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Bearded dragon head bobbing – What does it mean?

Bearded dragon head bobbing is possibly one of their defining traits. Because of this (and other traits like it), they are among the most fascinating reptiles that you can own. Not only are they easy to care for, but they’re relatively affordable. 

One of the most interesting parts of owning a bearded dragon is its personality. Each one develops its own traits, making them all unique in their own way. They have been known to tilt their head to listen to you speak, wave their hands, and even bob their heads.

What does bearded dragon head bobbing mean?

Among their many unique traits, bearded dragon head bobbing has caught the attention of a lot of people. But what does it mean? Why does my bearded dragon bob its head? 

First of all, don’t worry. Nothing is wrong with your dragon. Head bobbing is very common in male bearded dragons as a display of dominance or aggression.

In the wild, this most often occurs during mating season, as the male bearded dragons are in search of a female friend. Alternatively, they might bob their head to let another male know that they are getting too close, and that is their territory.

A male bearded dragon will quickly let an intruder know that they aren’t happy with multiple, quick head bobs. It is a warning sign, letting the trespasser know that there will be a fight if they come closer or continue doing what they’re doing. If one of them does not retreat, a fight will ensue as they begin to circle each other and bite each other’s tails.

What does bearded dragon waving mean?

On the other side of the table, you have bearded dragon waving. This is typically a sign of submission shown in juveniles. That being said, some adults have been observed displaying this behavior, too.

In the hierarchy of the wild, bearded dragons develop a system based on feeding. This is where it’s most common for baby bearded dragons to wave their arms in submission to the adults, letting them know that they pose no threat to their feeding rituals.

If you notice your bearded dragon doing this in their terrarium, it is typically because they’ve seen a reflection, another animal, or even you. It is very important to note that bearded dragons should never be housed together after their juvenile stage. 

In Australia, bearded dragons have also been observed displaying arm waving to warn other dragons. If they’ve seen a predator or threat in general, they will sometimes wave their arms to let others know, or to let the predator know that they’ve been spotted.

Most of the natural predators to the bearded dragon (big cats, mostly) are known as ambush predators. A quick signal from the bearded dragon to let the cat lying in wait might discourage them from pouncing.


Bearded dragons are extremely intelligent animals. In addition to the two behavioral traits we’ve discussed above, they have a wide range of other movements, noises, and displays that they can develop.

Bearded dragon head bobbing is a sign of aggression and dominance, but so is hissing, opening the mouth, and turning a dark, almost black color. All of these are ways bearded dragons have been known to display aggression or dominance. 

Want to know more about bearded dragons? Check out the rest of our blog!

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