The REAL truth about Silkback Bearded Dragons

I had an amazing opportunity to sit down and talk with Tammy at @DraggintailsTammy and here's what I learned!

There is a lot of controversy in the reptile community in regard to silkback dragons. This definitely isn't a knock on any one so much as it is a moment for education.

There is a long history of silkback dragons thanks to some long time breeders who have done the work for us! Silkback dragons are scaleless bearded dragons and produced when pairing Leatherback x Leatherback. While many are under the assumption that they are perfectly fine, it's important to understand their line of health issues that occur due to not having scales.

1. Scales are reflectors!

Scales are used as protection from the sun. Much like we used sunscreen to prevent over exposure to UVB, a bearded dragon uses their scales in the same manner. A silkback dragon doesn't have scales, so they are prone to over exposure of UVB which causes cancer and other skin disorders.

2. Too much UVB damages the immune system!

Silkback dragons have a long history of systemic immunosuppression disorders. It is well known that UVB cause skin issues, but it also affects underneath the skin on a molecular level. Most commonly, their ability to process vitamin d3 is affected. Normally, the skin processes UVB into vitamin D. However, scales help regulate this process properly. Without scales the UVB actually degrades Vitamin D resulting in nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D3 plays an important role in prevent MBD.

3. Silkback dragons have shorter lifespans.

Due to the plethora of health issues in silkback dragons not having scales, they are prone to organ issues. A silkback bearded dragon with an experienced keeper will at best live 5-6 years compared to a normal lifespan of 12+ years!

4. Skin issues affect ability to shed!

Reptiles use shedding as a way to get rid of old skin. Shedding is an important process for growth in all the reptiles as it helps accommodate weight gain, maintains healthy skin, facilitates wound healing, and ridding external parasites. Due to the constant skin issues, environmental factors, and malnutrition silkback bearded dragon shed more than a dragon with scales. Shedding is already a stressful process that causes irritability, itchy skin, and takes a lot of energy. A life constantly shedding is not a thriving life.

5. Silkback bearded dragons often lose limbs and appendages!

Due to the constant shedding and usually accompanied with improper husbandry (silkback bearded dragons husband is different from a normal dragon) Silkback bearded dragons usually suffer from improperly shedding. The improper shedding oftentimes results in hard shed that constricts blood flow resulting in eventual loss of limb. It is very common for silkback bearded dragons to have missing toes and tails, and even feet.

In conclusion, it's hard to say you promote thriving over surviving when a breeder actively and purposefully produces silkback bearded dragons. Silkies often have many complications and it's important for breeders to learn from the breeders who've already done this research! 

Bearded Dragons are considered a very hardy species that can tolerate some mistakes in husbandry (if corrected in a timely manner). Unfortunately, Silkback Bearded Dragons are not as tolerant and many of these small mistakes can result in a life of pain and suffering or even death for a silkie. As a reptile keeper, it's also important for us to speak up for those who can't. It is our job to understand why producing Silkies is considered an unethical practice in the community. 

We hope this helps you on your reptile endeavors!  And thank you for continuing to support us! 

Happy keeping!! Your friends, Tifani and Whitney

I wanted to say a special thanks to Tammy for taking the time to sit down with me and chat! She is an amazing mentor and a breeder with long time experience that many can learn from! Thank you Tammy!




John Hopkins Wellness and Prevention. (2021, August 8). Sun Safety. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from,such%20as%20heredity%20and%20environment.

Licht, P., & Bennett, A. F. (n.d.). A Scaleless Snake: Tests of the Role of Reptilian Scales in Water Loss and Heat Transfer. EBSCO Information Services. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from

Raiti, P. (n.d.). Husbandry, Diseases, and Veterinary Care of the Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps). EBSCO Information Services. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from

Watson, M. K., & Mark, M. A. (2014, October). EBSCO Information Services. Vitamin D and Ultraviolet B Radiation Considerations for Exotic Pets. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from

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