Bearded Dragons have many unique and fascinating behaviours such as head bobbing. This is a behaviour  that has always interested me and i have researched it deeply to find the answer.

So why do Bearded Dragons bob their heads? Bearded Dragons bob their heads at other Bearded Dragons as a sign to show that they are dominant. Slower head bobbing is used as a sign of submission and females will also bob their head slow to submit to a male’s advances.

Read on to find out the situations where head bobbing occurs, is head bobbing unhealthy, how to stop head bobbing and more.

But first, let’s take a closer look at exactly why Bearded Dragons bob their heads.

Head Bobbing As a Sign Of Dominance Over another Bearded Dragon

When a Bearded Dragon bobs its head it is usually an aggressive act.

Head bobbing is a Bearded Dragons way of saying “I am the boss here”. This is a well-known personality trait of Bearded Dragons and trusted sites such as also state this to be true.

When 2 Dragons are placed in the same Terrarium together its common that one of the Dragons will try and become dominant over the other one.

Bearded Dragons are for the most part solitary Reptiles and they are very happy on their own. If you place 2 or more Dragons in a single tank they can become quite aggressive over territory.

When a Dragon starts head bobbing through aggressive means you will sometimes find that they will also display other behaviours.

The most common are puffing out their beards and standing prouder to make themselves look bigger and scarier.

Later on in this post, we will discuss what to do is you have 2 Dragons in the same terrarium and the dominance continues over a long period.

Bearded Dragons Bob Their Heads During Mating

When a Bearded Dragon bobs its head it doesn’t always have to be out of aggression or arguing over territory.

Sometimes head bobbing is purely used to try and seduce the opposite sex. This is backed up by PetMD who also state this as a major reason for head bobbing.

The main point that the male is trying to accomplish is still basically the same, the male is still trying to show the female they are dominant and the female should surrender to the males’ advances.

This mating style head bob from the male will be quite fast, and they will also often puff their beard just like they might do when they are being aggressive so it can be quite hard to tell the difference.

What Does Slow Head Bobbing Mean?

Not all head bobbing means the same thing with Bearded Dragons.

In fact, if your Dragon is bobbing its head slowly then it might just mean the total opposite.

While Bearded Dragons will bob their heads fast in a sign of dominance, they will bob their head slow to show that they are submissive.

If a Dragon feels that they need to show that they have no desire to fight over territory or be dominant in any way they will produce a much slower bobbing motion.

This simply signifies to the other Bearded Dragon that they are the boss.

Females also produce the slow bobbing motion, let’s take a look at why.

Do Female Bearded Dragons Bob Their Heads?

While head bobbing is more commonly associated with male Bearded Dragon, it is actually also seen quite regularly in females too.

The fast, aggressive head bobbing that is expressed when a Bearded Dragon is trying to be dominant is also used by females.

It’s important to note that this form of head bobbing is definitely more common with males but you can easily see a female trying to dominate in certain circumstances.

The most common situation for a female to bob its head to a male during mating.

This will be a slow head bob that classically indicates that the female is submitting to the male’s advances.

Why Do Baby Bearded Dragons Bob Their Heads?

If you have a baby Bearded Dragon and you have recently brought it home it is an exciting time for both you and your Dragon.

You get to see these fascinating reptiles and all their amazing behaviours and your new baby Dragon has a new home and terrarium to explore.

The truth is, this settling in period can be quite a scary time for your Dragon and they can feel unsure, uncomfortable and even intimidated.

Your baby Dragon will often bob its head to try and display dominant behaviour to try and gain some control in its new surroundings.

Baby bearded Dragons can perform the slow head bob that is associated with submission if it feels uneasy about a certain situation.

This should usually pass within a short space of time as your Bearded Dragon settles and becomes familiar with you and your home.

The main thing is to realise that this is natural and just give it time.

Your main job is to give your Bearded Dragon the best environment possible to aid the settling in period.

A good quality terrarium with good lighting and lots of plants and hides is essential to help them settle and imitate their natural habitat as much as possible. Here’s a post that details the best decor and accessories for your Bearded Dragons tank so you can be sure they feel both happy and safe in their surroundings.

Do Bearded Dragons Only Bob Their Heads At other Bearded Dragons?

This is a really good question and one that needs answering as many Bearded Dragons owners will only have one Dragon and might be wondering what their Dragon is bobbing its head at?

The answer is absolutely not, your Bearded Dragon can bob its head at anything that it wants to show dominance to, submit to or wants to mate with.

Let’s take a look at some of the common situations and reasons why your Dragon will bob its head around the home.

Head Bobbing At Other Household Pets

If you have other pets in your home such as a dog, cat or birds for example then its very common that your Dragon will feel uncomfortable with them.

You may notice that they bob their heads to try to be dominant over the other pet or to be submissive to the other pet if they feel intimidated.

