Because lizard reproduction is so drastically different from that of the mammals with whom we are more accustomed, it may appear weird or even terrifying to us. However, nature knows what it is doing, and in the case of lizards, they are a highly successful species, so they must be doing something right! Lizards are a good example of this! Since the answer to the question "how do lizards mate?" isn't really cut and dry, let's conduct a little more research on lizard reproduction and find out how they get together.
What Do You Call a Lizard?
Find out exactly what a lizard is because this will shed some light on the mating behavior of lizards. Before we look at mating and reproduction in more depth, it is worthwhile to find out exactly what a lizard is.
There are about 7,000 species of lizards, which are classified as squamate reptiles. Lizards range in size from tiny chameleons measuring only half an inch to huge Komodo dragons measuring ten feet in length. The majority are carnivorous and typically have four legs, with the exception of some species, such as the Western Eurasian Anguis fragilis, which have lost their legs as a result of evolution. As an illustration, lizards of a smaller size feed on insects, but Komodo dragons hunt much larger food, such as water buffalo.
Smaller lizards, such as skinks, typically rely on their ability to blend in with their surroundings and move quickly in order to stay out of harm's way. Venomous lizards include the Komodo dragon and the Gila monster. Some, such as the five-lined skink, may drop their tails when they are trapped, leaving the predator with only a few inches of the tail tip to grab onto as the skink makes a hasty getaway.
These magnificent reptiles may be found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica, and many of them make wonderful pets.
How do Lizards Get Their Spots?
The fact that male lizards have not one but two penises on the underside of their bodies is the reason why these penises are referred to as hemipodes.
Sperm that originates from the left testicle travels through the left hemateins, and vice versa for the right side of the body. Many hemipodes contain spines, hooks, or knobs that align with projections in the female cloaca and allow them to mate successfully. During mating, male lizards will place their sperm inside the cloaca of a female lizard in order to fertilize her eggs.
The term "cloaca," which is pronounced "clo-acre," refers to the orifice that the digestive and sexual tracts of female lizards open into. Its name comes from the Latin word for "sewer," which is quite terrible. Cloacas are found in birds, amphibians, and reptiles, but mammals do not have them.
During mating, the male lizard will prevent the female from fleeing by clamping his lips around the female's head or neck and preventing her from moving. The male will then place his tail beneath hers and, at the instant of mating, will form a "hammerlock" by rotating his body over hers. Some experts believe that the male's grasp on the female's head is an indication of strength and, thus, superior genes. After that, sperm is inserted into the cloaca of the female.
The two will frequently continue to behave in this manner for a considerable amount of time. It has been noticed that lizards that are mating remain in an awkward mating position for ten hours, and specialists believe that this is because of the hooks and spines that are on the hemipenes. Because of this, they are susceptible to attack by predators, which is why the mating season is risky for predated lizards.
It is important not to tamper with lizards that are in the mating posture or try to move them because doing so can cause injury to their internal organs. It's part of a natural progression; get over it and move on!
But hold on there, because not all lizards engage in sexual behavior. Some of them are asexual and can have children even without the help of a partner. More will be spoken about that at a later time.
How do Lizards Have Their Young?
The majority of lizards reproduce sexually, which means that male sperm fertilizes female eggs, and then the fertilized eggs develop into baby lizards. Depending on the species and the conditions in which they live, the process of fertilization may take place either inside or outside of their bodies.
The Women Who Lay Eggs
Oviparous female lizards select a protected, warm location with no potential dangers where their eggs can develop without being disturbed. The most common places to find them are in and around plants, pits, logs, and compost bins in gardens. Because they are not brittle but leathery, lizard eggs do not resemble chicken eggs in appearance. Lizard eggs are very similar to snake eggs but are significantly smaller. In general, the length of a lizard's egg ranges from half an inch to one inch.
How lizards get their spots https://t.co/jkM48BTRz8 pic.twitter.com/NJj6tGtWi7— Scientific American (@sciam) April 13, 2017
Eggs are extremely susceptible to being destroyed by their predators, which can range from birds to foxes, snakes, possums, and raccoons.
The number of eggs that are laid varies from species to species. For instance, anole lizards only lay one egg, while skinks normally lay two, but they both discard their eggs after they have hatched, which can take anywhere from two to four weeks.
