Not all bearded dragons are the same. There are nine species of bearded dragons in the wild, but only four of these are kept in captivity as pets.
The most common is the Pogona vitticeps.
There are many different bearded dragon morphs, and the breeding community sets their names. However, in terms of colors and patterns, the names often change depending on the breeder.
The most common bearded dragon colors are red, olive green, yellow, and tan. Herpetologists will crossbreed different bearded dragon morphs to create new, unique colors and patterns.
There are more than twenty bearded dragon morphs around.
Bearded Dragon Types
We mentioned that there were nine types of bearded dragons. All of these are part of the Pogona genus (family). These nine differ in their color, size, and behavior. They are:
- Pogona Vitticeps (central bearded dragon or inland bearded dragon)
- Pogona Barbata (Eastern bearded dragon or coastal bearded dragon)
- Pogona Henrylowsoni (Lawson’s bearded dragon or Rankins)
- Pogona Microlepidota (Drysdale river bearded dragon or small-scaled bearded dragon)
- Pogona Minor minor (dwarf bearded dragon)
- Pogona Minor minima (western bearded dragon)
- Pogona Minor mitchelli (Mitchell’s bearded dragon)
- Pogona Nullarbor (Nullarbor bearded dragon)
- Pogona Vittikins (a natural crossbreed between pogona vitticeps and pogona henrylawsoni).
Each of these nine different species originates from a diverse environment and has different behaviors. Pogona barbatas, for example, are excellent climbers because they are the only bearded dragon species from the east of Australia, where there are thick forests.
In terms of captive bearded dragons, the most common species is the pogona vitticeps, mainly because they have a calm and docile demeanor, which makes them excellent pets.
All bearded dragons come from Australia, but they’re all from different areas, and their preferred habitat will depend on their natural environment.
Bearded Dragon Colors
A bearded dragon’s color will depend mainly on its natural habitat. Yet, because of selective breeding, you can get bearded dragons in all colors.
Breeders will use different names to describe the colors – and the names can be very different. However, people will quickly know what you’re talking about, whether you say lemon, yellow, or citrus.
In terms of cost, you will pay more for saturated colors like orange, red, and white. In this sense, the word saturated means the beardie is only that color.
One final thing to discuss is that bearded dragon colors and bearded dragon morphs are different things. Some people consider morphs and colors the same, but they’re not. A bearded dragon morph refers to its overall shape, appearance, and scales.
Here are some standard bearded dragon colors:
- Orange bearded dragon
- Red bearded dragon
- Citrus/yellow bearded dragon
- Silver/white bearded dragon
- Tan/brown bearded dragon
- Blue/purple bearded dragon
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Red Bearded Dragons
Red bearded dragon morphs are one of the most popular. They are the result of breeding two red-colored bearded dragons. Because their parents have lots of red, their offspring will be even redder. So you can get blood-red bearded dragons, ruby red-bearded dragons, and many other reddish tints.
As well as producing pure red-bearded dragons, breeders often breed red beardies with other colors to create a unique appearance.
Examples of these include:
- Sunburst bearded dragons
- Sandfire bearded dragons
- Tangerine bearded dragons
- Orange bearded dragons
- Citrus tiger bearded dragons
Yellow Bearded Dragons
To breed yellow bearded dragons, breeders will combine two beardies that have a high yellow content. As a result, the baby beardies will be very yellow. This yellow color will increase through the generations.
A gold bearded dragon is created by breeding a yellow bearded dragon with a red-bearded dragon.
Examples of yellow bearded dragons include:
- Gold Bearded Dragon
- Citrus Bearded Dragon
- Lemon Fire Bearded Dragon
- Sandfire Gold Bearded Dragon
White Bearded Dragons
White beardies are created by selective breeding two bearded dragons with pale coloring. Each generation will become paler if selective breeding continues.
Here are some examples of bearded dragons with white or pale coloring:
- Snow bearded dragon
- Albino bearded dragon
Blue/Purple Bearded Dragons
Blue/purple bearded dragons are created by breeding translucent bearded dragons. These beardies are rare as many of them won’t retain the blue tint color as they age.