Head Bobbing at New Pet

If your pet is new to the home then it’s quite natural for this to happen as your Bearded Dragon can often feel uncomfortable with a new animal until it understands the new pet means no harm.

It’s a good idea to monitor the situation and in a short period of time your Dragon should calm down with the head bobbing and start to relax.

If this goes on for weeks and weeks then i would suggest relocating your Dragon to a room where the pet isn’t going to be in contact.

I only recommend doing this if your Bearded Dragon is bobbing its head constantly whenever the pet is around.

This is because your Dragon is either angry or scared and if he/she is in this emotional state constantly then it’s not good for their stress levels.

We will cover more about this later in this post, however, just be mindful about letting your Bearded Dragon get to know your new pet and how long and frequent the head bobbing is.

Head Bobbing at Established Pet

If you have an old pet and all of a sudden your Beardie starts to bob it’s head at the pet when its never done it before, this could be for a few reasons.

If it’s mating season sometimes Bearded Dragons start bobbing their heads like crazy even at other household pets that they have always got along with.

Sometimes your Dragon might just all of a sudden see the other pet as a threat to its territory or something similar that before didn’t seem a problem to your Dragon.

I would suggest keeping to the same procedure, just monitor the situation and if it settles down in a short period of time then it’s all good.

If the head bobbing persists over a number of weeks then it might be a good idea to either keep the pet away from your Bearded Dragon or the other way round as you don’t want to keep the heightened stress levels up for weeks on end.

Head Bobbing at You The Owner

Believe it or not, it is very common that your Bearded Dragon will bob it’s head at you the owner.

Sometimes it will be the fast head bobbing motion that is associated with showing that they believe they are the dominant figure.

Other times it will be the slow head bobbing motion that is related to showing submission.

Usually creating a better and stronger bond with your Dragon will stop this behaviour. This is backed up by Reptile Guide who also talk about this as a reason for head bobbing.

When You First Bring Your Bearded Dragon Home

The most common time for this to happen is when you first bring your Bearded Dragon home. This could be either as a baby or as an adult.

When your Dragons is first getting to know you there will sometimes be a period where they test the waters and try to show you they are the “the boss”.

I recommend gently handing your Bearded Dragon for small periods of time and increasing this overtime to help with their confidence.

Gentle handling will show your Dragon that there is no need for aggression or dominance and certainly no need to be intimidated by you.

As mentioned earlier in this post a good quality terrarium with good plants and hides will increase your Dragons confidence and make them feel safe in those early weeks in its new home.

We will talk more about how important a good terrarium is for your Bearded Dragon shortly.

When You’ve Had Your Bearded Dragon a Long Time

It’s also common for a Bearded Dragon to start bobbing its head at you totally out of the blue even if you’ve had it a long time and it’s never happened before.

Mating Season

One of the most common reasons for this is that it’s mating season for them.

If a Dragon has mating on its mind then it can start getting very territorial and dominant for what looks to be no reason.

This is normally something that is associated with males but it’s not unheard of for females to bob their head slow in a ‘flirting’ manner to show that they submit to the male’s advances.

Even you a human being can be subject to these kinds of flirting head bobbing motions when the mating is on the mind 🙂

This kind of behaviour will usually pass within a few weeks and as the hormones go back to normal so will their behaviour.

Head Bobbing at Toys & Items Of Clothing

This might seem quite bizarre at first but a Bearded Dragon can easily mistake a toy or small item of clothing for another animal.

If you have children and your child leaves his/her favourite toy near your Dragons terrarium it could be quite intimidating for your Dragon if it mistakes it for a predator.

This can cause your Bearded Dragon to start bobbing its head at what appears to be nothing but in actual fact, it is reacting to the toy.

The same can be said for small items of clothing, bracelets and such.

Imagine if you leave a sock on the floor or a baseball cap nearby. This may seem harmless but to your Dragon, they just don’t know what these items are and it can lead them to act by bobbing the head.

It can often be hard to distinguish what is causing a Bearded Dragon to bob its head because to me and you these are everyday items.

The best thing to do if your Dragon is bobbing its head at what appears to be nothing, scan your room and see if there anything that you can easily remove from the room.

Only remove one item at a time and if it’s an object such as a toy or item of clothing you should be able to find the item that is causing the problem pretty quickly.

Is Your Bearded Dragon Bobbing Its Head at Its own Reflection?

At first, it might seem quite ridiculous that your Bearded Dragon might be bobbing its head at its own reflection but it’s actually a very real situation.

Bearded Dragons like most other reptiles and animals don’t understand the concept of glass and the fact that it has a reflection.

Your Dragon could easily be seeing themselves in the glass and mistaking their reflection for another Bearded Dragon.

Dragons will mostly see their reflection if their terrarium is bare or has a bare spot.

