Understanding your pet’s behavior and body language is essential to caring for them properly. Oftentimes, pets will let you know they need something by the way they are acting. However, not all pets are as universally understood or easy to read like cats or dogs. What about reptilian pets, such as bearded dragons?
Knowing the reasons why your bearded dragon is wagging their tail can help you understand its needs and allow you to provide better care for them. Read on to learn why they wag their tails, the different meanings of tail wagging, and what to do if you see your bearded dragon wagging their tail.
What Does It Mean When My Bearded Dragon Wags His Tail?
Bearded dragons will wag their tail when they are hunting for food or if they are stressed out.
A bearded dragon will wag or twitch their tail to indicate what kind of mood they are in. This behavior usually happens because your bearded dragon is alert. It can also happen if your bearded dragon is really happy about something.
What does it mean?
Typically, there are 3 major reasons your bearded dragon is wagging their tail:
- Excited to eat
- Defending itself
Wagging their tail means they are trying to communicate something, either to you or to another lizard in their enclosure. It can also mean that they are hunting for food, such as any crickets you have placed into the tank for them to eat.
Excited to eat
Whenever a bearded dragon is ready to eat, they may wag their tail. This behavior is often associated with stalking prey. Typically, bearded dragons will wag their tails just before they attack their food.
It could also mean that your bearded dragon is quite happy with their meal. A bearded dragon may wag their tail if they are feeling especially content, but they do not wag their tails every single time they are happy like a dog would.
Ready to defend itself
A bearded dragon wagging their tail could potentially be a warning sign. If for some reason they feel threatened, this behavior means they are ready to defend themselves and they are letting any perceived threats know this.
This can be a sign of aggression and is commonly seen with bearded dragons that share an enclosure with other bearded dragons. Typically, they exhibit this behavior in an attempt to appear or act tough in the presence of danger.
Tail wagging can also be a sign that your bearded dragon is stressed. For example, if you are petting your bearded dragon and they do not want to be pet, they might start wagging their tail to let you know that they are feeling stressed out.
Similar to the way they wag their tails when they are ready to defend themselves, tail wagging is a sign that something is bothering your bearded dragon. Considering that bearded dragons do not wag their tails very often, this is a good indicator that your bearded dragon might need some things changed to decrease their stress level.
What to do if your bearded dragon is wagging their tail
If you see your bearded dragon wagging their tail, be sure to assess the current situation. Your bearded dragon might just be excitedly hunting crickets or worms in its enclosure during dinnertime, in which case, there is nothing to worry about.
However, if you see your bearded dragon behaving this way specifically towards another bearded dragon, then the two lizards may not be getting along. In this situation, you may want to separate the two lizards. Unlike some other pets, bearded dragons do not need companionship in their cages and may even prefer to be solitary.
If your bearded dragon is wagging their tail especially when you interact with them, maybe something you are doing is stressing them out. Perhaps they just are not in the mood to be pet or played with. Keep an eye out for which interactions cause them to wag their tail to better understand what is causing your bearded dragon to feel stressed.
Though this behavior does not happen often, it is a good indicator that your bearded dragon is alert, either because they are hunting their food or are feeling stressed. Understanding the reasons your bearded dragon may be behaving this way will enable you to make any adjustments your pet might need to live a happier and healthier life.