9 Reasons Why a Bearded Dragon is Waving: What It Means

Bearded dragons have many different ways of communicating with each other, including using their tail to signal anything from aggression to courtship. One of those signals is waving. But what does bearded dragon waving mean?

This article will explore 9 reasons why a bearded dragon might be waving and the meaning behind it all.

Reasons and Meaning of a Bearded Dragon Waving

bearded dragon waving and what it means

Bearded dragons are known for their waving behavior. They wave to show submission and offensiveness and a sign of happiness. However, bearded dragon waving can also mean that the bearded dragon is feeling threatened or scared.

Here’s why bearded dragons wave and what it means:

1. Sign of happiness

Bearded dragons wave their arms up to tell you they are happy. Waving in the air signals that they’re feeling friendly towards whoever or whatever has caught their attention. When you see your bearded dragon doing this, take notice and spend time with them to reinforce their happiness.

Happy bearded dragons will often do other things like walk around excitedly on short legs or chatter at anything new coming into range of sight – but more than any other gesture, waving lets people know just how contented your pet lizard is.

This is a gesture that bearded dragons often use with each other, and it’s one of the first things they do when meeting up to establish friendliness and territorial boundaries.

In addition, bearded dragons also bob their head from side to side while doing this – another signifier of happiness.

Bearded dragons may also wag their tail, often in tandem with the waving of their arm-like throat fan to accentuate the friendly gesture.

2. They’re stressed or frightened

Bearded dragons can also wave their arms excessively when stressed or frightened. This behavior is called arm-waving and it can mean that the pet lizard is begging for food from the owner with the hope of getting some food or treats.

However, food is not the only stress factor. Beardies can also wave as a response to any situation that appears stressful and frightening to them, such as loud noises or when about to be picked up by an unfamiliar person.

  • It is important to note this behavior and take any necessary actions if the pet continues doing it for a prolonged period.
  • If you want your beardie to stop waving, remove him from his environment that he perceives as dangerous or threatening (a dark room) and place him in an area without anything scary nearby.

If excessive waving does not stop even after feeding the pet or improving the comfort of their environment, consult a reptile vet near you to help you understand the body language of your bearded lizard pet.

3. Seeking attention

The bearded dragon waving is the equivalent of a puppy begging for attention. They will wave their arm, head, or tail to try and get your attention. Bearded dragons are generally shy creatures, so it can be hard to read when they’re trying to communicate with you through body language.

Sometimes, the pet will do things like this if they want something from you, such as a treat or food when hungry. However, waving arms can also mean they need help in some way.

If your bearded dragon waves frequently to seek attention, try to give them the attention they’re seeking. Please give them a treat or spend time with your bearded dragon to let it know that you care about it.

Give them a treat once in a while to show them love, or spend time with them for a few minutes every day. It will make your bearded dragon feel happy and loved, and they won’t wave to seek attention as often.

4. Attracting a mate

Another reason why bearded dragons wave is when they are trying to mate with another bearded dragon. This happens more often during the mating season. A male will get on his hind legs and start waving, attracting females who then check this flashy male out for themselves.

If she likes what she sees, the two bearded dragons will go to a secluded spot and mate. This behavior is interesting because usually, when male animals try to attract females, they growl or bark, but bearded dragons do this instead with their hands!

The waving can also happen when males want to show off to other males to establish dominance. For example, if one of them waves near another dragon while eating, it means, “I’m so confident that I don’t need food – just look at me!”. They may even wave around dead bugs, which signifies, “Look how great my hunting abilities are!”

This is usually to impress their female tank-mates and hopefully attract a mate.

5. Need to be understood

Waving can also mean your bearded dragon needs to be understood by other lizards and more importantly, by the pet owner. So consider it as a way of communicating with you directly.

If you are trying to be friends with a bearded dragon, there is one thing he will understand: waving!

We know they wave as a greeting and acceptance for other lizards. But the beardie might also wave if he’s feeling anxious or frightened – such as in front of something new or different (such as food).

Humans can often interpret this because it looks like nervous excitement. So if your bearded dragon is excited about something but not running around like crazy, try gently waving your hand at him back and forth slowly, so he knows you see him and understand his excitement.

Pro tip: If your pet beardie is scared or frightened, wave your hand up and down while making eye contact with a scared beardie, so he knows everything will be all right.

6. Mirror reflection in the tank

Bearded dragons wave at their reflection in a glass tank or mirror. The pet is just trying to find out who’s imitating them on the other side. Sometimes, they’re waving at their image to scare the “other dragon in the mirror” and prevent it from attacking.

But where’s this behavior coming from?