Here are some examples of blue/purple bearded dragons:
- Blue bearded dragons
- Purple bearded dragons
Bearded Dragons with A Standard Color
You’ll often find bearded dragons in standard or classic morph colors, which means a mixture of yellow, red, tan, and green colors.
Different Bearded Dragon Morphs
So now, to address the confusion! Bearded dragon colors aren’t the same as bearded dragon morphs. However, morphs do affect the color of a bearded dragon. More typically, bearded dragon morphs have their characteristics, which are found in all colors and patterns.
Here are some different bearded dragon morphs:
- Standard/Classic bearded dragons
- Leatherback bearded dragon
- Hypomelanistic morph
- Translucent bearded dragons
- German giant bearded dragon
- Dunner morph
- Silkback bearded dragons
- Zero morph
- Paradox bearded dragon
- Witblits morph
- Wero bearded dragon morph
Understanding the Basic Terminology of Morphs
Before understanding morphs, you’ll need to know some of the terminologies used when describing morphs.
Most bearded dragon morphs are recessive traits, meaning they have physical characteristics produced by recessive genes.
When creatures display traits, they must have inherited these from both of their parents. Examples of inherited recessive traits include transparency and hypomelanism, as seen in hypomelanistic morph bearded dragons.
A dominant trait only needs to be carried by one of the bearded dragon parents for it to pass onto the baby.
An example of a dominant trait is the dunner morph seen in dunner bearded dragons.
Heterozygous and Homozygous
All of our genes have two alleles. These proteins determine whether or not the trait will be dominant or recessive.
When the gene has identical alleles and both dominant, the gene will be homozygous dominant.
When the gene has two alleles, one being dominant and one being recessive, the gene will be heterozygous.
For a bearded dragon to show a recessive trait, the beardie will need two copies of the recessive allele in the gene (homozygous recessive).
There is something called a co-dominant trait, which causes different phenotypes or appearances. It depends on whether or not the reptile is homozygous or heterozygous for this dominant feature.
A designer morph is a mix of at least two single-gene morphs.
Bearded Dragon Morphs
With the basic terminology explained, you’ll hopefully better understand how morphs can be inherited. Now, we’ll look at the different bearded dragon morphs you might have.
The standard morphs found in the wild are called the “wild type.” These bearded dragons will be the same coloring as bearded dragons in the wild. That is a tan or sandy brown color.
They have a triangular-shaped head, a spiky beard, and spikes that run along the back and sides. These are the bearded dragons that are the closest to real wild bearded dragons.
Some of these bearded dragons also have different patterns, like a tiger pattern (this is the most common). The tiger pattern morphs so-named due to looking like the big cat with their dark-colored horizontal stripes.
In addition, they typically have dark horizontal lines on their backs at an angle with their spine.
The hypomelanistic morph bearded dragon is a pastel or light shade. We can see this in the name with the ‘hypo’ prefix being Greek for ‘under’ and ‘melanistic’ referring to melanin – the pigment that makes skin and hair darker.
Hypomelanistic morph dragons are born brightly colored, but their specific mutation means that their bodies produce less melanin, so they will grow paler as they age.
This bearded dragon morph has a variety of skin tones from snow, orange, blue, yellow, and pink. They also have clear nails.
Though leatherback bearded dragon morphs have somewhat classic bearded dragon features, they also have spines along their backs. Making the bearded dragon’s colors seem more vivid, and it enhances the reds, blues, and yellows.
These morphs will also be smoother to the touch and don’t have the bumps of other types of bearded dragons.
Leatherback bearded dragons are popular with enthusiasts and breeders but are pretty scarce. One stunning leatherback morph is a citrus tiger leatherback.
Breeding a leatherback bearded dragon isn’t easy, and three distinct morphs can happen due to crossing leatherback bearded dragon genes.
Sometimes you might hear people referencing American or Italian leatherbacks, but these terms don’t mean anything and are outdated. There is no difference between the morphs.
The leatherback train is co-dominant, which means leatherback bearded dragons carry one allele of the trait and are heterozygous. If a bearded dragon is homozygous, it would be a silkback.
