There are so many reptiles we can have as pets, however, we can safely say that the number one favorite is Bearded Dragons. They are truly fascinating reptiles, and they have many curiosities around them in their little quirks and personalities.
Yet, one of the most curious features these little reptiles have is the sudden appearance of stress marks.
Any Bearded Dragon enthusiast or owner will find this to be quite the curiosity, bringing up all sorts of questions, we don’t blame you for coming on the internet to find answers.
To save you hours of online searching, reading, and research, we have done the hard work for you, and have collected all the information you will need right here.
We will help you to understand exactly what these stress marks are, why they might appear and how to help your Beardie feel better, so they go.
What are these stress marks? Well, they are dark lines, occasionally oval shapes, and they will typically appear on the belly, however they can also appear on the beard or the limbs.
These are marks that can form as a result of some form of anxiety or stress. It is a bit like how humans can break out in spots and pimples when stressed.
Stay with us to find out more about these stress marks, including how long they last for and how to relieve the stress your Bearded Dragon is experiencing.
Table of Content show
Bearded Dragon stress marks; What are they?
As you can imagine, from the name alone, stress marks are something that happens when your Bearded Dragon gets stressed out or anxious. Any situation that may put your Beardie under elevated levels of stress may cause this.
The stress marks will typically appear in the form of dark lines, not all that dissimilar from small tiger stripes, or they may appear as dark oval-shaped marks on your Beardie’s belly.
They could also appear on your Bearded Dragon’s limbs or on their beard, yet the belly is the most common place to spot these marks.
There are countless reasons that a Bearded Dragon might start getting stress marks. Some of these reasons may be easier to spot and can be dealt with much more easily, however others may be more subtle and therefore may need a bit of detective work to identify and fix.
Either way, these marks are caused by situations that make your bearded dragon feel stressed or anxious.
Although there are plenty of reasons that these marks might appear, one of the most common is ‘relocation stress’, which really speaks for itself really.
If you do find these marks on your Beardie then panic is not necessary, and an easy resolve is just around the corner.
How long can I expect the stress marks to last?
If you are wondering how long you can expect these stress marks to last, then it really depends, there is no time limit on these, and it will vary depending on a plethora of factors.
The first question you should ask is if your Beardie is being exposed to any situation that could be causing them constant stress.
If the answer is yes, or if there is a high possibility that the answer is yes, then the chances of the stress marks staying longer will be higher.
Similarly, if your Dragon is subject to any stressful situation, and it is then quickly resolved, then the stress marks should disappear fairly fast.
Considering all of the above, the average time for stress marks to last can be anything from just a few hours to over a week, as the time depends on the age of the Dragon and the stressful situation.
Young or baby Beardies are also known to occasionally get these stress marks all the way through to adulthood, where they will eventually disappear.
This is even possible if the Dragon was only stressed for a very short period of time and then happy afterward.
There are many things that may cause a flare up of stress marks in your Bearded Dragon.
It is important to know what these situations are so that you can find the source of the issue and eliminate it, you can also calm your Dragon appropriately according to the situation that has them stressed.
Below we have some likely causes of a stressed out Bearded Dragon.
Incorrect tank temperature.
Bearded Dragons need to be living in the correct temperature for their bodies, this is why they are known to show stress marks when they are feeling too cold.
This is something that can often happen in the mornings, when your Dragon has slept through the night in the colder temperatures, it is very possible that they may show stress marks until they warm up under their basking lamp.
Once hey have warmed up, their stress marks will disappear
If you notice that this seems to be happening, then the first thing that you should do is monitor the temperature of their tank. Overnight, their tank temperature should fall around 70-75° F to ensure that they do not get cold as they sleep.
Another thing that you should do is ensure that their basking area is at the correct temperature too.
Doing these things should allow your Beardie to sleep comfortably without overheating or being too cold and having to increase their body temperature to the correct range in the morning.
If the temperatures in the tank are as they should be, then do not worry, as there is nothing to worry about there. Bearded Dragons can get stress marks for many reasons.
This means that they can also get stress marks when they get too hot, and they cannot cool down properly. So, additionally, while you will want to ensure that they do not get too cold, also try to ensure that they do not get too hot either.
There should be a gradient of about 20 °F between their basking area and their cooling spot.
|Basking Area||95 °F to 100 °F|
|Cool Spot||75 °F to 80 °F|
|Night||70 °F to 75 °F|
One of the most common causes of stress marks in Bearded Dragon’s is relocation. This is very common, and it can be an expression of how the Dragon feels about the sudden change that they are experiencing.
This is very common in baby Beardies as they will typically spend the first weeks of their lives in just one location, and then just as they are getting comfortable with the world and their surroundings, they suddenly get a new home, new owners, new surroundings, and may have to give among other animals too.
