Do Bearded Dragons Change Color As They Grow?

Bearded dragons, with their distinctive appearance and captivating personalities, have become beloved pets for reptile enthusiasts worldwide. 

Among the many mysteries surrounding these enchanting creatures, one question often arises: Do bearded dragons change color as they grow? 

Bearded dragons do change colors as they grow. Their color changes occur due to a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and mood regulation. These adaptations help them with thermoregulation, camouflage, and communication.

Keep reading to learn more about why bearded dragons change colors as they grow and whether they stop when they reach full growth.

What Are the Natural Colors of Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons exhibit a wide range of natural colors and patterns, which can vary depending on their subspecies and individual genetics. 

The most common wild-type bearded dragon coloration is a blend of earthy tones, predominantly featuring shades of brown, tan, and gray. This natural camouflage enables them to blend into their arid desert habitats.

The body of a bearded dragon typically displays a base color that may vary from light beige or yellow to dark brown. Along their sides, you may find distinct rows of scales known as lateral markings, which can appear in various shades of brown, orange, or gray. These markings often create a banded or striped pattern across the body.

Another notable feature of bearded dragons is their dorsal (back) coloration. It typically consists of a series of darker transverse bands or blotches that run from the head to the tail. The color of these bands can range from dark brown or black to lighter shades of gray or orange.

In addition to the base color and markings, bearded dragons often exhibit contrasting patterns on their head. They may have darker patches around their eyes, often referred to as “eye bars” or “eye patches.” These markings can vary in color from dark brown to black and are believed to play a role in communication and species recognition.

It is important to note that while the above description represents the typical coloration of wild-type bearded dragons, captive-bred specimens can exhibit a wider range of colors and patterns.  Selective breeding has led to various morphs, including those with vibrant orange, red, yellow, or even pastel hues, which are very popular among pet owners.

Understanding the natural colors of bearded dragons serves as a foundation for recognizing deviations or changes in their coloration, which can indicate potential health issues or environmental stressors. 

Do Bearded Dragons Change Color As They Grow?

Bearded dragons do undergo color changes as they grow, although the extent and nature of these changes can vary between individuals. The color transformations in bearded dragons are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and hormonal changes.

Hatchling bearded dragons often exhibit more vibrant and contrasting colors compared to their adult counterparts. They may have distinct patterns and brighter hues, which gradually fade and become less pronounced as they mature. This process is known as ontogenetic color change.

One significant color change that occurs in bearded dragons is the darkening of their base coloration. As they grow older, their base color tends to darken, transitioning from lighter shades of yellow or beige to darker tones of brown or gray, which is believed to provide better camouflage in their natural desert environments.

The development of lateral markings is another notable change that occurs as bearded dragons mature. These markings become more defined and pronounced, often displaying banded or striped patterns. The colors of the lateral markings can also intensify or change, with variations of brown, orange, or gray becoming more distinct.

In addition to these overall color changes, individual scales on a bearded dragon’s body can also exhibit alterations in pigmentation. This can result in speckling, mottling, or even the appearance of new colors within their scales.

It is important to note that the extent and timing of color changes in bearded dragons can be influenced by various factors, including temperature, lighting, diet, stress levels, and overall health. 

For instance, exposure to higher temperatures and appropriate UV lighting can enhance color development, while stress or poor environmental conditions can lead to duller colors or a loss of vibrancy.

Is It Normal for Bearded Dragons to Change Colors?

a photo of an orange bearded dragon to show do bearded dragons change color as they grow

Color changes in bearded dragons are generally normal. However, it is crucial to monitor any sudden or extreme alterations in coloration, as they can be indicative of health issues or stress. 

If your bearded dragon exhibits rapid or unusual color changes, it is recommended to consult a reptile veterinarian for proper assessment and care.

When Do Bearded Dragons Reach Full Growth?

Bearded dragons generally reach their full growth and size between the ages of 12 to 18 months. However, the exact timeline can vary depending on several factors including genetics, diet, environmental conditions, and overall health.

During their first year of life, bearded dragons experience rapid growth. They typically double or even triple in size within the first few months. This period of growth is often referred to as the “juvenile” stage.

After the initial rapid growth phase, the growth rate slows down as they enter their “sub-adult” stage. This stage usually starts around 8 to 12 months of age and can continue until they reach around 18 months. 

By the time bearded dragons reach 18 months of age, they are considered to be adults and have typically reached their full size. However, it is important to note that even after reaching their full size, some bearded dragons may continue to fill out and develop more muscle mass over time.

Will Bearded Dragons Stop Changing Colors At Full Growth?

While the intensity and frequency of color changes in bearded dragons may decrease as they reach full growth, they may still exhibit some level of color variation throughout their lives. 

Color changes in bearded dragons can occur in response to environmental factors, mood, temperature, and overall health. So, it’s important to monitor any color changes in your bearded dragon throughout its life to get insights into its well-being.

Conclusion

In conclusion, bearded dragons undergo color changes throughout their lives, with their hues shifting as they grow. These transformations serve purposes such as thermoregulation, communication, and camouflage. 

While color changes are most prominent during growth, they may continue to exhibit some variation in adulthood. 

By monitoring understanding and monitoring color changes in bearded dragoons, we can ensure their well-being and appreciate the fascinating nature of these remarkable reptiles.

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