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What Does It Mean When a Lizard's Neck Poofs Out?

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Lizards puff their necks for a number of reasons. Whether they're trying to get attention from you or a or to intimidate another lizard, it's a normal part of lizard behavior. Learning why lizards puff their necks can help you better care for your pet.


One reason lizards poof up their necks is to intimidate other lizards. Many lizards are territorial. If you have two same-sex male lizards together, and one starts puffing out his neck, he's trying to intimidate the other. Often when a bearded dragons puffs its beard, the beard will turn black.


Some lizards, such as bearded dragons, puff out their necks in order to gain attention from their owners. If you own a species of lizard that enjoys being handled, he may stand where you can see him really well and puff up as a sign that he wants to get out of the cage for a while. When trying to gain attention, the neck will not change colors.


Lizards may puff out their necks because they are aggravated. If your reptile puffs up while you're handling him, chances are either you're doing something he doesn't like or he just wants you to stop handling him. Place the lizard back in his habitat and let him chill for a while. Sometimes the neck as well as the tail will also change colors. Some species lose their tail if they become extremely aggravated.

Mating Ritual

Puffing the throat can be a means for male lizards to catch the attention of the opposite sex. It's his way of saving, “Hey, baby, look at me.” The lizard will usually stand proud and try to look more impressive than the other lizards. Some breeds may also change their neck's color to draw more attention.