If your Dragons terrarium isn’t kitted out with decor that resembles their natural habitat and they can just see glass then there is also a good chance they will also see their reflection.

If your Dragons terrarium has got a corner that is a little bare and you notice them bobbing their head only in that corner it might be the case that they are seeing their reflection in that spot.

Simply adjusting a few things round so they can’t see their reflection might just stop them thinking they have company from another Beardie.

You don’t need to create some kind of jungle if the terrarium is bare, but you do need to create something that is close to their natural habitat with nice pants, rocks and hides to make them feel safe.

Moving The Tank To Another Room Can Cause Head Bobbing

It’s also possible to cause your Bearded Dragon to feel uneasy and therefore start bobbing its head by simply moving its terrarium to a different corner of the room.

A simple change of scenery can cause your Dragon to feel uneasy and feel like they need to reassert themselves in the home.

Moving the terrarium to another room can obviously cause the same kind of reaction.

Even a change in your furniture could produce this kind of behaviour and it’s just a matter of being mindful of these changes.

Any small change like this should only cause a temporary change in your Dragons behaviour and they should be back to their old self in a short period of time once they get used to the changes.

Is Head Bobbing Unhealthy for a Bearded Dragon?

Bearded Dragons have some fascinating behaviours that they use to express themselves in certain situations whenever they see fit.

Things like head bobbing, arm waving and puffing up the beard all help to show the mood that your Dragons are in and also express intentions and feelings.

For the most part, when a Bearded Dragon bobs its head it is perfectly normal and part of their natural behaviour to express their intentions at that time.

The only time i would say that this is an unhealthy behaviour for your Dragon is if they appear to be aggressive, dominant or submissive constantly over a few weeks.

If this happens then they are obviously unhappy by either being constantly angry or intimidated.

This isn’t good for their stress levels and you may also see a decrease in appetite if they are constantly intimidated.

If your Dragon is head bobbing once in a while then it’s not going to be a problem or if they are coming into mating season it’s perfectly fine as their hormones will settle when they are ready.

What Should I Do If My Bearded Dragon Is Bobbing Its Head Constantly?

Ok, are you are worried that your Bearded Dragon is bobbing its head constantly either in a dominant or submissive manner and you think it needs to stop but not sure how?

Well, let’s take a look at what you can do to get your Dragon happy and calm again.

Usually, the solution is as simple as removing whatever they aren’t happy with.

Two Bearded Dragons Housed Together

If you have 2 Bearded Dragons housed together and there is a constant fight for dominance then, unfortunately, i would recommend that as heartbreaking as it sounds you give one of the Dragons away to a good home.

The other option is to rehouse one of the Dragons in a separate terrarium in a different room.

Keeping both Bearded Dragons together is going to cause the weaker one a lot of distress and, it will also get less UVB light along with a decreased appetite through stress.

The only option is to separate them so they can both live happy, calm and stress-free lives.

Here’s a post that shares why you shouldn’t house 2 Bearded Dragons in the same tank and what to do if you have problems with keeping 2 Bearded Dragons.

Other Situations

In just about all other situations you should be able to remove the cause of the problem or move your Bearded Dragon to another room if that makes more sense.

Toys, items of clothing and small objects are pretty easy to separate from your Dragon if they are stressing them out continuously.

Pets are a little more tricky as cats and dogs can easily wander into the same room as your Dragon all throughout the day.

It might be better to relocate your Bearded Dragon to a room in the house where your cat or dog can’t go or doesn’t go very often.

Why Getting The Right Terrarium Setup Is Important

In order for your Bearded Dragon to feel happy, calm and safe they need to have the right environment.

Creating a terrarium that is close to their natural habitat can go a long way to making them feel comfortable and reducing behaviours such as head bobbing and arm waving.

You should consider creating hides for your Dragon and with rocks and plants so they feel like they can retreat when they need to and not be exposed all of the time.

This is very important for stress levels and overall happiness.

Getting the right amount of good quality UVB light is also very important to make your Dragon feel like they are in their natural habitat as well as for health reasons.

If you give your Beardie a good home with good hides then you should see a reduced amount of behaviours triggered by stress or feeling intimidated.

I’ve created a guide that lists all my favourite tunnels, hides, plants and decor that will help your Bearded Dragon to feel safe and at home in their tank. You can see the exact decor & accessories I use in my tanks here

Wrapping Up

I really hope you got some great value from this post and you got the answer that you were looking for.

Just remember that when a Bearded Dragon bobs its head it’s a natural behaviour and as long your Dragon is only doing it sometimes it absolutely fine.

If your Dragon is constantly head bobbing and you feel that their stress levels are going up then it might be a good idea to find the source and stop your Bearded Dragon from coming in contact with it for a while.

Thanks for reading, here’s a happy, healthy Bearded Dragon 🙂