Those Who Give Birth Naturally
There are several species of female lizards that do not deposit eggs but instead give birth to offspring that are still alive.
This characteristic of the lizard is referred to as viviparity, and it indicates that the lizard feeds its young internally. Although it is the least common method of reproduction for reptiles, it is more prevalent in hostile habitats and extreme weather.
This is the method of reproduction used by the Eurasian common lizard (Zootoca vivipara), which gets its name from the fact that it gives birth to live young. Popular blue-tongued skinks also reproduce in this manner. Live young remain with their parent for a period of time in order to improve their chances of survival and keep themselves safe.
But wait — there's more!
There are some lizards that are able to perform both, such as the Zootoca vivipara and the three-toed skink.
They often give birth to offspring that are still alive, but they are also capable of depositing eggs. The experts believe that the procedure can be attributed to the environment. For instance, female three-toed skinks deposit their eggs in the region of Sydney, Australia, but the young spend their formative years in the more arid regions of northern New South Wales, Australia.
Which Lizard Is Not Sexually Active?
Lizards that lack sexual organs are referred to as asexual since they are able to reproduce without mating. There are between 20 and 50 different species of lizard that are known to be capable of the process known as "parthenogenesis," and specialists believe that it may be ubiquitous among lizard species.
The New Mexico whiptail lizard is one example of this type of reptile. (Aspidoscelis neomexicana). The vast majority of asexual animals reproduce by making clones of themselves, but researchers have found that whiptail lizards generate new genetic material completely on their own.
A mode of reproduction known as asexual reproduction is utilized by several species of lizards, such as the Caucasian rock lizard. Even though female eggs are fertilized by the sperm of male lizards, the father's genetic material is not passed on to the offspring.
It's not a stretch to say that lizards are strange and fascinating animals.
Does a Lizard Have to Have a Mate Before It Can Lay Eggs?
Although lizards do not need to mate in order to deposit eggs, mating is typically necessary in order to produce living offspring. Because of this, unfertilized eggs are discarded by lizard caretakers because they are unable to hatch.
Behavior Typically Seen in Lizards During Mating
The majority of lizard species that require a sexual partner exhibit behaviors associated with mating when they are ready to do so. The following are some of the most typical.
Lizards, such as the red-headed agama, are able to scare away rival males without resorting to physical conflict by changing their skin color to a bright red with a blue tail. In order to intimidate rivals and make a good impression on potential mates, the green anole lizard puffs up its dewlap skin to enormous proportions.
The shaking of the head and performing press-ups are two of the most typical visible signs. Although this may appear humorous to humans, female lizards are captivated by the most ardent demonstrations, and rival male lizards are terrified by the strength that these displays demonstrate. As a result, it is possible to steer clear of violent encounters that lead to injury. Of course, captive lizards will occasionally head bob and perform press-ups in an effort to get the attention of their owner as well!
The femoral pores on the inner thighs of some females secrete a pheromone fragrance that attracts men, and these pores are located on the inside of the thighs. In addition, male desert iguanas (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) produce lipids that show their position to other males by attracting UV light to themselves.
Some male lizard species compete with one another for the privilege to procreate, and the losing male will flee the region as soon as possible following the struggle. These clashes are intense and have the potential to inflict scars that alter lives forever. For instance, Komodo dragons are a kind of lizard that engage in vicious competition for the affections of females. Prior to the fight, the males will sometimes throw up and defecate, and then they will rear up on their strong hind legs and slash their adversaries with their keen claws.
Lizards that are predators and are not hesitant to draw attention to themselves are the only ones that use auditory calls. Lizards that are preyed upon typically do not make mating calls.
To review, how do lizards pair off?
We have found that not all lizards require a sexual partner in order to create offspring. However, those lizards that do require a sexual partner exhibit a variety of indications, postures, and sounds that suggest they are ready to mate when they are looking for a spouse.
Lizard sexual reproduction looks strange! After mating, the male may hold the female's head in his mouth while depositing sperm in her cloaca. After mating, the pair may remain twisted together for several hours, possibly due to the spines, hooks, and knobs that are located on their genitals.
The extraordinary nature of lizards as animals is underlined by the remarkable capacity they have for reproduction. There are certain species of lizard that can reproduce without the help of a spouse.