There are eight different species of bearded dragons in the wild, but only four of those are kept as pets. The most commonly kept is the Pogona vitticeps, also known as the central bearded dragon. Because of this, this is also the species bred as color morphs. Morphs is the term for color, pattern, and even skin type variations produced by selective breeding.
The hoped-for result may take several generations of breeding certain morphs together to produce. This is partly because predicting a dragon’s color or markings can be uncertain, especially in regard to producing a certain pattern or a pattern containing certain colors.
The most common colors are tan, yellow, olive-green, and red, but these have been bred to each other to produce various shades of the colors and various skin patterns. Because of this, there are currently over 20 bearded dragon color morphs.
What are the Colors of Bearded Dragons?
The natural color for a central beardie is brown, tan and gray. They may display small areas of orange or yellow in places. As far as the color morphs, you’ll find many lists of bearded dragon colors if you look, some with a few colors that differ from list to list.
Some lists vary in where a particular color morph is listed. For instance, a citrus tiger can be grouped in with yellows or oranges. Many of the morphs are a combination of various colors. We’ll try to cover the main colors and variations.
Red – Is the most common and popular morph and is also the least expensive unless you get into some of the rarer shades. They are produced by breeding two dragons that each have a large amount of red color. The morph listed as red is a rather bright, striking red. This is the common color.
The more rare and more expensive red morphs are the blood-red dragon, which is a darker red color resembling blood color, and the ruby red morph, which is an even darker red, almost a maroon color.
There are several morphs that are a mixture of colors, including red. These include the sandfire red, which is a red and orange pattern. The sunburst is mostly yellow with some red trim.
Orange – These colored dragons are bred from red and yellow dragons. They can vary from a lighter orange, such as in the tangerine dragon, to deeper shades that include burnt orange or brown. The tangerine dragon is a rather light orange color with deeper orange or red markings.
The orange dragon is a darker orange with red markings. In addition, the sandfire red sometimes has more of an orange appearance. In addition, there is the sunburst morph.
Yellow – Yellow dragons are usually produced by breeding dragons with a high amount of yellow color, and it may well take a few generations to really get a good color. Gold dragons are bred by mating a red and a yellow dragon. Yellow morphs include yellow, gold, lemon fire, citrus, the citrus tiger, and sandfire gold.
Most of these are a solid color but many have a little orange or red in spots. The citrus tiger may be grouped in with the yellow or orange group in some lists. It usually has a yellow or gold base but is trimmed with orange, red or gray, or a combination of these.
Green – These dragons are usually more of an olive green than a bright or grass green, although they may have some brighter green as trim. Usually, they also have some yellow or tan spots as well.
White – Is one of the more unusual, and more expensive, bearded dragon colors. These beardies are bred by mating two pale dragons and may take several generations. These are usually called snow bearded dragons. Since it is hard to breed these to be completely solid white, they may have patches of a light gray or tan.
These are not albino dragons, although there are albinos. A true albino dragon usually has red eyes, while a snow dragon has normal colored eyes. Unfortunately, albino dragons do not tend to live very long.
Blue and purple – These colored dragons are very rare and very expensive. This is because while some translucent dragons are blue or purple shades when babies, this color is rarely kept to adulthood. The blue and purple dragons are produced by breeding translucent dragons together.
A translucent dragon is really more of a skin-type morph, producing a dragon with transparent spikes and scales. The color of the skin then shows through the scales much more than it would on a dragon with normal scales. Many translucent dragons have a clear blue belly when young, but it fades after a few months.
Some darker dragons are sold as black, but there really are no actual all-black dragons. Those sold as black are very dark, almost black.
What Do the Colors of a Bearded Dragon Mean?
If we’re talking about overall color, the individual colors don’t mean anything in particular for the most part. However, dragons can and do change colors in parts of their bodies to indicate various things. The most common is turning the beard dark or black and puffing it out as a show if a male sees another one or if the dragon is startled or feeling threatened.
Sometimes this happens if the owner reaches into the enclosure from above when the beardie isn’t expecting it.
Stress marks in the form of spots or other dark markings can appear on their chins and bellies when they are very distressed. They can be stressed by excessive handling, illness, and just having the wrong habitat environment in terms of light, humidity and temperature. A dragon may also exhibit somewhat brighter patches when he’s happy.
Sometimes dragons will lighten or darken somewhat all over in response to the amount of light it gets. Dragons have also been known to darken their backs when cold. This is thought to happen in the wild to enable the dragon to absorb more heat from the sun.
Likewise, dragons change color a bit to blend in more with their environment, although this change is nowhere near as obvious as with other species such as chameleons.
Dragons also change color in general as they age. Juveniles will often appear a brighter or more vibrant color each time they shed their skin, but once they get to the age of between 12 and 18 months, this tendency fades as does their color. When dragons are close to shedding their skin, they often can turn darker as the fresh skin grows underneath the old.
The old skin turns white when it loosens, making the dragon look a duller color, but he’ll be a more vibrant color once he gets rid of his old skin.
Some colors indicate the need for quick attention. Sometimes yellowish or greyish patches may be an indication of yellow fungus disease. Likewise, an unusual green color or green patches may indicate that the dragon is being subject to algae, especially if they have too much humidity in their environment or not enough UV light. For more detailed information on the different colors read my article What Does Different Colored Bearded Dragons Mean?
What Color are Fancy Bearded Dragons?
Bearded dragons sold as fancy dragons have a rare color, color pattern or size. With that in mind, be aware that some dragons are sold as fancy when they’re actually not just to command a higher price. It’s a sort of category for morphs and species that are unique or rare.
Since most dragons in the wild are beige, tan, light brown or grayish, perhaps with some yellowish markings, unusual colors that won’t be seen in the wild, such as bright red or orange, are considered fancy. A bright color such as this would make it easy for a predator to spot such a colored dragon.