This can be very stressful and scary, and it can cause the baby to feel stressed and anxious, and then these stress marks will crop up to show their distaste for the rapid change.
While later we will discuss how you can calm and de-stress a Beardie who is in this scenario, we want to first of all note that you should ensure your baby’s tank is the right size.
Having a correctly sized tank is a big step into ensuring that your Beardie is happy and will settle in faster.
Beardie’s may also suffer from relocation stress if you and them move to a new home, or if you moved their tank into a new room, or even just changed the positioning of the furniture in your home.
These reptiles are not fans of change, and so any change can reap an unhappy Beardie.
The good news for you is that with this stress, it will usually disappear with time as they get used to the way that things are for them in their new home, room, or with their new surroundings.
It is worth ensuring that you have plenty of hides and suitable naturalistic habitat in your Dragon’s tank.
This way, regardless of what is going on around them, they will feel more at home and safe in their tank with a tank that represents their natural habitats. This will lower the chance of your Dragon getting stressed.
‘Where can I hide?’
Your Bearded Dragon will love to have plenty of places to hide, and whenever they are feeling unsure about a specific situation, they will feel safe when they can take cover under a rock, log, or in a tunnel until they have had time to assess the situation and have deduced that it is safe.
If your Dragon does not have any hides, or the hides provided are too small for them your Dragon won’t use them, similarly, if the hide does not look natural enough then they won’t use them either, or they simply may not feel safe using them.
Having hides that your Dragon likes, can fit in, and that feels natural to them will provide them with safety and a place to assess situations when they are feeling stressed or upset.
You should remember that Beardies are naturally placid, and aggressive tendencies are at the very bottom of their attitude list. They prefer to hide to stay safe in unpredictable situations.
If your Beardie does not feel comfortable in using their hides, then they may feel exposed to the situations they are uncomfortable with, and this can be a major contributor to stress.
A hide to a Dragon is like the bathroom at an awkward family dinner, you can go and hide there to de-stress for a few minutes.
If you have more than one Bearded Dragon in one tank, then it is not unlikely that you will find some issues in dominance and hierarchy.
One of the Dragons may seek dominance over the others, and you can start to find all sorts of issues with both of your Dragons and yourself.
The dominant Dragon may start to intimidate the more submissive Dragon, and they may not allow them to eat, bask, or even be present in certain areas of the tank, claiming these areas as their own.
The more submissive Dragon may also get their tail or toes nibbled at, and the whole situation will cause stress and anxiety in droves, enough to bring out stress marks.
As nice as it may be to house two Beardies together in the hopes that they will become best buddies, chances are that they won’t, and it is highly against recommendations to keep more than one Bearded Dragon in the same tank.
There will be a battle for dominance and some bullying may ensue, and then no one is happy, not the Dragons or you. It is just not worth the hassle.
Too many companions
It is also rather common that if you have other household pets such as dogs, or cats, or other larger pets that your Bearded Dragon will feel stressed. This will often happen if they make your Beardie feel intimidated or threatened.
Do not forget that these cute and cuddly cats and dogs are actually a lot bigger than your Beardie, and your Beardie will probably feel a bit scared as they look like predators.
It’s a bit like if someone put us in shared accommodation with a dinosaur, they might be friendly, but we will feel a little tentative, and if the dinosaur shouts at us, we will get stressed out.
We say dinosaur because that is about on par with the side difference between a Beardie and a large dog, they are big and scary to Beardies, and so upon first introduction they will be scared, and if they fight, your Beardie will get stressed out.
This is most likely to happen with new or baby Dragons that are new to the house, or if you introduce a new pet.
With dogs, there is also the stress that the Dragon may feel with barking or giddiness, Dragons are not big fans of sudden and loud noises and dogs are very good at making these noises, so until your Dragon is used to your dogs’ chaos they will be a little stressed. It’s only instinctual.
Too big/ too small
Have you ever lived somewhere that just didn’t suit you, perhaps a studio apartment that made you feel like a caged bear, or a toddler living in a box?
Or perhaps your house was too big, and you were always stressed because there was just too much space to maintain?
Bearded Dragons are not unlike us. In the wilderness, Bearded Dragons like all other natural creatures have freedom of movement, with no walls or boundaries. But when in captivity, they will spend most of their lives living in their tanks.
This is why it is absolutely imperative that their tank is the right size for them.
Baby Beardies do not need large tanks, and they may even find large spaces a bit too stressful because they have not yet grown accustomed to their surroundings.
Of course, it is also a lot harder to hunt and capture insects in a large tank when they are young, and they are still learning to hunt.
Grown up Beardies need larger tanks that give them more freedom of movement, and the larger the tank, the more creative you can get with enriching their environment to create a mock-up natural habitat that they will feel totally at home with.
You must make sure they have plenty of space, if we do not like living in tight and confined spaces, neither with our pets.
