Bearded Dragon Stress Marks (Signs, Causes, And Treatment)

Many new bearded dragon owners get very scared when they see stress marks on their pets. Stress marks make your beardie look very ill. In this article, we will discuss the various signs, causes, and treatments for bearded dragon stress marks.

Stress marks are nothing but a natural indication that your bearded dragon is under stress. They appear as big dark marks usually on their bellies or their beard. These stress marks occur due to various reasons, including lack of food or water, improper husbandry, rough handling, and environmental changes.

When your bearded dragon is going through a lot of stress, their body releases cortisol. Cortisol causes them to change their skin color and texture and hence, the appearance of stress marks. These stress marks are nothing but a visible sign that your pet beardie is feeling discomfort and needs help.

Pet owners need to recognize these stress marks and find the cause for them. You should identify what is upsetting their bearded dragon and make changes accordingly. In addition, you can also help your bearded dragon feel more comfortable by providing it with enough hiding spots and a nutritious diet.

You should also handle your bearded dragon gently and provide it access to external light sources and clean drinking water. If you provide all the right conditions to your pet beardie, they will soon feel better, and the stress marks will be gone.

How to Identify Stress Marks in Bearded Dragons?

Bearded Dragon stress marks

Bearded dragons are usually dusky in color. Stress marks are usually brightly colored red, white, or black patches on the belly or head. Stress marks will stand out from the rest of the body and your bearded dragon will look visibly ill because of them.

Stress marks can be easily identified, as they are strong wide black stripes or splotches that come from time to time. Bearded dragons can get stress marks on their head, these marks generally occur on the side of the neck and beard region. Bearded dragons might also puff up their beard to show that they are under stress

You can also see stress marks on their sides or belly region of bearded dragons. Stress marks might look like an illness, but it is a natural response when bearded dragons are under a lot of stress. You should not worry and try to eliminate the problem that is causing them discomfort.

As pet owners, provide your bearded dragons with a nutritious diet and give them a safe environment to live in. You should also check out for any signs of illnesses that might be causing stress marks in your bearded dragons.

Editor’s Note
You should keep a keen eye on your bearded dragon’s daily activities. Doing so will help you to identify the cause of stress for your pet.

7 Signs of Stress Marks in Bearded Dragon

Bearded dragons usually show dark patches on their body to show distress. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon and communicates to the pet owner that they need help. Here are the seven signs of stress marks in bearded dragons.

Sign #1 – Dark Patches

Bearded Dragon with dark patches

Dark patches might appear on the body of a bearded dragon when they are under a lot of stress. These dark patches generally appear on the head and belly of your pet. Stress marks are generally black and are formed like stripes or splotches on different parts of the body.

You can also see these stress marks appearing on the chin and limbs as well. It is natural for bearded dragons to get stress marks occasionally and communicate their discomfort to their pet owners.

Editor’s Note
Your bearded dragon might also puff up its beard to show it is under stress and needs some space. You should provide them with the right environment and a well-balanced diet to get rid of the issue.

Sign #2 – Change in Color

Bearded Dragon dark colored beard

You can see a new dark coloration around the beard area of your pet. This is a typical sign of stress in your bearded dragon and requires attention. Bearded dragons also turn pale white when they are going through the shedding process.

It is natural for a bearded dragon to go through a lot of discomfort while shedding their skin. Stress marks can appear on their skin if they are facing any issues in shedding. You should provide your bearded dragon with a clean source of water and run them baths to make this process easier.

Sign #3 – Loss of Appetite

Weak Bearded Dragon

If your bearded dragon has had a sudden loss in appetite, it may be because they are under a lot of stress. Make sure they are not going through any health problems, and give them nutritious treats to avoid stress. 

If you do not respond to this problem, your bearded dragon might get stress marks to show visible signs of illnesses. As a pet owner, keep note of any behavioral changes and take action accordingly.

