Bearded dragon head bobbing behaviour
A frequent behaviour seen in adult, and sometimes juvenile, Bearded dragons is head bobbing. This is a normal behaviour for, especially male, Bearded dragons.
Head bobbing behaviour in Bearded dragons can be seen in multiple situations. These include during courting and breeding rituals, threatening situations and when a Bearded dragons are defending its territory.
What is Bearded dragon head bobbing behaviour?
Head bobbing behaviour is characteristically seen as moving the head up and down in fast movements. In between these movements the head will be kept up high. As part of this behaviour the beard area will be inflated and the head might be rotated slightly to one side. In adult males, the beard will often turn black. The Bearded dragon will appear to be hyped up and might dash from place to place, often in a threatening manner. Head bobbing behaviour is believed to be one of the main reasons where the name ‘Bearded’ dragon originated from.
Why do Bearded dragons bob their heads?
Ultimately, head bobbing behaviour is a way for Bearded dragons to show off. This behaviour, together with an inflated beard gives a Bearded dragon a somewhat larger, more impressive (and more dangerous) appearance. Adult males will have larger and darker beards than youngsters and females which creates an even better impression of power and strength.
Head bobbing behaviour during courtship
When an adult male and female Bearded dragon is housed together, head bobbing behaviour will be often seen during spring and summer. This, then mating ritual, is how a male will show how impressive he is to win over the female. It also shows that she is in his territory. Courtship will also include biting. Also see mating behaviour in Bearded dragons and Bearded dragon breeding for more information.
Head bobbing behaviour during fighting
In cases where male Bearded dragons are housed together, head bobbing behaviour is often an indication of territorial ownership. Territorial head bobbing behaviour can also be evident even if it is not breeding season, where any intruder is greeted and challenged with gestures that he is stronger. Unlike with courtship head bobbing behaviour, these cases will often end up in fighting and biting to show who is the strongest. These fights might be brutal and it is often indicated that these two needs to be kept in separate enclosures. Increasing the housing enclosure might also help in some cases.
Similar to territorial head bobbing, Bearded dragons will also show this behaviour when they feel scared or threatened. Perceived intruders might include people, live food, pets and even sounds from outside the enclosure. These individuals often open their mouth and can lash out and bite too, so be carefull. Also see open mouth behaviour in Bearded dragons.