What is My Lizard Doing?

Gold Dust Day Gecko

Lizards have basic behaviors that are classed as ‘normal,’ such as seeking warmth and light which allows them to digest their food more easily. In the wild, they will also seek a mate at certain times of the year in order to reproduce. Nevertheless, at times you might notice your lizard exhibiting certain behaviors that you find strange, so it is worth finding out more about why your pet is doing particular things.

Why is My Lizard Glass Surfing?

Glass surfing is the name given to a behavior that some lizardsOpens in a new tab. often exhibit. If your lizard seems to be desperately trying to climb the glass of its enclosure, while you might think it is cute it is generally a sign that something amiss.

Most lizard owners agree that glass surfing is a sign of stress, and there could be a variety of reasons for this. For example, the enclosure the lizard is in might be too small and the creature is feeling uncomfortable. It could also be down to having more than one lizard in the enclosure. Many lizard species, such as bearded dragons, prefer to live alone, only coming together at mating time. Keeping two male lizards together will see them ‘competing’ against each other, which could cause undue stress.

Video: Why Your Beardie Glass Surfs

Lizards can also get stressed by a change to their environment, such as the addition of new plants or décor. Moreover, conditions that are not adequate, such as temperature or humidity levels that are too high or too low, can also be stressful to the animal.

Although glass surfing in and of itself is not something to be overly concerned about, it is imperative that you address the reasons for your lizard being stressed. If glass surfing is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a loss of appetite and weight loss, it is time to seek out a vet.

Why is My Lizard Digging?

If your lizard has suddenly started digging holes in the substrate within its enclosure, you could be worried that something is wrong with it. There are a number of reasons why the lizard might be doing this, and fortunately none are cause for concern.

In the wild, lizards might dig down into the ground to make a hole to try to regulate their temperature, to lay eggs, or to prepare for brumation. Your pet lizard might dig in its enclosure to make a place to sleep for the night or to create a more comfortable basking spot. Even if you do not use a substrate such as sand, the lizard might still display digging behaviors by trying to move things around in the enclosure in order to get under them.

If you notice that your lizard is digging while beneath its heat lamp, this might be a sign that it wants a more comfortable place to bask in the warmth. If you notice this behavior, it might be worth thinking about how you have set up the area beneath the lamp. Try adding some more flat rocks or some reptile furniture on which your lizard can climb and get comfortable.

A female lizard might be digging to find a safe place to lay eggs, so if you have been trying to breed your lizards, it might be that she is looking for a place to lay her eggs. Some female lizards may even lay eggs even if they haven’t been fertilized, so this could still be the case if your lizard has not been with a male.

Basically, lizards digging is actually quite common and rarely anything to worry about.

Why is My Lizard Shaking?

If your lizard starts to shake, this is generally a sign that something is not right. In lizards such as bearded dragons, shaking is typically a sign of a mineral deficiency. Your lizard is probably not getting enough calcium or vitamin D. Without sufficient vitamins and minerals, your lizard could go on to develop a condition known as metabolic bone disease, which can be severe and debilitating.

Metabolic bone disease causes weakened bones, which can easily fracture. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, weakness, seizures, and difficulty moving.

If you notice that your lizard has been shaking for a number of days, it is crucial that you talk to a vet as soon as possible. Early intervention can help halt the progression of metabolic bone disease.

Why is My Lizard Shedding?

If you are not already aware, shedding of skin in lizards is completely normal. Skin shedding happens when lizards are growing, and it is also a way of replacing skin that has been damaged.

When lizards are very young (under six months old), they are likely to shed their skin very regularly. This can happen every one to two weeks. When young lizards shed their skin often, it is a sign of good health.

Shedding frequency slows down as lizards get older. After the age of about twelve months, lizards might only shed their skin every couple of months; as they get older, this might reduce to a couple of times a year.

Why is My Lizard Breathing Hard?

A lizard that is happy and healthy might appear to be breathing heavy for various reasons. For example, your pet lizard might look as though it is breathing heavy when it is basking after eating. It is likely that the cause is the lizard trying to digest its food, so is not anything to worry about. If your lizard has eaten something large, the heavy breathing might seem more pronounced.

Stress can also cause lizards to breathe hard, which could be caused by incorrect temperatures in the enclosure, the lizard being handled too often, or changes within the enclosure. Some lizards might also get stressed by loud noises or shadows.

However, heavy breathing may also be an indication that a respiratory infection is present, which can become serious if left untreated. Respiratory infections can be caused by incorrect temperatures, humidity levels that are too high, poor ventilation, or a poor diet.

If your lizard has a respiratory infection, heavy breathing will not be the only symptom. It may also have mucus around the nose and mouth, present with a loss of appetite, be lethargic, and might be making choking or gasping noises. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take the lizard to a local exotic vet as soon as possible. The vet can examine the animal and should be able to provide the necessary treatment.


Lizard behaviors can often seem strange to us, but most are completely normal and harmless. Nonetheless, if you are worried for the health and wellbeing of your pet lizard, we recommend contacting your vet as soon as possible for advice.

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I am a content creator by profession but exotic animals are one of my great passions in life. Over the course of my adulthood, I have had the pleasure of looking after stick insects, terrapins, an Egyptian tortoise, giant African land snails, a crested gecko, a Chilean rose tarantula, a couple of curly-haired tarantulas, and a selection of millipedes, centipedes and worms!

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