Do Bearded Dragons Change Color When Stressed?

Bearded dragons possess an array of intriguing behaviors that pique the curiosity of their human caretakers. 

Among these behaviors is their remarkable ability to change colors, which has sparked speculation about the connection between their chromatic shifts and their emotional state. 


Do bearded dragons change color when stressed?

Bearded dragons change colors when stressed. They may darken their skin color due to hormonal and physiological changes in response to perceived threats or other environmental factors. To avoid this color change, it’s recommended to maintain a calm environment free of any stressors.

Keep reading to learn more about what causes bearded dragons to become stressed and how to deal it with it.

Do Bearded Dragons Change Color When Stressed?

a photo of a bearded dragon to show do bearded dragons change color when stressed

Bearded dragons are known to exhibit color changes, and stress is one factor that can trigger these transformations. 

Stress-induced color changes in bearded dragons are linked to their natural defense mechanisms and can serve as a form of camouflage. In the wild, when faced with potential threats or perceived dangers, bearded dragons may darken their skin color to blend in with their surroundings, making it harder for predators to spot them.

The specific color a stressed bearded dragon may change to can vary. While the most common color change is a darkening of the skin, ranging from shades of brown to black, some individuals may exhibit other color variations, such as deepening shades of red or orange

The exact hue and intensity of the color change can depend on factors like the individual dragon’s genetic makeup and the specific stressors they are experiencing.

What Causes Bearded Dragons to Become Stressed?

Bearded dragons, like any living creature, can experience stress in various situations. Understanding the common causes of stress in bearded dragons is crucial for their overall well-being. 

Here are some factors that can contribute to stress in these reptiles:

  • Inadequate Habitat: Bearded dragons require a suitable enclosure with appropriate temperature gradients, humidity levels, and hiding spots. If their habitat is too small, lacks proper lighting or heating, or lacks privacy, it can cause chronic stress.
  • Improper Handling: Rough handling, excessive picking up, or incorrect gripping techniques can frighten and stress bearded dragons. They may feel threatened or insecure if they are not handled gently or if they are restrained too tightly.
  • Environmental Changes: Abrupt changes in their surroundings, such as relocation to a new enclosure, sudden noise, or rearrangement of their habitat, can be stressful for bearded dragons. They prefer a stable and consistent environment.
  • Inconsistent Lighting or Temperature: Bearded dragons rely on proper lighting and temperature to regulate their bodily functions. Inconsistent or incorrect lighting and temperature conditions can disrupt their biological rhythms and lead to stress.
  • Overcrowding: Keeping multiple bearded dragons in a small or inadequately sized enclosure can cause stress due to territorial conflicts, limited space, and increased competition for resources.
  • Inadequate Diet: Poor nutrition or an unbalanced diet can lead to health issues, discomfort, and stress in bearded dragons. Offering a varied diet with appropriate calcium and vitamin supplementation is crucial for their overall well-being.
  • Presence of Predators or Aggressive Animals: Bearded dragons can become stressed if they perceive the presence of potential threats, such as predators or other aggressive animals, either inside or outside their enclosure.
  • Lack of Mental Stimulation: Bearded dragons are intelligent creatures that require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and stress. Lack of environmental enrichment, such as toys, hiding spots, or opportunities for exploration, can contribute to stress.
  • Inappropriate Social Interactions: Bearded dragons, while not typically social animals, may still show signs of stress if forced to interact with other bearded dragons or animals without proper introductions or in stressful situations.

Other Symptoms of Stress in Bearded Dragons

Stress in bearded dragons can manifest through various behavioral and physical symptoms. 

