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Bearded Dragon Waving: Normal & Abnormal Behavior You Should Know

Bearded dragons display different behaviors, but waving arms is pretty impressive. Indeed, bearded dragon waving is the most intriguing behavior about beardies. So, why does a bearded dragon wave its arm?

Today, the internet is full of rumors that when a bearded dragon is waving at you is one way to say hello. Likewise, some people believe that it is only the female beardies who wave their arm. But all these are incorrect information, arm-waving in the beardies happens for different reasons.

Here, we’ll learn reasons for arm-waving in bearded dragons, what you should do when your lizard expresses this behavior and lots more. Don’t miss anything, and you won’t regret reading the article.

Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave?

Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave
Why Do Bearded Dragons Wave

Arm-waving can be more mystifying if you are seeing it for the first time, and this is common with the new beardie owners.

Typically, when displaying this behavior, a bearded dragon will lift itself with three legs and use one front leg in waving. The whole body remains still except for the arm that is waving in the air, making circles.

Some beardies do it relatively quickly while others in a slower manner, but that doesn’t indicate something serious.

So, arm-waving in bearded dragons can happen in both males and females and is a sign of many things. But as I mentioned earlier at the beginning of the article, waving in beardies is not a way of giving you a high-five or saying hello, sorry if you thought it to be that way.

Arm-waving is typical behavior in the beardies which they show trying to communicate something to other bearded dragons or even a person. It can be due to a positive or negative reason, as we are going to see in the article.

What Does it Mean When a Bearded Dragon Waves?

What Does It Mean When A Bearded Dragon Waves
What Does It Mean When A Bearded Dragon Waves

Bearded dragons are becoming more and more popular each day, and today, many people are keeping them as pets. Studies about different behaviors in the beardies are on top now, as scientists are trying to understand the reason for these behaviors, including arm-waving.

So far so good, the study on arm-waving in bearded dragons has been successful and now clearer why they behave that way. So, if you see your lizard waving, it’s doing that for a reason, and this could indicate submission, recognition, mating behavior, among others.

Below are the typical reasons why bearded dragons wave their arms.


Housing several bearded dragons together in the terrarium though it is not recommended; there are high chances of seeing them waving.

As you know, bearded dragons are territorial, and they will always guard what belongs to them, including their prey and ground. Males are more territorial, but even females tend to show this behavior.

So, a beardie waving to its fellow beardie living in the same cage is merely telling it that you are the boss.’ It means that the waving dragon recognizes the authority of the beardie that is dominating.

The dominant bearded dragons deserve respect from others, and if it doesn’t happen, that declares a fight. It happens that with time, some beardies feel more superior than the one dominating, and of course, they will need to fight again until the winner is found.

Mating Behavior

When it comes to mating in bearded dragons, arm-waving is also involved in signaling submission. The males usually bob their heads to show they’re looking forward to mate. On the other hand, females respond by waving their arms.

Whether the female is waving to accept submission to the male, or it’s trying to communicate something different, that is not yet clear. But the truth is, males, accept the waving and mating begins.

The female beardies may show other signs apart from arm-waving, which include circling the tank as well as a slow head bobbing. Bearded dragons commonly mate sooner after coming from brumation.


It is common for bearded dragons to wave to one another in the wild when they meet. This may happen as a result of fear, or the beardie is telling the other that it’s aware of its presence.

So, it is usual for one or both beardies to wave arms at each other as a sign of recognition. It is saying hello, ‘I can see you, please don’t try to hurt me.’

Most reptiles and other smaller animals in the wild wave their arms to let the giant creatures or predators when they meet know that they’re aware of them. It helps to minimize the chances of the large animals from sneaking up on them or predators attacking them.

A bearded dragon will not only wave towards another dragon but also to other pets or humans. Seeing a dragon waving its arm to your cat or dog seems more exciting and tremendously funny.

Unfortunately, when a bearded dragon is waving towards another pet, it indicates that the beardie is feeling nervous and wants to show that it doesn’t mean any harm. That is how they show they recognize the presence of the pet.

Mirror Image

Sometimes you may see your lizard friend waving its arm while there is no pet or another dragon around. This is quite perplexing, but it is not something to make you worry in most cases.

There is a high chance that the beardie is seeing its reflection from the walls of the terrarium if they are shiny or made of glasses. The beardie may confuse its image with being another dragon and want to recognize its presence.

Sometimes the lizard may feel threatened by its reflection confusing it to be another beardie and then arm-waves to show submission.

Arm Waving Due to Relocation or stress

The first thing you should know is that moving the beardie into a new environment or terrarium or merely introducing new things in the cage is likely to make the beardies feel uneasy.

Moreover, other pets, items of clothing, and humans can be the reason for the stress in the dragons. When managing bearded dragons, you will want to be careful with things because any small adjustment you make is enough to cause anxiety.

So, the beardie could be waving its arm because it is feeling uncomfortable or threatened and wants you to do something and help them. For instance, the beardies may mistake an item of clothing (it could be a hat, gloves, socks, etc.) to be a predator, and that’s why it gets startled.

Additionally, insufficient space in the enclosure can make a bearded dragon wave its arm as a sign of saying that it is not OK.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Waving at Crickets?

It is common for bearded dragons to wave at crickets, especially among the babies or juveniles, which is pretty exciting but worrying at the same time.

Usually, the beardie stares at the crickets, waves its arm at them and then attacks. We know that arm-waving signals submission, recognition, fear from other pets, humans, and toys, or the beardie’s reflection, is tricking it.

But when it comes to feeding, this might be a whole different thing. Of course, it is not proven yet why the beardies tend to behave like that, but it can happen for several reasons.

In particular, when a beardie waves at crickets, it’s pretending to be friendly and attacks when the cricket least expects it.

Also, a bearded dragon can get frightened by seeing a lot of crickets running around it, and probably that’s why it’s waving. This happens when you feed too many crickets at a time. If that’s the case, it’s best to start giving a few crickets and keep on adding as the dragon eats them.

Checkout our detail feeding crickets here.

You might also be feeding crickets that are too big for the beardie to consume, or probably the lizard isn’t OK with the way you are feeding it. Big crickets can scare a bearded dragon since the beardie is unhappy at this time; it tends to wave. 

You can consider getting a food bowl with a lid and make a hole on the lid where the beardie’s head and front legs can fit in. The beardie will gladly eat the crickets without them crawling on it since only a few of them can get out of the bowl.

Why Is My Bearded Dragon Waving at Me?

As I mentioned earlier, bearded dragons waving their arms doesn’t mean they are saying hello or giving you a high-five as many people think. A beardie will not wave at you when it sees you waving. Waving is a natural behavior, so the beardie isn’t imitating you in any way.

Also, you might be thinking your beardie is waving at you as a way of showing affection, but this is also a false belief. Typically, when your beardie waves at you, it’s viewing you as a predator, and this mostly happens with new dragons.

Don’t panic if that is the case; your friend only needs time to get to know you. Be patient and friendly to the lizard, and it will bond with you with time.

Funny compilation of bearded dragon waving at its owner. [source: Dr. Dave Balderrama]

Wrapping Up

Bearded dragon waving is a natural ability given to them by nature. There are so many behaviors that the beardies display, which makes them unique among many reptiles.

A bearded dragon can wave its arm now and then to show that it’s acknowledging the presence of another species, submissive, unhappy and feels scared, or is ready to mate.

The only time to be worried is when the beardie waves more often, as this might mean that something isn’t right and needs to be corrected. The problem could be the habitat, or the beardie is nervous about something.

You will need to check if there’s any problem with lighting, spacing, temperatures, and humidity, and be sure to correct it.

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