Bearded Dragon: Head Bobbing – You should be alerted

Bearded Dragon Head BobbingBearded 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.

bearded dragon head nod

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.why is my bearded dragon head bobbing at me

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.why is my female bearded dragon head bobbing

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!

Need to learn more about bearded dragon behavior?

Pierre

About the Author

Pierre

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.

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Jenny

I have one male beardie and I got him last week from someone who didn’t take the needed time with him for about the past 3 years. He is 6 years old and when I got him, he barely ate and his belly was sunken in. Wwll even though it is just about a week later, he has filled out some and is an “eating machine”! He is gradually getting used to the good life! As a matter of fact, he is really liking being held and atarted liking his baths. Tonight I noticed he is doing some head bobbing but there isn’t another beardie around and I am nowhere near his tank. It is rather cute and kind of funny. I love this little guy! His name is now, “Stormy”. Our grandson, Sam renamed him.

    Skye

    My female does this, I’m almost certain it’s their reflection. I am a new owner just as well.

Skye

My female beardie does the head bob in a circular motion a lot! I’m convinced it has to be her reflection, but also she tries scratching at her cage almost like she’s trying so very hard to get out. This beardie was left by my roomates who starved her and never handled her. I fed her behind their backs and eventually took her with me. I’m not an expert at this, I’m a new parent. Any and all suggestions would help. I can also send a pic of how I have her tank set up, thanks so much

    Pierre

    Hey Skye,

    does your bearded dragon do the head bob only when you are in the room? Or does it the head bob when you are not there as well?

    That is a very sad story. I can´t understand why people own bearded dragons or any other reptiles if they do not really want to take care of it. I am super happy that you took her with you and I do my best to help you with it. Just ask if you have questions 🙂

    Regarding the scratching: My dragons do this very often. I think nobody really knows why they are doing it, it might be, because they do not understand why they can´t get through the glass.
    Anyway I always take my bearded dragons out when they do that. As soon as I open the cage the want to get on my hand.
    Maybe they just want to explore/ run around a little bit.

    Cheers,

    Pierre

Colin Vandello

I have 2 dragons one female and one male the is is double the size I keep them in separate tanks but let them both out time to time. But the male dragon will bobb his head quickly then he will bite and hold onto the female dragon right behind the head and will not let go

Sharon

I have a 6 mo old beardie and he is the sweetest little boy. 2 days ago we got one that had been neglected, at best, for the first several months of his life. His second owner returned him after only one week. He is very skidish, turns black a lot and bobs his head. Our other beardie and him communicate. I was wondering if it would be better for either of them to be in separate rooms. They are at opposite ends of the living room now.

    Pierre

    Hey Sharon,

    this is a very healthy situation for a bearded dragon. Keep them in one room so they can “defend” their territories, but make sure that they do not see each other all the time. They should have hiding places otherwise they might get stressed out.

    Cheers,

    Pierre

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