Bearded Dragon: Head Bobbing – You should be alerted
Bearded dragons can show through their behavior and through color changes in what mood they are. It can even show if they are healthy or sick.
That is why you have to be very attentive when it comes to behavioral changes.
In this post I want to tell you what the bearded dragon head bobbing means. No, it does not mean your beardie is listening to music and having a ball. 🙂
Why do bearded dragons bob their head?
In most cases only male bearded dragons bob their head quickly. The female beardies do not do it so often, but it doesn´t mean that they don´t do it at all. I have seen a few females doing it, but I will come to that in a moment.
The head bobbing can be a sign of dominance, but it can also be part of a mating ritual.
If a rival gets into the territory of a bearded dragon it will bobb its head quickly and puff up its beard and body to look more scary, to scare away the intruder. So you see, bearded dragons are loners and they will defend their territory with this behavior.
A slow head bobbing is part of the mating ritual in most cases. You can also often see this when female dragons want to mate. A slow head bobbing is more a sign of submission and this can also be seen when a male bearded dragon accepts another male as the bigger and stronger one.
You can often see that in terrariums with a group of bearded dragons. The head bobbing is supposed to relieve tension within the group.
Seperation of competing dragons
A lot of pet shops recommend to buy more than one bearded dragon, because one alone might be lonely. This isn´t the truth, those pet shops only want to make more money. In fact it is better to have only one beardie in one tank.
You can definitely have a group of bearded dragons in one tank, but you have to make sure that you have a really big tank. However even if you have a big terrarium, it can happen that bearded dragons show dominant behavior. If they show it from time to time and no one gets hurt, it is okay.
However, if you see it every day you should act. Your bearded dragons might be about to fight and that can end pretty badly and I am sure you do not want that.
So if your bearded dragons are bobbing their head quickly the whole day, you should seperate them.
From experience I can say that two males in one tank is always a bad choice. A female and a male can work, or multiple females with one male, or only female.
It CAN work, it does not mean it will work. I have also seen aggression between female dragons.
Why do female bearded dragons bob their head?
As I told you above, female bearded dragons do not use the head bob as often as males do. While female can show dominance, it is actually pretty rare. Females just don´t need to defend their territory most of the times.
So why do they bob their heads? Most of the time, this shows that the female is willing to mate with a male bearded dragon. The female will slowly bob its head, but it will look more bouncy than the typical head bob. It can even look like the head is vibrating a little bit.
If a female bearded dragon finds a partner to mate, this will go on until they mate and sometimes it can even be seen during the mating process.
Why is my bearded dragon head bobbing at me?
Sometimes it can happen that your bearded dragon wants to show you (Yes, you! The owner!) that it is the stronger and bigger one, or it wants to show you that you are the bigger one.
I am sure that a lot of beardie owner have seen this before. If you recently bought your bearded dragon and it shows this behavior, just give it time, it will get used to you.
Why is my bearded dragon head bobbing all the time?
If your bearded dragon is head bobbing all the time each and every day, it might be, because your bearded dragon sees something that might be an intruder. This does not have to be another bearded dragon.
It can also be a piece of furniture that looks suspicious. It can be something that you placed near the terrarium, like the remote control, your keys, a coke bottle, you name it.
If you did not place any new things near the terrarium, check if your bearded dragon can look out of the window. A lot of times bearded dragons feel intimated by birds that can be seen outside of the window.
You might think now that I am joking, but bearded dragons actually have excellent eyes and they can see such things.
It can also happen that the dragon sees its reflection in the glass of the terrarium and thinks that there is an intruder.
What to do if your bearded dragon doesn´t stop head bobbing?
If a bearded dragon shows a particular behavior all the time, I always recommend the same thing. My recommendation is to create a safe place for your bearded dragon.
In the wild, bearded dragons can hide everywhere. They can hide in grass, they can hide in crefts, behind or under a huge piece of wood and so on and so forth.
In a terrarium, you have to create a couple of hides for your bearded dragon to make it feels safe. Otherwise your bearded dragon might always bes stressed, because there is no place to hide. It cannot get away from you or from other potential dangers.
A bearded dragon that knows that it can hide in a second is way calmer, way more relaxed.
So I recommend to create a hide and to cover the sides of your terrarium. If your bearded dragon can only look through the front of the terrarium it won´t be so nervous anymore, since it can´t see what´s going on around the terrarium.
I usually take a couple of plastic plants and put them into the terrarium and cover the sides. The plants function as cover and hide for your bearded dragon at the same time.
Further I recommend to get some log halfes, or coconut halfes as hides for your bearded dragon. If you want to know which hides and plants I recommend, have a look at this article on bearded dragon decoration.
You need the right tank to see real bearded dragon behavior!
Bearded dragons have a huge behavioral repertoire. The arm wave for example is also pretty cool! If you want to see that, you should create a habitat which is very close to their natural habitat in the wild. If you need help with setting up the right tank have a look at this article: Create A Big Beardie Habitat!
So I hope I helped you with this article! If you have any questions, please leave me a message in the comment section below, I always get back to my readers quickly.
In what situations have you seen your bearded dragon head bobbing? Tell us your story 🙂 Just leave it in the comments below!
About the Author
Hey! I am Pierre. I own bearded dragons and many other reptiles for a very long time. I know from experience that it can be very hard to find the right information about a specific reptile, since there is so much misinformation out there.That´s why I created this website. To help other people to have the best time with their reptiles.