Do bearded dragons change color as they grow?

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Having a bearded dragon as a pet can be amazing. You get to see the beauty of this lizard in terms of its behavior and response to reactions. Despite originally being wild creatures, these creatures are very easy to domesticate and would never attack their owners except if scared and irritated, which is quite hard to do. Globally, there are over 4-8 of these reptiles in the wild, and they all seem to share one thing in common; color change.

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Bearded dragons are known to change their color, and even though they do not get as much recognition as their chameleon cousin, it has been observed that they do it often. There are many reasons why a beardie may decide to adopt a change in skin color. It could be for camouflaging, protection and prey hunting, and other factors such as mood, heat storage, etc.

While color change in Bearded Dragons isn’t new, there are some arguments that they can totally change from their original color to another as they grow. This implies that a young yellow beardie, as it grows, may lose the color and get another one. We shall talk about this.

Young beardies have been noticed to have sharper and more striking tones when newly born than when they begin growing. Their color seems to get darker or sometimes lighter as they grow, hence the reason for the talks on color change. This change, however, is not caused by a deliberate will to alter their color but as a result of their growing process.

As beardies grow bigger, their head and chest enlarge, which causes their skin to stretch and affects their skin brightness. This, for some, could be said to be a color change, while for others, a change in shade.

Do bearded dragons change color as they grow
Do bearded dragons change color as they grow

Do Bearded Dragons Change Color As They Get Older

My beardie seems to be changing color. Is this normal? This a question we seem to get every day, and we are sure you must have come across it too. The reason for this question is not far-fetched from the fact that bearded dragons do change color. Just like chameleons, bearded dragons change color for survival and adaptability when in the wild. They protect themselves from predators who would have a hard time spotting them and efficiently trap prey that was oblivious of their presence. They also change color so they can absorb heat. In the home, however, a beardie usually changes color to express mood. So these characteristics show that the beardie has frequent color changes. But this question is on a permanent change as they get older.

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When they are born, young bearded dragons have a striking defined color which is maintained to a certain stage. However, as they begin to grow bigger and older, a lot of change starts to take place in their bodies. Their heads grow bigger, the chest gets wider, and their stomachs fatter. This growth leads to the stretching of their skin which changes their shade. The color shade may become darker or lighter and can be considered as a color change.

Some owners do feel that the change in color is dependent on the diet the bearded dragon is subjected to. They believe that improper diet affects their color and is responsible for the changes. This claim is, however, not valid as beardies’ color alteration over time is strictly genetic.

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What Does It Mean When My Bearded Dragon Changes Color?                          

Bearded dragons have chromatophores which are pigment that contains cells which reflect light that give color to the eye and their skin. Bearded dragons tend to change color quite often, and this can be attributed to factors such as aging, thermoregulation, light, environmental change, shedding, and mood communication. We shall comprehensively outline why your dragon may be changing color often.


Aging: Bearded dragons, when around 11 -19 months, have good colorful skin, but as they grow older, the skin pigmentation tends to get duller.

Thermoregulation: When their environment is cold, bearded dragons become darker as black absorbs heat which is necessary for their adaptability. If the temperature is hot, the animals become white and pale to help prevent their bodies from absorbing heat.

Light: If your pet is left in a dark place, its skin gets lighter, and when exposed to a lot of light, such as sunlight or basking under heat lamps, its skin gets darker.

Environmental change: This can affect the color change in your pet, like the background and color of the soil.

Shedding: your pet may become darker when a new skin grows underneath the old one. Nevertheless, the skin instantly becomes lighter after shedding.

Mood communication: These pet’s emotions can be reflected through their skin, and this is mostly interacted by color change. When happy or comfortable, the skin will normally turn bright like an orange or yellowish color. When they stressed, their skin immediately develops dark spots and markings.

Do Bearded Dragons change color when they shed? 

Skin shedding is referred to as ecdysis and is a process in certain animals that involves replacing old worn-out skin with a new one. Shedding is quite natural among bearded dragons and is a healthy way of getting rid of outdated skin tissues. They shed their skin for growth purposes and to replace injured or damaged skin. However, other factors such as habitat, temperature, diet and wear and tear can also trigger shedding. Bearded dragons could shed multiple times, and this has a direct effect on their skin color.

In the case of young bearded dragons, which shed mostly every week, change in skin color isn’t the only thing that happens. Changes in behavior also occur during the process, and these may include diet, eye bulging, lethargic behavior, and dull skin color. As their skin becomes dull, pale, or grey, the loose dull skin patches gradually separate from the emerging new skin, revealing a brighter and cleaner shade.

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Also, Bearded dragons may experience a loss of appetite before, during, and after shedding. There is no cause for alarm, though, as this is perfectly normal. So if your pet seems indifferent to food or shows total disinterest without any signs of illness, then it is most probably about to shed.

Eye bulging is another behavioral pattern in bearded dragons during shedding, eye-bulging allows the skin around the animal’s head and eyes to become loose, so it sheds successfully. Legarthic movement is also another obvious sign of shedding as they deliberately become slow to conserve energy for the process. They may also scratch their skin on different surfaces to help the peeling.

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Bearded Dragon Color Fading              

Color fading is a normal occurrence for a bearded dragon, and there are many reasons for it. The reptile may need a bath, or it could be that it isn’t getting an adequate temperature gradient all over its body. Other reasons could be that it may be preparing to shed its skin or may be dehydrated.                      

For bearded dragons to keep their color, they depend on natural sunlight. However, providing this for home pets may not be possible. Hence, UV lights are used as a suitable alternative. If you use UV lighting, then it is important you properly set it, so it gives the adequate heat your animal requires. The light must be centralized so that all areas of your pet’s body are reached to keep its color. For the temperature, it is important to maintain a temperature of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. The basking spots should be around 88-100 degrees Fahrenheit.                           

