Why Iguanas Bob Their Head ? 6 Important Reasons

Why Iguanas Bob Their Head

Why Iguanas Bob Their Head?  Iguanas are some of the best pets a reptile lover can have. They are mostly peaceful and quite reserved if taken care of well. For those with iguanas, you must have realized that these fantastic creatures bob their heads most of the time. Do not worry or get scared however-the head bobs are pretty normal. Iguanas bob their heads for various reasons. Some reasons are gender-related (at times male and female reasons bob their heads for various reasons) while some are all-inclusive

  • For Greeting Each Other
  • Asserting their dominance / Peking Order
  • Fear / Stress
  • Furious Bobbing / Irritated
  • Territorial
  • Romance

. Have in mind, however, that these bobs differ in intensity. You will realize that when all is cool, they are usually normal. The bobs can also change into shudders if the iguana feels threatened or aggressive. Iguanas, therefore, highly depend on their bobbing to communicate. As an owner, you need to be quite keen to listen.

Why Iguanas Bob Their Head / Why do Iguanas Bob Their Heads?

Here are some of the reasons why you will spot your iguana bobbing its head

Why Iguanas Bob Their Head

Bobbing Head for Greeting

Now, it may sound a little bit odd, but this is true. Iguanas bob their heads as a sign of greeting. You must have realized that your iguana has a slow characteristic head shake when you approach it, which is the usual head bob. The same also applies if your iguana has not seen you or any other reptile for quite some time. The bobbing, therefore, serves as a way of recognizing your presence and saying ‘hello.’ In this case, therefore, the iguana bobs its head slowly up and down, especially prevalent in male iguanas. Do not be scared, therefore, if your pet starts its characteristic head shake when you approach it. This type of head bob is also made when your iguana is comfortable around you. You must take a look at its body movements lest you mistake a sign of aggression for greeting.

For the greeting, the skin under the chin stays intact and does not try to extend to the body. The eyes are also relaxed and not set on you or any other object. These head bobs are also usually quick and move in up and down directions. Aside from greeting, bobbing might also serve as a sign of gratitude. It might be after a meal when it is full or when it notices a small favor. The head movement, in this case, therefore, serves as a friendly gesture. Do not worry about the number of times it bobs, however. As long as it is a relaxed bob with no other body movement, you definitely have nothing to worry about.

Knowing Your Iguana

Asserting Dominance

Now, with time, you will learn that Iguanas love to assert dominance. They want everybody to know that they are around and also inform outsiders that they are aware of their presence. Asserting dominance is highly seen in male iguanas, who usually bob their heads more than the female ones, especially after sexual maturity. It often serves as a method of claiming territories. When claiming territory, iguanas slightly elevate their body posture and bobs their head. With this characteristic wagging, they are always sure of letting anybody know that they are around.

In as much as this bobbing is common in male iguanas, female iguanas also do this. Your iguana will also bob to assert dominance if it sees any threat in you. It is, therefore, a way of showing who is in charge. Apart from elevating the body posture, the skin under the chin will also extend as it bops up and down.

Bobbing for Pride

Iguanas are proud creatures, and at times, the wagging of the head is not generally associated with any of the two reasons we have discussed. An iguana can bob its head just to show off. Bobbing of the head can, therefore, act as a sign of an iguana feeling good about him or herself. Often, this bob follows a characteristic jovial behavior. In this case, the iguana will move its head up and down in a classic semblance. Most people will, however, link this reason to asserting dominance, which is also just right.

Iguana Head Bobbing

Bobbing Due to Irritation

Iguanas can also get irritated. Actually, this is one of the reasons why an iguana owner should take note of his or her pet’s behavior. When irritated, iguanas bob their heads furiously, an action that most people refer to as a shudder bob. Now, shudder bobs are pretty scary, and you should proceed with caution, especially for grown, full-sized iguanas. Keep in mind that the degree of irritation also differs. A faster bobbing is usually a sign of slight agitation or aggression. If it is a rapid, side to side movement, your iguana is simply warning that it doesn’t want anyone to mess with it. However, for extreme irritation, the iguana bobs its head very fast, moving side to side and upwards and downwards. Most iguanas usually strike out at this point, which is the reason why you need to be very careful, especially if it is a grown male.

Aggressive bobbing shows that your iguana is not in a good mood and probably wants to be left alone. The best reflex in this case, therefore, is to stay away or run away from it. Do not also try to approach it or make eye contact. Before it attacks, you will notice that the dewlap extends as it elevates its body from the ground. Apart from the bobbing, the iguana will combine other scary movements. Its tail will also move as it tries to whip around, with its eye fixed on the threat the entire time. Make sure, therefore, that you flee before it opens its mouth to attack.

Twitching Head Bobs

You will realize that your iguana bobs its head as you approach it at times. It will, therefore, yank its head quickly from side to side and up to down, a sign that it needs to be left alone. The twitching movement is usually similar to that of aggressiveness, just that it is not as dangerous. The same also applies if your iguana wants to scare off another iguana or lizard. However, if you are hell-bent on approaching your iguana even after these signs, you are most probably going to end up with a bite or a slight scratch as a final warning.

Territorial Claims

An iguana’s head wagging can be an assertive behaviour. It might be telling everyone around him that he’s the boss and that they’re on his turf, not the other way around. Essentially, it’s an expression of dominance and territoriality.

Bobbing for Breeding

Your iguana will bob its head more during the breeding period. Well, most reptiles bob their heads, just that it is more common in iguanas. During this breeding period, iguanas become more aggressive, especially for the male ones. Breeding head bobs, therefore, tend to be jerkier, with a side to side movement. Even though this is characteristic in males, females bob their heads too during this period, especially if it spots a male iguana. Among the main breeding behaviours of iguanas, head bobs are one of the most accurate.


Now, one of the main reasons why iguanas bob their head is to assert dominance, which is pretty much the same for all types of reptiles. However, asserting dominance comes with some other behaviours, such as assuming a defined posture. This dominant position is usually common if your pet does not feel comfortable around you or when there are other new reptiles around. Asserting dominance, is, therefore, a way of looking all-powerful and mighty.

When asserting dominance, the iguana is not usually aggressive. However, it can become aggressive quickly if you keep on pushing it. When aggressive, it often lashes out and might scratch or bite you. The dominating position is generally characterized by extending dewlaps and a lifted body posture. The tail will also be lifted from the ground with the back legs moving from side to side. All this does not happen; however, if your pet is quite comfortable with you. The hack, therefore, is to recognise all types of bobs and identify what they mean. Iguanas are also pretty intelligent and if you are keen enough, you will not miss out on a sign.

Head Bobbing Spiny Tail

An iguana bobs its head for a variety of reasons. Even though this is common in reptiles, it is more profound on these amazing pets. As an owner, therefore, you should be vigilant enough to understand the meaning of the bob. These bobs usually differ, both in intensity and movement. Aggressive bobs are generally intense and rapid, which is typically a sign of danger. Greeting bobs are slow and relaxed, with no unnecessary head movements. We have answered the question why do iguanas bob their heads. Know, therefore, when to back off or near it. Bobs are normal in reptiles and should not scare you at first. Remember, different animals have their way of communication, just like human beings talk. Be watchful, therefore, even as you interact with your iguana. If it wants to be left alone, it will communicate. If it is grateful, it will communicate.

Iguana Comes when called

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