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What are those stripes or marks on your bearded dragon’s belly or neck? Should you be worried? They’re commonly referred to as stress marks, but do they mean your bearded dragon is anxious or unhappy? What happens if your bearded dragon’s stress marks won’t go away?

Fortunately, bearded dragon stress marks are usually temporary, and they don’t always mean your lizard is truly stressed.

What are stress marks?

Bearded dragon stress marks usually show up on the body as dark lines, but they also can look like commas, ovals or even tiger stripes.

What do stress marks mean?

The term “stress mark” is a bit of a misnomer, as their appearance doesn’t necessarily mean your pet is emotionally stressed. Instead, they can appear when your lizard is cold, overcrowded, not yet acclimated to a new environment or lacks hiding places in their habitat. Bearded dragon stress signs may even appear randomly with no obvious cause.

Better bearded dragon stress signs

A better indicator of stress in your lizard than stress marks is a dark beard (skin under their chin). You may also see changes in their behavior, feeding habits, shedding or elimination practices.

Your bearded dragon can also experience stress due to improper habitat setup or inadequate care. Ensure your lizard’s enclosure is appropriate for their age. Clean their habitat using cleanup and odor control solutions, and change their substrate and bedding frequently. Make sure they have a basking area in their habitat with the proper light and heat, and consider adding additional hiding spots to help them feel secure.

If you can’t clearly identify a reason for your bearded dragon’s stress marks or dark beard, consult your vet. They will be able to advise you on bearded dragon care and recommend appropriate health and wellness solutions  if necessary. Just remember, a black beard and bearded dragon stress marks are usually temporary and generally not a significant cause for concern.

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Reviewed by Petco’s Animal Care, Education and Compliance (ACE)

Petco’s ACE team is a passionate group of experienced pet care experts dedicated to supporting the overall health & wellness of pets. The ACE team works to develop animal care operations and standards across the organization and promote proper animal care and education for Pet Care Center partners and pet parents, while also ensuring regulatory compliance.