Sign #4 – Lethargic

Lethargic behavior signifies your bearded dragon is not well and something is causing them stress. Bearded dragons might develop stress marks to communicate their discomfort. Making sure they are getting the right food and clean water can help them feel better.

You should also check the temperature inside the enclosure and maintain the right humidity levels to make them feel stress-free. If a bearded dragon has lost a lot of weight, gut-load their treats to provide them with the necessary nutrients.

Sign #5 – Not Basking

Not basking enough is another sign that your bearded dragon is unwell. Basking helps bearded dragons to gather more heat by circulating blood in their bodies. If your pet beardie is not basking enough it might soon develop stress marks to communicate something is wrong.

Monitor the temperature inside the enclosure and make sure they have enough room inside the enclosure for hiding. You can also place UVB lamps and external lighting to make them feel better. But do not change up the environment too much as it might also lead to stress marks.

Sign #6 – Aggression

Aggression due to a lot of stress is very common in bearded dragons. Bearded dragons might develop stress marks if they feel threatened in their surroundings. You should never place two male bearded dragons as they will try to establish dominance over each other.

You should also make sure that you are handling them gently and not hurting them. Any form of aggression means something is not right, and your bearded dragon is not feeling safe, notice these behavioral patterns and act according to their needs.

Sign #7 – Clawing Their Enclosure

Bearded dragons hate reflective surfaces. If your bearded dragon is trying to attack the glass walls of the enclosure it means they have seen its reflection and misunderstood it for another dragon. 

Your pet beardie can get very stressed from reflective surfaces. Make sure they are not getting too much paranoid about the enclosure, as they will develop stress marks due to this reason.

Causes of Stress Marks in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons get stress marks due to various reasons. They can be caused by stress due to temperature, food, overcrowding, etc. Here are some of the causes that lead to stress marks in bearded dragons.

Improper Temperature Regulation

Bearded Dragon in enclosure with thermometer

One of the primary causes for stress marks to occur is due to improper temperature regulation inside the enclosure. You should always monitor the temperature inside the tank in your bearded dragon lives, so you do not cause them any discomfort.

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded and need artificial lighting inside the enclosure to maintain their body temperature. You should make sure the temperature inside the tank is always between 95-110 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If the basking spot is too hot or too cold they will get stressed and develop stress marks on their body. A good basking spot is necessary for a bearded dragon to relax and sleep in. You should always create a balance inside the tank so your bearded dragon can move to the colder or hotter site whenever it feels like it.

Inadequate Lighting

Weak Bearded Dragon in enclosure with no lighting

If there is inadequate lighting inside the enclosure, your bearded dragon will always be low on energy. Soon this lazy behavior will lead to stress marks on their body. Make sure you provide adequate lighting for your pet beardie to keep them happy.

Bearded dragons require UVB lighting to stay healthy. UV lighting is essential for bearded dragons’ growth, allowing them to make vitamin D3 in their body. This vitamin helps them absorb calcium in their body and make the best out of the nutritious food that you feed them.

Without UV lighting bearded dragons can suffer from a metabolic bone disease called MBD. A bearded dragon suffering from MBD will absorb calcium from their bones while their body becomes weak. If your pet is shuddering through this issue it will produce stress marks on its belly to indicate something is wrong.


5 Bearded Dragons in one tank

Bearded dragons are independent animals who prefer to live alone. If you have placed too many pets inside the enclosure they might feel threatened or stressed and develop stress marks.

Keeping multiple bearded dragons inside the small tank can be very stressful for the bearded dragons. There should be enough hiding and breeding spots inside the enclosure. If not your bearded dragons will get aggressive and develop stress marks on their body.

Make sure you never overcrowd your enclosure and provide enough food and water for all pets. Bearded dragons might also puff up their beards to show aggression and establish domination over other bearded dragons. Overcrowding can lead to bites which can cause other health issues for your beardies.

Inappropriate Diet

Bearded dragons require a well-balanced nutritious diet to stay healthy and fit. An inappropriate diet can be another reason why they might be feeling stressed and develop stress marks.

