Bearded Dragon Waving: What Does It Mean?

The first time you see your Bearded Dragon waving you may think to wave back as you pass it off as a funny coincidence. However, Bearded Dragons wave for reasons rather than saying hello to passers-by.

So what does it mean when your Bearded Dragon is waving?

In this article, I’ll explain the reasons behind your Bearded Dragon waving.

By the end, you’ll have learned what it means, the different reasons they’re doing it, if there is any cause for concern, and if action is necessary.

What Does Bearded Dragon Waving Look Like?

When your Bearded Dragon is waving at you, it’s a robotic movement, and will only be lifted up and then down again, with no side-to-side movement. The timing is similar to the metronome I’ve created below.

It’s important to keep an eye on your Bearded Dragon if you believe it is waving to ensure you correctly identify the cause of this behavior.

5 Reasons Your Bearded Dragon Is Waving

When your Bearded Dragon is waving, it’s using it as a signal to communicate. Whether the communication is for you, other people, or animals, is for us to identify.

Below I will go into the 5 most common reasons for your Bearded Dragon waving.

#1 They’re Scared or Anxious

Bearded Dragons are easily scared or made to become anxious, even the slightest change in their habitat can flip their world upside down.

So if you have other pets or young children constantly looking through the glass of their enclosure, or making loud noises such as barking or slapping the glass, they’ll start to communicate their fears.

Pro Tip: Other methods Bearded Dragons use for communicating aside from waving are turning their beard black or hissing to show they’re scared or feeling threatened.

If you suspect these are the reasons your Beardie is waving, it’s down to you as the responsible owner to alleviate the stresses in your pet’s life.

#2 Mating Season

You’ll only see a Bearded Dragon wave during the mating season if you have a female. Males exhibit different behaviors such as head bobbing or beard flaring. 

Female Bearded Dragons will display waving behaviors when they’re trying to communicate to a potential mate they’re interested in.

This will typically only occur if you have more than one Bearded Dragon in the enclosure or if there is one in another enclosure in eyesight.

Your Beardie may also be tricked by their reflection into thinking there is another Bearded Dragon in the enclosure, I will go into this in more detail in the next section of this article.

#3 They See Their Reflection

We’ve all fallen victim to waving at someone we thought was waving at us, but I’m not sure it’s as embarrassing as waving to your own reflection.

A lot of Bearded Dragon enclosures are made of glass or plastics, which are great for retaining the heat and humidity these reptiles need. However, it displays a reflection, and this deceives your Beardie into thinking there is another one in the enclosure.

They’ll exhibit the waving behaviors as a sign of acknowledgment or submissive behavior to the potential “threat” they’re seeing in themselves.

Another common behavior Bearded Dragons will demonstrate often if they see their reflection is glass surfing.

If you want to stop them from being able to see their reflection, I recommend moving the enclosure lighting position to reduce glare or using decorations to obstruct their view. Even buying an enclosure with 3 wooden panels and only one glass panel can be a last resort.

#4 They’re Being Submissive

Typically in the wild, Bearded Dragons will use the waving behavior to inform other animals they’re not a threat and are submitting to them. 

Doing this shows they’re not threatening or attempting to be dominant in another animal’s territory.

This translates with humans or pets whilst in captivity, if they’re clearly able to identify whatever it is they’re looking at is superior, they’ll submit immediately to avoid confrontation.

#5 They’re Aware Of Other Animals Or People

You may think this is similar to the submission or scared sections I’ve already discussed, but it has slight differences.

If you or your children and pets are just walking passed without disturbing your Beardie, they could just be waving to acknowledge your presence. It’s typically a sign of respect indicating they know you’re in charge.

However, if this behavior happens regularly, you may want to check on whether your pets or children are doing things that may cause your Beardie stress or to be deliberately submissive. 

Excessive Bearded Dragon Waving

If your Bearded Dragon is waving constantly, then this abnormal behavior will need rectifying to prevent future illnesses.

The most common reasons for excessive waving are:

  • Poor environmental conditions
  • Poor enclosure placement

If your Beardie is living in poor environmental conditions, they’ll wave in excess to get your attention and alert you of something being wrong. However, they can’t tell you with words so it’s down to you to deduce the information.

You’ll need to do a full enclosure setup, Follow this checklist to ensure everything is correct:

If the answer is no to any of these questions, you’ll need to make corrections as soon as possible to give your beloved pet the habitat they require.

If the placement of your Beardies enclosure is poor, this will cause constant stress. What I mean by poor placement is, if it’s in a busy location.

For example, enclosures placed in a busy hallway full of traffic where people and other pets are passing by will cause your Beardie to constantly be on guard and become stressed and eventually sick.

I recommend having your Beardie enclosure in a quiet room away from external loud noises.

Common Mistakes About Bearded Dragon Waving

In this section, I am going to talk about the myths regarding Bearded Dragon waving.

They’re Greeting You

Unfortunately, as I have mentioned previously it isn’t your pet giving you a warm welcome when you come home with a gestured wave. 

This is a sign of communication, typically informing you of a situation they think you need to be aware of. 

Take notice of your Beardie waving and monitor to see if there is an issue you need to take action on.

All Bearded Dragons Wave

Although all Bearded Dragons have the ability to wave, some may go their whole life without waving once.

This is only a situational behavior and will be used if and when necessary. 

If you’re reading this article and you’re concerned your Beardie hasn’t waved before, don’t be. They could just be happily living as they are and do not feel a need to exhibit this behavior.

Only Female Bearded Dragons Wave

Due to the nature of female Bearded Dragons waving when in mating season, it has become a myth only females exhibit this behavior. This is incorrect.

Both male and female Bearded Dragons wave, and they will do so if they’re experiencing any of the situations I have discussed in this article.

Should I Be Concerned If My Bearded Dragon Waves?

Waving isn’t always a concern, however, as I have mentioned this is a behavior you need to monitor as a responsible owner. 

If the reasons for waving are from poor environmental conditions or through stress and anxiety it can lead to serious health concerns.

Signs of illness are:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Vomiting
  • Bowel movement changes
  • Discoloration

Summary

Bearded Dragons are unable to communicate through words, so they use distinct quirks in their behavior to communicate with us about what they’re experiencing.

It is our responsibility as owners to keep an eye out for these behaviors to ensure we’re able to provide our pets the quality of life they deserve.