Bearded dragons have a wide range of behaviors they use to communicate how they are feeling.
The most common behaviors bearded dragons use to communicate with is body language and changing color.
When a bearded dragon turns black or darkens its body, the reptile lets you know it is cold.
Bearded dragons darken their bodies to more readily absorbing heat from sunlight.
So if a bearded dragon turns white, does it indicate a serious condition?
As a general rule, when a bearded dragon turns white, it usually does not indicate a serious condition. Bearded dragons will turn white during routine activities such as shedding, sleeping, and being too hot. However, there is a chance a bearded dragon is turning white because it is dying.
When a bearded dragon is dying, not only will it turn white, but it will also present other symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite.
For a new bearded dragon owner, the reasons may be difficult to distinguish.
Keep reading to learn more about the different reasons a bearded dragon turns white, as well as ways to prevent it when applicable.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Turning White?
As previously stated, when a bearded dragon turns white, it generally doesn’t indicate anything seriously wrong, but occasionally it does.
It is essential to distinguish between normal behavior and signs of your beardie dying so you will know how to handle each situation correctly.
Regularly monitoring your beardie’s behavior and appearance will give you a better sense of what is normal for your pet and what is cause for concern.
Let’s have a more detailed look at what causes a bearded dragon to turn white.
Shedding is the most common cause of a beardie turning white, and it is an entirely natural part of the process.
Young beardies shed a lot more often than adults because they are constantly growing, and as they get older, they will shed less.
Adult bearded dragons usually only shed a few times per year.
Since beardies do not shed their entire body all at once, this white skin will be in patches.
The beardie’s skin will whiten up to two or three weeks before the shedding takes place.
This will be most notable on the head, tail, and limbs.
During this time, you will need to ensure the humidity in the enclosure ranges from 30% to 40%.
Misting your beardie once per day will also make the shedding process go more smoothly.
Never peel any skin from your bearded dragon’s body.
This is problematic because not only does it cause your lizard pain, but it makes your pet more susceptible to skin infections.
If your beardie is having issues with a stuck shed, warm baths will moisten the skin and help the process.
Pay special attention to any stuck shed on the tail or toes because if it builds up in these areas, it is likely to cause constriction.
If the constriction is not treated for a prolonged period, necrosis will set in, and your reptile may need to have some limbs amputated.
And if you run into shedding issues we have a post on shedding problems with bearded dragons for you to check out.
The Temperature Is Too Hot
In the same way, bearded dragons darken their bodies to absorb more heat; they will also turn white to cool down.
If you notice your beardie constantly fluctuates between darkened skin and turning white, you need to check your pet’s enclosure temperatures.
Invest in a decent digital thermometer to ensure the tank temperatures are remaining steady.
The basking spot should be around 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C) for adult beardies, and the cooler end should range from 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Baby beardies require slightly warmer temperatures with a basking area of around 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C) and a cool spot between 85-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).
Once your bearded dragon has sufficiently cooled itself off, its body color will turn from white back to normal.
It is completely normal for a bearded dragon to turn white when it is sleeping.
Researchers have discovered the change in color to white has to do with a beardie’s circadian rhythm.
Turning white while sleeping may also indicate the beardie is relaxed and comfortable.
If you notice this is a common occurrence, you should check the enclosure’s temperature at night to ensure it is not too hot for your beardie.
In cases where you confirmed the temperature is at the proper level and you notice your beardie is still turning white when sleeping, it is best to seek a veterinarian to rule out anything more serious.
If your bearded dragon is turning white and it is also exhibiting symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss, and lack of appetite, this means it is likely your beardie is dying.
A dying beardie may also darken its beard while the rest of its body is pale.
If your beardie turns white and also stops eating and becomes lethargic, it is best to seek veterinary care right away to rule out impaction, parasites, or other illnesses.
However, if a disease has progressed to where your beardie is turning pale and not eating, this is a bad sign.
Check out this post on signs your bearded dragon is dying for a complete guide on signs of death approaching.
How Do You Prevent a Bearded Dragon Turning White?
While there is nothing to prevent your beardie from turning white because it is dying, it is possible to prevent your beardie from turning white if it is due to one of the other causes, such as improper temperature or poor diet.
There are many issues with bearded dragons easily prevented through proper care, and most common reptile illnesses are easily preventable.
Bearded dragons are not especially difficult animals to care for, and they are very hardy reptiles who will be able to fully recover from most ailments.
