Bearded dragons are highly fascinating creatures that exhibit unique traits. Just like any other animal, they cannot communicate verbally to their owners if they are in pain. In order to identify a stressed bearded dragon, there are various guidelines. Depending upon the source of stress, you would observe different symptoms. One of the most common things you would notice is some strange marks on your beardie’s skin. In this article, you will learn about bearded dragon stress marks in detail.
A stressed dragon might start getting small stripes or oval-shaped marks on its belly. These stress indications can also be seen on your beardie’s beard and limbs. Once you spot these symptoms, you would have to identify the root cause of the problem. When your bearded dragon is in a stressful environment it would also have a suppressed immune system. This means that your beardie would be more likely to become sick when he or she is stressed.
Read on to find out what causes your bearded dragon to get these marks and how you can treat them. You would also be able to know about the typical telltale signs about a stressed dragon.
What are Bearded Dragon Stress Marks?
Like many other reptiles, bearded dragons can change their skin coloration due to various internal and external factors. Beards of male bearded dragons tend to become darker during the mating season. Similarly, bearded dragons might also adopt a different tint for better thermoregulation. It is very common to see bearded dragons change their skin color when they want to communicate with other dragons.
They might also use this camouflaging ability when they run into a stressful situation. You would notice these irregular patterns below their chins and underbellies. The shade of these stress marks tends to get darker during the daytime.
The stress marks can sometimes take up to weeks before they would fully disappear. Depending upon the intensity of stress your beardie is facing, it can affect the duration of the recovery. Sometimes you would be able to easily spot the stimulus that was stressing your beardie. On the other hand, sometimes you would have to perform detective work to evaluate the underlying problem.
Causes of Stress amongst Bearded Dragons
Stress is not only caused by a physical stimulus but it can also be triggered by an emotional or mental aspect. There are various things that can cause your exotic pet to stress out.
If you are not familiar with the causes of stress, then you would not be able to calm down your pet lizard. Knowing about these common causes would help you make the right decision to eliminate stress elements.
Wrongly Set Temperature
These ectothermic creatures are highly susceptible to become stressed when it gets too cold outside. This is the reason your bearded dragon is more likely to display stress stripes in the morning. When it sleeps in a cold enclosure throughout the night it would likely be unwell in the morning.
Once it is able to warm up below the basking spot, the stress marks would slowly fade away. If you think that your bearded dragon is feeling cold, then you would have to raise the indoor temperature. You should maintain an indoor temperature anywhere between 70°F and 75°F. Similarly, you would also have to see whether the basking lamp is radiating the required degree of heat.
Bearded dragons can also develop stress marks in a warm environment when they can’t properly cool down. You would have to set up a temperature gradient so that it can resort to desired zones.
When your bearded dragon is suddenly introduced to new surroundings it is highly likely to experience anxiety. The sudden change of the background can have a negative effect on the overall wellbeing of your pet. The stress they encounter would manifest in the form of sudden marks on their body.
Baby bearded dragons are more likely to suffer during a relocation phase. In their wild habitat, they usually spend the initial weeks of their life in a hidden location. Adult bearded dragons can also show signs of stress when you notice changes in their surroundings. Even if you bring in new furniture in the room, they can feel stressed. Usually, they would get accustomed to these drastic changes within a few days. In the meantime, you can install some hiding structures to reduce stress factors for your pet. This would help make them feel safe in the new home and they would gradually adapt to it.
No Hiding Spots
Bearded dragons have numerous predators in the wild, which requires them to stay alert at all times. If they sense a potential threat they would immediately resort to a hiding spot. If the hiding place in their enclosure isn’t big enough, then it would be difficult for him to fit into it. Similarly, if the hiding structure looks too artificial, then your beardie wouldn’t feel comfortable using it. In order to avoid stress factors, you should provide natural hiding objects to your pet dragon.
