Many people choose to have bearded dragons as pets thanks to their unique and adorable nature. If you’ve also decided to make a lizard a part of your life, you might have heard the term “bearded dragon morphs” and are wondering what that means.
The morph is the term describing different physical characteristics, but the true morph refers to a specific genetic mutation that causes certain traits. The bearded dragon may display a combination of morphs as well as other physical features.
In this article, we’ll talk about 10 bearded dragon morphs and everything you need to know about each.
10 Bearded Dragon Morphs
1. Normal or Classic Bearded Dragons
These types of bearded dragons most closely resemble the ones you can find in the wild. They can be recognized by the spikes that are running down their body. They also have a signature spiky beard and triangular head which usually come in shades of brown or tan. However, they may display various other colors as well, such as orange, yellow, and red.
2. Hypomelanistic Bearded Dragons
Compared to other types, “hypo” or hypomelanistic bearded dragons tend to display lighter coloring. Melanin is a pigment that makes the animal’s skin appear darker. On the other hand, hypomelanism is the recessive trait causing the bearded dragon to make significantly less melanin, which naturally results in lighter coloration.
Besides their light coloring, there is another signature feature hypomelanistic beardies are known for which is their clear nails. On occasion, you can also refer to this dragon as “pastels”. Some of the common types of melanistic morphs include:
• Red Hypomelanistic
• Yellow Hypo
• Blood Hypo Orange
• Hypo Red Crawley
• Hypo Het Translucent
• Red Het Hypomelanistic
• Hypo Yellow
• Hypo Snow
• English Belgium Hypo
3. Leatherback Bearded Dragons
You can easily distinguish these types of dragons by their spineless and smooth backs. However, they also have spikes along the sides of the bodies and around the heads, just like other bearded dragons. An absence of spikes on the back can cause the coloring to appear much more vivid.
However, just as with any other morph, there are some variations as well. Some leatherbacks have small spikes on the backs, even though they can’t be considered as the typical, true spikes.
You may have come across the terms “Italian Leatherback” and “American Leatherback”, which are now obsolete because the leatherback mutations that were found in Italy and the USA are considered indistinguishable.
Expert Tip: Leatherbacks are rarer than hypomelanistic and classic morphs, which makes them more costly to purchase.
Some of the popular leatherback varieties include:
• Het Hypomelanistic Leatherback
• Hypo Leatherback
• Hypo Translucent Leatherback Dunner
• Purple Paradox Leatherback
4. Silkback Bearded Dragons
These types of dragons don’t have any scales or spikes on their bodies, making them highly unique. This lack of scales and spikes makes their skin silky and soft, hence the name. Although this type of bearded dragon is both charming and intriguing, it’s also worth mentioning that taking care of it can be more difficult (compared to other types).
And the reason is pretty simple since these dragons don’t have any scales or spikes, their skin is much more vulnerable to damage and injury. Because of this reason, some breeders won’t produce silk back varieties, considering it to be unethical.
In case you end up with the silk-back bearded dragon morph, do your best to take care of it. Don’t forget to regularly bathe and moisture your sensitive and soft beardie. Doing so will promote healthy circulation as well as help in the shedding of their old skin. Another important thing you should keep in mind is to house them alone.
Since they can be extremely vulnerable, even the non-aggressive lizard living in the same tank might inadvertently cause severe injuries with its spikes and nails. Additionally, you should be careful while selecting objects you plan to place in your silk backs enclosure.
Branches, rocks, and other items which are fine for other types can be dangerous for silky.
5. Translucent Bearded Dragons
These types of bearded dragons are also referred to as “trans” morphs. They get this name from the somewhat see-through appearance they have, which is the result of the recessive trait. Trans beardies have bellies that are bluish in color. They can also display the blue tint in some other areas, particularly above their eyes.
Once their skin becomes thicker in adulthood, the majority of the bluish coloration is gone, although there are some of them that can retain the blue color throughout a lifetime.
If you are planning to get a translucent bearded dragon as a pet, there’s a myth you might have heard about trans morphs being susceptible to health problems.
Many people don’t even know this is a made-up myth rather than reality because it has not been proven to be accurate or true, and many people were able to have successfully bred healthy trans morphs throughout the years.
Expert Tip: Another distinguishing characteristic this type is known for is its solid black eye coloring. But keep in mind that not every translucent morph has solid black eyes.
The baby beardie with solid eyes can develop a typical-looking eye coloration once it ages. Moreover, some translucent morphs have the unique ability to switch from one type of eye coloration to a completely different one within their lifetime.
Some breeders use a term known as “partial trans” for translucent beardies that display atypical features like non-solid colored eyes. But this isn’t really accurate. In reality, there’s no partial translucent morph. Instead, there are only translucent morphs with atypical and typical features.
Some of the varieties of a translucent morph include:
• Rally Red Trans
• Orange and Red Hypo Translucent
• Leatherback Genetic Stripe and Hypo Translucent Genetic Stripe
• Citrus Tiger Hypo Translucent
• Hypo Het Translucent
• Polar Translucent
• Dark Translucent
• Belgium Translucent
6. Dunner Bearded Dragons
This type of bearded dragon is named after a person who bred them first. Dunners are known for their distinctive markings which set them apart from all the other morphs.
