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Bearded Dragon Stress Marks

Bearded Dragon Stress Marks

A dark mark on a bearded dragon's belly, an oval, or a dark line resembling a tiger stripe is a sure sign of stress. Occasionally they may also be present on the dragon's jaws and limbs. These signs of stress are common with newly acquired beardies, who are still adjusting to their new environment.

    What is that Bearded Dragon Stress Mark?

    As mentioned at the top of this post, bearded dragons, as their name suggests, can get stress marks when placed in high-stress situations.

    Stress marks typically appear in the form of black lines (almost small tiger stripes) or dark oval marks on a bearded dragon's belly.

    Although it can also be seen on the dragon's beard and other limbs, the belly is a prime spot for stress marks.

    There are many reasons why bearded dragons are stressed. Some of the reasons are very easy to detect and can be dealt with very quickly, while others are more subtle and may require more investigation, so you can identify the reasons for their heightened stress or anxiety.

    We'll look at all of the reasons why bearded dragons are stressed, but one of the most common is 'previous stress'.

    If you notice that your bearded dragon has stress marks, don't panic as there are some easy solutions.

    Signs of stress in bearded dragons

    1. Stress Mark

    A dark mark on a bearded dragon's belly, an oval, or a dark line resembling a tiger stripe is a sure sign of stress. Sometimes it can also be on the dragon's jaws and limbs. These signs of stress are common with newly acquired beardies, who are still adjusting to their new environment.

    2. New dark coloring

    A darker color, especially near the chin or beard, is a classic sign of stress. However, this can also mean the onset of shedding. Wait a few days and check for any signs of hair loss, such as when the scales on the beard or the tail start to turn gray. If it doesn't spill, you may need to take it to the vet.

    3. Loss of appetite

    A Bearded Dragon's appetite is affected by the environmental temperature, so sensing a change in appetite can make it feel too cold. Make sure the thermometers and hygrometers are accurate and the basking area or warm spot on the enclosure is 95-110°F. You can also provide snacks such as fruit, mealworms, beeswax, papaya or mango. Once you start eating, you may just be picky about your taste buds. However, if the temperature is good and the dragon refuses to snack, you should take it to the vet.

    4. Low activity level

    A slow, lethargic dragon can also be a sign of stress. If you notice your dragon has low activity levels or is hiding for long periods of time, check the temperature, lighting and humidity of the enclosure (make sure the UVB bulbs are still efficient). You should also pay attention to your diet. Make sure your beardie is getting the right nutrition from a balanced diet that is age-appropriate. You may also want to give your bearded dragon supplements such as calcium powder and vitamin D.

    5. Not getting enough sunlight

    If your beardie isn't washed often, it won't get the proper heat and light it needs for health. Monitor the enclosure's temperature and ensure that a good slope is established in both hot and cold areas. Also check the effectiveness of the basking lamp as the basking area may not be hot enough. Sometimes you can swap out the hot and cold parts of the tank to let the dragon sunbathe. However, keep in mind that changing your environment too much can also cause undue stress. Before moving anything out of the tank, make sure everything is correct: temperature, lighting and humidity.

    6. Aggressive behavior

    Stress-induced aggression in the whisker may be due to leftover crickets biting it, so remove all uneaten food 15 minutes after feeding. If your dragon has a cage mate, it may be being bullied by a larger lizard. Also, dealing less with dragons can make them little aggressive. Signs of aggression include a black bulging beard, an open mouth, and shaking the head.

    7. Claws Madly Scratching the Sides of the Terrarium

    If you see your dragon "surfing the glass" or madly scratching the side of a tank, you may have looked at yourself and thought it was another dragon. Beardies can take up territory, so avoid this by setting the background to cover 3 sides of the aquarium or check the placement of lights and/or tanks to avoid reflections. You should also make sure the temperature isn't too high, which could increase your activity. Sometimes this can be a sign that your beardie wants to go out and explore or simply miss being dealt with. This is especially true for Beardie who is used to being outside the cage.

    What Causes Stress Marks on Bearded Dragons?

    There are many situations in which a bearded dragon can appear as a sign of stress. Knowing these potential situations can help you find the cause of the problem, and it will be much easier to calm the dragon and eliminate the problem.

    Let's look at situations where a bearded dragon can be stressed.

    Wrong temperature in enclosure

    Originating in the desert, bearded dragons thrive best in high-temperature environments. Beardie doesn't miss the stress sign when it's too cold.

