It can definitely make a bearded dragon owner nervous if a bearded dragon is showing some weird behavior. Immediately you are worried that there is something wrong with your little reptile friend. If you are asking yourself, why is my bearded dragon shaking its head? – you came to the right place.
A bearded dragon shaking its head most of the times shows dominance. It is also called head bobbing. If it is a vibrant shaking and doesn´t stop for days it might be calcium deficiency or metabolic bone disease.
So what should you do now and how can you be absolutely sure that it is just normal head bobbing and not a sign for a horrible disease? This article will show you exactly what a normal head shake looks like and what to do if your bearded dragon might be sick.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon Shaking Its Head?
There are two major reasons for a bearded dragon shaking its head. One is healthy and absolutely normal and the other one shows that the bearded dragon might be sick. That´s why I have to separate this section into two areas.
One is the head bob bearded dragons show pretty often and the other is really more a shaking than a bobbing which is a sign for a disease.
Let´s start with the head bob.
Head Bobbing Not Head Shaking
Bearded dragons communicate by showing darker or lighter colors on their body and by showing certain movements.
If your bearded dragon is nodding quickly like it would listen to some awesome music, you do not have to be worried. This behavior shows dominance and it can also be part of mating behavior.
Bearded dragons are very territorial. In the wild every male bearded dragon has its own territory and if there is another male bearded dragon in that territory the bearded dragon will puff up and show some head bobbing to scare the intruder away.
As you see, this behavior is most of the times seen in male bearded dragons, but female bearded dragons sometimes show some head bobbing too.
Female bearded dragons tend to show this behavior as part of the mating ritual and it looks a little bit more springy then the male head bobbing.
The springy head shaking or bobbing shows submission. When the female bearded dragon shows this, the male bearded dragon is allowed to mate with the female.
Is Your Bearded Dragon Shaking Its Head Only When You Enter The Room?
Yes, some bearded dragons only show this behavior when humans enter the room and yes, your bearded dragon wants to tell you something with that.
For a bearded dragon, especially when it is not used to your presence, you can be an intruder and it wants to scare you away with that head bobbing. Just give your bearded dragon some time. It will definitely get used to you after a while and stop bobbing its head.
Can This Be Dangerous?
Normally, head bobbing is not dangerous and every bearded dragon has that phase where it has to show that head bob all the time.
However, if your bearded dragon just doesn´t stop with that and maybe even shows a black beard or a dark coloring with it, you should try to find out why your bearded dragon is upset.
Is it really upset about you entering the room or could there be something else that is bothering your bearded dragon?
Many people keep bearded dragons in a group even though bearded dragons are loners. That´s because pet shops sell bearded dragons in groups or as a pair and do not educate their buyers.
So if you keep two bearded dragons, it could be that your bearded dragon wants to scare the other bearded dragon away. Or it is part of a mating ritual, if you have a male and a female. If your bearded dragons start fighting or if one of your bearded dragons seems sick and weak, you have to separate the two.
I have written an entire article on that. If you have two bearded dragons in one tank, definitely read this article: Can Bearded Dragons Live Together?
Further you should check if your bearded dragon is bothered by other things. Maybe it can see its own reflection in its tank. Maybe it can see birds outside of the window. This would mean constant stress for your bearded dragon and bearded dragons can get sick from that.
An easy way to fix this is to get some plants that bearded dragons can use for hiding and some actual hides. If you need some plants for your bearded dragon tank, read this article on bearded dragon plants. If you need some hides and other decoration for your bearded dragon tank, read this article beardie tank decoration.
Is Your Bearded Dragon Actually Shaking?
If your bearded dragon is not head bobbing, if it is actually shaking, no matter if it is shaking its head or the entire body, your bearded dragon is most probably sick and you need to get it to a vet.
Shaking in bearded dragons means that there is some deficiency, sickness or poisoning.
Further, if you offer enough calcium and your bearded dragon is still shaking, your lighting might be incorrect. To process calcium, bearded dragons need vitamin D and they are only able to produce that vitamin if you have a good UVB light.
It could also be that your bearded dragon lacks vitamin B or that you might have given vitamins too often and now your bearded dragon is poisoned.
I know that this is a very rough explanation of what your bearded dragon might have, but don´t worry. I have written an entire article on shaking in bearded dragons. It will tell you what to do if your bearded dragon is shaking, how to supplement correctly, what the right lighting is and everything you need to know regarding this topic. You can read this article on shaking in bearded dragons here.
I also recommend to visit a reptile vet if you are not sure what your bearded dragon might have.
Is Your Bearded Dragon Suffering From Metabolic Bone Disease?
Bearded dragons that were not able to process calcium over a long period of time will eventually suffer from metabolic bone disease. This happens if you don´t offer enough calcium over a long period of time or if your UVB lighting is not sufficient.
While a bearded dragon that just started to shake because of the things mentioned above can recover quickly, a bearded dragon that showed this behavior over a long period of time will probably not recover anymore and the shaking will always remain.
Bearded dragons with metabolic bone disease suffer from soft and deformed bones. They are very weak and can´t really stand still because of that. Most bearded dragons die from that disease if not treated or if treated too late.
If you need more information on that, read my metabolic bone disease guide.
Most probably your bearded dragon is just head bobbing and not shaking. If it is head bobbing all the time, try to find the reason for that to avoid constant stress for your bearded dragon. If your bearded dragon is not head bobbing, you should definitely visit a vet first before doing anything else.
Shaking in bearded dragons can end badly, so act quickly.
I hope this article answered your question – Why is my bearded dragon shaking its head? Definitely read this article on shaking if you have more questions or leave a message in the comment section below.