People have been imagined a sandy-colored reptile as they hear about bearded dragons. Well they are wrong! Many of them are shocked to learn that bearded dragons come in a range of colors, patterns, and morphs or mutations. Some reptiles, such as leopard geckos, come in a variety of morphs as well.
Native to Australia’s scrublands and open deserts, they’re known for their small size, spiky chins, and gentle dispositions. Morphs are sometimes used to describe the body shape or height of a bearded dragon. Different bearded dragon morphs have various colors, spikes, scales, head shapes, nail colors, designs, and other characteristics. There are also combination morphs, which can be difficult to distinguish if you aren’t a bearded dragon morph expert.
Before we get into the various morphs available, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the terminology you’ll encounter when you read about and shop for bearded dragons. Bear in mind that reptile genetics (and genetics in general) is a very complex field of science, so these are very simplistic concepts.
|Recessive Traits||These are traits that come from a recessive gene. In order for recessive traits to be expressed in offspring, they must be passed on from both parents.|
|Dominant Traits||Dominant traits show up even when only one parent has the dominant gene.|
|Co-Dominant Traits||This describes an instance where an offspring displays expressions of two different but equally dominant traits|
|Designer Morphs||Designer morphs are the combination of two or more “simple,” single-gene morphs.|
|Homozygous||Homozygous carry two copies of the same trait, one from each parent.|
|Heterozygous||Heterozygous varieties carry one copy of a normal or wild trait, and one copy of a recessive or designer trait.|
Types of Bearded Dragon Morphs
There are sixteen different types of dragon morphs that are classified by either their size, color, pattern or a combination:
1. Classic/ Standard/ Normal
The traditional or regular morph, also known as a ‘wild-type’ bearded dragon, is the bearded dragon that looks the most like its wild equivalent. The backs of standard morphs are coated with thin spikes, and their heads are wide triangular with a beard. They can be a multitude of shades, including tan, red, and yellow, with black and orange markings. The most popular morph is this one.
Bearded dragon colors aren’t necessarily morphs in and of themselves, though they may be one of the characteristics of a morph. For several years, colors were selectively bred. To produce colorful individuals, breeders meticulously matched the reddest, orangest, or greenest beardie from one clutch with a similarly colored beardie from another clutch, and repeated this process many times.
|Red||Citrus, blood and ruby|
|Orange||Sunburst, citrus, and tangerine|
|Yellow||Sandfire, lemon and gold|
3. German Giant
The German Giant morph is a very large bearded dragon that looks just like a regular or classic morph. It’s impossible to tell whether you have a German giant before they’re fully grown, and because of their height, these morphs need a much larger enclosure. They are known to be highly aggressive, and significantly longer from snout to tail. German Giant mostly brown and tan or has silvery iris.
The color of the hypomelanistic dragon is light or pastel. They are born vibrant and colorful, but as a result of a mutation that allows the body to produce less melanin (the pigment that gives hair, skin, and eyes their dark color), they get paler as they get older. This morph has transparent nails and skin tones that vary from pink to yellow, powder blue, pale orange, and snow white.
The translucent bearded dragon morph is named for its nearly transparent spikes and scales, as the term suggests. Translucent morphs are frequently hypomelanistic, which means they are lighter in color. Adult transparent morphs normally have strong black eyes with no iris apparent and blue eyelids, similar to those of a leopard gecko.
Two heterozygous parents (het trans) provide the best clutches, while a homozygous and heterozygous trans cross is also efficient.
Leatherbacks lack a spine ridge on their backs, despite having some stereotypical “dragon” characteristics. It enhances the animal’s yellows, reds, and blues, making them look more vibrant. They still have a softer feel to them, as they don’t have the ‘bump friction’ of other morphs.
Leatherbacks are common with breeders and collectors, despite their scarcity in comparison to classic and hypomelanistic beardies. This trait is considered co-dominant. Leatherbacks carry one allele for the trait, meaning they are heterozygous.
7. Silkback/ Silkie/ Scaleless
Any of the children of two parents that are homozygous for an incomplete or co-dominant leatherback gene would be silkbacks. The silkback takes it a bit further by lacking any measurements. These lizards’ skin is silky smooth, sterile, and gentle to the touch. They look more like amphibians than live reptiles.
It’s not unusual for a silky to lose toes or portions of its tail as the skin tightens as it dries, blocking off blood supply to the extremities, causing them to wither and fall off. They should be bathed and moisturized on a daily basis to encourage proper circulation, and held in separate tanks so they don’t get injured while dealing with other dragons. A silky can be wound even by non-aggressive touching.
When you cross a beardie with two dominant leatherback genes with a beardy with one dominant and one recessive leatherback gene, you’ll get a microscale morph as part of the clutch.
They are similar to leatherbacks, but they have far fewer spines, none on their beards or sides of their limbs, and spines on the backs of their heads that are smaller than average.
This particular beardie strain was named for the man who developed it: Kevin Dunn. They have several character traits that distinguish them from other morphs.
Some of the superficial ones include…
- Distinctive pattern of blotched or spotty markings (rather than the stripes typical for most dragons).
- Bigger feet and thicker tails
- Scales that point in all different directions, creating a textured or haphazard look
- Spikes on their beards jut out sideways instead of straight.
10. Genetic Stripe
A dominant mutation is the Genetic Stripe. It results in distinct racing stripes on both sides of the spine. They run from the neck to the tail, and they sometimes reach into it.
Germany was the birthplace of the zero morph. Non-hypomelanistic zeroes are silvery or dark, while hypomelanistic zeroes are bright. It’s one of three morphs that seems more leucistic. They are completely devoid of any marks. That means no colors, shapes, or identifying characteristics.
Their black shoulder pads are the one thing that distinguishes them from witblits or silverbacks. Zeroes are prone to glow lighter color, perhaps due to their naturally pale skin.
When a dragon breeder in South Africa succeeded in producing a pale beardie with a single solid colour, he dubbed it “witblit,” or white lightning. The name is a tad deceiving. They aren’t actually white, though.
A recessive gene causes these dragons’ distinct looks, which have brown, dull earth, or pastel shades with no shapes or marks to confuse the eye.
The wero was generated by crossing a zero with a witblits. In the dragon breeding world, this is the most recent morph.
But for a few dark blotches along the base of the spine, they look nearly similar to zeros.
Paradox dragons are rare, stunning, and sought after. They are born with a strong base colour on their bodies, but within a few months of hatching, they begin to evolve the distinct adult patterns that give them their names. They look like they’ve been splattered with vivid colors, with speckles and blotches of pigment strewn over their bodies when fully grown. Unlike the other traits, there appears to be no associated gene! Since it can’t be replicated through reproduction, it is considered as not true morph.
Want more facts? Click here for more animals facts on Instagram!
Noted that all pictures of bearded dragon morphs are all from reptile.guide