Bearded dragons are unique creatures that can be affectionate pets. They are considered exotic pets, and that’s for a reason. Like us, bearded dragons can also suffer from stress. Their skin coloration changes which make it easy to know if your beardie doesn’t feel comfortable.
When you see this sign on your bearded dragon, it’s best to resolve it as soon as possible. If you ignore it, your beardie will suffer longer. It may affect its physical wellbeing and its health. When the bearded dragon stress marks are visible, you will definitely know something is wrong.
Are Bearded Dragon Stress Marks Permanent?
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No, stress marks will only appear when the beardie is in distress. You will immediately know that there’s a problem when the bearded dragon stress marks appear. The bearded dragon stress marks are oval-shaped. It may have dark lines, usually appearing on their chin, belly, or limbs.
Whenever bearded dragons come face to face in a difficult situation, stress marks will show up. Their bodies will react automatically when they feel uncomfortable. It can also happen when they are agitated, scared, or frustrated about something. Bearded dragons think these types of emotions just like humans do.
If you’re worried if your bearded dragon stress marks are permanent, don’t worry. The odd coloration that will appear when they feel stress will disappear. When the issue has been resolved, the stress marks will not be visible anymore. But in some cases when the bearded dragons’ stress marks seem to stick around longer.
When the marks are still visible after solving the problem, it’s time to visit the vet. The bearded dragon may have a different concern. If you can’t seem to make your beardie calm down, it’s best to seek the vet’s advice. That way, you will know the real reason why your dragon is stressed out.
What Are the Causes of Stress Marks On Bearded Dragons?
1. Incorrect Tank Temperatures
Bearded dragons came from the Australian deserts. They are used to dry and warm climates from the wild. The wrong temperature inside the enclosure can cause stress to the beardie. If the temperature is too low, your pet will show stress marks. When the bearded dragon sleeps in the cold, the stress marks will be evident.
On the other hand, when the temperature inside the tank is too hot, the beardie will feel restless and lethargic. Weight loss due to loss of appetite will also show. That’s why the right tank temperature is essential. Use thermometers to monitor the temperature inside the enclosure to ensure its right.
The most suitable temperature in the basking area should be between 95 to 110 F. The excellent spot where the bearded dragon cools down should have a temperature between 75 to 90 F. The nighttime temperature must not exceed 70 F. Maintaining the suitable temperature range around the enclosure will keep your beardie happy and stress-free
2. Not Enough Space In the Tank
Another reason why bearded dragons may feel stress is if the space in their tank is inadequate. If the beardie doesn’t have enough space to roam, climb, hide, and bask, the reptile will become stressed. As the beardie grows, they will need a bigger enclosure to move inside quickly.
Make sure to get the correct tank size for your bearded dragon. For beardies 0 to 3 months, the tank size should be 20 to 40 gallons. When it reaches 4 to 5 months, the tank size must be 40 to 75 gallons. If the beardie is 6 to 8 months, provide a 50 to 75 gallons tank. For dragons 12 months and above, a 75 to 120 gallons tank is required.
3. Pressure With Relocation
The baby bearded dragons are usually the ones who suffer more from stress. It’s because they don’t have much time to adjust from their home after birth. They have to move to another house where their new owners live. The new environment will expose them to new people and new habitats.
Adult bearded dragons can also get stressed about relocation. They need to adjust to their new home while going through stress. The beardie may show stress marks during this period. All you can do is to provide them with a comfortable habitat. Give your pet some time to adjust until they are comfortable.
Make sure to provide the beardie with a healthy diet and a safe and clean habitat. Provide your new beardie with different hiding places around their enclosure. They usually hide when they feel threatened or uncomfortable. Give the lizard some space and avoid frequently handling until it has adjusted to its new environment.
4. Too Much Handling
Bearded dragons are affectionate types of lizards. As much as they want to be handled by their owners, they have their own personalities. When you just adopted a beardie, consider that it may not like being held just yet. If you keep on insisting, the beardie can become stressed.
When the bearded dragon tries to move away from you or starts to wave, it means hands-off. You can try it again until the beardie already feels safe around you. If it’s your first time adopting a beardie, be careful when handling them. They don’t move like mammals, and rough handling can hurt them.
This action will result in your beardie having trust issues. It will think that you’re a threat and can even show aggressive behavior towards you. Before handling a bearded dragon, make sure to learn the correct way to do it. Support the beardie’s legs, body, and tail gently when taking it.
When the bearded dragon feels hungry but doesn’t get food regularly, it shows signs of stress. Make sure to have a regular feeding time to prevent it from happening. Beardies will also feel stressed when you place a box of crickets near its tank since it hears the crickets but can’t see them.