    It is common to see signs of stress in the morning hours after Beardie wakes up. This happens because you slept in cold temperatures all night. If observable, the dragon's first place to visit is under a glowing lamp to warm itself up.

    Also, if the inside of the enclosure is too hot, that's a big problem. Not being able to withstand extreme temperatures can make your pet irritable and stressed.

    Mating season.

    Adult male bearded dragons are known to be a bit crazy, especially during this time. It will pass! Your dragon can scribble on the glass, run frantically back and forth, shake its head, and spread its beard.

    The mating season is usually September to March, but for some dragons it may occur after brumation. The best thing is to enjoy the show and wait.

    Having nowhere to hide can create stress marks.

    Bearded dragons love hiding and whenever they are unsure about a given situation, they will more often not hide under a rock or inside a tunnel until they can assess the situation.

    If you don't have hide, or if the hide isn't large enough or doesn't look natural enough, then there's a good chance your dragon won't use hide, or at least feels unsafe when using it. them.

    We've put together a guide here that lists the best hides, tunnels, and decorations needed to create a beautiful habitat for your dragon to feel safe and comfortable in.

    Remember that bearded dragons are very calm by nature, and while aggression is the last thing that comes to their mind, hiding is the most natural thing in an uncertain situation.

    If your dragon isn't comfortable with using hide, it can be easily exposed, which can be a major cause of stress and, consequently, a stress sign.

    Relocation stress

    Bringing a beardie home for the first time will definitely be stressful as it will adjust to your new environment. The best thing you can do here is to be patient with your beardie and provide all your needs for a good home. During this acclimatization period, you may notice darkening of the beard, loss of appetite, lack of bowel movements or runny nose, and inactivity. Relocation stress can last from several weeks to a month. Responsible breeders often get their baby dragons used to handling them at an early age, making the transition into their new family easier.

    Handling too much or not enough.

    Some dragons are more affectionate than others. When handling dragons, beware of signs of stress, especially when handling dragons by children or strangers. Remember, even the friendliest dragons need some alone time. Once you get to know your dragon you will know when she wants to be dealt with and she wants to be alone.

    Inadequate space in the tank can cause stress.

    Let's do this. You are in a small fully furnished house. You can't move freely inside the room, and you can't do most of the activities inside. It is the same for beardies. The small space limits the expression of most actions.

    Of course, your pet won't be happy about it, and this is one way to welcome stress. Bearded dragons need adequate space to roam.

    As Beardie grows, so does body size and may not fit comfortably in the current tank.

    Too many other pets

    It's also common for Bearded Dragons to get stressed if you have other pets or other larger pets, such as dogs and cats. This often happens when Beardie is threatened or makes him feel threatened.

    These cute, cuddly cats and dogs are actually a lot bigger than Beardie, and they looks like a predator, so your beardie might be a little intimidated.

    This most often happens to new or baby dragons coming into the house, or when introducing a new pet.

    There are also stress marks on a dragon when a dog barks. Dragons don't like sudden, loud noises, and dogs tend to make these sounds. So, until the dragons get used to the dog's chaos, they'll be a little stressed out. It's just instinctive.

    Loud noise and stress indication

    A less obvious cause of a stress sign is the loud noise that frightens the dragon.

    If your house is quiet and there are sudden barking dogs or fireworks outside, this may be enough to stress the dragon and show a stress sign.

    I don't think this is as common as some of the reasons we've already talked about. But this totally depends on where you live and where you have your dragon in your home. For example, you can see that they are more affected by noise if they are near a window or a television.

    Worried about your Bearded Dragon's stress sign?

    A newly acquired Bearded Dragon will almost always have a stress sign as it will resolve due to any additional stimuli when relocated. As the dragon adapts and becomes more comfortable, it usually disappears within a few weeks to a month.

    If your beardie has been with you for a while and you notice signs of stress, check your surroundings and see if it can hurt. Typically, these problems are caused by minor environmental changes that can be easily addressed. Make sure the habitat meets all the requirements to keep the Bearded Dragon happy.

    How to Prevent or Relieve Stress in Bearded Dragons?

