Why does my Bearded Dragon Turn White When Sleeping?
Bearded dragons, or Pogona vitticeps, are fascinating carnivorous lizards from the semi-arid climates of Australia. A unique trait of bearded dragons is their ability to change color; some becoming bright orange and others turning a brilliant white. But how and why do they do this?
The Science Behind Their Color Change
Bearded dragons can change color because their skin contains specialized cells, called chromatophores, which contain pigments that can alter the lizard’s hue. When the bearded dragon is relaxed and sleeping it secretes hormones that cause the chromatophores to become more dispersed, resulting in its skin taking on a white color.
The Benefits of Color Changing
There are several benefits to the bearded dragon’s ability to change color. Most notably, color changing is a form of camouflage. During the day, when their predators are active, the lizard’s vibrant oranges and reds help it blend into the desert environment. By night, when those predators have gone to sleep, the more subdued white color helps the bearded dragon blend in with the moonlit sky, providing it cover from animals hunting for a midnight snack.
In addition to camouflage, the ability to change color can also be used for communication. For example, dominant dragons may signal their status through a change in color, while males may use color to try and attract potential mates.
Managing Color Changes in Captivity
Bearded dragons kept as pets face a risk of developing color-related health problems due to the unnatural environment they are kept in. To ensure their health, owners should make sure their cages are lit with the appropriate lighting and temperatures and that their diet consists of the right combination of insects, vegetables, and minerals. Paying attention to these factors, as well as providing plenty of hiding spaces and enrichment items for the lizard to play with, will help the bearded dragon maintain its natural color changing abilities and continue to switch between its dominant orange and white colors.
In conclusion, the ability of bearded dragons to change color is a remarkable phenomenon. It helps them blend into their environment and communicate with each other. In captivity, owners should be mindful of the lighting, temperature, and nutrition to ensure the lizard’s health is not affected by its color change.