Their urge to hunt will make them feel frustrated more than hungry. Bearded dragons can get accustomed to a routine, so make sure to feed it on time. Baby beardies need to be fed 3 to 5 times every day, while the adults need to be fed twice a day. Feed your beardie simultaneously as the last time to avoid problems.
6. Disturbances or Predators
Bearded dragons are territorial creatures. In the wild, they can be seen basking on tree stumps or rocks. They watch movements and guard their territory. When there are disturbances or see a predator, beardies will hide. They will make sure that they will not get attacked by large animals.
In captivity, beardies still react the same way. They will try their best to defend themselves from any threats. It can cause them stress if they hear loud noises around them. That includes barking dogs, loud music, children shouting, and other loud sounds. If this is the case, you have to move the beardie’s enclosure to a calm environment.
If you have other household pets, such as a dog or a cat, it can be stressful for your beardie. When they see bigger pets, it can threaten their safety. Cats and dogs are curious animals and will look at your lizard. It can scare your beardie and feel stressed because these animals can be their predators.
Avoid placing the bearded dragon’s tank close to the ground. Children may tap on the glass, and other pets may try to attack them. It can be very stressful for your beardie to be in that situation. Put the tank in a room where other pets and children don’t usually go to avoid stressing the reptile.
7. Housing Two Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons are very territorial, primarily male. It will be impossible to house two males in a single tank. They will fight for dominance, and the enormous bearded dragon will dominate the smaller beardie. That includes the food, hiding places, and even the baking area. The smaller beardie will have a rough time and become stressed.
If the bearded dragons are of the same size, they will fight each other to know who will dominate the tank. Keeping two beardies is not a good idea, even if they are of different genders. Bearded dragons don’t need to have a companion. They are solitary animals, and they prefer to be alone. The only time you will see them together is during mating.
However, two female bearded dragons can live together in one tank without a problem. They can tolerate each other compared to two male bearded dragons. But it’s not recommended to house two beardies on the same tank. There might still be some risk of putting them together. Just put them in a separate tank instead to avoid issues.
An empty tank can cause boredom for bearded dragons and become stress. If you’re a first-time beardie owner, get the right tank size based on your bearded dragon’s age. Make sure to set up the enclosure before placing the reptile. They require plenty of hiding places, a basking area, a cool spot, plants, and other decorations.
Beardies need to have enough mental stimulation and physical exercise. It will help them with their enrichment and stay healthy. If the bearded dragon can’t find hiding places, it will become dull and stressed. Put enough tank decorations for your new pet to play with. It will keep the beardie busy and avoid stress.
You can also take out your bearded dragon for a walk. Use a reptile leash to avoid your beardie from running away. The beardie needs to get used to their new surroundings first before knowing not to run away from you. Keeping your reptile occupied will reduce stress marks from appearing.
When the bearded dragon feels sick, stress marks may start to show up. Reptiles are prone to metabolic bone disease if they lack the appropriate lighting. Bearded dragons may also get respiratory infections, mouth rot, and adenovirus infection.
Sickness can stress your beardie, so make sure to keep them healthy. Providing a nutritious, clean, and safe habitat will help avoid diseases. It will also stop the stress marks from showing up. If you think that your beardie is sick, bring it to the vet right away to avoid complications.
Like other reptiles, bearded dragons will shed their skin multiple times. It will repeatedly happen throughout their entire lifetime. Shedding is a natural process but can also be painful for reptiles. During this process, the beardie may become irritable and hide more. They might also lack appetite while shedding.
Shedding can stress out bearded dragons. It will cause the stress marks to appear. But you can help your pet by giving it a warm soak in the enclosure. It will help them shed quicker and less pain. Keep your reptile hydrated by providing your beardie with some clean drinking water as well.
How Long Do Bearded Dragon Stress Marks Last?
Luckily, bearded dragons’ stress marks are not permanent. They can disappear as fast as they show up. Stress marks will appear when your reptile feels stressed about something. Identifying and solving the issue will make them go away. Most of the time, it’s easy to know what’s the problem and take care of it for your beardie.
For example, when the temperature drops inside the tank. Using thermometers to monitor the temperature will take care of it. Some situations such as relocation can also cause stress marks to appear. All you have to do is give your beardie some time to adjust to the new environment.
When the bearded dragons’ stress marks keep on reappearing, they may stay longer as well. But if you notice that it’s not disappearing after a month or longer, check it with the vet already. The bearded dragon may have other issues that you might have missed. Get help from a professional to ensure your reptile’s health will be safe.
Why Won’t My Bearded Dragon Stress Marks Go Away?