A bearded dragon’s diet should include a good balance of fruits, vegetables, and insects. If your bearded dragon is not getting a healthy diet, it might result in stress marks around its body. An unhealthy diet can also cause various health problems and malnourishment in your beardies.

Bearded dragons who are not getting enough calcium can also develop MBD, which can prove to be fatal for your pet. Calcium is required for the growth of your pet throughout its life. Make sure you are giving them enough treats and sprinkling them with calcium powder before feeding them.


Dehydration is another active cause of stress marks in bearded dragons. If your pet is not getting enough clean water, it might be under a lot of stress naturally.

Bearded dragons require a constant source of water supply to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial during the shedding process, or they might experience a stuck shed. This can result in a lot of stress and discomfort for your bearded dragons.

Signs of dehydration include wrinkled skin, laziness, and sunken eyes. Notice these visible signs and provide them with fresh drinking water inside their enclosure. You should also clean their water after every feeding session, which might lead to a bigger health issue.


It is natural for a bearded dragon to experience discomfort or stress during an illness. If your bearded dragon is sick or has any health issues it might develop stress marks to indicate there is something wrong.

Several illnesses can result in stress marks in bearded dragons. Parasitic infestation, digestive or impaction issues, and respiratory infections can all lead to stress marks in bearded dragons. You should always keep a track of their health to provide them with immediate health whenever required.

If your bearded dragon has a lack of appetite, stress marks, and diarrhea you should take them to a vet immediately. As all of these are early signs of infection in your pet. The vet will be able to diagnose the problem and provide the right treatment.


Bearded dragons can get scared and stressed easily while handling them. Make sure you are holding them gently and not causing injury, as this can lead to stress marks on your bearded dragon.

Handling bearded dragons can cause a lot of discomfort for your bearded dragons, which can later end up in stress marks. You should always hold your bearded dragon gently and not for an extended period.

Prolonged handling leads to stress in bearded dragons and should always be avoided. If your bearded dragon is trying to run or hide from you, it is a sign they are not feeling safe. You should respect their boundaries and give them enough hiding spots to feel comfortable in the environment.

Environmental Changes

Bearded dragons love their surroundings if they are perfect. Avoid changing anything if it is not required, as it can induce a lot of stress for your bearded fellow.

Sudden environmental changes can lead to stress marks in bearded dragons. You should never suddenly change the temperature, or lighting, or place a new object inside the enclosure. As this can cause them a lot of stress and discomfort.

It is very important to introduce changes gradually and let them get accustomed to new things gradually. You should also notice their behavior when you introduce a new treat or toy inside their enclosure. If your beardie does not enjoy the environmental changes, remove them immediately.

How to Get Rid of Stress Marks and Prevent Them in the Future

Stress marks are a visible sign that your bearded dragon is stressed and there is something not right with the environment. It is important to know the cause of this stress and eliminate the problem to get rid of stress marks.

Regulate the temperature inside the enclosure to keep your bearded dragon stress-free. Maintaining the right temperature will help you keep the basking spot at 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also provide an external heating source to give your beardie a nice warm place to live in. You can also monitor the temperature by placing a thermometer inside the enclosure and adjusting the temperature accordingly.

You should also never overcrowd the enclosure with too many pets. Overcrowding is one of the most things that can cause stress marks in bearded dragons. As your pet will fight and get aggressive over other beardies. You should also provide them with adequate food and water so they are never starving or dehydrated.

Provide your pet beardie with adequate UV lighting, as this is important for their growth. UV light helps bearded dragons to make vitamin D and absorb calcium in its body. Replace the bulb every six months to make sure it is working correctly. 

You should also feed them with a nutritious and well-balanced meal. Your pet’s meal should consist of fruits, vegetables, and insects. You can even gut-load or sprinkle your feeder insects with calcium and vitamins to provide additional nutrients to your bearded dragon.

