Are you a beardie lover? Are you planning to purchase a bearded dragon for your family? You must have noted that there various bearded dragon morphs and species in the pet store. You will learn how to differentiate between various types of bearded dragons in this article.
Buying a beardie would be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Not only do these fascinating creatures look unique but they also exhibit distinct personality traits. They are known for building a bond with their caretakers, as they start recognizing their owners within a few months. You would feel their gratitude and affections towards you when you come near their enclosure.
Whenever we envision a bearded dragon in our mind, we think of a sand-colored exotic lizard. Well, you might not be wrong to do that, but there are several other mutations of beardies out there. Each morph has its own distinct characteristics that bring a unique aspect in the appearance of the dragon. Many beginners interchangeably use the terms colors and morphs even though they are different. A morph doesn’t have much to do with the coloration or skin shades of the reptile. Morph gives you an idea about the size and overall outlook of the bearded dragon.
These native Australian reptiles are classified by various features, such as color, species, and morphs. We would go into more detail regarding the species and morphs in this article. This way you would be in a better position to classify your pet lizard in relation to its morph.
Types of bearded dragons morphs
Morph mainly tells about the physical attributes and body patterns of the beardie. It would only have a marginal influence on the coloration and hue of the reptile. Each species has its own unique appearance, behavior, and habitat.
You might be shocked to find out that bearded dragons can change their skin color depending upon some situations. They might change their temperature when they are basking at a favorable spot. With the rise of their internal body temp, their skin color would also get altered. They also use it to communicate with other dragons in their vicinity. So you should not be confused if you see your beardie with a different color someday. Normally, they would return back to their original color once they adjust to the change of environmental conditions or territorial situations.
Each type of bearded dragon can have its own style of scaling, skin rigidity, head shape, and physical prowess. The rarity of some types can make them more lucrative for the breeders. Some rare species are even considered illegal to trade by suppliers and dealers. This is the reason it is always better to get educated about the type of pet you are bringing in your household.
You can find various morphs of bearded dragons in the following.
Classic or standard Bearded Dragon
Often known as a basic bearded dragon, this is the morph that has been preserved with its natural attributes. This means that the selective breeding mechanism has kept this type to resemble its wild counterpart. The inbreeding of certain morphs has caused them to lose their original physical traits and specifications.
They have big heads when compared with the rest of the body. You would easily spot them with their signature triangular-shaped skulls. They proudly own a spikey beard that has dozens of pointy stick-like protrusions. The upper portion of their body is covered with small spikes that have round-shaped ends.
Hypomelanistic Bearded Dragon
Hypomelanistic or “hypo” beardies possess noticeable light skin colors than other morphs because of their melanin deficiency. This means that their body isn’t able to produce darker pigmentations like their other cousins. Because of this recessive trait, these dragons might inhabit different terrains to have better camouflaging opportunities.
Their pastel-like coloration can be easily spotted because of this unique pigmentation deficiency in their genes. They also have 100% clear nails, which have a somewhat translucent texture.
Leatherback Bearded Dragon
This morph got entitled to this name because of its smooth back that resembles the shininess leather. They don’t have any spikes on their torsos, which further increases the vividness of their skin. Their beards and heads contain small spikes that are small in size and don’t pointy ends.
Just like any other morph, there are still some irregularities in the numerous varieties of this morph. So you might observe tiny spikes on some leatherback species. Because of this special outlook, their prices are considerably higher than other types of bearded dragons. So you should be prepared to pay extra dollars for those leatherback beardies at the pet store.
Translucent Bearded Dragon
As their names imply, these bearded dragons have somewhat of a “see-through” skin. The translucency is a recessive trait that is passed onto the offspring by one of the parents. They also acquire hypomelanistic properties, which gives them lighter shades of skin colors.
When they are first born, their level of transparency is the highest and their bellies have vivid tint. This type of coloration can be found on leopard geckos as well. They are also known for strong black eyes that have a shiny and glittery appearance. Some babies might even have ocean blue iris, which makes them beautiful to look at. Their degree of translucency decreases as they reach adulthood. So you would notice adult beardies of this morph with slightly darker skin tones.
Silkback Bearded Dragon
This is an entirely scale-less morph that has soft and smooth skin. They are also known as “silky” because of the silk-like softness of their skin. Because of the absence of any scales or uneven protrusions, they have interrupted coloration that makes them highly sought after in the market.
Silkies also tend to look like frogs with tails because of their moist and smooth skin texture. They are born when two leatherback bearded dragons breed, and as a result, the offspring has a higher level of skin smoothness. Their scale-less body is also highly susceptible to getting damaged, as there are no hard shells for protection. If you are planning to purchase this rare morph, then you should remove any sharp and point objects from the vivarium. This would ensure that your adorable pet doesn’t get pierced with any pointy stuff in their tank.
