, will always win.

Your poor female will always lose in this scenario. Even if she’s much bigger and able to hold the male off in mating and fighting, the constant stress alone is enough to do her in.  

Should you want to mate bearded dragons, you must study up on proper bearded dragon breeding protocol to ensure the father, mother, and babies are all healthy and happy.

Even two females together will also likely result in fights or bullying. Although this match is the least likely to turn violent or deadly, it is still not an ideal housing arrangement. Even bearded dragons that are sisters from the same clutch are likely to fight over space, food, heat, and more.

Typically in these instances, the smaller sister will have a hard time getting enough food or getting to bask without the larger sister basically attacking her.

The only instance in which bearded dragons should live together is when they are first born, under the watchful eye of an educated breeder. Since 20 or more beardies can be born per clutch, naturally it would be difficult to separate all of them, so I understand housing them together for the first two months or so before they find homes.

Reason #6: They Don’t Trust You

Bearded Dragon Showing Black Beard

If you have recently adopted a bearded dragon, don’t be terribly surprised if you notice them giving you a black beard for the first couple days or even weeks. What is really going on is them adjusting to you.

I mean think about it like this…

In the eyes of your bearded dragon, their entire world is totally different out of nowhere! Not only does a huge creature preside over them, but even the enclosure they find themselves in in foreign!

Pretty hard to blame the black bearding when you consider what it must feel like for them in this situation, right? Don’t take things personally if you’re going through this at the moment.

What you can do to help speed along the process of them learning to enjoy your company is to practice specific bonding exercises that will help them learn to actually like and trust you.

Reason #7: They’re Feeling Needy

Have you ever taken your bearded dragon out for cuddles or play time, only to put them back in their tank and witness immediate black bearding?

Or what about this, you’re watching your bearded dragon in their tank and they’re acting perfectly normal… then the next thing you know they’re at the glass staring at you with a black beard?

If either of these instances sound familiar, then rest assured that your little guy or gal is just looking for some good ole fashioned attention!

You see, much like our furry friends, bearded dragons can also need special time bonding with you and quite enjoy time out of their tank.

I mean, how would you like being cooped up all day in the same room when you could instead be outside exploring and getting special attention or treats from a giant who loves you?

If you suspect your bearded dragon is black bearding out of the blue and everything else seems totally fine, ask yourself, “When was the last time they came out of the tank?” or “Is it possible that they want to snuggle with me or enjoy a treat?”.

Reason #8: They’ve Recently Brumated & Are Readjusting

It isn’t uncommon for bearded dragons who have recently come out of brumation to be a little on the cranky side. From readjusting to long hours of daylight and getting their appetite back, the big sleep can certainly take a toll on a beardie’s attitude!

As such, don’t be particularly alarmed if your bearded dragon shows a black beard after brumation for a couple days or week, especially if brumation went smoothly;. Just be patient and give them a little bit of time to readjust. They’ll come around in no time!

But, what if you’re new to this whole brumation thing? No worries! Here’s everything you NEED to know…

Reason #9: They’re Cold & Trying to Warm Up

Bearded Dragon Showing Black Beard to Warm Up

When your bearded dragon is cold, they can actually turn their whole body a darker shade in an attempt to soak up and attract more heat. Now, the best way to determine if they’re cold is to of course measure the different temperature zones in their enclosure.

As a reminder, the hot side of the tank should be between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit for adults, and 105 and 110 for babies. For the cool side, aim to keep it between 80 and 85 or around 90 for babies.

Because those cheap stick-on dials are notorious for giving inaccurate temperature readings (by as much as 20 degrees!) you’ll want to make sure you’re using the RIGHT thermometer to get an accurate reading. After all, your beardie’s health and happiness depends on it.

Wrapping Up Bearded Dragon Black Beard

So, there you have it! I hope you found this article helpful in understanding some of the many reasons why your bearded dragon may be showing a black beard. From underlying health concerns to simply wanting a bit of a snuggle, the reasons will vary far and wide.

Now, with that being said I don’t want to freak you out and think that a black beard always indicates something super serious. That just simply is not the case. I look at it as, a black bearded should simply never be ignored.

The best bit of advice I could give you is to always go with your gut. You know your bearded dragon better than anyone else and if everything seems totally fine, chances are they’re not black bearding for any major or concerning reason.

15 thoughts on “Top 9 Reasons for Bearded Dragon Black Beard (Plus When to Worry…)”

  1. my bearded dragon is ayear old she was fine about a month ago i have 2 kittens there about 5 months old and they jump at the tank and scare my bearded dragon her chin is black it has been for a while and she hasnt eaten in a couple of weeks im worried what should i do

    Reply
    • I’ve had a pretty similar situation too with my dragon. Our cat occasionally jumps up on his cage . He was fine for about a month but now has turned black and wont eat. Hopefully it will pass and he gets better. Best wishes to you too

      Reply
    • You should do as noted above. Keep the animals in separate rooms. If you can’t do that, choose an animal. Cats and reptiles have never been friendly.

