Why Lizards Do Push-Ups

Does your lizard have funny quirks you enjoy watching?

Do you want to figure out why your lizard is doing some of the things they do?

If you are a lizard owner, you have probably caught your pet doing some funny things, including something reminding you of human push-ups. 

If you have seen this, you might ask yourself:

Why do lizards do push-ups?

Lizards do push-ups for a few reasons, but most commonly for males, they show strength and an opportunity to get attention, especially when courting a lady lizard. Some lizards might also do this when they want someone else to get out of their territory. These push-ups might make you laugh, but the lizards are entirely serious when doing them.

Keep reading for more information about why lizards do push-ups.

why do lizards do push ups

Why Do Lizards Do Push Ups?

Sometimes it is hard to get someone else’s attention. 

And while some lizards might turn different colors to communicate and indicate interest, others have worked out a different way to grab attention.

Enter the push-up.

Lizards have decided an up and down motion very much like our human push-ups are a great way to get someone to look at them.

There are a few reasons lizards will decide a push up is just the eye-catching thing they need to do.

Mating Rituals

Researchers have found these push-ups are one way males will show their strength, especially for the ladies they hope to pursue.

Many male lizards include the push up as part of their mating ritual to show the female how strong they are. 

With some lizards, like the western fence lizard, also referred to as blue bellies, doing push-ups allows a male to flash their blue colored stomachs to the females to impress her.

Think about a male peacock showing all their brightly colored feathers to get the female’s attention, and apply it to the western fence lizard.

Getting a lady lizard’s attention is very important for the males during mating season, and push-ups give some males just the edge they need.

Get Out Of My Territory

Push-ups aren’t just used by male lizards to get the girl, but also to challenge rivals for territory.

Defending territory is one of the main reasons why lizards move up and down. 

This is another show of strength for the lizard, but its meaning is a bit different.

Instead of saying, “Hey, want to go out some time?” the lizard is doing push-ups to say, “Get off my lawn.” 

Lizards are often very territorial creatures, strongly disliking when any other species enter their territory.

Often they are solitary creatures, only getting together with another member of their species when it is time to mate. 

The up and down motion of a push-up, quickly lifting their whole body up and down, is a challenge to other lizards, especially when one lizard gets too close to another.

The male shows another male how he is extremely tough and ready for a fight if necessary.  

If it works, the newcomer will be intimidated and go away, but an unimpressed lizard will engage in the fight and attempt to show the other guy up. 

This is likely to end in one lizard severely hurting or even killing or eating the other. 

Pet Lizards

The scenarios presented in the above examples highlight how wild lizards act and why they do push-ups, but pet lizards aren’t different.

The reasons wild lizards make the up and down motion of a push up is basically the same as why your pet is doing them. 

You might happen to walk by when the animal naturally wants to perform.

These animals are known for putting on displays even if they aren’t sure another lizard is in the area to watch.

The hope is there even if they aren’t sure another lizard is. 

In some cases, you might startle the lizard, and it could mistake you as a challenger. 

Some thought the push-ups are a way for your lizard to communicate with you and say, “Hey, I know you’re there and watching me. I see you.”

Even if they don’t feel threatened, some believe your lizard wants you to know; they know you’re there. 

Do Both Female And Male Lizards Do Push Ups?

We’ve talked about why lizards bounce up and down, but does it apply for both genders?

It is much more likely to see a male lizard doing push-ups because they are much more into making a scene.

Males are commonly more aggressive and will use displays like push-ups more frequently, but this doesn’t mean females never do push-ups.

You may catch your female bobbing up and down in the push up like motion, but they aren’t as demonstrative as the males of their species.

They are also not as aggressive, but sometimes they will get in fights with other female lizards.

This is not common, and if a fight between females does happen, the results aren’t as bad as when males fight. 

A female might bob up and down in response to a male’s display when it comes to courtship.

They are usually very subtle about it, so you won’t see the same big display as a male puts on.

Females don’t have the same ideas about showing off as males do, but you might occasionally spot them doing a push-up or two. 


Seeing your lizard do push-ups, especially for the first time, is going to make you stop and stare, and probably even laugh a little. 

Then you start to wonder why lizards do push-ups.

Now you don’t need to! 

This display serves to get attention, and in some ways, if you stop and stare, it is working.

Whether it is for mating or getting another away from their territory, the push-up motion serves as an often effective way to get attention and catch another lizard’s or your eye.

If you enjoyed this post read our other one on how lizards reproduce.

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