Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave? Should You Be Worried?

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Bearded dragons display several signs that give us an idea of their cognitive and physical well-being. Some can be head bobbing, stomping of the feet, blackening of the beard, and waving. If you look closely, you’d be able to link certain occurrences to behavioral patterns and decipher exactly what message your beardie is passing across. Since they’re pretty straightforward animals, understanding the signs isn’t a hassle at all. However, if your beardie is waving, there is a distinct message it’s passing across to you.

Bearded dragons wave when they’re threatened, but unlike the head bobbing that’s a more aggressive response to threat, arm waving means complete submission. Your bearded dragon has sized up the challenge and in turn, submitted before the fight even began.

If you’re still confused as to why your pet is waving in various scenarios, this article brings you all the answers you need to decipher this waving dilemma, understand your pet, and treat your pet with all the love and respect available.

How Does A Bearded Dragon Wave?

Bearded dragons wave by raising either of their forelimbs and holding it up in the air. They may very slowly wiggle the limbs or flail them at their sides as a pedal or a wing.

It’s honestly difficult to miss; if a beardie raises its hand in a wave, you’d easily point it out. It is certainly fascinating and somewhat funny to witness!

major reasons why your bearded dragon is waving

5 Major Reasons Why Your Beardie Is Waving

Since arm waving is accustomed to submission, you may be wondering why your beardie is suddenly submitting to you or any other thing. It’s possible to be doing everything right and still have a bearded dragon that is more than willing to submit.

1. Your Beardie Is Submitting To A Potential Threat

If you know bearded dragons well, you’d understand that they are highly solitary creatures and can be competitive even with completely different species. They can submit to you, other pets, or another bearded dragon. Beardies could even submit to inanimate objects like the patterns of wallpaper or an art piece. It will wave to signify that it’s not interested in a fight over hierarchy.

2. Your Beardie Feels Trapped

If your dragon does not consider its terrarium as a comfy territory, it will wave in hopes that the enclosure will ‘let it out to roam about’. This isn’t the commonest reason for waving, but it does happen now and then. In addition to this trait, your beardie will surf the glass (to scratch on the enclosure hoping to get out) frequently and behave a little more anxious than usual.

3. Your Beardie Is Afraid Of You

Your dragon may also be waving to solicit a pardon if it feels like it’s about to get hurt by a person, animal, or thing. If your beardie is waving at you, it is scared of you and is hoping you won’t cause any trouble when you pass by.

This could occur as a result of several things; perhaps you have adopted a dragon with a rough past, or you have been doing things that put your pet on edge like sneaking up on it, holding it in ways it doesn’t enjoy, or making a lot of loud noise when you come around it.

4. Your Beardie Is Afraid Of Its Reflection

Bearded dragons are highly competitive. When two beardies are met in the same space, they will fight for the best spots of everything they can get. During this fight, the weaker beardie will submit to the dominant by arm waving. If your beardie can see its reflection against the glass of the enclosure, it may perceive it to be a threat and thus, wave to show its submission.

5. Your Beardie Is Ready To Mate

When it’s time to mate, your female beardie will wave frequently at the mate to signify acceptance and submission. During the mating session, the female beardie will wave more aggressively, similar to tapping out during a wrestling match, for the male dragon to let her go.

things to do when your bearded dragon is waving

What To Do If Your Bearded Dragon Is Waving

Now, it’s clear that when your beardie waves, it is uncomfortable. But what can you do to help out the situation? Here are 4 things you can do to help your beardie relax:

Change Your Beardie’s Environment

Simply moving the terrarium can go a long way in helping your beardie calm down. It could be that the enclosure is too exposed to a window where birds fly and squawk above them. Remember that birds are natural predators of small reptiles, and this could cause your beardie to be anxious.

Get Your Bearded Dragon A Bigger Terrarium

Ideally, I recommend an 80-gallon and above space for an adult beardie. You can also always start with the big tanks if you’re a beginner. Honestly, it saves money, time, and energy by getting a big tank (view on Amazon) at the beginning. Before you blink your eyes, your beardie is an adult and their tank is too baby-sized for comfort which could lead to stress and then waving in response.

Try to Keep Your Other Pets Away From Your Beardie

Bearded dragons will perceive anything they don’t understand as a threat till they feel comfortable around it. So, if you have cats and dogs running around, your beardie might wave now and then signifying to them not to touch or bother it. Try to keep other pets away at least until your beardie trusts the situation.

Manage The Reflection Inside The Terrarium

If your beardie can see its reflection, it could consider being another dragon and thus, wave in submission. If this happens, you can reduce the reflections by covering three sides of the enclosure with wallpaper and increasing the light outside the terrarium to match the intensity inside the terrarium.

Should You Be Worried When Your Beardie Is Waving?

It is bothersome that your pet is uncomfortable in their home. Everyone wants their pet to be happy and safe. However, if you find your beardie waving, I can assure you that it’s not the end of the world and there’s nothing to be anxious about. Beardies will be beardies, and though you can help the situation, you can’t exactly deter them from getting stressed now and then.

You should know that bearded dragons are individual creatures that will have a personality each to their own, causing them to behave and respond to situations differently. Your beardie may just be skittish and wave more than the problem warrants it to.

The only time you should be worried about your beardie’s waving is when it is way too common or when your pet displays other symptoms such as a loss of appetite or weakness. Then, you should take your pet to the vet for a proper examination. Some beardies may wave when they’re in pain.

The Wrap Up

At the end of this article, I suppose you understand the reasons why beardies wave and how you can help the situation. If you have been panicking, I urge you to relax. There is nothing seriously wrong with your pet at all. If you suspect other reasons, ensure you rush to your vet to debunk or affirm your apprehensions and proceed with necessary treatment. Good luck!

Photo of author


EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Reptiles. He is a pet lover who loves to discuss about bearded dragons and share the knowledge he gained over time about pet reptiles.