You should also monitor your pet’s health as it might be facing parasitic infestation or digestive problems. If any of these issues are creating stress marks, visit a vet immediately. Vets will be able to diagnose the issue and provide treatment accordingly.

Lastly, do not grab your bearded dragon roughly. You should be gentle with your pet while handling it and make it less frequent. Also, leave your bearded dragon enough hiding spots in case it wants some alone time and does not want to be disturbed.

How to Calm a Stressed-Bearded Dragon?

There are many ways to calm a stressed bearded dragon. Stress can cause many health-related issues, and you need to make changes accordingly to avoid it from occurring. Here are some ways to calm your bearded dragon if it is stressed.

Offer a Warm Bath

Bearded Dragon bathing on shallow water

A warm bath can help destress your bearded dragon and make it feel more relaxed. Fill a shallow container with lukewarm water and place your bearded dragon inside it. Make sure the water level is not too deep, and your bearded dragon is not puffing up while swimming.

Create a Quiet Environment

Bearded Dragon in tank relaxing

Create a quiet environment for your bearded dragons to reduce stress. Bearded dragons enjoy their peace and can be easily stressed around loud noises. Try to reduce the noise levels around the household and provide them with a relaxing retreat for a while.


Bearded Dragon sitting on owner's palm

Gently stroking your bearded dragon will also help reduce stress tremendously.  It will make them feel safe and at home by providing affection. Just use your two fingers and rub them gently from their head to tail. Sometimes they show their gratitude and love by licking you. Isn’t it cute??

Editor’s Note
Always wash your hands before and after petting your bearded dragon, as it can lead to an exchange of diseases and bacteria.

Playing Calming Music

Some bearded dragons like to hear calming music to relax. It helps them calm down, just play them soft music or nature sounds to make them feel at home. You can put a small speaker near the bearded dragon’s enclosure and let it play for some time.

Avoid Handling

You should always avoid handling a stressed bearded dragon. Bearded dragons will often try to run away from you and go into their hiding spot. Try to limit handling your bearded dragons when they are stressed and respect their boundaries.


You can also give your bearded dragons some of their favorite treats but be cautious not to overfeed them. Superworms, waxworms, and dubia roaches are some of the feeder insects that bearded dragons enjoy eating.

When Should You Call a Vet?

Stress marks are not always a sign of medical issues, but if they are you should take your pet to a vet immediately. Stress marks occur due to many reasons, such as rough handling, changes in the environment, temperature fluctuation, overcrowding, etc. 

If stress marks persist coming with signs of lethargy, a sudden loss in appetite, digestive impaction, or discharge from the mouth(mostly during mouth rot), then your bearded dragon must be ill. In these cases, your should call a vet to gain medical help.

A vet will do a thorough examination and tell you the underlying health issue that has caused stress marks. They will also provide your bearded dragon with an effective treatment to get them back into a healthy shape.

Depending on the cause, they may suggest a change in the dragon’s diet, environment, or handling practices. In some other cases, medication or a medical procedure will be necessary. So, in general, it is best to notice your bearded dragons’ behavior to deduce if they need medical supervision or not.


Why does my bearded dragon have stress marks?

It is natural for a bearded dragon to get stress marks if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Many factors can lead to stress marks such as environmental problems, overcrowding, dehydration, loud noises, handling, health issues, and an unbalanced diet.

Do stress marks on bearded dragons go away?

Yes, stress marks on bearded dragons do go away. Just make sure to identify the cause of stress for your beardie and make changes accordingly. Bearded dragons will take a few days to get rid of these spots if you have solved the problem.

Final Thoughts

Bearded dragons’ stress marks can look very concerning but are usually due to a small factor causing them an inconvenience. Just make sure to identify the issue and make changes accordingly. 

If your bearded dragon has stress marks for a long period, you should consider going to a vet as it might be a medical issue. Vets will also be able to determine the cause and refer treatment for the problem.

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