Bearded Dragon White Tail: 7 Possible Causes

Bearded dragons aren’t known to change their color too often, although they can do it. For instance, they can turn darker if their habitat is too cold, they’re stressed, or when facing another male invading their territory.

However, this isn’t the only color change that you can observe in these lizards, despite them not reaching the level a chameleon can.

So today, we will discuss a particular color change that could actually inform you about the reptile’s overall health: tail whitening. Let’s dive right in!

Causes of White Tail in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons can sometimes exhibit a whiter-than-normal tail, which should be an alarm signal if it occurs suddenly.

But even a gradual tail whitening says something about your lizard.

Let’s see what that is:


One of the most common reasons for a white tail in bearded dragons is shedding. Bearded dragons shed their skin periodically, and this process can cause the tail to turn white.

This is due to the old skin beginning to flake off, causing the new skin underneath to become more visible. The new skin layer is lighter than the outer one, which is where the whitening effect comes from.

Shedding is a natural process, and it is essential to allow it to occur naturally. However, if the process takes too long or is incomplete, it can cause problems for the bearded dragon.

To help the shedding process, it is vital to maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. Bearded dragons need a basking spot with a temperature of around 105-110 F, and a cooler area of around 80 F.

Additionally, a humidity level of around 40-50% is necessary for proper shedding, which is slightly higher than the standard range of 30-40%.

If the humidity level is too low, it can cause the skin to dry out and become tough, making it more difficult to shed.

You can tell that your bearded dragon is getting ready to shed if the lizard’s coloring is fading gradually while the skin begins to exhibit a rough texture. This is due to the outer skin layer slowly separating from the newly-formed one underneath.

But bearded dragons will exhibit signs of shedding well before that, around 1-2 weeks in advance. At this point, the lizard may stop eating and look for a place to hide, which is what it also does in the wild.

Just make sure that the tail whitening is a sign of shedding and not something else. Always corroborate multiple symptoms to make sure you’re concluding the right diagnosis.


Temperature is another factor that can contribute to the white tail syndrome in bearded dragons. Bearded dragons are ectothermic, which means that their body temperature is regulated by their environment.

If the temperature is too low, the blood vessels in the tail tend to constrict, reducing blood flow to the tail. This can result in a white tail.

Additionally, if the bearded dragon’s basking spot is too hot, it can cause the tail to become discolored. If the temperature is too high, the tail will dry out and become brittle, which can lead to tissue damage and more extensive issues along the way.

Naturally, the beardie’s tail health is the last thing you should care about when it comes to temperature regulation.

That’s because wild temperature swings or unfit temperature values can impact your lizard’s health more than you know.

Improper temperatures can cause digestive problems, a low immune system, and stress, increasing the likelihood of infections and other diseases.

You should provide your bearded dragons with a stable temperature gradient 24/7, as such:

  • Main dwelling area – 73-85 F
  • Basking spot – 90-95 F
  • Nighttime temperatures – 70-75 F

Also, have a shaded hiding zone and a source of clean and fresh water, preferably a mini-pool, that your lizard can bathe to cool off when necessary.

And a thermometer is absolutely critical because it allows you to detect and address any dangerous temperature variations long before they cause any significant discomfort.

Normal Sleeping Pattern

You probably didn’t know that bearded dragons change their coloring slightly when they sleep. Now you do. These reptiles are diurnal, so they are active during the day and sleep during the nighttime.

Studies have shown that bearded dragons change their color when sleeping and appear darker in the morning when temperatures are cooler.

But bearded dragons also rest during the day in the shade, where they can find cover from the outside heat. This causes their color to lighten up, sometimes causing their tails to appear whiter.

This is an evolutionary adaptation meant to help the beardie adapt to temperature changes in their ecosystem.

Signs of Illness

Bearded dragons are hardy reptiles, but they can still become ill. Several signs indicate that a bearded dragon is sick, such as a lack of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, or abnormal behavior.

However, one more interesting sign of sickness is the paleness of the skin. Beardies turn paler when sick and stressed, which can cause the tail to whiten up significantly.