While a typical beardie usually has extremely organized stripe patterns in specific locations on a body Dunner morphs have a disorganized patterning that spans the entire body. This in turn makes people think it has speckles or spots instead of stripes.
In some cases, Dunner varieties can be solid-colored as well, which makes it difficult for people to accurately identify them. However, there are a variety of additional features that you can use for identifying the Dunner dragon. First, the direction of their scales is much different than the usual ones on other varieties.
On most bearded dragons, the beard spikes on their neck point downward. But on Dunners, these spikes point outward to sides.
Elsewhere on the Dunner, scales can be facing various directions, which may cause the scales to appear more haphazard and heavily textured compared to the exact same-direction scales which lay neatly on the majority of other morphs.
Some breeders have also noted quite a peculiar behavior that is only displayed by the Dunner varieties, which is holding the food in the backs of their throats before they swallow it. In most cases, this doesn’t seem to be dangerous or harmful in any way and shouldn’t be cause for concern.
That is unless a lizard begins displaying signs of malnutrition or different health problems.
Some of the Dunner varieties include:
• Orange & Yellow Hypo Citrus Dunner
• Hypomelanistic Dunner
• Hypo Translucent Leatherback Dunner
• Hypo Translucent Dunner
7. Zero Bearded Dragons
These types of bearded dragons do not have any patterns or colors (which is exactly how they get their name). Every patternless morph, including zero, is a recessive mutation. Zero morphs are known for their striking appearance, as well as their silvery-white coloring, which makes them stand out among all the other beardie breeds.
There are some zeroes that are dark grey in color but can somewhat lighten up once it’s warm. A zero morph is a fairly rare type, which makes it quite expensive to purchase.
8. German Giant Bearded Dragons
This type of bearded dragon morph is an unusually large variety of classic bearded dragons. It can be difficult for you to tell if the bearded dragon is indeed a giant as the hatchling. In most cases, you probably won’t be able to tell until it is fully grown.
In case you have the giant bearded dragon or plan to get one, be prepared to provide your beardie with a large enclosure so it can thrive in it.
As for the varieties of the German giants, there are only two:
• Hypo Red Dragon German Giant
• Greenie X Orange German Giant
9. Paradox Bearded Dragons
A paradox bearded dragon is easily-distinguishable from all the other varieties because of its charming and unique appearance. These types of birdies are highly prized and sought after for their beautiful marking and colors. A part of what makes them different from others is the unusual and non-typical way their markings appear.
If you take a close look at them, you’ll notice that their colors and markings appear random and even look artistic. While measuring the value or quality of the particular paradox beardie. breeders usually focus on the two criteria:
• Paradox Shifts, also known as attractiveness and distribution of patterns
Expert Tip: In most cases, the most prized paradox specimens tend to be the ones that display distinct paradox patches and vibrant colors. However, it’s worth mentioning that even to this day, the paradox morphs are one of the least understood types among breeders.
The reason for this is pretty simple their traits come from various genetic mutations, unlike the other morphs that come from one certain mutation. Another interesting thing about this type is that it generally looks like any other bearded dragon upon hatching.
That’s why it’s difficult to identify it until it begins to mature and display signature markings that are associated with a paradox morph.
10. Witblits Bearded Dragon
Witblits is one of those recessive mutations which cause the dragon to be fully patternless. This beardie type was discovered shortly before the zero. It was discovered by the breeder in South Africa and its name means “white lighting”. Although one might say that there’s certainly an unfortunate irony in naming a trait “white lighting”.
Because not only is a witblits dragon not white, but a name makes much less sense with the zero’s discovery, which is silver off-white as you already know.
As you can see, there are various types of bearded dragon morphs all with their unique and distinguishing characteristics. If you still have any questions, feel free to comment below. We sincerely hope you have found this guide helpful as well as educational.
And if you ever decide to adopt a beardie as a pet. hopefully, you’ll put this knowledge to good use.
Bonus – Quick Facts About The Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons aren’t picky eaters. Thanks to their strong jaws, they are able to clench and crush even hard-shelled insects, such as beetles. Since they are omnivores, they can eat flowers, fruit, and leaves as well.
Bearded dragons are quite territorial and an adult birdie may display their aggression in order to defend their turf from another male, compete for the female, or fight for food. Some males may even attack females when they do not show submissive behavior.
Birdies typically prefer sticking to warm and arid areas, such as subtropical woodlands, savannas, scrublands, and deserts. After Australia banned the export of wild bearded dragons in the 1960s, they have been bred in the USA for decades for the pet trade, and that’s why they come in various color “morphs” that are not common in the wild.
A warm habitat is essential for beardies. They are cold-blooded and have to rely on external heat sources so they can raise the body temperature which may vary according to a temperature of an environment. They are semi-arboreal and can be found on the fence posts as well as tree branches.