Waving behavior is most commonly seen when meeting another bearded dragon, and it can also be interpreted as the bearded dragon trying to scare its reflection away from attacking them.

This behavior comes from what happens when two bearded dragons new to each other meet. One will typically remain stationary while the other approaches. However, if either of these animals moves quickly towards the other, then both may run back and forth with an upright posture displaying all four feet on top of surfaces like branches or rocks.

Usually, they’ll eventually settle down for food exchange and even grooming sessions that last around five minutes.

It has been found that if you place a bowl containing crickets near a window where there is sunlight shining on the other side of the glass, bearded dragons will quickly start moving towards the reflection.

7. Waving is a sign of submission

When bearded dragons make eye contact, the dominant dragon will usually wave its tail. This is an act of submission and a way for the submissive dragon to show that it sees the other as higher in rank or power than them. If they do not submit, this can lead to aggression, especially if more than one bearded dragon is present.

This wave is often accompanied by head bobbing, leg rubbing, or tongue flicking.

The waving motion also lets other bearded dragons know where their attention is so that they don’t startle them by coming up from behind. Instead, they might be trying to get closer because they’re curious about what’s happening but are too timid to approach without permission.

If the lizard is waving at you, it is probably communicating that it is submissive to you as the pet owner. So if your bearded pet dragon starts shaking his tail at you while looking at you with eyes wide open, he’s probably telling you something.

8. Need for space

Bearded dragons can often be seen waving their front limbs in the air when they feel crowded and need more space. When your pets feel overcrowded, it’s usually due to too many people or pets being around them.

Waving when there are many tankmates can also mean aggression towards other tank mates. This is often seen when the vivarium is small but houses multiple males and females. The need for space becomes more important when the reptiles are about to mate or during ovulation.

Some reptiles may also wave nervously because of a lack of light and heat necessary for them to thrive.

If this is the case, try to move your bearded dragon to a more secluded tank area and provide them with warmer temperatures.

If you’re still having trouble or don’t see any improvements in your pet’s behavior, it may be time for an enclosure upgrade! Larger tank size will make them feel less crowded, which could solve their waving problem.

Pro tip: Bearded dragons can also wave from excitement when they are happy to have visitors over. Try not to confuse this gesture with neediness as well.


READ ALSO: Baby Bearded Dragon Care: Guide from Tank Setup to Diet


9. Testing for threats

A bearded dragon can wave at crickets to test for threats. This behavior is one of many that indicates the animals are intelligent creatures, not just reptiles with a special skill set.

Once the pet discovers that the crickets are safe to eat, it will wave with its back legs and continue eating. It can also wave its head at crickets to scare them off. As such, your pet is capable of distinguishing between dangerous threats and non-dangerous insects.

Bearded dragons have been shown in observational studies to be able to correctly choose between two visual stimuli when they both predict food but only one predicts an electric shock.

In other words, these pets were willing to take risks and make mistakes in order to find more food – something most ‘intelligent’ mammals would do as well!

Do female bearded dragons wave more than males?

Male/Female Bearded waving + meaning

Bearded Dragon enthusiasts have observed that, on average, females (and juveniles) will use their arms less often to get food or interact with other dragons and humans than males do.

But these are just averages; there’s a lot of variation between individuals: some male bearded dragons never wave at all whereas others wave enthusiastically, and it seems like even within genders there can be considerable differences depending on age and individual personality.

One reason why females may show fewer arm movements could be because they’re smaller overall but also because they tend to graze for longer periods when hunting prey items as opposed to males who will usually be more opportunistic and take smaller bites.

A female beardie will wave her tail as well, but she does this for different reasons than males do:

  • she’s trying to attract potential mates (in other words, males)
  • female beardies also wave their tails when they’re ovulating

Can you train your bearded dragon to wave their arm?

Bearded dragons can be trained to wave. It is an easy process that will take a few weeks of patience and consistency on the owner’s part.

Here are a few tips to help you train your bearded dragon to wave back at you:

  • When you walk by the cage, please give them a nice head rub before moving away, so they know you’re still around (be careful not to get too close while doing this).
  • After giving them affection, try waving at them with both hands before walking away again.
  • Beardies love repetition! Try repeating these steps every day for about a week.
  • Give your bearded dragon plenty of attention when they are out in their cage.
  • Always make sure there is enough food and water available for them and some shelter from heat or cold.

After about a week, the bearded dragon will be waving back at you when you approach and start to wave. But, of course, they may do this before then for some dragons.

It’s important to note that a bearded dragon waving is not necessarily an indication of health. Some individuals may wave less because they’re sick or injured, in which case it could just mean the animal can’t move much!


READ NEXT: Glass Surfing in Bearded Dragons: What It Is, Causes and Solutions


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