Why Do Some Lizards Look Like They're Doing Push-Ups? What You Should Know

Lizards aren't trying to build muscle when they mimic this popular human workout.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 6 2024, Published 5:14 p.m. ET

Zebra-tailed lizard pushing up on a rock
Source: Getty Images

If you've ever seen a lizard seemingly doing push-ups, you may be wondering what exactly is behind this unusual reptile activity. Are they trying to become body-builders? Working off a very insect-heavy lunch? Perhaps trying to woo a mate by strutting their stuff?

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As it turns out, the experts aren't exactly sure why lizards do push-ups from time to time, but they have some pretty interesting theories that may explain the funny animal behavior. Keep reading as we dive into this topic, including what these unique reptiles might mean symbolically.

Closeup of a lizard on all fours
Source: Getty Images
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Why do lizards do push-ups?

According to Newsweek, we don't exactly know why lizards like to flex their muscles this way, but experts are pretty sure that they use this activity to say hello. Since lizards can't vocalize, they can't get another lizard's attention by making noise. Instead, the pros believe that they use the up and down motion to try and catch the eye of other lizards, especially those at a distance.

This could be similar to how other animals call out to each other in the night. Some lizards known for using this means of communication include the American fence lizard and tropical iguanas.

Catching another lizard's eye isn't the only reason they may be putting on a show. Experts also think that lizards have other reasons for wanting to put their physical prowess on display.

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Lizards may use push-ups to show other lizards how strong they are to nip any potential confrontation in the bud. Additionally, they may want to flaunt their skills to lizards of the opposite sex, hoping that their push-ups are enough to land them a mate. No matter what the real motivation for all those push-ups is, I must admit they have caught my attention with the moves!

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Lizards have interesting symbolism and spiritual meaning for some.

Generally speaking, people view lizards as a reminder of patience and calmness due to the way these creatures act in the wild. According to the About My Brain blog, they are noted for moving at their own pace and taking it all in as they interact with the world as a whole. Lizards are known for soaking in the sunshine peacefully, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that these reptiles are also frequently used to symbolize relaxation.

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Different cultures and religions believe that lizards have different spiritual significance as well. For example, in American indigenous folklore, lizards are thought to represent healing and survival due to the creature's resiliency. In Māori communities, people believe that lizards serve as the guards of the underworld, and it's not uncommon for people in New Zealand to release lizards near the burial sites of their loved ones.

No matter what you believe, it's clear that plenty of people have taken notice of these charming reptiles. So the next time you spot a lizard, it might be a sign to stop and look.

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