Has your bearded dragon been lifting its arm to wave at you every time you walk by its enclosure? Maybe you’re questioning if your pet is just trying to say hi. Or perhaps you’re wondering whether it expects you to wave back!
So, should I wave back at my bearded dragon? There’s definitely no harm in waving back at your bearded dragon. But if waving is a common behavior for your beardie, you should definitely try to figure out why that is.
Read on to find out what will happen if you wave back at your bearded dragon, as well as the reasons why bearded dragons wave. We also have plenty of helpful advice for you if your bearded dragon won’t stop waving!
What Will Happen if I Wave Back at My Bearded Dragon?
In the best-case scenario, your beardie will feel comforted if you wave back at it. At worst, your pet will be a little confused. But overall, there’s really no harm in waving back at your bearded dragon. However, if your beardie waves frequently, you should definitely look into the reasons why it might be doing so!
Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave?
Bearded dragons wave for many reasons, and contrary to popular belief, they’re not waving to say hello! Bearded dragons wave to show submission, as a mating behavior, because they see their own reflection, or because they’re stressed or afraid.
The main reason that bearded dragons wave is to show submission to other bearded dragons and to predators. It’s a way for beardies to say, “Please don’t hurt me, I’m not a threat!” If two bearded dragons come into contact, it’s common for the smaller one to wave in submission while the larger one bobs its head to show dominance.
It’s not recommended to house multiple bearded dragons together, but if you do, you might notice that one bearded dragon constantly waves while the other displays dominance. The beardie that waves most likely feels very intimidated and stressed out by the other bearded dragon.
Waving is also a mating behavior! Oftentimes, males will bob their heads at females, who will then wave back if they’re interested. However, there’s a common misconception that only female bearded dragons wave. This isn’t true! Both males and females wave.
Seeing Its Reflection
It’s very possible that your beardie sees its reflection in the glass of its enclosure and thinks it’s seeing another bearded dragon. It then waves in submission. One way to fix this problem, which can become pretty stressful to your pet, is to add more greenery to your bearded dragon’s enclosure.
You can also experiment with adjusting the placement of your light source so that it creates less of a reflection.
Stress or Fear
If your beardie feels stressed out or scared, it might respond by waving. There are quite a few reasons why your bearded dragon could be scared or stressed, but the majority of them have to do with your pet’s environment.
For example, a change in your bearded dragon’s enclosure, such as a new decoration or change in substrate, could cause stress for a few days until your pet gets used to it. Improper temperatures and humidity levels can also lead to stress.
Fear is typically a result of other animals being a close proximity of your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Maybe you have a dog or cat that hangs out around your beardie’s tank, and it sees them as dangerous predators. Or maybe your bearded dragon’s tank is near a window, and your pet can see birds or other animals outdoors that it perceives to be a threat.
What Are Other Symptoms of Stress in Bearded Dragons?
If you think your beardie might be feeling scared or stressed, keep an eye out for these signs.
- Loss of interest in food or refusing to eat
- Reduced activity levels
- Changes in coloration, especially appearing darker
- Avoiding basking
- Clawing at the walls of the enclosure
- Dark stress marks on chin and belly
How Can I Destress My Bearded Dragon?
Since bearded dragons are often stressed out by their environment, the first thing you should do for a stressed or scared beardie is to make sure the conditions in their enclosure are good. Here’s a quick overview of optimal tank conditions:
- At least 40 gallons in size, so your beardie has plenty of space to explore
- A thermal gradient with a cool side (75-80 degrees Fahrenheit) and a basking area (95-105 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Two identical hides, one on the cool side and one on the warm side
- Humidity levels no higher than 20-40%
- Fake plants for added coverage and security
Next, make sure no other pets can come near your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Avoid sudden movement and loud noises whenever you’re around your beardie since they’re easily scared. You might also want to cut back on handling so that your pet can have some time to itself to calm down.
Your bearded dragon can also feel stressed if it’s not getting enough mental stimulation. So be sure to provide fun toys and activities that will enrich your beardie’s brain! This can be as simple as adding accessories to your pet’s tank and letting it explore a lizard-proof room occasionally.
Irregular feeding schedules and a dirty tank are two other big causes of stress in bearded dragons, so it’s smart to stick to a regular feeding and cleaning schedule.
What Should I Do if My Bearded Dragon Won’t Stop Waving?
First, it’s important to note that waving is a very common behavior in babies and juveniles that decreases over time. In fact, baby beardies are notorious for bullying each other, so you’ll see lots of waving between siblings if you mate bearded dragons.
It’s not recommended to house multiple bearded dragons together because of the power dynamics that will be at play. So if you have multiple beardies housed together and are seeing some of them wave, the best thing to do is to separate them.
If your bearded dragon lives alone and is still constantly waving, add plants and hides to its enclosure. Beardies are naturally fearful of open spaces; they have a need for safety and security because they’re natural prey animals.
By adding plants, you’re giving your beardie more coverage from the world outside of its enclosure and therefore making it feel more safe. Hides provide the perfect place to escape from any stressors, so they’re a great addition to your bearded dragon’s enclosure as well.
Finally, if it seems like your pet waves every time you enter the room, it’s possible that it sees you as a threat or predator. If this could be the case, it’s a good idea to work on forming a better bond with your bearded dragon!
How Can I Bond With My Bearded Dragon?
A bearded dragon that waves every time it sees you is very likely afraid of you! Read on to learn some ways that you can help your pet feel more safe and comfortable when you’re around, and remember to always be patient–bonding is a process.
Hand-feeding is the perfect way to get your bearded dragon to associate you with positive things! You might even want to buy a special treat for your beardie, like a strawberry or kiwi. This should entice your bearded dragon to eat right from your hand and eventually learn that it can trust you!
After you’ve gotten your beardie to eat from your hand without any signs of fear or stress, you can try handling your pet. Remember never to make any sudden movements or swoop down from above when reaching in to pick up your bearded dragon!
This is a sure way to scare your pet and keep it from feeling safe around you. Also be sure to keep handling sessions short at first, until your beardie feels more comfortable.
Take the time to lizard-proof a room of your house (usually a bathroom is the easiest choice) and let your bearded dragon explore! Be sure to stick around and supervise, never leaving your beardie unattended. If you can get your pet to associate you with fun experiences like exploring a new environment, you’re sure to create a bond!
If your bearded dragon is waving at you, feel free to wave back. But while waving can be adorable, it’s oftentimes a sign of stress, fear, or submission. You might also see it during mating season!
Does your bearded dragon seem to wave nonstop? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out conditions in its enclosure to make sure everything is set up properly. You’ll also want to add plants and hides to the enclosure to make your pet feel safe, and work on creating a bond with your beardie so that it feels comfortable around you.