If a bearded dragon is sick, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately for a timely diagnosis and personalized treatment. Neglecting to treat any illness promptly can lead to severe health problems and even death.

This also applies to seemingly mild conditions like intestinal parasites or some moderate infections due to skin lesions.


Bearded dragons can become intoxicated if they ingest harmful substances. If a bearded dragon ingests toxic plants, chemicals, or even certain types of food, it can experience several health problems and unusual symptoms, including discoloration of the tail.

You need to keep your bearded dragon’s enclosure free from harmful substances and be cautious about what they eat.

Sometimes, even the most innocuous substances or chemicals can impact beardies severely, and the most common method of contamination is via food. Always wash and peel fruits and veggies and acquire the food items from reliable sources.

Tail Damage

If a bearded dragon’s tail is damaged, the blood vessels in the tail can be affected, causing the tail to become discolored.

Tail damage can occur due to several reasons, such as injuries, fighting with other bearded dragons, or even improper handling. The habitat’s layout is also paramount in this sense.

Avoid large and rugged decorative structures or decorations with pointy or sharp edges. These can cause skin damage, and the tail is especially vulnerable due to its length.

More importantly, even the smallest skin lesions can degenerate into full-blown infections, putting your beardie’s life at risk.


If your bearded dragon is brumating (not all do), you may have discovered the cause of its tail-whitening effect. Brumation is the reptile equivalent of hibernation and fulfills the exact same role.

In short, the lizard will lower its metabolism and heart rate as the temperature drops below 60 and remains below the threshold for several days.

At this point, the bearded dragon enters an energy-saving state, which is an evolutionary adaptation meant to protect it against the cold season in the wild.

Fortunately, you control whether your bearded dragon should enter the brumation or not. If you decide it must, you now know what to expect.

The slight tail whitening isn’t the only sign that the reptile is getting ready to brumate, either. Additional signs include less energy, lack of appetite 1-2 weeks prior to brumation, looking for a hiding spot, etc.

When to Seek Veterinary Help?

You shouldn’t take your reptile’s color change for granted. As you’ve seen, this behavior can sometimes signify specific health issues that need addressing soon.

Here are some instances where you want your vet involved:

  • If the white tail is accompanied by other symptoms: If your bearded dragon is showing other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal behavior, or any other unusual symptoms, consider the risk of an underlying health issue. It is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly to address any potential health problems.
  • If the white tail is not shedding: Shedding is a natural process for bearded dragons, and it is normal for the tail to turn white during this process. However, if the tail is not shedding, although the reptile is, you may be looking at a case of dysecdysis. This is a condition best defined as abnormal shedding, and it primarily affects the tail. Dysecdysis is a potentially life-threatening disorder, as it can cause impaired blood flow in the region, causing tissue damage and gangrene.
  • If the white tail is due to tail damage: If the white tail is caused by tail damage, such as injuries, fighting with other bearded dragons, or improper handling, it is essential to seek veterinary care. Tail damage can lead to severe health complications and infections, and you don’t want that, especially if these issues are easily preventable.
  • If the white tail is due to extreme temperature or humidity issues: If the white tail is the result of severe temperature or humidity problems, veterinarian assistance is absolutely necessary. Improper temperature or humidity levels over long periods of time can lead to a variety of health issues, some of which can become life-threatening. If your bearded dragon’s tail has turned white, the reptile is already experiencing noticeable health problems.
  • If the white tail is due to an underlying illness or disease: Some health issues, such as Metabolic Bone Disease, can cause the tail to turn white. This condition is explained by improper calcium assimilation, which is either the result of an inadequate diet or of improper or lack of UVB lighting. MBD has no cure in advanced stages, and sick reptiles often require euthanasia to ease their suffering. So, don’t take this risk for granted.


Bearded dragons can experience tail whitening for a variety of reasons. However, it’s important always to corroborate this symptom with others to help you understand your reptile’s health status better.

It’s also important to act fast because you can’t really tell the severity of your beardie’s condition at first glance.

Robert from ReptileJam

Hey, I'm Robert, and I have a true passion for reptiles that began when I was just 10 years old. My parents bought me my first pet snake as a birthday present, which sparked my interest in learning more about them. read more...