Scaleless, Silkback, or Silkie
If two homozygous parents have a co-dominant or incomplete leatherback gene, some of the resulting babies will be scaleless or silkbacks.
Silkback bearded dragons don’t have any scales! Their skin is soft, dry, and smooth and resembles amphibian skin rather than reptile skin.
Due to their unusual skin, these bearded dragons will require more intensive care. As they don’t have scales, they shed more frequently.
Their skin also gets damaged more quickly and will bruise, cut or become very dried out, which is dangerous.
These beardies are often missing a few toes or even their tail. This is because their skin gets very dry and tightens, cutting off the blood flow to these extremities, resulting in the extremity withering and falling off.
Silkies should be bathed regularly and need moisturizers to encourage healthy circulation. All bearded dragons should be in their tanks, especially silkbacks that can be easily damaged.
Even if a silky has gentle contact, they can still end up wounded. This means bearded dragon owners must be careful when choosing features and toys for their enclosure.
Funnily enough, silkback bearded dragons are the only morph not to have a classic bearded dragon beard! They can’t inflate this area, and it doesn’t change color, unlike other morphs.
When a breeder crosses a bearded dragon with two dominant leatherback genes with one that has a recessive and a dominant gene, some of the clutch will be microscale morphs.
This morph is similar to a leatherback bearded dragon but has fewer spines. You won’t find spines on the beard or the side; the ones on their heads are smaller.
Translucent Bearded Dragon Morph
When young, translucent bearded dragons have cloudy skin that is thin, which makes it transparent.
Their inner organs have a black lining, and you can see this through the skin, creating an illusion of their blue backs and bellies. They often have black eyes too.
The skin will thicken with aging, and the blue tinge typically disappears.
Many breeders claim that translucent morphs are more prone to health problems, but this isn’t proven.
However, some crossbreeds indeed have healthier babies than others. The clutches deemed to be the best are those laid by two trans morph (heterozygous) parents. However, a heterozygous trans and homozygous cross are good too.
This bearded dragon morph was named after its developer: Kevin Dunn. These bearded dragons have many traits that separate them from other bearded dragon morphs.
Some of these distinctive traits include:
- Spotty or blotched marking in a distinct pattern (most dragons have stripes)
- Thicker tails and larger feet
- Scales that go in different directions create a haphazard, textured look
- A spiky beard that just out to the sides instead of forward.
A bizarre trait of young Dunner bearded dragons is that they often hold food in their throat before they swallow it – as if to savor the taste! Sometimes younger beardies regurgitate food instead of eating it, but this behavior tends not to last long.
This morph originated in Germany. While hypomelanistic zero morphs are white, non-hypo zero morphs are more gray or silvery in color.
This type of bearded dragon is one of the three leucistic morphs. Leucistic morphs don’t have any markings, patterns, distinguishing features, or colors.
The one thing differentiating these from silverback or witblits morphs is the black shoulders.
Sometimes zero morph bearded dragons will change color due to their conscious camouflage reflex. It’s also used to regulate body temperature and communicate. For example, when a bearded dragon is stressed, its beard turns black and puffs out (this is a warning sign for other lizards to take a step back). In hotter places, they get lighter, absorbing less heat, but during colder weather, they’ll turn darker to absorb more heat.
Zero dragons are more prone to these color changes because of their lighter skin.
A dominant genetic mutation adds a racing stripe on the bearded dragon’s body on either side of its spine. These stripes will often run from their neck to their tail.
German Giant morph
You won’t be able to tell whether or not you have a German Giant bearded dragon until he has finished growing. It can even be difficult after growth has stopped.
There aren’t very many purebred German Giant bearded dragons anymore. Most have been crossbred into other morphs, so finding this exact morph is tough.
If your bearded dragon has these traits, he could have German giant lineage:
- Very aggressive
- Mostly tan or brown, or with silvery irises
- It is significantly long – from nose to tail, they’ll be longer than the standard 16-inch bearded dragon
If you think you have one of these, it’s best to buy a large tank!
This morph was created by a bearded dragon breeder in South Africa when he produced a solid-color pale bearded dragon. The name means ‘white lightning.’ Unfortunately, this leucistic morph is extremely expensive and rare.
