Bearded dragons do not communicate by sound. These dragons use specific body language for communication. They bob their heads to tell about their mood, health, and feeling. It is important to understand different gestures that your lizard shows to know about their mental and physical behaviors.
Understanding head bobbing in bearded dragons is important if you want your pet to be happy and healthy. Only giving them a suitable habitat and healthy diet is not enough. You need to learn their body language to know what is going in your dragon’s head.
In this article, I am going to tell you what bearded dragon head bob means, when it happens & much more.
Table of Contents
What is a bearded dragon head bob?
Head bobbing is common in all species of bearded dragons and it is usually seen when a dragon raises and lowers its head again and again. It is not dangerous or something serious concerning bearded dragons head bobbing. You should only notice the signs and behaviors that are causing head bobbing in your dragon-like their beard turning black etc.
Males are more useful to head-bobbing than females. They tend to do it quickly however females also bob their head but at a slow rate.
Reasons why bearded dragons bob their heads?
Head bobbing can be done due to many reasons. It expresses the behavior of the dragons. The dragon not only bobs their heads towards other dragons but also to other animals and persons as well.
It is usually a reaction to something in its surroundings due to which the dragon is feeling uncomfortable or uneasy. The dragon may be feeling stressed, trying to secure its territory, and maybe looking for a partner to find the perfect love connection. Read more on how to destress bearded dragon.
Have a look at the following reasons due to which the dragon may bob their heads:
Head bobbing due to aggression:
If you see that your dragon is bobbing his head quickly up and down, this can be done due to aggression. Your dragon may be feeling threatened due to any reason. It can be a new habitat, sudden temperature change, introduction of new owners to the dragons, these points should be considered as some of the reasons for aggressive head bobbing.
If your dragon is getting angry towards you, then find possible ways to calm down your angry bearded dragon. Your dragon may want a habitat with safe surroundings. But as long as your dragon is not showing any changes in his health, then don’t worry, he is healthy and doing fine.
Head bobbing during mating/jerky head-bobbing:
During the mating season, your dragon may show several behaviors like arm-waving, darkening of the beard and head-nodding, etc. It is the way of showing to a female that he is interested in her and he is also trying to tell other males that stay away from her as he is intending to mate.
A male dragon is trying to get the response of a female through a jerky head bob. A female on the other hand shows a slow head nod and steady arm waving to tell him that she is fine to be mated with him. Female dragons are less aggressive during mating season whereas males are more aggressive.
During mating season, head bobbing can be seen more frequently especially if males are around females and they show dominant behavior during mating. After all that head bobbing, the pair may mate. The jerky head bobbing also shows that a male dragon is warning other males to stay away as he is going to mate.
Head bobbing due to feeling territorial:
In this situation, your dragon may bob its head because he may try to establish dominance over its territory. He wants to save his territory from other bearded dragons even the territory is just a small glass tank. Depending on the situation, you may see that your dragon is bobbing their head at nothing.
In wild, this behavior is considered very normal as the bearded dragons constantly try to defend their territory. This behavior can be seen easily in both male and female dragons, but male shows more aggressive head bobbing in this condition than females.
Head bobbing as a sign of submission/ slow head-bobbing:
When there is a dominant dragon in the cage and he nods its head speedily, he expects other dragons to respond with a slow head bob or arm wave. This is neither a sign of sexual desire nor a sign of aggression, but rather it is a form of submission that the dominant dragon is truly the boss and other dragons answer back with slowly nodding the head.
It is recommended to not keep more than one dragon in a tank as it may cause complications and fights may happen between the dragons. But when dragons are familiar with one another or to avoid a fight between the dragons, the larger dragon will give a fast head bob and the smaller dragon will give a slow head bob in a submission that he is the boss.
Head bobbing as they are acknowledging another animal:
Sometimes, your dragon may show a non-aggressive head bobbing that will have no meaning. This particularly shows that your dragon is around another dragon or pets like birds, dogs, and cats, etc. In some cases, when you bring a new pet home then your dragon may feel uncomfortable and it will start to bob the head without any reason.
When your dragon will realize that the other pet does not mean harm to him, he may stop bobbing quickly. But if the dragon bobs his head continuously, then it is better to relocate the enclosure. Otherwise, it may increase the stress level and can result in health problems.
A dragon may also nod its head to other household pets during the breeding season. If the head bobbing is frequent, then make sure to keep away the pets from each other.
Head bobbing at items of clothing and toys:
A bearded dragon can mistake by item of clothing or toy to be a predator, and it may scare them. They will start bobbing the head because they will feel threatening. In this situation, you have to check your house and see if your dragon is getting scared from toys, clothing, or jewelry.
