Bearded dragons are among the most common pet reptiles. People love them because they’re simple to care for and delightful to interact with.
Standard or “wild-type” bearded dragons are beautiful in their own right, but have you ever heard of fancy bearded dragons?
Fancy bearded dragons are selectively bred to look beautiful and unique. Fancy bearded dragons might be red, orange, or even blue. They can have HUGE bodies, tiny scales, or zig-zag markings.
Now, you may be wondering:
- Where can I buy a fancy bearded dragon?
- Where do fancy bearded dragons come from?
- Do fancy bearded dragons still make great pets?
- What kind of fancy bearded dragon should I get?
We’re here to answer all of those questions and more!
Table of Contents
- Fancy bearded dragons are the same species as normal bearded dragons.
- Fancy bearded dragons are selectively bred for unique appearances.
- They can be of different colors and sizes or have crazy patterns and scales.
- Fancy bearded dragons have most of the same husbandry requirements as normal bearded dragons.
- Fancy bearded dragons can cost a lot of money!
Taking on any pet is a big commitment. Luckily, caring for a fancy bearded dragon is relatively straightforward. Once you understand their needs for heating, lighting, and a healthy diet, it’s like second nature. Don’t worry, our bearded dragon care sheet will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know.
What Is a Fancy Bearded Dragon?
A fancy bearded dragon is any bearded dragon that was selectively bred to appear different from normal, wild-type bearded dragons.
Fancy bearded dragons are similar to purebred dogs and cats. Breeders usually put a lot of effort into cultivating their appearance and tracking their lineage.
Fancy bearded dragons may have traits that are refined over multiple generations. Alternatively, they may carry genetic morphs that appeared suddenly and unexpectedly in a clutch or wild-caught bearded dragon. Fancy bearded dragons can even have a combination of traits and morphs!
Some fancy bearded dragons are selectively bred for specific traits such as bright colors, large size, or stripes. Some examples of selectively-bred fancy bearded dragon traits include:
- Tiger – fancy bearded dragons with connected stripes.
- Red – fancy bearded dragons selectively bred for their bright, fiery red color.
- Citrus – fancy bearded dragons that become more vibrantly yellow as they age.
- Orange – a common fancy bearded dragon trait that intensifies the natural orange color.
Other fancy bearded dragons carry specific gene-linked traits known as morphs. Some examples of bearded dragon morphs include:
- Dunner – a genetic morph that causes irregular spikes and scales.
- Hypomelanistic, or “hypo” – a genetic morph that reduces black pigmentation.
- Translucent, or “trans” – a genetic mutation that causes scales to be see-through.
- Leatherback – fancy bearded dragons with a morph that results in missing spikes.
As you may have realized, fancy bearded dragons can look like an entirely different species than their wild-type ancestors. Where did these bizarre beauties even come from?
How Are Fancy Bearded Dragons Made?
Traits and morphs have different origins in the bearded dragon world.
Breeders developed selectively-bred traits through generations of breeding the “best” looking animals.
For example, out of a group of 50 imported wild bearded dragons, a breeder may take home the four “reddest” lizards.
Those four reddish bearded dragons create two separate clutches. The breeder then selects the reddest babies from each clutch and breeds them together. This process continues for multiple generations. Each new generation results in even brighter and better-looking animals than the last.
To speed up this process, breeders may pair siblings or a parent with an offspring. This technique is known as linebreeding. Linebreeding can create better-looking animals in a shorter time.
Unfortunately, linebreeding also has its drawbacks. Excessive linebreeding causes deformities and general unhealthiness. Because of this, be sure to always buy your pet from a reputable breeder or dealer.
On the other hand, most morphs pop up as a bizarre-looking wild import or an oddball from a clutch of captive bearded dragons.
Sometimes, these oddballs are just that – random anomalies that don’t pass any special genes onto their babies.
Other times, breeders can “prove out” the morph by breeding the animal to its sibling or offspring. If the breeder can replicate the animal’s appearance, it is a genetic morph.
Some fancy bearded dragons are labeled as “het” or “heterozygous” for a morph. Heterozygous means they carry the gene for the morph and pass it onto their babies but don’t physically show or look like the morph.
Fancy vs. Normal Bearded Dragon Comparisons
You know what they look like.
You know where they come from.
But how do fancy bearded dragons compare to normal bearded dragons? If you still haven’t decided which you’d prefer, here’s how having a pet FANCY bearded dragon compares to owning a pet normal bearded dragon.