Ideal tank size by their size and age.
|Age||Size from nose to tail||Ideal tank size.|
|> 1 month (Baby Dragon)||3- 4 inches long||20- 40 Gallons|
|2 months (Baby Dragon)||5- 9 inches long||20- 40 Gallons|
|3 months (Baby Dragon)||8- 11 inches long||20- 40 Gallons|
|4 months (Baby Dragon)||9- 12 inches long||40-75 Gallons|
|5 months (Baby Dragon)||11- 16 inches long||40-75 Gallons|
|6 months (Juvenile Dragon)||11- 18 inches long||50- 75 Gallons|
|8 months (Juvenile Dragon)||13-20 inches long||50- 75 Gallons.|
|12 months + (Adult)||16- 24 inches long||75-120 Gallons.|
It might not be so obvious, or something that you think of, but remember how we said that other pets, such as dogs, can stress out your Beardie? Well, if they don’t like loud barking, they won’t like loud noises either.
In fact, it is totally possible that loud noises can scare your Dragon and be a cause of stress marks, so be careful next time you want to put the stereo on full volume, or want to create a home cinema sound effect, your Dragon might not enjoy it like you do.
Dragons are also likely to be as much of a fan of fireworks as the local dogs are. If all is quiet and calm and suddenly a dog barks, or there is a loud bang, your Dragon can get super stressed out and start showing these stress marks.
With TV and radio being more common, a loud noise from one of these systems can still create enough uncertainty if your Bearded Dragon has no idea what the sound is and if it is coming from something that might want to hurt them.
This is why it can always help to give your Dragon a cuddle on the 4th of July, or when you watch a loud movie, because even if there are loud noises, mom or dad is there to protect them!
It is not quite as common as some of the other causes we have listed, but it can happen. Of course, it also depends on where you live and where your Dragon is housed. If they live near the window or close to your TV, then it may affect them more.
‘Mom! I’m bored!”
Another possibility we want to look at is boredom, yes, that’s right, your Bearded Dragon could get stress marks simply from being bored.
In the natural world, Beard Dragon’s always have something to do, whether it is catching prey, hunting, basking in the sun, keeping out of the way of predators and focusing on their habitat and reproduction.
However, when a Bearded Dragon is living in captivity the only real thing they need to focus on is basking, their food comes through you, they have no predators in the home, and all else is moot, so there is every chance that they will get bored.
That is why it is important that you help them stay stimulated and enriched. There are a few things you can do.
- You must ensure that they have the right sized tank to give them plenty to explore.
- Create a natural looking habitat for them, with plenty of enrichment.
- Use toys, games, and activities to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated.
While we have already noted how important it is that you ensure your Dragon has an adequately sized tank, which has enough enrichment that will reflect their natural habitat in the wild, it can also be beneficial to add in toys, games and activities into the environment that stop them getting bored.
You can get as creative as you want with these ideas, think about what safaris and nature parks often give lizards to enrich their captive lives.
It can be hard to think up ideas for a lizard, so don’t be afraid to try out things and check what other people are doing.
Keeping it clean
Although you may not assume so, Beardies are very clean reptiles, and they love their tank being clean too. They absolutely loathe their tank smelling of excrement or urine, so it is very important that you keep the tank clean.
Regular cleaning can stop them from developing stress marks as a result of having a dirty tank.
It is useful to have a regular cleaning schedule, and you should also choose a substrate that is easy enough to clean that will not stink of bodily fluids.
These two things will keep your Dragon happy in their tank and prevent the sudden appearance of stress marks.
Good substrates that will make for easy cleaning are excavator clay or sand mats. They are both easy to clean, and they will also look very natural too, which your Beardie will definitely love.
Dinner time troubles
If you are a big foodie, then you will surely understand that it is very normal to get stressed about food. All animals are hard-wired to survive, no animal alive today would be if they weren’t.
This means that Bearded Dragons have food on the brain, thinking about it nearly all the time, and if they cannot get food when they want, or if they can’t get the food they want, they may start to develop stress marks.
This may seem a bit picky or greedy, but it is totally normal and not at all greedy.
Stress marks from food often happen because they are not getting the food that they need, a good example of this would be that baby Dragons need to be fed a lot more regularly than adults do, as they need food that will fuel their rapid growth and neediness for nutrients.
If you have, or are thinking about getting some baby Dragons then make sure you know how much and how often you should feed them beforehand, you do not want them getting stressed out about their diet.
It is also probably that a Bearded Dragon could get stressed out about food when it is visible but can’t be reached.
Basically, this means, do not keep your Dragon’s food next to or near their tank, if you have crickets for example, your Dragon will be able to hear them but won’t be able to get to them.
It would drive them crazy, much like if we could smell some delicious food but can’t get to it. It’s just cruel.It is not only hearing the insects but also seeing them that will drive them crazy too.
