Is Head Bobbing Normal For A Bearded Dragon?

If you’ve ever seen a bearded dragon with its head bobbing, you may think it’s strange, however, it’s actually quite normal.

Although head bombing can mean different things, it’s not uncommon to see both male and female dragons doing it.

However, you are probably more likely to see a male dragon head-bobbing than a female, especially if other dragons are in the area.

What’s Behind Bearded Dragon Head Bobbing?

When it comes to reptiles and lizards, bearded dragons are a popular choice as a pet for many people.

Like any new pet and owner, it does takes time to build a bond. Reptiles, in general, can be pretty territorial and will use posturing, hissing, and colour change to express their moods to others.

Head bobbing is just one of the many ways that they communicate and express their feelings.

However, not all head bobbing is the same, in addition, the head bobs can mean completely different things.

The Different Meanings of Head Bobbing

Although it could mean a number of things, head bobbing typically comes down to three main things. One reason is that they may feel threatened or are trying to assert themselves as, “The Boss”.

Another reason for head bobbing is to attract female bearded dragons during the mating season. It is also fairly common for beardies to head bob towards each other as a way of showing acknowledgment.

Aggressive Head Bobbing

Now if you see a dragon moving his head quickly up and down, this can be an indicator of aggression. If your bearded dragon is bobbing its head in this manner he may be feeling threatened.

This could be by seeing you, another animal or reptile, or even it’s own reflection.

Bearded dragons will exhibit a fast head bob if they feel challenged or a threat aimed at them, their territory, or if females are around. This also includes when first encountering new dragon owners.

It’s not uncommon for a new dragon to be aggressive towards their owner until the dragon and owner have formed some kind of bond.

If your beardie is often quite angry towards you then check out this guide on how to calm down an angry bearded dragon.

After some time, as a new owner, the head bobbing should become less frequent as the trust builds.

However, if you find your dragon always stressed and head bobbing in this way, you may want to look at ways to reduce stress for your beardie.

Your dragon may want more safe spaces but as long as your dragon is healthy and safe they should be fine.

Jerky Head Bobbing

Although in the wild mating season for bearded dragons is in the Spring, for captive dragons, the season can go year-round.

Male bearded dragons will head bob to female dragons to show dominance and that they are ready to mate.

During this mating season, you can expect to see head-bobbing more frequently taking place, especially if males are around females.

Generally, the male dragon will make quick jerky head bobs, and the female responds with a slow arm wave. After that, the pair will mate.

The jerky head bobbing also serves as a warning to notify other males to stay away as he is going to mate.

It’s also not uncommon to see females dragons slowly head-bobbing during mating. This is a sign of the female dragon’s submission to the male.

Slow Head Bobbing

There are also times where a bearded dragon may slowly bob his head at another dragon. This is neither a sign of aggression nor a sexual advance, but rather a simple acknowledgement and a form of submission.

A slow head bobbing is believed to be an indicator of acknowledgement when one dragon does this towards another.

It should be noted that keeping more than one bearded dragon in a tank is not recommended. This can lead to many complications and its best avoided.

However, when a beardie encounters another, it’s not uncommon for larger dragons to challenge smaller dragons.

The larger will give a fast head bob and, to avoid a fight, the smaller dragon will usually give a slow head bob to the larger dragon in submission. If the smaller dragon returns a fast head bob a fight will often take place.

Don’t be surprised to find your bearded dragon giving you the slow head bob. They are merely saying either, “Hi there”, or “Hey, I got my eye on you”.

Either way, it’s generally a head bob of good intentions and the opposite of aggressive.

Other Dragon Mood Indicators

Typically when you see a bearded dragon bobbing its head, you may notice other subtle gestures or sounds. Sometimes if a dragon is threatened, not only will it bob its head quickly, but it may also puff out its beard.

This defensive move combined with head bobbing is used to signal a challenge, otherwise, beard puffing by itself is used to intimidate larger predators.

Another signal of a challenge is the dragon’s chin skin turning a black colour. This is also a signal that the dragon is feeling stressed.

In conjunction with the slow nod, you can also find bearded dragons giving a slow arm wave. The slow arm wave signals the dragon is acknowledging the dominance of the other dragon.

The slow arm wave can be seen more often performed by females and smaller male dragons.


Not only is head-bobbing by bearded dragons normal, but it’s a great visual form for communication about your dragon’s mood. Although for new dragon owners, it may seem a bit confusing trying to understand all of your bearded dragon’s behaviors, over time it should become more clear.

Head bobbing has a few different meanings and as the bond between you and your dragon grows you will start to understand these meanings.

Head bobbing has a few different meanings and as the bond between you and your dragon grows you will start to understand these meanings.

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  • About Matthew Cantell

    I was just 15 years of age when I first met a bearded dragon. It was at my friend's house and I instantly grew an immediate attraction to, what has now become, my favourite animal on the planet! Making fantastic pets for both children and adults alike, they each have their own personality and are certainly full of character. There are, though, some important things that we should all know when it comes to caring for these amazing animals!
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