You’ve probably had a laugh or two if you’ve ever caught your gecko doing push-ups. Apart from the humor in it, you’ve probably wondered: Why do geckos do push-ups?
When geckos do push-ups, they’re trying to display how healthy they are or claim their territory. If they’re used to captivity and have bonded with you, they might be trying to catch your attention.
Although these reasons are less common, geckos can be trying to remove dead and shedding skin or cool down.
To satisfy your curious mind, we go through all the possible reasons a gecko might stop to do push-ups. Keep on reading to learn what your gecko is trying to communicate.
Why Do Geckos Do Push-ups?
Like all animals, geckos use movements to communicate, either with you or others of their kind. This is especially true for geckos as they can’t communicate through sounds.
A little weird, isn’t it? Let’s dissect these intentions that explain the bizarre push-ups that geckos do.
1 – Displaying Good Health
When an animal starts to display its good health and strength, the main reason is mating. Males use this behavior to send the message to females that they’re in great shape and ready to mate.
If the gecko is colorful, it’ll also be trying to boast its beautiful colors. This increases the chance of impressing the females to mate with the flaunting male.
Another side to the story is that males are challenging their competition by flexing their strength. Doing these push-ups is like sending other contenders a message saying, “I’m healthier, I’ll be the one to mate with the female.”
Whenever two geckos cross paths, each one will try to prove its upper hand until the weak one flees the scene. In some cases, the stronger gecko may even eat the other one.
2 – Showing Territorial Dominance
Another important reason a gecko will do push-ups is to establish the area as its territory. Both male and female geckos do push-ups for this reason.
You’ll probably notice a gecko doing push-ups whenever it sees another gecko trespassing on what it sees as its private property. In this instance, the first gecko will be sending the intruder a message to back off or prepare for a fight.
Geckos are solitary animals, so they don’t stay in groups or even care for their young. This means that females will fend for their territories as ferociously as males would.
Just as the mating push-ups convey, the territorial push-ups speak of the gecko’s physical ability to protect itself and its space.
3 – Trying to Catch Owner’s Attention
A gecko will engage in push-ups when it’s trying to grab your attention. The reason could be that it needs water, food, or simply to bond with you.
It’s important to distinguish between the hostile, territorial push-ups and the friendly ones to respond appropriately.
One way to tell the difference is to pay close attention to the nature of the push-up. If it looks aggressive, it probably means that your gecko is being territorial or trying to show its strength in the face of a threat.
On the other hand, a friendly push-up is slow, elaborate, and gentle.
4 – Shedding Skin
As with all reptiles, geckos tend to shed their skin to grow and thrive. During their shedding season, they might need to quicken the process, and they resort to push-ups to help the old skin come off.
Geckos may even bite at their skin to free themselves from the shed skin.
How often a gecko sheds will depend on its age. Younger ones shed more often—around once every week or two weeks.
This is because they grow at much faster rates, and they need to adjust their skin accordingly. Alternatively, adult geckos will shed around every month to two months.
5 – Cooling Off
Geckos are cold-blooded animals, which means they need external factors to regulate their body temperature.
This is why you may find your gecko doing push-ups when it gets too hot for its comfort. The movement allows airflow beneath its belly, allowing it to cool off.
Territorial Push-up vs. Temperature Regulation Push-up: Telling the Difference
Push-ups with the purpose of cooling off are much less aggressive. They’re often slower as well, allowing ample airflow under the belly without exhausting the gecko with vigorous movements.
On the other hand, territorial push-ups are energetic and a little violent in their display.
Sometimes, the gecko will bob its head and flap its skin during territorial push-ups to look threatening and scary.
Moreover, cooling push-ups happen during the warmer segments of the day, such as noon. Contrarily, geckos usually do territorial push-ups around dusk or dawn.
Female geckos are pretty good at telling the difference. Eventually, you, too, will be able to tell once you get familiar with your gecko’s habits.
Is It Okay for My Gecko to Do Push-ups When It Sees Me?
It depends on which stage of your relationship you are in. If you recently adopted your gecko, it could be feeling threatened.
At this point, doing push-ups means that it’s challenging you and showing you that it can put up a fight.
In later stages, when you’ve already bonded with your gecko, it could mean that it’s trying to grab your attention. This is especially true if you gave it attention before as a response to its push-ups.
How Do Push-ups Help Regulate a Gecko’s Temperature?
When a gecko does push-ups, it contracts its muscles to warm them up. This, in turn, helps prevent blood clots.
Otherwise, the gecko might get cramps or even injuries. So, in lower temperatures, especially around 41.9°F, a gecko will be more likely to use push-ups as a way to regulate its temperature.
The push-ups also help circulate blood and maintain heart rate. This way, a gecko will be ready to move in search of food or defend itself against predators whenever the chance comes.
We must try to pick up on what other creatures are trying to communicate to us. This enables us to connect with our pets better and simply understand the world around us.
After all, you don’t want to be laughing at your gecko doing push-ups when it’s trying to challenge you!
So why do geckos do push-ups?
There are countless reasons why a gecko does push-ups, including showing its strength, challenging others for a fight, or attracting females to mate.
Geckos also do this behavior to get their owner’s attention, cool off on a hot day, or shed their skin faster. With time, you’ll be able to identify the reasons behind your gecko doing push-ups.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.