It can be super frustrating for your Beardie, and while not every Beardie will get irate and stressed by this, many of them may do, so try to keep your Beardie’s food out of sight and mind of your Beardies to avoid teasing them and getting them stressed out.
‘I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!’
The least likely possibility is also one that has just been theorized. You see, some Bearded Dragons have been known to show stress marks when they are super excited.
There is not a lot of research to prove that this is true, but it is thought that these marks may appear, not because they are exactly stressed, but simply as a reaction to the intense excitement that they are feeling.
It is possible that these marks are the only way that this can be shown physically.
There is not so much research about this, but plenty of experts in the field have made this statement, so we can’t ignore that this is a possibility.
Baby Bearded Dragons and stress marks
So, we would assume that baby Beardies may be more susceptible to stress than their adult versions, and in some ways this could be true.
However, overall, babies are not more stressed, sometimes adult Dragons are the ones that experience the most stress.
Baby Dragons get stress marks for the same reasons that adults do, however, babies will often get stress marks when they are first brought home from the pet store or from the breeder.
Obviously, this is because everything that they have come to know and recognize in their short life span suddenly changes and is turned upside down, then they are brought into a strange new world, with weird surroundings and possibly other pets that they don’t know and could be predators.
That is one hell of a lot to experience for a new baby Dragon, and so it is totally normal for them to get stress marks when they are relocated, just ensure that you give them time to get used to their new surroundings once you have them relocated.
Getting rid of that stress
If you have a stressed out Beardie then your first priority is to figure out what is causing the problem. However, you will also want to know how you can go about calming down your Beardie as soon as possible and helping them to relax.
So, we have some quick tips for you to help you do this.
A long term friendship with your Beardie
If you have had your Beardie for a while, and they have been in your care for a long time, then trying to calm them will be different and probably easier than it is with a new Dragon.
If your long-term Beardie bestie is starting to get stress marks, then your first port of call is to check their tank size, make sure it is the correct size, and ensure they have plenty of enrichment opportunity that will allow them to stay occupied, as well as plenty of places to hide so that they can sneak away until they start feeling comfortable.
Nothing beats a good cuddle
Have you ever been stressed? Of course, who hasn’t? We can probably all agree that a good cuddle, some reassurance and understanding goes a long way when we are feeling super stressed out.
Beardies feel the same, and one of the best things you can do is to slowly handle your Beardie while talking to them in a reassuring and calm manner. Give them a cuddle and a stroke.
We all like reassurance and compassion when we are feeling stressed out of our eyeballs, and so doing this with your Beardie can equally help to calm them down.
It will also give you the chance to take them away from the circumstances that have them stressed until you can figure out what to do about it.
Bath time= Relax time
Some of us find baths super soothing, and Bearded Dragons can too. Just ensure that they are showing signs of calming when you give them a cuddle, and do not force a bath.
If they seem to be up for it then go ahead, but never force it, or you could create more stress.
Your Dragon should slowly start calming down, and it will give you a chance to resolve the issue that is stressing them out.
Calming a new Beardie
It is more difficult with new Beardies, they don’t know you yet, so a cuddle could induce more stress, and so could bathing.
You might make things worse if you tried these things, you need to figure out if your Dragon is comfortable around you first, if they are then you can try these things, but again, do not force it.
If you cannot do these things then you may simply have to try and provide a more natural and safe look for your Beardies tank, give them hides, tunnels and so on, places for them to escape to when things get a bit too overwhelming.
“How can I get my new Beardie to be more comfortable around me?”
- Get a cricket on some feeding tweezers and offer it to your Dragon inside the tank. Do this every time that you feed your Dragon. Do not try to stroke them yet, just let yourself be known as a food source for now. Do this for 3 to 5 days.
- Continue the previous step for another 3 to 5 days, however on the 6th day (11th overall) gently stroke their head when they take the cricket, continue doing this until the end of meal time, continue doing this for a few more days.
- Continue doing this, but try stroking them more often when they take their food. See how they react and judge how much they will let you by their reaction.
- Finally, try to stroke them without food being present, again do this slowly. Fast movements are a bad idea.
What things may also be signs of stress?
Stress marks are not always the only sign of stress, Bearded Dragons will sometimes show other signs too. These can include;
- Loss of appetite.
- Darker color.
- Basking less often.
- Glass surfing.
- Lower activity levels.
Cause for concern?
It is very common for Bearded Dragons to get stress marks, and most of the time they are not a major cause for concern, just ensure that you find the cause of the problem and get rid of it.
It is possible that some situations will result in reappearing stress marks, or stress marks staying until they are in their adulthood.
They are not a major health risk, however, no one likes being stressed, so do all you can to make sure your Dragon is not stressed out and lives a chilled and happy lizard life.