Waving behavior in Bearded dragons (Circumduction)

Keepers will very often see their Bearded dragon do arm movements that resemble a waving motion. Arm-waving motions in Bearded dragons, also referred to as circumduction, has a very specific role in the physiology of these animals.

The waving motion is characterized by a 360 degrees movement of a forelimb while it is lifted into the air – almost like a greeting gesture. Often both front limbs are used consecutively. Interestingly enough, it is said that this motion was the reason for calling the Bearded dragon the ‘Tata dragon’ – tata being a term used in some languages to say goodbye.

Waving behavior in Bearded dragons (Circumduction)


This being said, waving behavior in Bearded dragons has nothing to do with saying goodbye. Circumduction is a well-noted and scientifically described posture in Bearded dragons and other reptiles. Arm waving is seen in pet and wild Bearded dragons.

It is believed to be a thermoregulatory mechanism (i.e. to control its body temperature) where less contact with the ground, e.g. when the feet are in the air, helps Bearded dragons to cool down. Waving behavior in Bearded dragons will most often be seen while they spend time in the basking area.

Other forms of arm waving movements

Although scientists have a good understanding of waving behavior in Bearded dragons, keepers will often see this being done in other scenarios too. Bearded dragons are often seen waving while hunting / stalking their prey or while communicating with other Bearded dragons.

While slower forms of wave movements are considered more docile, or even as a form of submission, faster forms are often seen in conflict situations. Faster forms of waving behavior in Bearded dragons are often seen while Bearded dragons protect their territories.