      Reply
  2. I’ve had my dragon for about 2 years now. Hes always been so lovely and never showed signs of discomfort. We moved house about 2 weeks ago and lately hes been puffing his beard and its black. He is also shedding. Wondering, should I leave him be or will handling him make him more uncomfortable. TIA

    Reply
    • Hi Jessica!

      Does he have his same setup? Have you ensured his temps haven’t changed? My guess is that he’s just going through an adjustment period. If he’s having a bit of a rough shed, please check out this article on shedding to find out how you can help him.

      Reply
    • Hi Charlotte!

      Great question. Generally speaking, not really. Often times a bite won’t even break skin. I actually have an entire article dedicated to bearded dragon bites you can check out that walks you through why it happens, how to prevent it, what it feels like, how to treat it, etc.

      Happy reading!

      Reply
  3. We just put a bit of new decor in the tank and some moss and a back drop and she seems to now have a bit of black in her beard not a lot though but is still alert is she just adjusting?

    Reply
    • Hi Michael!

      My guess would be that she’s adjusting. New decor can sometimes lead to a little stress, but it shouldn’t be anything to really worry about unless it persists.

      Reply
  4. My bearded dragon was fine until I started taking himself outside daily to get some sun. His tank is right next to the window, but I always take him out just in case. Also, I’ve been reminded to keep a watch out for birds and predators that can harm my lizard. I make sure to be by his side, always. But ever since I started taking him out daily hes been getting stingy. He wont stop begging to go outside; he scratches at the glass all day long, head buts it, bangs on it, and Im worried that could hurt him. What should I do? Should I stop taking him outside?

    Reply
    • Hi Amelia!

      Can you walk me through the temperatures and lighting setup in your bearded dragon’s tank? Specifically, what is his cool side, hot side, and basking spot? As well as what kind of bulbs are you using for his heat and UVB? Thanks!

      Reply
      • Of course! He has a Zoo Med light, one bulb is red for heat and the other is white for light. Its really hot in the room he’s in so me and my family sometimes turn his light off here and there, and he’s perfectly fine with it. We also have two fans in the room. Today it was 80 degrees. His hot side is to the right of the tank, his cool side to the left and in the middle. He has a long log that leans against the side of the cage near the hot spot. This is where he basks. To the far left on the cool side is where he sometimes sleeps. He also had a large cave-like rock that he basks on as well. We put calcium in the sand because he likes to lick the ground sometimes as he walks. I’m sorry if this isn’t very descriptive, I haven’t asked about his health before. But many people I have met said compared to their beardies, my lizard is the healthiest out of all of them. I try to take really good care of him, though I do have some questions.

        Reply
        • Hi again Amelia!

          Thank you so much for taking the time to give me an update on your beardie’s cage setup. Now, I say this in the nicest way possible, but there are quite a few things wrong with this setup that, if left unaltered, could certainly contribute to health issues over time.

          Here are my thoughts on what you should do ASAP to ensure your guy stays healthy and happy!

          I would recommend redoing his lighting setup. If you read my article on bearded dragon lighting and temperatures you should walk away with a keen understanding of what you can adjust to better suit your bearded dragon. Something tells me his temperatures are not hot enough in his cage and that he isn’t getting adequate UVB. Often times beardies can go crazy to get out of their tank when they’ve been spoiled with some time outside if their UVB is too weak. Unfortunately, UVB cannot penetrate glass so having his tank next to a window won’t really help in this regard. Direct exposure to UVB is the only sure fire way to guarantee your beardie is absorbing it. But, of course, you’ll need to play around with placement as you don’t want the UVB too close to your beardie’s delicate eyes.

          Also, you’ll want to establish 3 temperature zones or gradients, a warm side, cool side, and basking spot temp. Your basking should be, depending on his age, anywhere from 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, the article linked above will walk you through all of this in much more depth so I highly recommend you find time to read it, it should really help you. Also, try to limit the cool side to JUST 1/3 to 1/4 of his tank. They really need the bulk of their tank to be warm/hot.

          I would also recommend taking some time to read my article on proper substrate as loose substrate of any kind presents a serious risk for impaction, especially if he’s licking the ground like you mentioned. It would be so much less stressful and easier to simply switch out the substrate for something safe than deal with an impaction scare.

          I feel confident if you can adjust his lighting/UVB and substrate that he’ll become much happier and more content to stay in his tank and not try to get out 24/7. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I’m more than happy to help! 🙂

          Reply
          • Thanks so much for giving me this feedback, it really helped! ^^ I don’t have any other questions, and I will get to fixing up his setup right away. At first I worried that he was too hot, so this really helps. I should probably get him new lights, etc, etc, because we haven’t changed the bulbs in a while. I’ll talk to my parents about fixing things up ^^

          • Hi again Amelia!

            Please, don’t mention it! I was happy to help. The lighting will be the most critical component to get right. If you can get his temps and UVB to be where they should be, I feel confident you’ll see a change in your beardie very shortly after.

            I wish you and your beardie the best, please let me know how everything goes!

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