Understanding Bearded Dragon Head Bobbing
You approach your bearded dragon’s tank and notice it is moving its head up and down quickly. This head bobbing may look like it's happening out of nowhere, but there is usually a reason. Bearded dragon head bobbing is totally normal behavior for your pet reptile, and there are several explanations for why it is occurring.
In their natural environment, male bearded dragons will bob their head to show dominance to a female bearded dragon—or another male. For example, if a male bearded dragon wants to declare dominance over a smaller male, it will give several quick head nods. If the other dragon submits, it will respond with several slower head nods. If it doesn’t submit, there will usually be a fight. That brings us to some words of advice for bearded dragon owners: Give your beardies their own living spaces. Two male dragons in the same enclosure will usually lead to a fight for dominance.
On the flip side of showing dominance, your bearded dragon might be bobbing its head to show submission. Is there another pet that passes by its enclosure like a cat or dog? The head bobbing could even be directed at you, especially if you recently brought your dragon home. It is normal for your dragon to bob its head to show submission or acknowledge the presence of another animal until it grows more familiar or comfortable with its surroundings. Indicating Stress In some cases, your dragon might be bobbing its head in reaction to something in its enclosure that is making it feel uneasy, stressed, or uncomfortable. If your dragon is stressed, it can be really important to investigate and try to determine what might be causing the stress. We would start by answering the following questions:
- Is your bearded dragon sharing its enclosure? As we said above, it is important to give your dragon its own living space. If you want to bring home another beardie, make sure you are also prepared to set up a separate enclosure.
- Is your bearded dragon comfortable? We recommend referencing our bearded dragon care guide to ensure that its enclosure is set up properly. Check things like lighting (full-spectrum and basking light), proper heating sources, and temperature control.
- Is your bearded dragon eating a proper diet? Your beardie should be enjoying fresh, dechlorinated water, a variety of live feeder insects like Dubia roaches and mealworms, leafy greens, and a selection of fruits like papaya, mango, and prickly pears. If your bearded dragon isn’t eating, it may be time to visit your local veterinarian.
If you have questions about your bearded dragon’s care, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.