Decoding Lizard Behavior: Why Do They Close Their Eyes When Petted?

why do lizards close their eyes when you pet them

why do lizards close their eyes when you pet them : Interacting with pet lizards can be a rewarding and fascinating experience. However, you may have noticed that lizards often close their eyes when you pet them. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior, shedding light on the potential motivations and biological factors that influence lizards to close their eyes during physical contact.

A Sensory Perception:

Lizards, like many other reptiles, possess a unique sensory system that differs from mammals. While their vision is well-developed, their primary mode of sensory perception relies heavily on other senses, such as touch and vibrations. When you gently stroke or pet a lizard, it may instinctively close its eyes to focus on processing these tactile sensations more effectively.

Safety and Trust:

Closing their eyes while being petted can also be an indication of trust and comfort. Lizards, especially those kept as pets, gradually become accustomed to human interaction. By closing their eyes, they may be expressing a sense of relaxation and security in their environment. It signifies that they feel safe and trust the person petting them, allowing them to let their guard down and enjoy the tactile experience.

Reducing Visual Stimulation:

Another reason lizards close their eyes during petting is to minimize visual stimulation. Lizards are often highly alert to their surroundings, and sudden movements or visual stimuli can startle them. By closing their eyes, they reduce the potential distractions from their environment, enabling them to focus more on the physical interaction and the sensations they experience.

Behavioral Adaptation:

Closing their eyes when petted can be a natural behavioral adaptation in lizards. In the wild, lizards encounter situations where they need to rely on their senses other than vision. For example, when hunting or sensing predators, lizards may close their eyes momentarily to concentrate on vibrations or scent cues. This behavior carries over to their interactions with humans, even in a domesticated setting.

Species Variation:

It’s important to note that the tendency to close their eyes when petted can vary among lizard species and individual lizards. Some species may exhibit this behavior more prominently, while others may not display it as frequently. Additionally, individual lizards may have unique personalities and preferences, resulting in variations in their responses to petting.

Respecting Boundaries:

While many lizards enjoy gentle petting, it’s crucial to recognize and respect their individual boundaries. Some lizards may prefer minimal handling or have specific areas of their body they are more comfortable being touched. Paying attention to their body language, such as signs of stress or discomfort, will help ensure a positive interaction and maintain the trust they have developed.


When you pet a lizard, their tendency to close their eyes can be attributed to a combination of sensory perception, trust, and reducing visual stimulation. By closing their eyes, lizards focus on processing tactile sensations, express relaxation and trust, and minimize distractions from their surroundings. It is a natural and instinctive behavior that varies among species and individuals. As responsible lizard owners or enthusiasts, understanding and respecting their responses during petting enriches the interaction and strengthens the bond between humans and these captivating reptiles.


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