Here are some symptoms other than color change to look out for:

  • Aggression or Agitated Behavior: Stressed bearded dragons may display aggressive behaviors, such as head-bobbing, puffing up their beard, or opening their mouth in a threatening manner. They may also become more irritable, restless, or jumpy.
  • Decreased Appetite: A stressed bearded dragon may show a loss of interest in eating or a significant decrease in appetite. They may ignore or avoid their food, leading to weight loss or malnutrition if the stress persists.
  • Lethargy or Unusual Inactivity: Stressed bearded dragons may become lethargic and spend more time hiding or staying inactive. They may lose their usual level of alertness, responsiveness, or engagement with their surroundings.
  • Excessive Hiding: If a bearded dragon seeks constant hiding spots or spends excessive amounts of time in their hideouts, it could indicate stress. They may isolate themselves to reduce exposure to perceived threats or stressful stimuli.
  • Tail Twitching or Body Tremors: Stress can cause bearded dragons to exhibit unusual physical movements, such as tail twitching or body tremors. These involuntary movements can be a sign of heightened stress levels.
  • Breathing Irregularities: Stressed bearded dragons may display abnormal breathing patterns, such as rapid or shallow breaths. They may also exhibit open-mouth breathing, which can indicate respiratory distress.
  • Skin Lesions or Shedding Issues: Chronic stress can weaken a bearded dragon’s immune system, making them more susceptible to skin problems or difficulties during the shedding process, such as skin lesions, retained shed, or prolonged shedding.
  • Changes in Defecation: Stress can affect a bearded dragon’s digestive system, leading to changes in its bowel movements. This can manifest as diarrhea, constipation, or irregularities in their normal waste elimination.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also indicate other health issues, so it’s best to consult with a reptile veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes in your bearded dragon’s behavior or physical condition. 

What to Do If Your Bearded Dragon Is Stressed?

If you notice signs of stress in your bearded dragon, it’s essential to take appropriate steps to help alleviate their stress and improve their well-being. 

Tips to Reduce Stress for Your Bearded Dragon

  • Provide a Suitable Habitat: Ensure that the enclosure is appropriately sized, clean, and equipped with the necessary elements. This includes providing proper temperature gradients, adequate lighting (including UVB), hiding spots, and a comfortable substrate.
  • Maintain Consistent Temperature and Lighting: Bearded dragons require specific temperature ranges and a consistent light cycle to support their physiological needs. Use a thermometer and thermostat to monitor and regulate the temperature, and ensure they receive the appropriate lighting duration and intensity.
  • Offer a Balanced Diet: Provide a varied and nutritionally balanced diet that meets the specific dietary requirements of bearded dragons. Offer a mix of fresh vegetables, fruits, and appropriately sized insects, ensuring calcium and vitamin supplementation as needed.
  • Handle with Care: Handle your bearded dragon gently and minimize unnecessary handling. When picking them up, support their body and limbs properly to avoid causing discomfort or stress. Gradually introduce handling and respect their boundaries.
  • Minimize Loud Noises and Sudden Movements: Bearded dragons are sensitive to sudden loud noises or rapid movements, which can startle and stress them. Create a calm environment by reducing noise levels and maintaining a quiet atmosphere around their enclosure.
  • Provide Environmental Enrichment: Offer toys, climbing structures, and objects for your bearded dragon to interact with and explore. This helps stimulate their natural behaviors, provides mental enrichment, and reduces boredom.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Bearded dragons should have adequate space within their enclosure. Avoid housing multiple bearded dragons together unless they are compatible and have sufficient space to establish their territories.
  • Monitor and Minimize Exposure to Potential Stressors: Identify any potential stressors in the environment, such as aggressive animals, excessive handling by unfamiliar people, or disturbances from other pets. Take steps to minimize exposure to these stress-inducing factors.
  • Maintain a Routine: Establish a consistent daily routine for feeding, handling, and maintaining their enclosure. Bearded dragons thrive on predictability, and a structured routine can help reduce stress by providing familiarity and security.
  • Seek Veterinary Care: If the stress symptoms persist or worsen despite your efforts, consult a reptile veterinarian. They can conduct a thorough examination, provide specific guidance, and rule out any underlying health issues that may be contributing to the stress.

Remember, each bearded dragon is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to observe your pet closely, monitor their behavior, and make adjustments accordingly to provide them with the best possible care and support.


As responsible owners, it’s crucial to observe our bearded dragons closely, noting any signs of stress or other color variations, and taking appropriate measures to address their needs. 

Color changes in bearded dragons can be a combination of factors, and individual variations exist. While stress-induced color changes are one aspect, understanding the full range of reasons for color changes helps to appreciate the complexity and beauty of these reptiles.

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