Most of us know dogs wag their tails when they are happy, and cats purr when they are content, but did you know bearded dragons have their ways of expressing themselves?
A new bearded dragon owner may be surprised when their new pet exhibits these behaviors to communicate their mood and health.
Bearded dragons have been known to wave, bob their head, and stretch out in unusual poses.
So what does it mean when a bearded dragon sticks its tail up?
As a general rule, bearded dragons stick their tails up when they are excited and alert. Bearded dragons will stick their tails up when they are hunting, exploring, showing their dominance, keeping their tails dry, or when they know it is feeding time.
If your bearded dragon is sticking its tail up, it does not necessarily indicate a health issue.
It is simply one of the many forms of body language beardies use to communicate with you.
Keep reading to learn more about why beardies stick their tails up and other behaviors they use to communicate.
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Common Reasons Your Bearded Dragon Is Sticking Its Tail Up
When a bearded dragon tail is sticking up, the reptile is signaling excitement and alertness.
There are a few reasons for this behavior, none of which are a cause for worry.
This section will explore the reasons behind this unique body language and what it means in each situation.
Your Bearded Dragon Is Hunting
In the wild, beardies stick their tails up when they are hunting because they are extremely alert.
In captivity, beardies may display this same behavior when they pursue the feeder insects you provide for them.
This behavior is instinctual, and it is a very common sight.
Pay attention the next time you give your beardie some feeder insects, and you will likely get to see this body language in action.
Your Bearded Dragon is Exploring
If you let your beardie roam your house or yard, you will notice its tail sticking up from time to time.
Exploring is the most common reason for your beardie to put its tail up in the air, as this is a very exciting event for your pet.
Bearded dragons are also extremely alert when they are exploring a new area they have never seen before
You may notice this behavior happens left often as your beardie gets older.
This is nothing to worry about, and it just means your lizard has already explored an area before, and it may get as excited as it did when it was younger.
As with humans, adults of this reptile species lose some of their energy overall.
Your Bearded Dragon is Excited About Its Food
You may notice your bearded dragon sticking its tail up as soon as you bring it food.
In this scenario, your beardie is both excited and alert.
In the wild, beardies learn they are more vulnerable when they are eating.
Predators may take advantage of the momentary distraction and attack the reptile.
Pay attention to what your beardie typically does regarding food.
Poor appetite and a loss of appetite are some of the earliest indicators of illness.
If your pet normally sticks its tail when it eats and all of a sudden it’s not, be on the lookout for other signs.
Your Bearded Dragon is Asserting Its Dominance
If a beardie feels threatened, it will stick its tail in the air as a sign of dominance.
This behavior is very common when two male beardies are put together, so it is never a good idea to house two males in the same enclosure.
A beardie will also stick its tail up if it sees its reflection because it thinks it is time to fight another beardie.
While this is a funny sight, you should remove any mirrors near your beardie’s enclosure to avoid causing too much stress.
Your Bearded Dragon is Keeping Its Tail Dry
You may notice your beardie sticking its tail up during bath time.
This usually occurs because your beardie is excited about the bath, but your lizard may also be attempting to keep its tail dry.
This behavior is more common with younger beardies, which tend to have high energy levels.
Many beardies do not care if their tail gets wet, especially as they get older, so they will usually keep their tail down.
Ensure you have your heat lamp set up correctly in its basking spot; this will help keep the tank dry and prevent the tail from getting wet in other places.
Too much moisture and warm water in their tanks for a long period of time often result in tail rot.
Other Unusual Bearded Dragon Behavior
Beardies are very expressive reptiles, and they have a wide range of body language they use to communicate.
If your bearded dragon’s beard darkens or turns black, this is usually an indication something is wrong.
Your beardie could be in pain, it might be cold, or it might just be upset about something.
Male beardies may also darken their beards when they are attracting the attention of a female.
By contrast, bearded dragons will turn white if they are too hot.
This color change from dark to light helps the beardie regulate its body temperature.
Turning its skin a black color allows the reptile to absorb more heat while turning a lighter skin color lets them reflect heat.
While changing color is normal behavior for beardies, it is also a sign the temperatures in your enclosure are not correct.
Beardies can expand their beard as well, which is known as flexing.
Beardies will flex their beard if they feel threatened, but it is more common for them to exhibit this behavior when mating.
You may also notice your beardie flexing its beard first thing in the morning as it stretches.
When a beardie is startled or scared, it may suddenly flatten its body.
This is known as “pancaking,” and a beardie does it to hide from a predator.
This behavior causes stress to your beardie, so you should avoid making any sudden movements near your pet.
You may notice your bearded dragon waving to you.
Beardies wave their arm as a sign of submission and to let other beardies know they are not a threat.
They may also wave as part of their mating ritual.
You can learn more about all the reasons bearded dragons wave in this post here.
Head bobbing is also another behavior a bearded dragon might display during mating.
A beardie will bob its head up and down at a female to get her attention, and the female will bob her head back if she is interested.
Bearded dragons are also very territorial, and they may bob their head as a sign of dominance if they see another male.