These beardies aren’t white like their name suggests; instead, they’re pastel colors, dull earth colors, or gray. They also don’t have markings or patterns.
There is no color to be found on their shoulders, unlike weros, zeros, or silverbacks.
The silverback morph is recessive and initially developed in Japan. They have almost no pattern or color. Though they are born with some markings, these do fade as the bearded dragon ages.
Never heard of a wero? This is because it is the newest bearded dragon morph in the bearded dragon community. These are made by breeding a witblits with a zero.
A wero looks very similar to a zero but will have a few dark-colored blotches at the tail base.
A paradox bearded dragon is a rare, beautiful, and sought-after dragon in the dragon breeding community.
These are born with a solid color but, after a few months, begin to develop a unique pattern.
When they’re full-sized adults, they look like someone splashed them with brightly colored paint. It’s like they have blotches and speckles of color across their body.
Unlike other morphs we’ve discussed, it doesn’t appear as though the paradox bearded dragon has a gene associated with its looks. Instead, it’s simply an anomaly. This means it isn’t something you can replicate in breeding; thus, they aren’t actual morphs or a true genetic morph.
Bearded dragon breeders are still learning about paradox bearded dragon morphs and their genetics.
Most paradox morph dragons are made by two hypo translucent morph parents. However, their resulting offspring often has deformities and health problems.
As a result, paradox, dragons aren’t the healthiest of beardies to choose for your pet.
Albino bearded dragons don’t have any melanin at all. Instead, they have red or pink eyes and white scales. These are uncommon, even though they are striking.
Due to their lack of melanin, these bearded dragons need special care because they’re more sensitive to ultraviolet light, which they need to live.
Health Problems with Different Bearded Dragon Morphs
Some morphs are more likely to have health problems than others – and some need extra special care.
Before choosing a bearded dragon, it’s essential to understand your bearded dragon’s morph and how to look after him adequately to mitigate any potential health problems.
The healthiest bearded dragon morphs are the high-color, selectively-bred varieties. Because most colors occur naturally, these bearded dragons haven’t been bred as heavily, so there is more significant genetic variation. This makes for robust and healthy beardies.
Here are some specific health considerations for different morphs:
True albino bearded dragons need special care when it comes to UV lighting. This is also true for translucent morph dragons, hypomelanistic dragons, silkbacks, and leatherback morphs,
You need to use a UVB that is of lower strength. It should produce a maximum UVI of 3.0 in their basking area. Many bearded dragon owners also limit the light to cover only half of the enclosure length.
Scaleless Bearded Dragons
Compared to classic dragons, with scaleless morphs, you might see:
- More illnesses
- Difficult shedding
- Shorter lifespan
- Missing toes or parts of their tails.
These morphs often need specialist creams to help with their shed. You should be extra careful when allowing female silkbacks to mate as they can get seriously injured. For this reason, some people feel that the breeding of silkbacks should be banned.
Paradox Bearded Dragon Health
Paradox morphs are susceptible to mouth rot, infectious stomatitis, and impaction. For these reasons, it’s vital to ensure the humidity and temperature are always within the correct range. Secondly, you can help to prevent impaction by using a substrate that your bearded dragon can’t ingest.
Final Thoughts on Bearded Dragon Morphs
As you might have realized when reading this article – there is no such thing as a typical bearded dragon!
If you’re looking for an unusual and unique pet, a bearded dragon of any morph is a good choice.
When considering the different types of bearded dragons (i.e., a central bearded dragon, a dwarf bearded dragon, or an eastern bearded dragon, for example), you also need to consider morphs.
Remember, this isn’t just about color or choosing a red-bearded dragon, for example. The morph describes much more than the color: it’s about the whole appearance and even dictates how to care for them.
One of the most intriguing morphs is the translucent bearded dragon or trans morph – these are one of the rarest and most beautiful morphs.
Bearded dragons are different from other reptiles. They’re engaging and active yet have docile and calm temperaments.
Healthy bearded dragons are also curious about their surroundings, making them fascinating pets.