Try to remove every item at a time and observe how your dragon behaves. If there is anything that you might suspect causing harm to your dragon, so it is better to remove them. The dragon may bob its head in other situations as well, like seeing the reflection of such material and changing the tank to a new location.
Is bearded dragon head bobbing healthy?
A bearded dragon nods the head to show different behaviors or to respond to different stimuli. There are some behaviors that a dragon can show while some moods or intentions can’t be easily express because dragons cannot speak. They communicate with their behavior or moods.
So, head bobbing is healthy for a dragon. You just need to understand their different gestures to know what is happening inside them and how you should respond to them. Moreover, if your dragon is bobbing his head and he seems unhappy, then you must figure out the root cause and try to solve it immediately. Read more on bearded dragon care sheet.
Why do bearded dragons bob their heads at people?
Bearded dragons bob their heads to communicate how they are feeling. When you bring your new dragon home, he may bob the head to communicate that he is afraid of you. His head bobbing may also indicate that he is not afraid and considers himself more dominant creature than you.
Conversely, his head bobbing can indicate that he has recognized you as the dominant creature and is offering a kind of submission. Head bobbing at people may also indicate that your dragon is stressed or nervous.
Over time, you will learn that your dragon will tend to lessen the head bobbin and he has learned to trust you.
Why do female dragons bob their heads?
Female bearded dragons do not use the head bob as males do in most cases. Instead of the quick head bobbing as males do, females pass calmer head bobbing signals. By head bobbing female bearded dragons try to show submissiveness to other dragon, or she’s trying to communicate that she is willing to mate with a male bearded dragon.
Females bob their heads slowly but during mating, you may see that they are bobbing their heads more bouncy than the typical head bob. During mating process the head bob is usually more like vibrating motion than a normal head bob.
Female head bobbing also indicates that she is trying to show dominance over other females in the group. It is better to keep two bearded dragons in a separate enclosure but if the enclosure is the same then head bobbing also indicates that a female is showing dominance over another female.
Why your bearded dragon head bobs all the time?
If your bearded dragon head bobs all the time then it might be because your dragon is getting stressed from something that might be an intruder or another weird animal. He might be stressed by any piece of furniture or new things inside the terrarium and near the terrarium like keys, bottle, remote control, etc.
However, if you have figured out that there is no such thing inside the house that is causing stress in your dragon then look out the windows. Maybe your dragon is feeling intimated by other animals like birds, dogs, and cats, etc.
Bearded dragons also bob their heads when they see their reflection in the terrarium. The dragon thinks that there is some other dragon inside the cage that he thinks of it as an intruder. That’s why he bobs his head all the time.
Is frequent head bobbing something to worry about?
If you see that your dragon is constantly bobbing its head and you are worried about it, just relax and know that your bearded dragon is only doing head bobbing as other dragons do. Most of the time, head bobbing is one of the best ways to communicate that your dragon is feeling uncomfortable and intimidated by other dragons.
There are so many reasons why your dragon seems to bob its head like a live insect to feed in the tank can also cause stress. After spending more time with your dragon, it will be a lot easier for you to understand why your dragon is head bobbing and you will be able to rectify that discomfort easily.
Why your bearded dragon is head-bobbing at nothing?
One common mistake amongst new dragon owners is that when they think that something is directing the dragon to head bobbing. It is not the real truth. Sometimes, the dragons bob their heads because of the feeling they have.
They may be head bobbing to assert dominance over
- Another animal (whether in the enclosure or just within view)
- Their new environment
In most cases, they can be head-bobbing simply because it is that time of the year in which they are ready to mate. In all the scenarios, you may see that bearded dragons bobbing the heads to express their feelings.
Bearded dragon head bobbing while sleeping
Bearded dragons do a lot of head bobbing when they are awake, but if your dragon is head-bobbing while sleeping then there is nothing to worry about if there are no signs of distress or concern.
If you are new to the world of bearded dragons then head bobbing in sleep may seem bizarre. However, it is normal behavior and there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes the bright light in the cage may cause distress to your dragon as dragons like cozy and dark sleeping environments in their habitat that maybe causing frustrated head bobbing while sleeping.
Bearded dragon head bobbing is normal. It is a great visual form of communication that your dragon shows to express their feelings. Although some owners misunderstand this concept and they consider it a serious problem.
While head bobbing does not always indicate that something is wrong, it might be an opportunity for the owner to make improvements to the quality of care that he is providing and to make good communication with your dragon.
Head bobbing has different meanings and it develops the bond between you and your dragon if you listen to your pet’s moods, feelings and communication easily. In this way, your dragon will be happy and confident under your care.