Shedding is another cause of faded skin in bearded dragons. Young dragons shed their skin weekly in most cases, while adults shed theirs a few times a year but may shed more often if they have a skin infection.

You can help your pet improve its skin color by providing it with warm water for soaking. You can also help by using water to wet its food so it would take in more water, or even use an eyedropper to put drops of water in its snout. Adding supplements to its diet is also essential.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Turning Orange?

A bearded dragon turning orange is not very common but isn’t rare either. There have been several cases of beardies changing color to orange, and also a lot of uncertainty on the main reason for this. Most times, the color change is noticed when the beardie sheds its skin. With each new skin, spreads of orange are noticed all over its body. Another time this change is detected is when the reptile is under UV light. So what is the cause of this change?

There are several theories on the reason for this change, with one being attributed to diet. Some owners believe that the orange pigmentation is caused by feeding the reptile orange-colored foods such as oranges. A lot of people believe this theory, and it is common knowledge among bearded dragon owners. This claim, however, lacks scientific data and cannot be taken as true given the fact that coloring in a beardie is totally genetic.

Another claim is that beardies developing orange colors is based on their mood. It is believed that a bearded dragon may change to orange if it is always happy in its environment. This claim is also not verified, and just like the first, does not have any scientific backing.

As stated before, there is no confirmed answer on what condition causes orange coloring in bearded dragons other than the fact that those species may just be some kind of morph that is actually orange colored and only became apparent after some years.

What Color Will My Baby Bearded Dragon Be?

One of the most distinctive characteristics of adult bearded dragons is their color. These beardies come in different colors such as red, brown, translucent, and many other colors. These beautiful colors are one of the reasons the reptile is a household darling. However, before a bearded dragon became an adult and began to show a distinct or dominant color, it was first a baby. Which means its color wasn’t so obvious.

Unlike the adults, a bearded baby dragon may not show any distinct color or express a number of multiple colors. While this is not a problem, many owners usually are curious about what color their baby dragon will turn out to be in the future. A lot of these questions and similar ones have been constantly asked about, and we will be answering these questions in this article.


Baby bearded dragons may look really pale, while some may have multiple colors such as gray, blue, and a little bit of orange. This may lead owners into believing that their animals will end up with the same color growing up. There could be nothing further from the truth as beardies due to multiple skin shedding while growing up usually end up with an entirely different color. It is possible for a baby beardie to be light yellow and end up as dark yellow or close to orange at adulthood. Therefore trying to know your dragon through such means is very unlikely.

The best way of knowing your baby bearded dragon color is by getting to know its background. Its parents may give you an idea of what color your beardie might end up with. This option is much very likely to tell you what your baby will look like if the parents are the same color. Another option is to watch your young pet growing through the years as it sheds skin after skin to unveil its color. 

Leatherback Bearded Dragon                         

The leatherback bearded dragons are rare Bearded dragons that are produced from mutated genes to make them look more colorful, less scaly, and generally more appealing than standard dragons. The Leather back is among the few species categorized as fancy Bearded dragons.

To produce the leatherback bearded dragon, breeders bring two bearded dragons with specific attributes and characteristics and breed them until they get the desired result. This process of mating typically takes repeated efforts before success, which makes the Leatherback bearded dragon more expensive than the standard one.

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Leather Back dragons actually have more scales than the standard ones, but they are very tiny, giving a smoother feel to the standard ones. They also come with different levels of smoothness and different unique skin colors like orange and reddish colors. They have no spikes on their back but have on their heads, beards, and one row of spikes on each side of their body. They do not have a tail, and their legs have no visible scales due to extreme uniformity. 

The sizes of Leather back Bearded dragons depend on their sex, with males being typically longer in length and can grow up to 24 inches. The female can reach up to 19 inches. These animals can live as long as 12-14 years which is normal with all bearded dragons.

Fancy Bearded Dragon 

As the name suggests, these bearded dragons have different colorings and unique skin patterns to the standard bearded dragons. Their patterns are unique and rare compared to the everyday beardies. They are considered critical breeds.

Fancy bearded dragons have much brighter colors and are different in terms of skin pattern, texture, and sizes. Their skin color is mostly a combination of red and orange with unique zig-zag designs. Unlike normal bearded dragons, fancy dragons have fewer spikes, making them look less threatening to predators who see them as easy picks than their cousins. This makes it difficult for them to adapt and survive in the wild because they are only raised as pets.

Fancy bearded dragons are a product of captive-selected breeding and are bred by mating two normal bearded dragons with specifically required traits to produce a unique bearded dragon. This makes them a bit different in color brightness and spikes, with theirs fewer.

While fancy dragons are recognized for their beauty, they also have a number of downsides. They are often sickly with different health conditions and also have a very short life span.

How To Identify A Fancy Bearded Dragon?  

Fancy bearded dragons have unique skin patterns and irregular markings or stripes. They have very few spikes and smooth scales. They also have bright colors that make them very noticeable. They could be purple, red, yellow, and even orange. They could also come as albinos. The leatherback bearded dragon and the silky back bearded dragon are good examples of fancy bearded dragons. 

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Bearded dragons are no doubt beautiful pets. They are very reserved, calm, and solitary animals that enjoy quiet. We have taken time to study these animals and talked about their uniqueness by majorly talking about their color. Possessing cells that can create diverse colors and camouflage, just like the chameleon, the beardie is a living art. In this article, we talked about how bearded dragons can change their color, either concerning age or some other factors. We comprehensively answered these questions providing our readers with the needed knowledge. We also talked about some species of this animal and its features. All of this was done to educate our readers and give them a vivid understanding of bearded dragons’ behavior, a feat we were able to achieve. 

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.