The bearded dragon stress marks can last a few days or longer. The more stressed your beardie gets, the longer the marks will stay. It can also just appear for a few hours. That’s when the bearded dragon experiences temperature changes. The day and night temperature may cause the marks.
If you have a newly adopted beardie, it’s normal for them to feel stressed out. They just have to get used to their new environment. Usually, it takes a month to feel comfortable in their new habitat. During this time, you should provide the beardie with all the essential requirements they need until it gets used to its new home.
What Are the Signs Of Stress In Bearded Dragons?
1. Stress Marks
When bearded dragons feel stressed, stress marks will appear. They appear as dark and oval-shaped markings. It might also look like tiger stripes on their bellies which is a clear indication that the bearded dragon is stressed. The stress marks can also show up on their chin or limbs.
2. New Dark Coloration
If you see a new dark coloration on your bearded dragon’s chin or beard, that’s a sign of stress. But sometimes, it may be a sign that it’s about to shed its skin. Try to observe your reptile for a couple of days and see if its scales look like it’s about to come off. The tail may also turn grey which means it’s about to shed. If not, bring the beardie to the vet to check what’s happening.
3. Loss of Appetite
Temperature can affect the bearded dragon’s appetite. If the beardie seems to lose its appetite, the temperature may be low. Use thermometers around the enclosure to monitor the temperature. Try giving your reptile treats such as fruits or mealworms. When the beardie starts to eat, it means that it’s just a picky eater. But if not and the temperature is correct, ask for the vet’s advice.
4. Not Moving Much
When a bearded dragon is stressed, it may look sluggish or lethargic. If it seems like your pet is not moving much or keeps on hiding, find out what’s the problem. Check the lighting, temperature, and humidity in the enclosure. See if it’s getting the proper nutrition from the food you’re giving.
The bearded dragon’s diet should depend on their age. Make sure that your beardie gets the right amount of nutrients according to its age. Give your reptile some supplements such as vitamin D and calcium. It will fill in the nutrition gap and help your beardie be more active again.
5. Not Basking Enough
When a bearded dragon isn’t basking enough, it might be due to stress. They need to get the right amount of heat and light to stay healthy. The temperature inside the enclosure should have a hood gradient. Hot and cold spots must have the right temperature. Check the basking lamp if it’s still efficient and replace it if needed.
Try to switch the hot and cold spots to encourage your beardie to bask. But making significant changes in their surroundings can also stress them out. Before doing anything, check everything first such as the temperature, lighting, and humidity.
6. Aggressive Behavior
Bearded dragons may show aggressive behavior because of stress. If there are uneaten crickets, they may bite the bearded dragon. To avoid this, get rid of the uneaten food 15 minutes after feeding your dragon. It may stop the bearded dragon’s aggressive behavior.
If you have more than one beardie in a single enclosure, it might be dominated by the other beardie. It can become aggressive towards you if this is the case. The beardie may also end up head bobbing, puffing its beard, and opening the mouth.
7. Glass Surfing
Glass surfing is also another sign of stress in bearded dragons. They will claw the sides of the enclosure, thinking that their reflection is another bearded dragon. Their territorial nature will make them do this to show dominance. To avoid this, cover three sides of the tank. You should also change the placement of lights.
It will prevent the beardies from seeing their own reflection and avoid glass surfing. If the temperature is low, the beardie will want to get out to be warm. Glass surfing can also be your beardies way of telling you to hold them. They may also want to be outdoors and take a walk with you.
How to Get Rid of Bearded Dragon Stress Marks?
The bearded dragon stress marks usually go away on their own. If it seems like it’s been there for a long time, you can try to give your beardie a warm bath for around 20 minutes. Only for this if your reptile is used on being handled. If not, it will stress the beardie more to take a bath. But if it enjoys its bathtime, a warm bath can calm them down.
1. How to prevent bearded dragon’s boredom in the tank?
Beardies like to explore, and they enjoy new decorations inside the tank. Provide decorations that will allow the bearded dragon to climb. Try adding some caves for the beardie to hide in. Safe live plants are also an excellent addition to their enclosure. Set up their tank close to their natural habitat to not get bored.
2. How can you optimize the tank’s condition for bearded dragons?
Bearded dragons need to have optimal tank conditions. The lighting, heating, temperature, and humidity must be monitored. Provide your beardie with the right tank size with enough space to have a basking area. Adding multiple hiding places is also a great idea since beardies like hiding to feel safe.
3. How does a bearded dragon’s diet help it stay calm?
When bearded dragons flare hungry, you have to provide the proper food ratio based on their age. Adult beardies need to eat more greens and veggies but still need some proteins to stay healthy. Babies and juveniles need as much protein as they can get. They need it for proper growth and development. A small part of their diet consists of greens and vegetables.