If you have been caring for a bearded dragon for a while now, you may have noticed some odd behavior they exhibit. While each pet will have their own little quirky behavior that is unique to them as an individual, there are some behaviors that have an underlying meaning.
Bearded dragons are known for being amazing pets with a docile demeanor and a ton of personality which makes them the perfect companion, but they may exhibit some behavior that might seem odd without knowing what it means, like waving at you as you get near. If you haven’t noticed your bearded dragon do this then
I’m sure you will be keeping an eye out for it as it is extremely cute to see; but what does it mean when your bearded dragon waves at you?
Bearded dragons will usually wave as a sign of submission and is common behavior when a bearded dragon is faced with another, much larger bearded dragon. So why is your bearded dragon waving at you then, you aren’t a bearded dragon.
Well, bearded dragons are known to submissively wave at other animals or even their owners on occasion. Understanding the possible causes for your bearded dragon to be waving can prove to be beneficial in understanding your bearded dragon on a deeper level.
For wild bearded dragons, waving can be a sign of submission, species recognition, or even a female indicating her readiness to mate.
Now that we have a basic understanding about why a bearded dragon may be waving in the wild, why is your domesticated bearded dragon waving at you? Should this be a cause for concern? Is your bearded dragon in distress? Or are they simply just saying hello?
It is also important to understand bearded dragons as individuals as well as a species. Bearded dragons are known to be curious little adventurers and are quite loving and affectionate with their owners, so the real reason behind your bearded dragon could be up for debate, as most specialists don’t really know why they wave.
We will be discussing the different common reasons behind your bearded dragon’s strange, but cute, behavior of waving and what it could mean for you as their owner. So, let’s take a closer look at why your beloved bearded dragon may be waving at you and what it means.
Reason 1: Species Recognition
According to experts, one of the most common reasons behind a bearded dragon waving is species recognition. If you have more than one bearded dragon in your home and they can see each other, it could just be a simple “hello” between the two.
While in the wild, this is common behavior for bearded dragons as they come in contact with one another. This behavior is closely related to how humans interact with one another, especially around a stranger.
Waving, smiling, or saying “hello” can let the other person know that we have recognized and taken notice of their existence and presence; the same can be said for bearded dragons and is a completely natural reaction to seeing another bearded dragon. But what if you don’t own more than one bearded dragon then you may be wondering if it still be species recognition?
Yes, it could very well still be species recognition just not in the way you might think. If your bearded dragon resides within an enclosure made of glass or even a plastic with reflective properties, your bearded dragon could be confused with its own reflection and this could in turn cause fear or aggression for your bearded dragon.
If you notice that your bearded dragon is waving at seemingly no one, especially during a specific time of day, it would be a safe bet that they are waving at their own reflection. Covering at least 3 sides of your bearded dragon’s enclosure with terrarium wrap or relocating their enclosure away from the window or to another room will assist in this “imaginary intruder” occurrence.
Reason 2: Submission
If another bearded dragon is near and you notice your bearded dragon waving, it is most likely a submissive gesture to show the other dragon they are not a threat. Bearded dragons are territorial by nature and will stand their ground to protect their space and their meal from other bearded dragons that may be entering their territory.
Smaller bearded dragons will wave to let larger bearded dragons know they mean no harm and that they recognize their dominance. Without this acknowledgement a smaller bearded dragon could find themselves in a dangerous situation as dominance between the two bearded dragons will need to be determined.
Considering a bearded dragon’s relaxed demeanor and having no issue in recognizing that they are not the biggest one in the area, they are highly likely to wave at you as you are their boss or the alpha in the room. Your bearded dragon recognizes you as their caregiver and that you are much larger than they are and they are perfectly content in behaving in a submissive manner.
Reason 3: Female Readiness
In the wild, bearded dragons are ready to mate a month after they come out of hibernation. A female will sign to a male that she is ready to mate by waving her arm, possibly as a sign of submission to the male.
If you have bearded dragons of the opposite sex within close proximity of one another, you may notice your female waving and your male dancing, they are signaling that they are interested in mating. To keep your bearded dragons from becoming too stressed out or possibly injured then it would be a good idea to keep your dragons separated if you do not plan for them to mate.
Reason 4: Fear
Fear could also be a huge factor in why your bearded dragon is waving. If you have other pets in your home, like a dog or a cat, that roam freely around your bearded dragon’s perimeter, your bearded dragon could be signaling that they are scared or uneasy if they sense the other pet as a threat.
That recognize you as their caregiver and do not fear you so if they are waving at you it is more likely out of respect, but if your other pets are coming in close contact with your bearded dragon’s enclosure, your bearded dragon could be sensing them as a threat because they recognize that the other pet is much larger than they are. If you have multiple bearded dragons in the same enclosure or in extremely close proximity, your bearded dragon could be stressed or in fear as bearded dragons are territorial and will exert dominance over a smaller bearded dragon.
If you notice your bearded dragon while near other pets or at a fellow bearded dragon they share with, it would be a good move to either relocate one of the bearded dragons or ensure that larger pets cannot reach their enclosure. Ensuring your bearded dragon feels safe should be a top priority. Stress can have a huge influence on the health and well-being of your bearded dragon.
Your bearded dragon should have their own space where they feel dominant and are safe from other pets that could be roaming around. In the wild, bearded dragons have a plethora of natural objects to hide under or behind, by providing your bearded dragon with plants or decorations they can use as shelter you are providing a sense of security within their habitat.
When it comes to bearded dragons, there is a world of mystery involved with them and their behaviors and there is a certain amount of guesswork involved with understanding why they do the things they do. While studies are constantly being performed to further understand these remarkable reptiles, the reasons we discussed are the best guess as to why your bearded dragon may be waving.
From performing a simple gesture of submission to signaling that they are afraid, bearded dragons will wave for any number of reasons. As their caregiver, if you notice your bearded dragon waving, as cute as it may be, it could signal something much worse than a simple “hello” and will require further investigation on your part.
It is an important step in ensuring your bearded dragon’s sense of security to give your bearded dragon the space and habitat they deserve. Remember your bearded dragon recognizes you as their owner and caregiver and has respect for you as the boss but they are a territorial reptile and require a sense of dominance within their domain.
Remember to keep other bearded dragons from encroaching on their space and if you have any free roaming pets, to either put your bearded dragon out of reach or ensure that your other pets are unable to enter the room your bearded dragon’s enclosure resides in. If you are ever uncertain of the well-being of your bearded dragon or have any questions regarding their behavior, reach out to your local herp vet for further information on to properly care for or interact with your bearded dragon.