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What Is a Scaleless Bearded Dragon?

Have you come across the scaleless bearded dragon? What is it? How is this morph more costly than others? Click and read this complete guide to find out!

Introduction

Over the years, various mutations, such as dunner, zero, hypo, and the scaleless bearded dragon, have been discovered by reptile experts worldwide. Normally, we encounter bearded dragons with tan, yellow, brown, or orange colors. But due to selective breeding, other patterns and colors have arisen among beardies in captivity. Most of these bearded dragon morphs come from one species called P. vitticeps. 

Are you familiar with mutations or morphs? If you don’t know yet, bearded dragons have different morphs due to selective breeding. A “morph” is a name used to describe a beardie’s overall appearance, such as its scale, size, and body type. This term also applies to other lizards and reptiles, such as iguanas and pythons.

Mutations Versus Breeds

A mutation or morph occurs when two individuals with similar traits from different clutches are bred. Breeders undergo this procedure to increase the chances of the next generation demonstrating that trait and so on. For that reason, you will encounter some unique or rare bearded dragons, which cost more than standard or classic bearded dragons. These animals are more expensive because they are not easy to breed and unavailable in the wild.

When it comes to bearded dragons, a morph can affect the body size, color, and pattern. Although some people loosely liken dragon morphs to dog breeds, keep in mind that a breed is different from a morph, mainly on the length of generations used to tease out a breed. 

In the simplest sense, dog breeds are lineages that have been bred over generations for consistent physical and behavioral differences, while morphs only affect color, pattern, and body size. If you use morphs to dogs, it’s more like the difference between black and white Labradors. They are still in the same family, just different in color. 

Generally, bearded dragon morphs can also affect the presence or absence of scales, spikes, and skin melanin. One good example is the silkback or scaleless bearded dragon. This morph does not have any spikes and scales, making the skin thinner and more sensitive to damage.

Tip: Best multivitamin supplement for scaleless bearded dragons here.

If you are planning to buy a scaleless bearded dragon, this comprehensive guide is for you! The discussion below will make you learn everything about the cute little reptile and why many reptile enthusiasts love this morph. So, if you want to be more informed, please keep reading.

What Is a Scaleless Bearded Dragon?

scaleless bearded dragon

As we have mentioned earlier, a scaleless bearded dragon has very thin skin without spikes and scales, meaning this dragon gives a more amphibian look with its smooth and soft skin with vibrant colors. 

But unfortunately, due to the lack of spikes and scales as protection, scaleless bearded dragons are very sensitive. They need extra awareness when it comes to enclosure setup, lighting, and skincare. According to reptile experts, this morph strictly needs more baths and moisturizers to help promote good circulation and prevent dried skim from cutting off blood flow to their extremities.

Moreover, a recent study from The Journal of Experimental Biology (2021) has proven that silkback or scaleless bearded dragons lose water twice as much as the classic and leatherback morphs. Plus, they cannot adjust their thermal preferences based on water loss. It means that even when a silkie feels cold, it will still try to reach the same, higher body temperature without knowing about the consequences of increased dehydration or water loss because of its lack of escalation.

Tip: We highly recommend this basking lamp for silkback bearded dragons.

scaleless bearded dragon

We understand that all reptiles have skin, and scales are required to grow on the top layer, similar to how hair grows out from the skin of mammals and feather grows out from the birds’ skin. Therefore, a bearded dragon’s skin beneath is not meant to be exposed, and the scale should be present to protect.

So, if you are a first-time bearded dragon keeper, we do not recommend buying a silkie since this morph requires extra care and a more experienced owner. Also, silkback bearded dragons need regular baths and lotions to help loosen their shedding skin. 

Also, due to loss of scales and spikes, these little reptiles tend to miss toes or the end of their tails. The shed skin is more prone to tightening around small body parts and cutting off circulation. 

For instance, a young or juvenile silkback bearded dragon that does not bathe regularly is at risk of losing toes and other parts since it cannot shed skin properly. This problem will eventually lead to loss of circulation and nails.

Scaleless Bearded Dragon Health

scaleless bearded dragon

Scaleless bearded dragons are one of the most sought-after pet lizards. However, this morph requires extra care with proper diet and environment. They will surely thrive and live longer if they are well looked after with appropriate habitat set up.

