Have you ever wondered why your Bearded Dragon is arm waving? Bearded dragons are truly amazing and intriguing reptiles and arm waving is certainly one of their most curious of their behaviours.
So why do Bearded Dragons wave their arm? When a Bearded Dragon waves its arm it is usually because they are simply waving to let another Bearded Dragon or animal nearby know that they are aware of them or they are frightened of another Bearded Dragon or animal and therefore submitting to a more dominant figure.
Read on to find out all the reasons why your Bearded Dragon could be arm-waving, how to reduce it and if arm-waving is unhealthy for your Bearded Dragon.
9 Reasons Your Beaded Dragon Could Be Arm-Waving
If your Bearded Dragon is arm-waving there are a few reasons and situations that could be triggering this behaviour.
In some situations when a Bearded Dragon displays this behaviour, it will be harmless and natural for them to do so while other situations will require your attention.
Let’s take a look at each of the reasons your Bearded Dragon could be arm-waving and assess if it’s worth reducing or even eliminating the situation all together if necessary.
1. Arm Waving In Awareness Of Another Bearded Dragon’s Presence
It’s actually hard to distinguish if a Bearded Dragon is waving its arm due to fear or because it’s just letting another Bearded Dragons know that its aware of them.
Some Bearded Dragons will simply wave their arm to another beardie to suggest that they mean no harm and therefore don’t want ‘any trouble’ so to speak.
Either way, the arm wave is usually a way of saying either “I’m aware of your presence” or “don’t hurt me”. This is backed up by animaluniversity.org who also state this as a common reason of arm-waving.
Arm waving isn’t always from one Bearded Dragon to another. Your Dragon might start waving at another pet you have, such as a dog or cat
Your Dragon might even start waving at an object that it has mistaken for an animal such as a top or small item of clothing.
If you are struggling to find the reason why they are waving then these are all things to be mindful of.
Arm Waving Through Fear Or Intimidation
When a Bearded Dragon is intimidated by a more dominant Bearded Dragon it is quite common for the less dominant one to wave their arm in submission. The Animal Mom website also mentions this as a common reason for arm-waving.
What looks like a cut and adorable wave is often the result of your Dragon feeling intimidated and using arm waving as a way of showing they mean no harm.
There can actually be lots of triggers that make your Beardie uneasy and produce the waving action.
There are lots of reasons why your Bearded Dragons could feel threatened or scared and feel the need to arm-wave. Let’s take a look at all the different situations where a bearded Dragon could choose to wave as a sign of fear or intimidation.
2. Two Or More Bearded Dragons Sharing a Tank
This is probably the most obvious reason why your Bearded Dragon would be arm-waving.
If you have 2 or more Bearded Dragons in one vivarium then its actually quite common that there will be a more dominant figure.
If one of them constantly arm-waving then I suggest separating the Dragons into separate tanks and even separate room of the house.
If you don’t have room in your home to house more than one Bearded Dragons separately then you would, unfortunately, have to consider giving one of them away to a good home because housing them together is very risky and can end very badly for the submissive Dragon.
There are health reasons why it makes sense to separate Bearded Dragon and house them in different tanks. Dominant figures will often occupy the basking area in the tank and not allow the submissive Dragon to bask. Having basking time is essential for Bearded Dragons for digestion and purposes and other vital functions and the less dominant Dragon will then struggle to digest their food, be more prone to gut rot and more.
If you notice that one Dragon is laying on top of the other this is a big sign that the one on top is showing dominance and taking most of the heat/light.
This is just something else to look out for and it might just help you make the right decision.
Ultimately, if one of your Beardies is waving constantly its best to rehouse or give one away.
3. Other Household Pets
It doesn’t just have to be another Bearded Dragon that your Beardie is fearful of.
In fact, common household pets such as cats and dogs can scare a Bearded Dragon if they don’t feel comfortable with them.
It’s a great idea to try and make your pets feel comfortable with one and other. Here I have written a post that explains how you can make it safe for Bearded Dragons and dogs to play with each other and if there any dangers to look out for.
The best thing to do if you believe that your dog or cat is causing distress to your Beardie is to simply move your Beardie to another room in the house and keep your dog or cat out of that room if at all possible.
I understand that this might not always be possible, but if it is giving your Bearded Dragon a lot of distress then it might be something you need to do at least for a while.
Another option is to create ‘hides’ in your Dragons vivarium, which is something we will take a closer look at shortly.
4. Recent Changes Causing Arm Waving
Sometimes small changes or relocation can cause your Bearded Dragon to arm wave.
If your Bearded Dragon has spent most of its life in a certain place in the house and all of a sudden it’s being moved to a different room or even just a different corner of the room this can cause them to feel uneasy.
If this is the case then it may just take a little while for your Beardie to adjust and become comfortable with the new surroundings and the arm-waving should settle once they have adjusted.
5. Baby Bearded Dragons
If you have a new Bearded Dragon in your home and find that they are waving, it might just be a case of them feeling uneasy until they get to know their new surroundings.
This is something you will have to monitor because you don’t want your Beardie to feel stressed for too long.
If a baby Bearded Dragon gets stressed for a long period of time it is possible they will lose their appetite.
Nutrients are vital for baby and juvenile Dragons as the first 12 months of their lives is when 90% of the growing is done.