Proper Enclosure Temperature
Keeping your bearded dragon’s enclosure at the proper temperatures is one of the easiest ways to prevent your pet from turning white.
Since beardies turn white because they are too hot, this is a good indication you need to lower the temperatures in the enclosure.
It is quite possible for the cool end of the enclosure to be too warm to allow your beardie to lower its body temperature effectively.
One of the most important investments to make when it comes to caring for your reptile is a good digital thermometer, we recommend this one.
Digital thermometers are usually inexpensive, and they are crucial for closely monitoring the temperatures in your beardie’s enclosure.
Having the proper temperatures in your pet’s enclosure is the easiest way to prevent them from changing color.
Use A Different Substrate
Impaction is a common cause of illness and death in bearded dragons, and it is usually caused by ingesting loose substrate.
Impaction will progress very quickly if left untreated, and it will ultimately result in death for your beardie.
Since the impaction is caused by ingesting foreign particles, the most common cause is loose particle substrates, particularly those which include sand in the mixture.
If your beardie has become impacted, it is worth changing to a smoother substrate with no foreign particles for your reptile to ingest.
Paper towels, reptile carpet, and specialized reptile tiles, which retain more heat than standard ceramic tiles, are all excellent choices for a smooth and worry-free substrate.
Zilla Reptile Carpet is among the most popular options because it’s affordable, easy to clean, and quite durable.
Feed a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is another excellent way to prevent your bearded dragon from turning white because it reduces the chance of a severe illness which may lead to death.
Adding calcium and multivitamin supplements to your beardie’s food goes even further to keep your reptile healthy.
Without adequate nutrition, your beardie is prone to diseases such as respiratory infections and metabolic bone disease.
Proper hydration is also necessary to keep your beardie’s body healthy and lower the risk of becoming impacted.
Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in allowing your beardie to stay healthy and thrive, and it is one of the easiest ways to prevent your reptile from changing color due to illness.
Check out our bearded dragon diet sheet for a great resource to your pets nutrition.
Regular Vet Check-Ups
In addition to providing your beardie with the best care at home, ensuring your pet gets an annual vet check-up is also very important, especially if your lizard has been turning white.
During the check-up, your veterinarian will check your beardie’s heart, lungs, and stomach to ensure everything is in proper order.
The reptile vet may also have bloodwork drawn and perform a fecal test to rule out parasites or fungal infections.
Your beardie will be weighed to ensure it is at healthy body weight, and you will likely be asked about what you feed to your reptile.
Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a change in diet or supplementation according to the health needs of your beardie.
Having the annual check-up for your pet will rule out any underlying issues you may not be aware of, and it will allow you to keep your beardie healthy so it does not turn white due to an unexpected illness.
Bearded Dragon With A White Head Only
We have covered the various reasons for a bearded dragon to turn white and provided methods to remedy and prevent this from happening.
But what happens if the only part of your beardie turning white is its head?
If you notice only your beardie’s head is turning white while the rest of its body is its standard color, there is no need to panic.
A white head is usually the first indication your reptile is going through the shedding process.
Remember, beardies tend to shed in patches rather than all over their entire body at once.
Singular white or gray patches may appear anywhere on a dragon’s body.
It is very common to see these white patches more prominently on the head, tail, or limbs.
This white coloration will usually last for one or two weeks before the dead and dried skin is actually shed from the reptile’s body.
This is an entirely normal process and doesn’t require any special care other than making sure your beardie is adequately hydrated.
Frequently misting your reptile with water goes a long way in speeding up the shedding process and helping it go more smoothly.
Why Does My Bearded Dragon Have a White Tongue?
The tip of a bearded dragon’s tongue will vary in color from a light pink to white, and it is a little sticky to allow the lizard to quickly grab prey.
This is completely normal, and it is not something you should be worried about.
However, if your bearded dragon’s entire mouth becomes pale or white, this is a definite cause for concern.
Mouth rot, also known as infectious stomatitis, will cause white spots to appear on the tongue and throat.
Mouth rot isn’t as common in bearded dragons as it is in other reptiles like iguanas, and it is a severe disease.
The disease usually stems from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria inside of your beardie’s mouth.
In addition to tongue whitening, you will also notice other signs along with mouth rot, such as lack of appetite and lethargy.
If the infection is left untreated, it will spread to the beardie’s head, bones, intestines, and even the blood.
Mouth rot is cured quickly when the infection is caught early, so if you see your beardie’s tongue or throat turn white, you should take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
The vet will be able to obtain a diagnosis and immediately begin treatment, which usually consists of a round of antibiotics.