    It is impossible to completely avoid stress, but it is important to provide a happy home where the bearded dragon feels safe and secure. Depending on the situation, there are several ways to relieve stress or avoid it in the first place. These include:
    • If you are feeding dragon insects in a tank more than it is required, remove any unwanted insects immediately after feeding.
    • Reduce the noise around the dragon.
    • Give it plenty of cuddling time (when the dragon wants it, of course!).
    • Feed your dragon a balanced diet supplemented with calcium and vitamin D3.
    • Clean your terrarium regularly.
    • Take your dragon out regularly for walks and playtime.
    • Do not handle your dragon if it is new, spilled, or a baby you are not familiar with yet. Instead, communicate with the dragon gently and slowly touch the terrarium to allow the dragon to get used to it. Eventually, your pet will be calm enough for you to touch and handle.
    • Check that the temperature, lighting, basking spot and tank are set correctly and adjust as necessary. With a temperature gun nearby and a thermometer hanging from the tank, you'll know immediately if the temperature is off.
    • If you haven't already, be sure to speak gently to the dragon as you approach the tank. 

    How to Calm a Stressed Bearded Dragon?

    If you have a stressed Bearded Dragon, you definitely want to know what's causing the problem, but you'll also want to know how you can calm the Dragon down as quickly as possible.

    Here are some techniques you can use to quickly calm your dragon.

    Calming Long Owned Bearded Dragons

    If you have a bearded dragon that you have been caring for for a long time, the method of calming it down is different from bringing a new dragon home.

    If your long-owned Bearded Dragon is showing stress, it's always important to first make sure the tank size is appropriate for the Bearded Dragon's age and that the tank is big enough. Hide it so the dragon feels safe until it's comfortable again.


    You should try to handle the bearded dragon slowly while speaking in a good tone and give them a hug. You should gently stroke the dragon while continuing to speak in the manner of your heart.

    Your reassurance can help calm them down quickly. This can also help eliminate the cause of the problem until you have a chance to fix it.

    Bathing Tub

    Bathing the Bearded Dragon is also a great idea to help you relax. I recommend bathing only if they show signs of calming down while hugging. Otherwise, you can create another stressful situation.

    Do not force a bath. But if you think your dragon likes to take a bath, let it soak. This will usually help them feel more calm.

    If you follow this simple technique, your dragon will calm down pretty quickly and will give you plenty of time to find the cause of the problem.

    How long does it take for the stress sign to go away?

    It's not always a good thing to see a bearded dragon with a stress sign. I want my beardie to look healthy every time. I believe you want the same for your adorable pets.

    Do you have these dark marks on your lizard and wonder when they will go away? Well, as long as the stress isn't permanent, the marking goes away too and you can only see it for a short period of time.

    How long stress signs last depends on several factors. If you correctly identify and address the stressful situations, the signs will go away very quickly. However, if the situation occurs repeatedly, it leaves a mark for quite some time.

    For some beards, it may take a few hours for the dark marks to disappear after you fix the problem, and for others it may take a week. It all depends on the circumstances behind the stress.

    In rare cases, baby beard remain marked for a long time and disappear as they grow.

    Why is my Baby Bearded Dragon Stressed?

    Baby bearded dragons may have stress signs, especially due to relocation stress, when accepting all the unfamiliar sights and sounds of their new environment. Some may be due to most of the reasons for older dragons listed above, but some may also appear for no reason and disappear with age.

    Baby dragons can feel vulnerable in any open space, so there are reports of being stressed and showing signs of stress in large tanks. Be creative by putting dividers on your tank.

    Take them out or hide them as they grow so they feel safe. Also make sure your baby bearded dragon's correct temperature is met in the tank (100-110°F on the hot side and 80-90°F on the colder side).

    How long do stress signs last?

    Stress marks can last from a few days to as long as a month. If you apply constant stress, the marks will last longer. Sometimes the beardie can be there for hours as it experiences a temperature change (from day to night).

    For newly acquired beardies, these stress marks disappear as you get used to your new home. Sometimes it can take a month. Make sure the enclosure has all the appropriate temperature and lighting requirements to avoid adding stressors to your new pet. Providing shelter allows the dragon to feel safer and adapt faster.


    Bearded Dragons are very common to get stress marks and in most cases they are not the main cause of the problem, so try to find the cause of the problem and eliminate it.

    In some situations, stress marks may reappear or remain until adulthood.

    They aren't a major health hazard, but nobody likes to be stressed, so do your best to keep your dragons stress free and cool, happy lizard lives.

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    About the author

    I am Paige and I love pets. I have a bearded dragon and a husky. My bearded dragon's name is Bart and he is a lot of fun. He likes to eat crickets and play in his cage. My husky's name is Sandy and she is a lot of fun, too. She likes to run and play in the park. I love taking them for walks and playing with them. They are both a big part of my family.
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