Appearance & Identification
Normal bearded dragons can be identified by their:
- Color – mute, earthy shades of brown and gray
- Pattern – irregular, broken bands that fade with age
- Size – 16 to 24 inches long and 380 to 510 grams in weight
- Scales – Spiky scales on their back and beard, with smooth, even belly scales
There are tons of different types of fancy bearded dragons. They may have other:
- Colors – bright, saturated hues of orange, red, yellow, white, or blue.
- Patterns – zig-zag, continuous S-shape, horizontal or vertical stripes such as a genetic stripe or tiger stripe
- Size – same as normals, with some exceptions*
- Scales – may be irregular, tiny, totally absent, or even see-through
*The German Giant line of fancy bearded dragons has been selectively bred to attain sizes of 25 to 30 inches in length and weigh over 680 grams.
*Excessively inbred fancy bearded dragons may be smaller due to poor health.
A bearded dragon’s cost is dependant on several factors, including:
- Breeding status
- Overall health status
Most dealers usually sell healthy, baby, normal bearded dragons for $50 to $125.
Fancy bearded dragons may cost as little as $80 for common traits, like orange coloration.
On the other end of the spectrum, bearded dragons with combinations of rare morphs such as genetic stripe and translucent can easily cost over $800.
Generally speaking, fancy bearded dragons are just as healthy as normal bearded dragons. They all have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
Breeders with poor practices may mistakenly perpetuate health issues with inbreeding.
The silkback or silkie morph is one exception to the rule. Their lack of scales leaves them vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, shedding issues, and UVB burns. Only experienced bearded dragon keepers should take on one of these animals.
Most fancy bearded dragons require the same things as a typical bearded dragon:
- A healthy diet
- An ideal, suitable habitat
- Proper lighting and heating set-ups
- Care and treatment from a qualified veterinarian
Once again, the exception is silkback fancy bearded dragons. They require some extra efforts, including:
- Assistance shedding
- Extra dietary hydration
- Safe enclosure surfaces
The Best Fancy Bearded Dragon Morphs
If you’re looking into adopting a fancy bearded dragon, it can be hard to decide what type to get. We’re going to cover our favorite varieties. Hopefully, they give you some inspiration!
1. Zero Bearded Dragon
Zero bearded dragons are named after their lack of pattern and color. These striking lizards are pure white with regular scales.
2. Translucent Bearded Dragon
Translucent or “trans” bearded dragons have see-through scales. Babies have a bluish tint to their belly because their organs are more visible. They tend to have dark or even black eyes.
3. Witblits Bearded Dragon
Witblits bearded dragons are patternless but still have one solid color. They can range from gray to yellow.
4. Dunner Bearded Dragon
The dunner morph affects the scales of bearded dragons. It creates more scales that are scattered and uneven. The spikes also point in random directions.
5. Leatherback Bearded Dragon
Leatherback bearded dragons lack the spiky scales along their back. Their color will appear more bright. When you breed two leatherback bearded dragons together, you can end up with silkback scaleless bearded dragons.
Q: Why Is My Fancy Bearded Dragon Changing Color?
Age: Most fancy bearded dragons become darker with age. They’ll still always be more colorful than adult normal bearded dragons.
Genetics: Some breeders produce animals that stay brighter as adults. Asking to see photos of a bearded dragon’s parents can help you determine if the animal has strong genes for color.
Shedding: All reptiles become darker and drabber as they enter their shed cycle. After they release their old skin, they may be even brighter than before!
Mood: Angry or stressed bearded dragons will darken in color and may even turn black!
Health: Sick bearded dragons will also become duller and darker in color, and they can also turn black.
Q: What Do Fancy Bearded Dragons Eat?
Fancy bearded dragons benefit from having the same diet as normal bearded dragons. A healthy bearded dragon diet includes:
- Fresh water
- High-quality calcium powder
- High-quality reptile multivitamin powder
- 10%-20% dusted and gut-loaded insects
- 80%-90% fresh vegetables, including primarily dark leafy greens
Colorful vegetables and foods that are high in vitamin A may enhance fancy bearded dragons’ coloration.
Q: Are Fancy Bearded Dragons Friendly?
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that any animal with teeth can bite – including fancy bearded dragons.
However, fancy bearded dragons tend to be just as friendly and personable as their standard counterparts.
They’re likely to be more friendly than normal bearded dragons who are only one or two generations removed from the wild.
Diving Deeper Into the Realm of Bearded Dragons
Now that you know what a fancy bearded dragon is, you can head over to learn even more about these 22 bearded dragon morphs and types.
If you’ve already decided what type of fancy bearded dragon you’ll be bringing home, don’t forget to take some time to pick out the perfect name!