Some striking patterns are also rated as fancy, such as a zigzag pattern. One specific fancy more is known as the Dunner, named for its breeder, Kevin Dunn. This dragon features a pattern that runs down their backs and right through their tales. They also have scales that grow in different directions on different parts of their bodies, which is very unusual.
Other fancies include the Paradox, which requires some very intensive and careful breeding to produce. They are usually light gray with splotches of color in odd places as if they had had paint or ink spilled on them. The Zeros have no patterns or colors. They are usually very light gray or white.
The German Giant is another fancy, bred for size. They are longer and heavier than most dragons, sometimes reaching 30 inches long. Because the gene that produces them is recessive, even breeding two dragons known to have the gene is not a guarantee that the offspring will be giants.
Often the results can’t even be determined until the owner just waits to see how big a particular one grows. The only way to tell beforehand is with a blood test that tests for the gene causing the size.
Do Certain Species of Bearded Dragons Have Different Colors?
All dragons in the wild have mostly gray or tan as a primary color, with the exception of the central bearded dragon, which is usually yellow or reddish. There are, of course, variations in individuals.
The Pogona barbata or coastal or eastern species from eastern Australia is mostly gray or red. The Pogona henrylawsoni, also known as the Rankins or Lawsons dragon, from western and central Australia is tan or yellow. Both the Pogona microlepidota or small-scaled dragon from northern Australia and the Pogona minor mitchelli from the northwest are tan or red.
The Pogona minor or dwarf beardie from western and central parts of the country and the Pogona minor minima or western bearded dragon, and the Pogona nullabor, or banded dragon from southern parts of the country are usually tan or brown. The most common pet species, the pogona vitticeps or central bearded dragon, is yellow or red.
What are the Pros and Cons of Each Color of Bearded Dragon?
There really is not much difference in caring for a dragon that is a specific color versus another color. In fact, there is not much difference in caring for a common versus the fancy dragon. There are a few exceptions, however.
If you purchase a white dragon, such as a Zero, it won’t be an albino. True albino dragons don’t usually live to be more than a few weeks old. They can’t make use of UVB rays and cannot process calcium efficiently, leading to bone and other problems. If you encounter somebody selling a true albino, it’s best not to buy it.
Blue or purple dragons may be a bit misleading, especially if you buy a baby. Blues and purples are usually produced from translucent dragons, and the color is usually in the form of markings, not an all-over color.
Translucents are a morph that has transparent scales and spines which allow the skin color to show through more. They often have a blue belly and appear bluish in other places when very young, but this color will fade as they age.
It’s rare to find one that keeps the blue color into adulthood. Potential buyers are often not aware of this. Translucent dragons, whatever the color or pattern, may need more water, especially when young. Giving them baths a bit more often will help with this.
One morph that takes extra care isn’t a color morph, but rather a scalation morph. This is the silkback. They are usually bred from breeding two leatherbacks (which have much smaller scales than usual as well as a reduced number), a leatherback and a silkback or two silkbacks. Silkbacks don’t have scales on their top or bottom surfaces. Because of this, their colors are more vibrant and their skin feels smooth.
However, these dragons are often smaller and weaker than their normal cousins and may be hard to feed. They can’t tolerate the amount of UVB light that normal ones do, although they still need some.
They also need more water than normal dragons, as the lack of scales means that more fluid is lost through their skin. They can also have more trouble shedding their skin and shed more frequently than normal. They need higher humidity levels in their environment because of this.
They are also more susceptible to wounds, such as those which may be inflicted by a male during mating. Many do not survive, and because of this, some experienced dragon owners discourage people from buying them, with some even proposing a ban on their sales.
What Does it Mean When a Bearded Dragon Changes Color?
Bearded dragons naturally change color when they are upset or feel threatened. These color changes mostly happen in the beard or neck area, and are done to transmit a warning to a rival or to seem less appetizing to a potential predator.
Male dragons also use color to impress a potential mate. A dragon also uses other social signals, such as flaring or puffing out the beard, head bobbing, and arm waving. In addition, some recent research has indicated that dragons can also change the color of specific body parts to regulate their body temperature.
In experiments, some dragons darkened the color of their backs in cooler situations, probably to be able to absorb more heat from the sun. The back color isn’t affected when the dragon is attempting to send a message to another dragon or potential threat.
It’s important to take note of your dragon’s color changes. If he seems upset or uneasy, try to find out why and rectify the problem. Likewise, a dragon that is becoming ill may change color, so it’s important to find out if this is the case
Do Bearded Dragon Morphs Have Different Colors?
The morphs produced are mostly color morphs. There are morphs that are bred to produce specific color patterns, such as the Dunner or tigers. Also, there are morphs bred to produce different skin or scale types, such as the translucent morph, the leatherback and the silkback or silkie.
Does the Color of a Bearded Dragon Affect its Disposition?
You won’t find different colors that have a particular disposition according to their color. For instance, red dragons aren’t any more aggressive than any other color of dragon.
Beardies can and do change the color of certain body parts to indicate particular moods, such as feeling threatened or upset or seeing a potential rival, but a particular color of a dragon isn’t pegged to any specific temperament. A beardie also will not feel overly threatened by a beardie of another color.
They just aren’t social creatures to begin with. This is why they shouldn’t be housed with each other, except at breeding time if breeding is the goal. Males especially are not going to become lifelong buddies if housed with each other and this should be avoided. Sometimes two females can live in harmony, but this is not very common.
If you are interested in a specific bearded dragon color, there should be no problem as far as caring for one color over another in most cases. Even a beginner can get a color morph with no more problems than a normal colored one. As long as you stay away from the more exotic types, such as silkbacks, you should have no problems getting a color morph – except perhaps for the price.