Bearded Dragon Behavior

Bearded Dragon Arm Waving: What does it mean?


Bearded dragons are rapidly becoming popular in the West for their friendly nature and peculiar personality traits. Even cat and dog lovers are considering the idea of getting a little dragon for their home. These exotic lizards display unique behaviors that can sometimes seem strange to the uninitiated individuals. You might have already noticed your pet lizard waving its arms randomly. In this article, we will tell you about bearded dragon arm waving and why they do it.

When it comes to deciphering body language of exotic pets it can get quite tricky for inexperienced individuals. Most of us can already decode the behaviors and actions of our pet cats and dogs. On the other hand, it would take some time before we can fully understand these intriguing lizards.

We all know bearded dragons for their enigmatic personalities and calm disposition. While they may appear even-tempered they can actually hiss or charge at you if they feel threatened. They communicate with other specimens of their species by various methods. From color alteration to beard puffing, they would send out various signals to other dragons in the nearby radius. Arm-waving is one of the common gestures that bearded dragons usually perform.

In this article, we will go into detail about the reason behind this seemingly strange body language. Should you be concerned about it? What does it indicate? By knowing about such details, you would be able to take better care of your pet.


Why Do Bearded Dragons Arm Wave?

There are various reasons why your beardie might be waving its arm. You might find it entertaining to watch when your cute dragon does it. Many people have a misconception that their beardie waves its arms to say “Hello” to them. This is far from the truth, as bearded dragons mainly do this for species recognition or mating purpose.

In most cases, this will be harmless and you shouldn’t be worried about it. Bearded dragons give out various visual signals to other dragons to indicate their state of mind. From submissiveness to a sign of readiness for mating, arm-waving is used for several purposes.bearded dragon arm waving

  1. Submission

Bearded dragons are highly territorial when it comes to marking their designated areas. The alpha males would typically patrol their territories to ensure that they don’t run into an uninvited intruder.

A smaller or weaker bearded dragon waves its arms to acknowledge the superiority of stronger males around them. So, arm-waving is usually seen as a gesture of subservience. Dominant males typically charge towards beta males to make them leave their boundaries. Before attacking, an alpha male would vigorously bob its head in up and down motion. This head-bobbing would be seen as a warning sign to any other males in the nearby area. If the other males don’t instantly wave their arms, then this can be seen as a challenge.

So, the next time you notice your beardie doing it, you should know that they are showing their submissiveness. They might consider you a bigger and more powerful creature themselves. This would cause them to excessively wave their arm whenever you approach them.

  1. Viewing its own reflection

Most terrariums have glass doors and walls that display a reflection of the things around them. When your bearded dragon walks towards the glass walls it might notice its own reflection. Depending upon their state of mind, they might be intimidated by viewing their own figure. This can cause them to wave their arm whenever they are near the boundaries of the tank.

  1. Juveniles workings things out

When young bearded dragons are growing up they would often do things without a particular reason behind it. Juvenile bearded dragons would wave their arms randomly without showing any signs of aggression.

If you have two or more baby bearded dragons, then you might notice them waving at each other daily. This is just part of the growing phase and it is totally normal for them to do it. They might stand on their hind limbs and lift one arm to wave in a circular motion. They would even shift arms while performing this gesture.

  1. Female mating

While arm-waving can be seen as a sign of submission among males, females do it during the mating ritual. A female in heat would typically wave her arm in a circular motion when a male approaches her. This would send him the signal that she is ready to do it.

During the mating ritual, the male might also circle the female several times. This would also be followed by wiggling tails and waving their bodies. All these body language signals would display mating signs.


What Does Bearded Dragon Arm Waving Look Like?

For first-time beardie owners, it might be difficult to fully interpret the arm-waving motion. After all, this is the first time they might be seeing a reptile waving its arms like a human being.

While participating in the arm-waving gesture the rest of the body of your bearded dragon would not move. They would typically lift their upper torso by stretching the hind legs in an upward direction. They would also typically climb on top of a rock or other elevated object to perform this. To ensure proper balance, they would keep three of their feet on the ground throughout the gesture.


Do Only Female Bearded Dragons Arm Wave?bearded dragon arm waving

There is a common perception that only female bearded dragons wave their arms. People also think that only male bearded dragons bob their heads. Both of these beliefs aren’t true and cannot be justified. We can see any bearded dragon perform such gestures regardless of their gender.

Male bearded dragons of lower hierarchy would typically wave their arm to show their subservience towards a dominant male. This action would reveal that they don’t want any harm. The alpha male would not consider these males as its potential challenger in the territory.


Can I Stop My Bearded Dragon From Arm Waving?

In general, it is not possible to stop your bearded dragon from waving its arm. It is also not advisable to interrupt this instinctive behavior of your exotic pet during the act. This might potentially cause distress and anxiety to your pet.

You can prevent it by removing any items or things that might be causing your dragon to wave its arm. If you have several bearded dragons in the same enclosure, then you should keep them in separate tanks. This would eliminate the chances of any standoffs or fights.

The tank size and dimensions can also have an impact on the emotional wellbeing of your pet reptile. If the tank is too small or too big for their size they might show signs of fear and stress. You should also place several hiding objects where your reptile can go whenever it feels threatened. This would provide them the private space they need to remain healthy.


Is Arm Waving Unhealthy For Your Bearded Dragon?bearded dragon arm waving

Just like any other thing, if the frequency of arm-waving is low then you shouldn’t worry about it. However, you should consider it a red flag if your beardie is waving its arm almost daily.

Bearded dragons are solitary animals in the wild that prefer communicating with a small number of other counterparts. They also have evolved to do different gestures when faced with different circumstances. If they do something excessively, then it can indicate an underlying issue.

This can be detrimental to the health of your young beardies during their growth phase. If they are stressful throughout the day, then this would cause them to suffer from stunt growth. They would not be able to reach their full growth potential.

If your bearded dragon frequently waves its arms, then you might also notice it refraining from eating food. This loss of appetite can also be a clear indicator of a stress factor in their environment. You would have to evaluate any external thing that might be causing them to become stressful.



We hope you get meaningful insights and value from this article. We have covered most of the information related to arm-waving of bearded dragons.

Despite what most people think, arm-waving is not a method your beardie communicates with you. It is mainly a sign of submission. It is a sign of stress and fear.

You should not panic when you see your bearded dragon do this gesture. Normally, you should not be worried about it, as long as they aren’t doing it excessively. If your little pet dragon waves its arm almost daily, then it might have sensed a predator or threat in the surroundings.

You would have to refine and customize the enclosure to ensure that your pet lizard remains stress-free. This way they would be able to feel safe and secure in their tank.

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