Some reptile enthusiasts believe that it is unethical to breed such animals that have lesser prospects of surviving. Despite these implications, their fancy and aesthetically appealing skins make them highly sought after.
German giant Bearded Dragon
They look just like classic or standard bearded dragons and they only differ in terms of their size. They are exceptionally huge compared to their other cousins as a result of selective breeding. The breeders only breed large males and females of the standard morph to maintain consistency in their body dimensions.
For the untrained eye, it can be almost impossible to identify this morph when they are hatchlings. You would only be able to tell once they become at least 1 year old. If you have purchased a German giant bearded dragon from your pet store then you should look for a bigger tank. If the enclosure is too cramped up, then this can affect the growth potential of your charismatic lizard.
Dunner Bearded Dragon
Named after their first breeder, Kevin Dunn, this morph has a similar appearance to that of a classic dragon. At first glance, you might not be able to spot the difference but then as you look closely you would notice a higher number of scales – which are highly unorganized. There is no symmetry in the distribution of scales on their backs, which ends them up with a more scaly body. These unorganized spots and scales run all the way down to their tails.
Fun Fact: You will be surprised to know the odd eating habit of your Dunner beardie morph. Rather than gulping down their food directly into their stomach, they tend to hold it in their throat for some seconds. You should not be shocked if you see such weird behavior. This idiosyncrasy sets them apart from other morphs in the market.
Zero Bearded Dragon
This morph is completely void of any design or pattern, hence the “zero”. This pattern-less condition occurs due to a recessive mutation of the gene. They acquire their startlingly white coloration with special breeding techniques. The silvery-white skin color of these dragons is quickly making them popular among the reptile enthusiasts’ community.
Witblits Bearded Dragon
They were discovered by a South-African breeder. Their name witblits translates to “white lighting” that represents their solid white tone. They are more muted than their hypomelanistic counterparts, as they exhibit highly pale skin coloration. They are considered newer in the community and are slowly gaining popularity.
Wero Bearded Dragon
Wero morph represents breeding art in its finest form. They are born when Witblits morph beardie mates with a Zero morph beardie. It has a scale-less feature like its zero morph mother or father and skin whiteness like their witblits parent.
Paradox Bearded Dragon
The striking appearance of this morph sets it apart from several other types of bearded dragons. They are results of complex breeding strategies in which several morphs of specimens are bred through different generations.
The blotches of colors on their skin appear like a canvas of abstract art with no symmetrical patterns. You can look at them as a work of art, as each dragon would have different placements of spots and markings.
Micro-scale Bearded Dragon
These types of beardies are born when the co-dominant leather gene mutation is interlinked with a recessive version of the same gene. The offspring look just like a normal leatherback dragon but with lesser amounts of spikes. These spikes are only present on the back of their triangle-shaped heads.
Genetic stripe Bearded Dragon
This is a true morph of bearded dragons that have not been affected by any inter-breeding interference. They exhibit non-colored stripes that run on both sides of the spinal cord. The length of these strips can vary from one specimen to another. Normally, these pale stripes run from the lower end of the heads to their tails. This striped feature has been acquired by this morph through years of adaptation in a different habitat.
Other factors about bearded dragon morphs
As a lizard grows, its patterns and skin designs can go through massive changes. This change in appearance can be mainly due to the sudden expansion in the size of their slender bodies. The coloring of your adult beardie might not be as bright as it used to be when it was a hatchling. Conversely, it might get more vivid with the passage of time.
The shades and hues of a bearded dragon can look different under certain lighting conditions. The sellers use it to their advantage by falsely portraying vivid and bright patterns in the pictures. So you should never fully trust the pictures of pets posted online. By visiting the pet shop in person you would get a better idea about the real outlook and patterns of the dragon. Their true colors come out the best under natural lighting conditions, such as sunlight.
Many dealers use the tactic of labeling their collection of animals with fancy names and titles. You should also know there are no pygmy morphs of bearded dragons in the wild. Some retailers use this term to describe their small-sized dragons. If a bearded dragon is smaller than average, then this might be due to other factors rather than its genes.
There are no genetic albino bearded dragons in nature. Many breeders use this term for their pale-colored zero morph dragons. Albinism not only causes the skin of an animal to appear white but it also makes the eyes red in color. So, you should not confuse a morph with melanin deficiency to an albino lizard. By keeping all the above-mentioned guidelines in mind, you would be able to make a better buying decision.