If you’re new to owning a beardie, you may have noticed that these clever lizards will bob their head up and down or tilt their head to one side. And while there isn’t a single reason why they do this, you must know what their body language is telling you. This brief guide will give you some amazing insight into the top reasons why beardies tilt their heads.
Before you learn more about the reasons why a bearded dragon does this behavior, it’s important to learn why their habitat can also influence what they’re doing. Not every reptile store gives you enough information on what’s best, so I’ll add some vital tips for you along the way. This way, you can prevent common mistakes that can actually make your beardie feel uncomfortable.
But for the most part, your bearded dragon may just be doing this simply due to their built-in instinct. Just like any other animal, their physical response sometimes tells you what they want to say.
The difference between tilting and head bobbing
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between a head tilt and a slow head bob in bearded dragons. Many new owners will see this and find it confusing if these are related or not. The truth is that head bobbing is a sign of dominance and can start slowly as your beardie starts to mature.
The older they become (especially with males), the stronger and faster head bobs become. A head tilt is when they move their head to one side (like when a dog hears a strange sound) and isn’t moving their head up or down. Many bearded dragon guides will compare head bobbing and tilting to mean the same thing, but this is simply untrue.
There are very common reasons why beardies do this when they are in their habitat or roaming around on a walk.
Getting a better view
Your bearded dragon is naturally curious and is always on the lookout for what is happening around them. They really just want to get a better view and will angle their head to see you from one side. They may also want to keep an eye on other animals in your home or outside the window sill.
Bearded dragons have excellent eyesight and can see better from a distance, which is one more reason why they will tilt their head to get the perfect view. They’ll be perfectly content keeping an eye on you to see what you’re doing, especially if you’re getting ready to feed them! They will also be keeping a close watch on anything else in your room that might be a threat to them.
Not looking for a fight
If you own more than one bearded dragon or happen to go to your beardie and they tilt their head slowly to one side, it means they yield to confrontation. They don’t want to challenge anything and are showing they want to be friendly. This is a great sign if you’re looking to pick up your beardie, but if they bring their head up with an open mouth- they don’t want to be bothered.
It’s also a form of submission to let other bearded dragons know they aren’t trying to be confrontational. This is seen a lot with males and females during the mating season that happens between March and October. So if you see this movement that is slowly tilting, they’re most likely ready to get freaky soon enough.
Tilting a heavy head
There can also be medical reasons that can include ear infections to problems with mites. Your beardie will also walk in circles as if they are going to fall over (called barreling). This is a sure sign you need to take your bearded dragon to a specialist veterinarian that treats reptiles.
They will use the appropriate medications to treat your beardie, so they recover without any problems later. When you purchase a bearded dragon, it’s always a good idea, so search for a vet that knows how to treat them; otherwise, a general animal vet may do more damage with a treatment that could make your dragon worse off than before.
Habitat temperature changes
Keep in mind that bearded dragons are reptiles and use added temperature in their habitat to regulate their body temperature. If the temperature drops change from one extreme to the other, they can tilt their head to regulate a comfortable temperature that they like. This is why you’ll need to make sure they have a habitat that offers continual heat zones for their comfort.
Making peace with other reptiles
While it’s very common that two male beardies will bob their heads, some reptiles can share the same habitat as bearded dragons. What they do is very curious if they don’t want trouble and will tilt their head to acknowledge another lizard species. This list is somewhat limited if you do decide to put different lizards together, so you’ll need to find out which kinds pair better than others.
Dominance head tilt
With two beardies in the same habitat, they will react to males and females with head bobbing and dominance signs. If you have two males in the same enclosure, the one that tilts its head to the other is a sure sign they are the boss! This is always from the larger bearded dragon, while the smaller ones will use a slow arm wave to show they get the message loud and clear.
If it’s from a female that waves, she is ready to mate if this head tilt comes with rapid head bobbing.
Summing up bearded dragon head tilts
Even though many reptile care guides often mistake bearded dragon heads bobbing with head tilts, these reptile trails are related to some extent. As you can see from this brief list of head tilting traits, your beardie is making non-aggressive movements that are obviously a positive sign. Aside from poor climate needs or a possible illness that a bearded dragon can be suffering from,
Head tilting from a beardie is a welcome sign for any new reptile owner.