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Why Do Bearded Dragons Bob Their Heads? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

Nicole Cosgrove

Bearded Dragons are popular pets, and their popularity seems to be growing with each passing year. The Australian lizard can grow to about two feet long with a throat covered in scales that it can raise at will to create its beard. It also exhibits several other strange behaviors, including head bobbing, that we will look at right now.

Join us while we discuss why your bearded Dragon bobs its head and what it might be trying to tell you.

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The 4 Reasons for Head Bobbing

1. Sign of Dominance

two bearded dragons in the terrarium
Image Credit: Pixabay

Bearded Dragons are territorial animals, and like many others, if something wanders into its territory, especially another male, it will need to assert its dominance. You are likely to see this behavior at home if you put a second bearded dragon in a habitat that already belongs to another. Besides the head bobbing, your Bearded Dragon may also start to puff out its bears, which is a sure sign that it’s unhappy an intruder is present. This behavior helps to make them look bigger and more threatening.


2. Mating Season

two bearded dragons
Image Credit: Pixabay

Bearded Dragons will also bob their head to attract the attention of the opposite sex during mating season. This behavior is similar to many other species where the male must put on a show or perform a mating ritual to win the female’s affections. Some experts think that it’s actually a similar form of exerting dominance over the female, so she submits to mating. The behavior is very similar, with the Dragon moving its head up and down while puffing out its beard.


3. Sign of Submission

Bearded Dragons that are bobbing their head quickly while puffing out their beards show dominance over intruders and females when mating, but if they are bobbing their heads slowly, it is often a sign of being submissive. If one male is bobbing his head quickly and the other slow, it’s a sign that the second recognizes the first as the boss, and hostilities should subside.

two bearded dragons in the grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

4. Depth Perception

Many animals like the Bearded Dragon and the rabbit have eyes set far apart on their head. They may bob their heads up and down to determine how far away something is. An object further away will not move as much as a closer object, which can help your pet get a better sense of your surroundings.

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Do female Bearded Dragons bob their head?

Yes, while females bob their heads much less frequently than males, the female will also bob her head if feeling threatened. You might see a female bob her heard if you add another Dragon to the cage after she makes it her home and is comfortable living alone. She will also bob her head at a male during the mating ritual to show she is receptive to his efforts.

Why do baby Bearded Dragons bob their head?

Baby Bearded Dragons, especially those kept as pets, will often bob their heads to signal that they are threatened or afraid. The head bobbing may be instinctual as it’s trying to assert dominance over its unfamiliar surroundings. The action could also be an attempt by the small lizard to look larger to any perceived threat. This type of head-bobbing will often cease as the new pet adjusts to its habitat and begins to feel comfortable and in control. If you notice your baby dragon exhibiting this behavior, give it plenty of space in a quiet area with food, water, and light. Don’t allow many people to handle your new pet at this early stage and limit handling it yourself until you notice the head bobbing stop. Once it relaxes you, you can spend more time bonding with your new pet.

Why does my Bearded Dragon bob its head at other pets?

Your Bearded Dragon will bob its head at your other pets for the same reason it bobs at other lizards. It’s usually happening because it sees them as a threat. It will see other pets as a threat if they are coming close to its terrarium or are making too much noise. Usually, keeping your dog or cat at a distance can minimize aggressive behavior.

Your Bearded Dragon may also be trying to determine how far away the pets are to determine if there is a present danger. On rare occasions, your Dragon may see other pets as a potential make and could be bobbing to get their attention.

Why does my Bearded Dragon bob its head at toys?

If you notice your Bearded Dragon bobbing its head at toys, it’s very likely that your pet is mistaking t for a predator and is attempting to assert dominance over it. If the toy isn’t moving, it might be trying to determine distance so it can safely pass.

woman holding a bearded dragon

Why does my Bearded Dragon bob its head at me?

A Bearded Dragon bobbing its head at its owner is not uncommon, and if the head is moving slowly, your pet is letting you know it sees you as the boss, but if it’s bobbing the head quickly, it’s trying to make you submissive. Spending more time bonding with your pet will eliminate its desire to become aggressive toward you, and the head-bobbing will cease.

Continuous Head Bobbing

In most cases, the head bobbing will cease after a short time. However, if it continues, you will need to locate and eliminate the source as the high-stress levels your pet is experiencing can cause health problems. The most common reason for continuous head bobbing is to keep two Bearded Dragons in the same cage. These animals often prefer a solitary life, and they may not cohabitate with one another peacefully. If you notice the head bobbing continue for more than a day, it’s probably best to find another home for one of them and not try to force them to live together.

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Summary

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and have learned something new about your pet. The most likely reason it’s bobbing its head is that it’s trying to assert its dominance over its surroundings, especially if you just brought it home or moved its cage into another room. It might also get nervous if it sees a dog running around nearby or hears loud noises. In most cases, the bobbing will stop after a short time as it becomes more comfortable in its surroundings. Sometimes it’s best to leave the room and eliminate the noise for a few hours to reduce the stress levels your pet is experiencing.

If we have helped you feel a little closer to your pet, please share this guide to four reasons why Bearded Dragons bob their heads on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.