Tip: Add this hide hole for a bearded dragon to your pet’s tank to give more shelter for cooling down.

On the other hand, what are some of the common diseases that these bearded dragons experience? Well, some of them are mild, but some can be severe enough to cause severe lethargy and loss of appetite. Here are the common illnesses that you need to understand before adopting or buying a bearded dragon, regardless of whether it’s a silkback or not.

  • Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

MBD is also a “nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism”, a complex disease and common health problem among beardies. According to the reptile experts, this illness is mostly seen among juveniles (less than two years old), usually caused by feeding an improper diet. 

We highly recommend you to maintain a bearded dragon diet with balanced phosphorus, calcium, and Vitamin D3 because too much or too low can make bearded dragons’ bones and skin weak. Some of the common symptoms of MBD include the softening of the jaw and facial bones, swelling of the hind limbs, and swelling of the lower jaw.

Moreover, we noticed that bearded dragons suffering from MBD experience leg tremors as they try to walk. They also become weak and can no longer walk nor push their bodies up in a normal state. Instead, these poor little beardies crouch low to the ground or lay on their abdomens.

Tip: We highly recommend this calcium powder with Vitamin D for scaleless beardies.

  • Infectious Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Mouth rot is another common disease among bearded dragons. It is a bacterial condition of the gums or jawbones. Usually, it appears a pinpoint hemorrhage, excessive thick mucus, gum swelling, and often cottage cheese in the mouth.

  • Parasites

Another disease that you should be aware of is parasite infection, especially from pinworms. This disease is common in our pets’ intestinal tracts. Based on the studies, our beardies may not show any clinical signs once infected, and they will only be detected through a fecal examination. In some cases, parasites can cause weight loss and diarrhea. 

Mites and ticks are also some of the most annoying parasites that can be transmitted to our bearded dragons. They are often seen moving under or between the scales, heard, and skin folds.

  • Respiratory Infections

Like humans and other animals, scaleless bearded dragons can also suffer from respiratory infections, especially pneumonia. According to reptile experts, beardies can get this illness from poor, cold, or dirty environments since it is caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.

Affected beardies can experience sneezing or having discharge from their nose or eyes. They will also show unnaturally rapid and shallow breathing, decreased appetite, and lethargy.

  • Adenovirus

Lastly, the Adenovirus is an extremely common and fatal infection among bearded dragons at any age. It typically causes gastrointestinal and hepatitis infections. The common symptoms of Adenovirus are weakness, loss of appetite, and paralyzed body. Unfortunately, other beardies fail to thrive with Adenovirus and die acutely.

How to Take Care of a Scaleless Bearded Dragon?

scaleless bearded dragon

When it comes to scaleless bearded dragons, we have a whole different ball game. We all know that they have no scales, making their skin more prone to injuries.

Here are some of the helpful tips for taking care of a scaleless bearded dragon.

  • The humidity of your silkie’s tank should be around 50%, slightly higher than the 30% of a classic beardie.
  • You should provide ample space for your silkie’s tank to prevent its skin and toes from pinching in between any items.
  • Monitor your beardie for any signs of shedding. Usually, these lizards rub their faces and other body parts against surfaces to relieve itchiness and remove loose skin. Remember that rubbing and scratching can cause tears on a silkie’s skin because they don’t have scales as protection.
  • The tank’s substrate should be smooth. Do not use anything with gritty particles. You can try this reptile carpet, too.
  • Use an aloe vera moisturizing spray for reptiles to keep your silkie’s skin healthy while shedding.

How Much Does a Scaleless Bearded Dragon Cost?

A scaleless bearded dragon’s price depends on the breeder and availability. Remember that this morph is extremely rare, so you should expect to pay more to own and keep this beardie. Usually, a scaleless bearded dragon costs around $100 to $200. 

Conclusion

Although scaleless bearded dragons are born without scales and spikes, they have not exactly evolved to adapt to this mutation, putting this morph’s quality of life and welfare at risk. For that reason, it is unfortunate that some breeders still produce silkback bearded dragons. 

Since a scaleless bearded dragon has thinner protection, he or she tends to suffer from plenty of skin issues and is easier to get injured. Honestly, many reptile enthusiasts believe that breeding and producing more scaleless beardies is unethical since they do not thrive as great as other morphs.