Why do lizards do pushups?
Living in Southern Utah, it’s a common thing to see lizards crawling up your stucco or along the brick wall in your backyard. If you watch, sometimes they will be on a rock and start to do pushups. Suddenly the little reptile is working on his guns while taking a break from scurrying from one bush to another.
Why the pushups? Is he trying to impress the curvy female lizards? Is there another drill sergeant lizard to the side telling him to drop and give him twenty?
Some of it is to impress the ladies. This site about animals says lizards may do it to court a female and show their strength. However, female lizards do pushups as well, and for the same reason. Although, I’ll bet females do a some of the one-armed variety just to humble mister “I go to the gym".
Lizards also do pushups to show dominance over rival males. Not so much to show strength, but to increase their profile. It does make me wonder where the lizards are he’s showing off to. Are they in the shrubberies counting how many he’s done? “Dang, that’s fifteen. I’m not challenging that guy.”
Not every species does pushups. Some apparently are more into yoga. I’ve seen documentaries of the ones who lift a leg at a time.
I also wonder what it would be like being the scientist who had to watch lizard pushups for hours on end. “I’m sick of this. I’m just going to make some stuff up so I can go watch penguins.”
So, the next time you see a lizard working on his biceps, give him some props and maybe a tight t-shirt to show them off.