Why Do Bearded Dragons Bob Their Heads? The Weird Beardie Language!

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It’s only right to wonder why your pet is behaving a certain way. Contrary to popular belief, bearded dragons are quite communicative creatures. While they don’t vocalize, they convey messages through gestures, expressing how they feel in different situations. If you are curious about your pet bobbing its head, you’ve come to the right article to accurately answer that.

Bearded dragons bob their heads when they feel uncomfortable for various reasons. It is a pretty common reaction of displeasure or disapproval, like a cat wagging its tail in situations good or bad.

To fully understand what your beardie is communicating, you must be aware of the scenarios that could prompt the head bobbing. Let’s dive!

main reasons why bearded dragons bob their heads

5 Reasons Why Your Bearded Dragon Bobs Its Head

There is a 1% chance your pet enjoys your taste in music when it bobs its head. The other chances are primarily out of discomfort:

1. Your Beardie Is Asserting Dominance

Bearded dragons are a highly territorial species. When multiple adults gather, there is often a lot of head bobbing as the dominant dragon asserts its authority. The dominant one will aggressively bob its head, telling other beardies to ‘back off’ and submit their spot. This display typically results in either a physical confrontation between competitors or the submissive dragons retreating to avoid a potential fight.

2. Your Beardie Is In Distress

If your bearded dragon is distressed, it will also express this by bobbing its head. Perhaps its enclosure is in a noisy environment or you have other pets that come around the tank causing it to panic. This behavior can likewise be triggered by factors such as an uncomfortable shift in temperature or humidity, or by simply moving its homely accessories. Once, my young bearded dragon threw a whole fit because I changed its feeding bowl!

3. Your Beardie Is Submitting/Avoiding Combat

Weaker beardies will bob their heads slowly when they are submitting or acknowledging a dominant bearded dragon and may wave their forearms to affirm their compliance. This behavior mostly occurs during mating where the female beardie submits to her dominant mate. It can also play out if your bearded dragon perceives you or your other pets as threats, thus, bobbing its head in fear.

4. Your Beardie Is Ready For Or Has Sighted A possible Mate

During the breeding season, male and female beardies may bob their heads even before meeting potential mates. So, if your environment gets warmer, your beardie naturally begins bobbing its head recognizing its mating season. They mate typically during summer when the weather is the hottest.

5. Your Beardie Is Just Chilling

Some reptiles bob their heads just because they can. Although your dragon may be irritated or in discomfort, it’s pretty normal for it to bob its head now and then. When this happens, confirm that its needs are in check and be sure that it’s not bobbing out of distress. Perhaps you do have a good taste in music!

Effective Things To Do When Your Bearded Dragon Keeps Bobbing Its Head

Now that you can predict why your beardie is bobbing its head, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help. Follow the tips below:

Separate Your Beardies Into Different Enclosures

If your beardies are hatchlings or juveniles, they may be roommates living in the same terrarium. But when they mature into sub-adults, they start to show signs of dominance requiring you to separate and provide them with a sense of territory.

Make sure that the newly separated tanks are not within view of each other because if they can see themselves, your beardies will bob heads in annoyance and get stressed which could affect their appetite, nervous system, and overall health. Aside from tank mates, they aren’t exactly fond of their neighbors, either.

Ensure There Are No Reflections In The Tank

Adult dragons are not only unfriendly to other bearded dragons but also to themselves. If your pet sees its reflection, it will keep bobbing and charging at it until it exhausts itself. Even worse, the reflection is seemingly bobbing back as if accepting the challenge of combat!

To help the situation, try covering three sides of the terrarium with wallpaper (you can use a fancy calendar if you desire) to minimize the reflections inside the enclosure. As you do this, avoid using pieces that have pictures of animals on them. If the terrarium is in a shaded area, adjust the external lighting to match the basking light inside. Usually, reflections appear as a result of the difference in light intensity inside and outside the enclosure.

Isolate Your Beardie From Other Pets

As we have discussed, a bearded dragon may bob its head if it feels threatened by other pets running around its enclosure. Maybe the dog barks too loudly and the cat has tried to swing its paw at it; the best thing to do in such cases is to change the location of the terrarium to provide your dragon with a sense of safety at all times.

Win Your Beardie’s Trust

There’s every possibility that your bearded dragon is scared of you or unwilling to befriend you if it bobs its head when you come close. To win your beardie’s trust, you’d want to know if it is friendly to start with or if it enjoys getting petted. Every bearded dragon has its unique personality, and learning about it is a great way to understand how to win its trust and bond better.

Find Your Beardie A Mate

If you notice your male dragon bobbing its head and acting a little more restless than usual, it’s probably time to find him a female to mate with. You can breed your beardie, incubate the eggs, and hatch them yourself with the proper guidance. Fortunately, I’ve written an article for go-getters like you, explaining the necessary easy-peasy steps to take to help you successfully mate and hatch a new generation of beardies.

Should I Be Worried If My Bearded Dragon Is Bobbing Its Head?

Technically, head bobbing does not lead to any fatal problems. However, it could mean that it’s highly uncomfortable, and when ignored, may disrupt its health leading to a weak and ill bearded dragon. So, if your pet is constantly bobbing its head, you should be worried and take steps to solve the problems causing the distress. A happy beardie is a healthy beardie!

Why Is My Beardie Sleep-Bobbing?

Beardies may bob their heads in their sleep if there is a physical disturbance like a temperature or light change, or if they encounter unwanted vibration. It’s terribly annoying to be disturbed in your sleep, and I’m sure your beardie feels the same way. In addition, there’s evidence suggesting that bearded dragons could have dreams as we do. Perhaps your beardie is shooting its shots at a mate or chasing its reflections in the dream world? It’s possible, you know.

Wrapping It Up

Head bobbing in bearded dragons is a common occurrence but one to be cautious about. Always ensure that your beardie’s basic needs are provided, and try as much as possible to bond and build trust with your pet. In the end, head bobbing is simply a character display that is totally customary to their species. Good luck!

Photo of author


EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Reptiles, renowned for his dedication to bearded dragons. As a passionate reptile enthusiast, Medi has developed a solid background in caring for these lovely creatures. He gained extensive knowledge about their diet, behavior, and how to create environments that mimic their natural habitat