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The bearded dragon has become one of the most popular pet lizards around the world. The dragon originated from Australia offering a fascinating, fun and friendly pet for adults and children. The “beardie”, as it's affectionately called by enthusiasts, is unique in that it bonds with its owner, responding to your voice and physical touch.
While originally from Australia, the bearded dragon you buy today is bred in captivity. They are omnivores, which means they feed on plant materials, insects, small mammals and other lizards. A bearded dragon care sheet can help you make your beardie comfortable with good habitat.
Thanks to selective breeding, bearded dragons come in a multitude of morphs and colors, which can be very confusing to a new bearded dragon owner. If you are a new beardie enthusiast, you should familiarize yourself with the words people use to accurately describe the traits.
What morph for your first bearded dragon?
With various available morphs in the market, choosing the first bearded dragon is a tough decision. Keep in mind that you always trust your real feelings. If you like the dragon look and appreciate his or her beauty, then you have found the one for you.
A morph (sometimes called a phase) is the physical characteristics of the beardie with many of the beardies showing a host of characteristics. Different morphs come in an extensive range of colors from red and orange to brown, yellow, white and silver.
What is a Pattern?
When discussing bearded dragon morphs, the term Pattern is commonly used. A pattern is the design created by the arrangement of the spots on the back of the bearded dragon.
Scaling morphs are normal or regular scaled bearded dragons. The most common scaling morphs are the Leatherback, Dunner and Silkback. When bred, if one parent displays a morph, half of the offspring will have the same traits.
The normal scale bearded dragon has spikes all over its back. These are the original dragons. The original dragons that came from Australia had this trait with no mutations. These are the common wild dragons and have large triangular heads, which makes them very distinct.
The normal scale beardie comes in a full range of colors and is the most affordable of the bearded dragon range, often completed with black and orange markings.
The leatherback morph is a mutated gene that stops the scale from growing to full size, which makes this a very popular morph that offers vivid colors, making it stand out from the other beardies on the market.
The smaller scales provide a smoother touch, while the smaller scales also increase the coloration of the bearded dragon. The leatherback dragon comes in a wide variety of colors.
The spikes run down the side of the body and cover the head and beard. The leatherback dragon comes from two mutations with the most common being a co-dominant mutation, which comes from both parents.
The Dunner bearded dragon is named after the breeder that created them. The normal back pattern of a beardie is stripes, but the dunner takes their backs to a new level with spots.
In addition to showing off spots on the back, these bearded dragons also have their scales growing in different directions. Normally a beardies spikes will point down towards the belly, but with the dunner they point to the side.
Further, the dunner has cone-shaped scales and the dragon can also be one solid color. They have more scales on their body that the other bearded dragon morphs available.
Silkbacks are bred when two leatherbacks mate. These bearded dragons have a smoother appearance with very small scales. What makes this beardie so unique is that they can feel as smooth as skin to the touch and they come in a wide variety of colors. These bearded dragons are often bred for their unique colors.
The common problem found with the silkback is how thin the skin is and how sensitive it is to damage. As a result these beardies need regular baths and lotions to help them shed their skin. They cannot be housed with other dragons due to the sensitivity of their skin.
Visual morphs are recessive traits, which mean the traits come from both parents. Visual morphs are selective breeding, producing bearded dragons that have the traits, which are appareling to owners.
The Hypo morph is the Hypomelanistic, which means less melanin. Hypo beardies are when two bearded dragons with translucent traits breed. The skin is a lighter color with reduced dark colorations.
The hypo trait is a recessive mutation that causes less melanin. Melanin is found in all animals and is what gives them their pigmentation. Often the hypo beardie will have clear nails and no brown stripe down their backs. The melanin in the scales gives the color a more vibrant look.
The trans morph is the translucent morph, another of the recessive mutations. These beardies are partially seen through with black eyes, making them unique and easily identifiable. The hatchings all have blue underbelly and black eyes. As the bearded dragon ages, the blue often disappears, though there are some bearded dragons that retain the blue throughout their lives.
The eyes can have an alien look about them. Some of the trans bearded dragons will change their eye color a few times throughout their lives, changing back and forth.
The zero morph is one of three mutations where they have no pattern on their bodies. Most beardies will have a stripe down their backs, but with the zero, the beardie remains one solid color, making it exceptionally appealing.
This is a recessive mutation and one of the most recent mutations introduced. It's a very beautiful beardie, which ranges from a silver color to off white. They are also known to be dark silver or gray with a very striking appearance.
These bearded dragons lighten in color when they are warm. You will notice your beardie becomes lighter as it sits under the heat lamp, for example. While still very rare, these beardies are growing in popularity.
The witblits is a recessive mutation, which was discovered by a South African breeder. Witblits translates into “White Lightening” even though these beardies are not as white as the zero. The zero beardie was introduced after witblits, which has no pattern and earthy tones. Most of these dragons are sandy in color to a light orange.
While they are not as light as the zero bearded dragons, this trait has improved from dull colors to more vibrant and bright colors. They retain their colors and are an exceptionally rare beardie to get your hands on.
Wero bearded dragons are a combination of zero and witblits dragons and are still very rare. They resemble zeros but with small color patterns which can appear on the back and the tail. They are a new morph that is starting to grow in popularity for their unique and beautiful appearance.
The paradox bearded dragons are the most beautiful of all the dragons and also the rarest. They are very sought after due to their patches of color which can appear anywhere on the body. The easiest way to describe these beardies is that they have had paint splattered on them. These beardies can be any color and when hatched you may not even know they are paradox, as the color only develops after a few months.
This is a genetic abnormality which is closely linked to the trans gene. The striking appearance of this beardie is what sets it apart from the other morphs.
Color variations seem to be influenced by a variable group of genes, rather than a simple set of dominant or recessive genes. Some of the colors you can expect when buying a beardie include red, yellow or standard brow as bellow.
It is important to note that the colors and patterns of your bearded dragon will slightly change with age. Their appearance will also be different in various lights.
Red, which includes blood red and ruby red, is resulted of mating two beardies with a high amount of red. With each generation of offspring the red coloring becomes deeper and more prominent, until the end results is an extremely deep red colored dragon.
Yellow can be described as sandfire, citrus, gold, and lemon are bred by mating two beardies with a high amount of yellow.
Some bearded dragons can have a mixture of red and yellow which can be described as orange, tangerine and sunburst.
White bearded dragons are rare and bred by mating beardies that are whiter or paler in coloring to produce new generations of dragons that are predominantly white.
These colors do exist but are extremely rare and they are usually expensive beard dragons.
Browns and tans are the most common color and often the cheapest to purchase.