Just because you find your pet dog or cat adorable that doesn’t mean your beardie has similar feelings for them. Your new dragon would take them as a threat if he isn’t accustomed to their presence. It would take some time before your pet dragon can finally realize that they don’t him any harm. So, if your dog barks loudly at the sound of the doorbell, then that can cause stress to your beardie.
Tips for Dealing with Relocation Stress in Bearded Dragons
It can be quite difficult to calm down a new dragon that you have just introduced into your household enclosure. Your new pet might be comfortable when you are nearby, and you would have to give it some space. So, before you start cuddling and handling your beardie you should first let it get comfortable with you.
Try to add natural tank decor to replicate the surroundings of your beardie’s natural habitat. This would aid in the relocation phase, as your pet would be more likely to adapt to the new environment.
You can also build up a bond with your pet by feeding him live insects with the help of tweezers. Try hand-feeding live prey to your bearded dragon to make him know that he can trust you. He would start trusting you once you start associating food with your presence.
Whenever you are feeding your beardie you can gently stroke them on the head. You can gradually increase the duration of stroking, as your pet would become start getting used to it. After a few days, you would be able to stroke it without frightening him.
Signs of Stress for a Bearded Dragon
Many times a stressed bearded dragon might not display stress marks initially. This means that you would have to figure out the problem by looking at other signs. Some of these signs could be very subtle, which is the reason you would need to have a keen eye. If your pet lizard demonstrates any of these signs, then you should consider taking them to a vet.
Loss of Appetite
Any animal that is sick would not show interest in any food items. It could be due to an underlying health issue or recent changes in the surrounding environment. If your pet dragon has a parasite issue, then this can also affect its appetite.
If the temperature drops too low in the tank, then that would also cause digestion issues to your pet. These ectothermic creatures heavily rely on the temperature in their surroundings to digest food. If it is too cold in the terrarium, then your beardie would be at risk of getting constipation.
These exotic pets are also known to be highly peculiar when it comes to selecting their food choices. He or she might also not eat something if it doesn’t taste good. They can also get bored of eating the same food every day.
When a bearded dragon suffers from stress and anxiety, it would start engaging in less physical activities. The lack of energy level would cause it to stay in one place throughout the day without moving at all. As long as it isn’t shedding or the temperature isn’t too low, there might be a chance that your pet is suffering from stress.
The sluggish behavior of a pet beardie can also be seen if they don’t have access to proper heating. You would have to create a desirable heat gradient so that they can keep on changing their zones.
Glass Surfing or Scratching
Glass surfing refers to the action when your bearded dragon frantically tries to escape the vertical walls of its tank. You might notice that your beardie is trying to climb the slippery surface of the glass tank. This can indicate that the animal is in a state of stress.
Bearded dragons might also become stressed if they see their own reflection on the glass surface. This would cause them to think that they have met a challenger in their territory. Similarly, beardies also tend to display this behavior when they are bored. If your pet lizard is accustomed to getting out daily, then it would start doing it.
If you notice that your beardie is running around in the tank anxiously, then it might need to cool down. Their energy levels increase when the indoor temperature increases. You might want to regulate a moderate temperature according to external climate conditions.
Most of us know bearded dragons for their mellow temperament and reserved personality. They can sometimes display aggressiveness if they are ill or suffer from stress.
Bearded dragons are highly cautious about the changes taking place in their surroundings. They can become aggressive if they notice a new pet in the house or hear weird noises. And they might also become aggressive when they come across another male specimen in their territory. They would send out body language signs to warn the other dragons around them. An aggressive behavior would open its mouth and its skin would become dark. This would send the signal that he doesn’t want to be bothered by others around him.
Wrapping up Stress and Bearded Dragons
Now you know that it is quite common for bearded dragons to develop stress marks. Being a responsible pet owner, you should always stay vigilant in any odd behavior displayed by your pet. This would ensure that they don’t end up getting a critical disease.
Usually, babies and juveniles are more likely to get these marks on their skins. Sometimes the marks would even stay until the dragon enters into adulthood. You should also develop a habit of taking your pet to the vet whenever you notice something odd about it.