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Bearded Dragon Stress Marks: Signs, Reasons & Destress Tips

Bearded dragon stress marks are one way to show that the beardie is stressed. Stress can affect any person, and so is true among lizards. 

Stress marks are common in dragons, and if you are an unprepared witness, you may not understand what is happening, and it can make you anxious.

A beardie can be stressed at any point due to several factors; we are going to cover them further in the article. 

Keeping reading to learn more about stress marks in bearded dragons, causes of the stress, and more. 

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dilber. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

What are Bearded Dragon Stress Marks?

What Are Bearded Dragon Stress Marks?
What Are Bearded Dragon Stress Marks?

Let me start by answering our concern question here before we delve into the article.

Stress marks are dark lines or oval-shaped patterns, and they appear mostly on the beardie’s belly and sometimes on the chin and limbs. 

As I mentioned above in the article, stress marks are an indication that the dragon is under stress. Simply, I can say that stress is how the body reacts to demand or challenge, and it should disappear when the problem is solved. 

Bearded Dragon Stress Marks
Bearded Dragon Stress Marks
(Source: Erin Gilbert YouTube)

There is a high chance that you will see the stress marks in a newly bought bearded dragon, but they are also evident in other beardies in response to a particular challenge.

If you have your beardie and suddenly you notice freaky colorations or lines appearing on the body, what will you do?

I’m sure people will react differently, but the truth is, if you are not conversant with these changes, the chances of making a correct decision are close to zero. Remember, your pet depends on you for all its needs.

Therefore, it is crucial to be familiar with all the behaviors associated with bearded dragons to know how to react in different situations. 

What Causes Stress Marks on the Beardies?

What Causes Stress Marks On The Beardies?
What Causes Stress Marks On The Beardies?

A bearded dragon can get stress marks because of a variety of reasons. Some causes are easy to detect and can be resolved immediately.

New to bearded dragon? Check out the bearded dragon care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about bearded dragons as pets. Check it now!

However, it can be difficult to spot some situations responsible for stress, and you will need a lot of investigations. 

But you don’t need to worry; we will go through all the potential situations that can get your bearded dragon to stress. There have been a lot of worries with many dragon enthusiasts when they see their pets having stress marks. 

But you are lucky you will learn about these markings, and they will not be bothersome to you at all from today.

If you know the possible causes of stress in beardies, you can easily recognize the source of the problem, and addressing it should be much more comfortable. 

 Here are the possible reasons that can subject your beardie to stress and develop dark markings. 

Incorrect Temperatures in the Enclosure

Having their origin from the desert, bearded dragons thrive best in surroundings with high temperatures. When the beardie is too cold, it will not miss the stress marks. 

It is common to see stress marks during morning hours after the beardie wakes up. This happens due to sleeping in colder temperatures throughout the night. If you can observe, the first place the dragon will visit is under the basking lamp to warm up itself. 

Also, when it is too hot in the enclosure, it is a big problem. It makes the pet to be restless and get stressed because it is hard to tolerate the extreme temperatures. 

The dark markings, in this case, will fade away soon after the body becomes warm. If you encounter this problem, the first thing to do is to check the temperatures in the tank. 

You should always ensure that the temperatures are maintained within the range of 95-110℉ in the basking area. The cool spot should be around 75-90℉, and it all depends on the age of your beardie. 

At night, the beardie doesn’t require much heat to sleep peacefully, but the room should not go below 70℉ and not more than 75℉. Having the thermometers in the tank will help to keep the temperatures within the desired range. 

Inadequate Space in the Tank can Cause Stress

Let’s put it this way; you are in a small house that is completely furnished. You can’t move freely in the room, and you are unable to do most activities while inside, right? It is the same with the beardies; a little space limits them from expressing most of their behaviors. 

Of course, your pet will not be happy about it, and this is one way to welcome stress. Bearded dragons need an adequate space where they can enjoy roaming around.

As the beardie grows, the body size also increases, and they may not comfortably fit in the current tank. 

To be sure that your pet has an appropriate space every time, you need to adjust the cage based on the rate at which your beardie grows.

Check out below for the best tank size for bearded dragons of different ages and use it as a guideline.

Age Tank size
0-3 months20-40 gallons tank.
4-5 months40-75 gallons tank.
6-8 months 50-75 gallons tank.
12 months and beyond75-120 gallons tank.
Tank Size and Age Table

Relocation Pressure

Baby dragons are more prone to relocation stress because of too much movement during the early days. They only get to stay in a place after hatching for a few weeks, before they even adapt to that place, the breeder sells them, and they go into another new home. 

These baby beardies not only find themselves in a new home but also meets new people, perhaps new pets, unfamiliar surroundings, etc.

It is too much for the babies, and it makes them uncomfortable, and eventually, the stress marks appear. 

You may not be able to act quickly and salvage the problem, but you can ensure that everything is well set in the cage.

Give the right diet, a comfortable habitat, ideal conditions in the tank, and let the beardie have some time alone to adjust. 

Vet comment: Do not feed too much to the newly relocated bearded dragon. Because it is under stress and cannot digest the hard food.

The anxiety and stress will disappear with time as the babies are adapting, and they will be fine. 

Adult bearded dragons can also experience stress when you expose them to new environments.

This is possible when you move into a new house, change or introduce new furniture in your home or the terrarium, changing the cage, and more. 