To find out exactly how fast Bearded Dragons grow at the various stages of their life, check out this post that shares all you need to know as an owner.
Again this is something you will have to monitor and it should calm down quite quickly.
6. Toys & small Objects
Something that can be easily overlooked are toys and small objects causing your Bearded Dragon to feel intimidated.
If you have young children and their toys are left near your Dragon’s tank it can be quite easy to for them to mistake them for a predator.
All you need to do is take the toy out of the room and see if this makes a difference to the behaviour of your Beardie.
Less obvious reasons like this can often be the cause of arm-waving and it can leave you racking your brains to why the arm-waving persists but often turns out to be something simple like a children’s toy.
Another less obvious reason why your Bearded Dragon might be feeling intimidated are small items of clothing that are lying around the house.
If you use your radiators to dry small items of clothing like socks, then these could easily be mistaken for a unknown predator.
Just be mindful, if the arm waving stops when you take the clothing out of the room then obviously you know what it is.
7. Ornaments & other Objects
The list of things that could be frightening your Beardie are endless, however, things like ornaments and small objects close to the vivarium are something that you should be paying special attention to.
It’s often just a case of looking around for simple things that to me and you are everyday objects but to a Bearded Dragon are unknown and could make them feel intimidated.
8. Is Your Bearded Dragon Seeing Its Own Reflection?
The reality of your Bearded Dragon seeing its own reflection isn’t something that many of us don’t even contemplate, however, this can sometimes be a problem.
If your Bearded Dragon is waving a lot and you can’t find the reason why this is happening, there is a chance that your Beardie is seeing their reflection in the glass.
Obviously, Bearded Dragons don’t understand the concept of glass and if they see their reflection they will automatically think this is another Beardie and it can make them feel intimidated.
Not all Dragons will feel this way, but some will and if you have a Dragon that isn’t comfortable with seeing its own reflection I recommend creating a habitat that is full of plants and hides.
This will also help to decrease the reflection from the glass if you place the plants and decor well.
A little trial and error may be needed but you should notice a difference to the confidence of your Beardie as well.
9. Can Your Bearded Dragon See Outside?
Another common yet generally overlooked reason that your Bearded Dragon might be feeling the need to arm wave is being placed in a vivarium that is next to a window.
Generally speaking, this can be a really pleasant experience for your Beardie, as seeing trees blowing in the wind and clouds moving in the sky will keep them stimulated.
There are certain circumstances where your Beardie could feel uncomfortable near a window.
If there are birds in the trees outside or a cat on a fence then your Dragon can interpret these as a threat.
Again this is just something to be mindful of and if you can’t find any other reasons why your Dragon is constantly arm-waving then it could be down to this reason.
Creating Hides For Your Bearded Dragon
I often see tanks that are bare with just a rock and a water bowl in the corner.
This doesn’t replicate a natural habitat for your Dragon and does nothing to make them feel safe and comfortable.
If they are having problems with constant arm-waving then creating a tank that included lots of hides will help them feel safe as opposed to a bare tank where they will feel exposed. PetMD also highly recommends giving your Dragon a safe place to hide that they can easily fit inside.
Creating a habitat with lots of plants and hides can also be lots of fun for you and it looks great when finished.
You should see the confidence in your Dragon increase and also their happiness when they are living an environment that replicates their natural habitat.
I strongly recommend that no matter what, you create a beautiful and exciting home for your Bearded Dragon. Here’s my guide to decor and accessories you should add to your terrarium in order to make your Dragon feel happy and safe.
Do Only Female Bearded Dragons Arm Wave?
There is a lot of theory that female Bearded Dragons are the ones that arm wave and males ‘bob their heads’ (this is known to be a sign of dominance).
This isn’t strictly true, both males and females are known to wave their arms and bob their heads.
This will totally depend on the situation at hand, and also the personality of the Bearded Dragon.
Both males and females will have situations where they feel intimidated by another Bearded Dragon, Reptile or animal or something else and this will more than likely produce this curious and fascinating behaviour of arm waving.
Is Arm Waving Unhealthy For Your Bearded Dragon?
Bearded Dragons are truly amazing Reptiles and their fascinating behaviours make them truly unique.
Nature has given them these behaviours for a reason and its only natural that they use them, however, arm waving is one behaviour that should only be seen every now and then.
Every reptile, animal or even human beings for that matter will feel fear or intimidation at some point and arm waving is usually a Dragons way of dealing with it.
What you don’t want though, is a situation where your Beardie is intimidated constantly.
This is not good for them, period. A situation like this can lead to elevated stress levels and illness.
The stress might also reduce their appetite and lead them to refuse food. This is obviously not good especially for younger Bearded Dragons who are still growing rapidly and need as many nutrients as they can get.
You will need to make a judgement call as to whether the arm-waving is every now and then and perfectly fine, or if its constantly happening and therefore needs to be resolved.
I really hope you got a lot of value from this post. I have tried to cover every possible reason why your Bearded Dragon might be arm waving and how to find a solution to that particular situation.
The bottom line is that your Bearded Dragon only arm waves once in a while then it’s not a problem but if they are doing it constantly then you should find out why.
Usually resolving the issue is a simple fix and not something to worry about.
Follow the examples in this post and you should have a good understanding of the most common triggers and how to eliminate them to leave you with a happy and healthy Bearded Dragon.