However, it should not worry you because such kind of stress is temporary and will disappear with time when the beardie gets used to the changes. 

To reduce the stress tremendously, you can provide hiding nests, suitable substrate, and tank decors; they make the dragon have a feeling of being in its natural home.

Excessive Handling 

Bearded Dragon Excessive Handling
Bearded Dragon Excessive Handling 

Too much handling can make a bearded dragon upset, and you can notice that by seeing a black beard or stress markings. Also, if you hold the beardie wrongly, it gets scared and thinks that you want to hurt it. This can cause stress to your beardie. 

Sometimes when you approach your dragon and want to pick it, you may notice that the beardie is opening its mouth and waving.

It is an indication that the lizard does not want to be handled. If you choose to leave it alone, you will be doing good. 

I cannot tell you how often you need to handle your dragon but always be watchful of the warning signs such as dark markings if you think you are handling it excessively.

When holding a bearded dragon, make sure you support its legs, body, and tail appropriately. Avoid handling beardies after feeding because can have more chances of stress.

The feeling of Being Hungry

If a beardie is hungry and does not get food, it becomes uneasy and will often show dark markings as a result. Your pet can become hungry if you don’t provide enough food or leave it without food. 

How often to feed a bearded dragon will depend on its age. The babies need to eat around 3-5 times a day, while adults can be fed once or twice every day.

New to bearded dragon? Check out the bearded dragon care sheet now! We had listed out all the things you need to know about bearded dragons as pets. Check it now!

Baby beardies are rapidly growing; therefore, they need more food and a diet rich in insects. 

Aside from being hungry, stress can come out of something different that will frustrate the beardie. For instance, if the dragon sees insects near the enclosure but cannot access it, this is enough to cause stress. 

Also, if you leave a box of crickets near the terrarium, the sound that the crickets make will disrupt the beardie because it can hear the insects but cannot get to them. Some dragons will even show the stress marks when in such a situation. 

Freaky or Loud Noise and the Sight of a Predator

Strange and loud noises can scare a bearded dragon and can be the reason for the stress.

If the beardie is relaxing in a quiet room and then immediately a destructive sound is made, it is enough to stress the beardie and cause stress marks to appear. 

The sounds can come from children making noise, loud music, a dog barking, helicopters, a large tree falling, etc.

It will depend on where you reside and where you have placed your beardie’s cage. The beardies can hear things pretty well. 

It will be useful if you can avoid loud noises because they can as well harm your pet’s health. 

Household dogs and cats may intimidate your bearded dragon and make them show the dark markings. The beardies think of them to be predators, and that is why it causes an alarm to them. 

Housing Two Dragons Together

Housing Two Dragons Together
Housing Two Dragons Together

Bearded dragons prefer to stay alone, mostly because they are territorial animals. If you have more than one dragon in the same cage, there is a high chance that they will get into a fight. The winner will always dominate in the cage. 

As long as the dominant bearded dragon is around, there will be a competition for food, space, and other essential things, and the submissive dragon ends up losing.

The dominant dragons will not let others access anything in the enclosure, and this is enough to cause stress. 

This clarifies that a bearded dragon can be the reason why another dragon is displaying the stress marks. 

However, if you want, You can have two opposite-gender bearded dragons in a tank.


When a beardie spends most of its time staying in the cage alone, it is likely to get bored. Just imagine locking up yourself in a room even for a single day, and there is nothing to watch nor do; it is indeed annoying, right? 

Also, dragons will feel the same as they remain inside the enclosure, especially when the room is nearly empty. To beat the boredom, you need to provide plants, lots of nesting hides, and any other material that will enhance a natural-looking tank. Create a habitat similar to the natural habitat of beardy. 

This ensures that the beardie engages in several activities in the habitat, like climbing on trees, hiding, etc. Make sure to provide a right-sized tank to your beardie. It will also help to prevent stress. 

It will be an excellent option to take the beardie outside the cage periodically to play. You can also enjoy a walk together with your pet. The beardie will not only be happy, but it also helps to keep it active, which is good for its health. 

Other potential situations that can cause stress in bearded dragons are a dirty tank, illnesses, over excitement, and change in their routine. 

How Long Do Stress Marks Take to Disappear?

How Long Do Stress Marks Take To Disappear?
How Long Do Stress Marks Take To Disappear?

It is not a good thing to always be seeing your bearded dragon with stress marks at all. As for my beardie, I want it to look good and healthy every time. I believe you want the same for your adorable pet. 

Does your lizard have these dark markings, and you are wondering when they will fade off? Well, as long as the stress is not permanent, the marking will also vanish, you will see them only for a short period. 

How long the stress marks last depend on several factors. If the situation causing the stress is correctly identified and addressed, then the markings should fade pretty quickly. However, if the situation occurs repeatedly, the marks will remain for quite a long time. 

In some beardies, the dark marks will disappear a few hours after solving the problem while in others, it may take even a week. It all depends on the situation behind the stress. 

Though in rare cases, baby beardies remain with the markings for a long time, and they will dissipate as they grow. 

Wrapping Up

Stress is not bad; it is a way in which the beardie responds to a threat or change. Bearded dragon stress marks simply reveal that the beardie is stressed and requires you to do something.

You should not worry that your friend has stress marks, the primary thing that should concern you is finding the source of the problem and correcting it. Whenever you doubt something, don’t hesitate to visit your reptile vet for consultation. 

Ways to Help Settle Your Bearded Dragon

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