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How Do Lizards Have Sex?

Let me explain exactly how lizards have sex. As interesting as this may sounds, Lizards only interest is breeding to re-produce, there is no lovemaking for lizards. But let me explain exactly how this goes down.

How do lizards have sex? Typically sex for lizards is referred to as mating. Male lizards have a hemipenes instead of a penis and use this to ejaculate into the female. Their offspring can either be born as eggs or live births depending on the species of the Lizard.

This is quite a high level version of events. If you want to truly understand how this works, please read on to understand the detail.

How Does the Mating Actually work?

Mating can vary between species, but in general it goes like this: The male lizard will attempt to grab the attention of the female by dancing around her or using his bright vivid colours to attract her.

Once he gets her attention, he will grab hold of her by nipping her near her neck with his teeth. This may sound unacceptable to us as humans, but this is how lizards do it.

Once he has her in position he will unleash his hemipenes. As discussed earlier, this is a lizards version of a penis. However, it looks nothing like a human penis, so its not a fair comparison, I will provide more detail on this later in the article.

The lizard will effectively hook the female lizard with its Hemipenes. Once hooked in position he will ejaculate into the female. This stage is not the same as humans, there is no bumping and grinding and moaning of pleasure. The male simply stays still on top of the female as he ejaculates.

Once this is done, they are finished. There is no love and kissing here, it is just a necessary act to produce offspring.

What is a Cloaca and What Part Does It Play?

The Cloaca is a multipurpose organ that a female lizard has. They do not have a vagina, or a separate opening for urine or defecation. Instead they have a Cloaca that serves all of these purposes.

When lizards start mating, the connection that the male makes is actually through the Cloaca. He hooks his Hemipenes into the females Cloaca and ejaculates into her.

What Actually is a Hemipenes used in reproduction?

As discussed earlier, the Hemipenes is a lizards answer to a penis. A male sexual organ if you like. Although I have drawn a comparison to the male sexual organ, it is very different in reality.

Visually it looks nothing like a male penis, but for reproduction they have a similar function. Effectively it is used to ejaculate into the female during reproduction.

When it is not in use, the Hemipenes is inverted and not noticeable on a male lizard. When the lizard is ready to mate it is visible and ready to hook the female into place.

How is the Sperm transferred to the female?

Unlike a human, once the lizard ejaculates, it is not a burst of liquid, in fact quite the opposite. It dribbles out slowly. The lizard simply lays on top of the female and drips it in and patiently waits for the process to complete.

Do Lizards have eggs or live birth?

how do lizards have sex - lizard eggs

Some lizards lay eggs and some species have live births. For example a Gecko or Iguana (Click for article on Iguana Substrate) will lay eggs when they reproduce. However Blue-tongue lizards and Shingle-back lizards give live birth.

When Do Lizards Breed (Breeding Season)?

The exact time of breeding varies a lot depending on the specie of lizard. As a whole, it is usually in the summer time to capture the warmer climate. An example of a specific specie is a Blue-Tongue Lizard, which has a breeding season from mid-summer right up till Autumn.

How much offspring is produced when Lizards actually breed?

The amount of offspring produced varies quite a lot depending on the specie of lizard. Also, as discussed earlier the type of offspring varies because some lay eggs, others do live birth.

Some examples. An Eastern water Dragon can average up to 9 eggs at birth. Blue-tongue lizards can range from 5 up to 18. But these are not eggs, they are live births. And the bearded Dragon averages about 20 offspring.

How long does it take for the babies to become fully grown?

Again, this varies a lot depending on the specie of lizard, but in general you can expect one to two years for a lizard to reach maturity.

However, like most things there is always some weird exception, there is a Chameleon from Madagascar which is born, reaches maturity and dies within 3 months. But that life cycle is quite rare.

What Happens After The Lizards Mate?

Unlike humans lizards do not have an emotional connection. They just mate and move on. So immediately after the male has mated with the female, the male lizard will disappear. And the chances are they will never see each other again.

For for the egg laying lizards, the female will make it her priority to find a safe and warm place to lay and hide her eggs. The eggs have a tough leather outer layer, but obviously this is not enough to protect them from keen predators. Hence the reason why she needs to find a safe place for them to survive until they hatch.

The ideal environment for the eggs will be somewhere warm and not easily found. So a good example is hidden in the sand in a secluded area, or amongst some rotten vegetation.

The baby lizards have to work out how to hatch out of the eggs themselves. This is instinctive to them, so it really isn’t a challenge for them. Once they are hatched and born, they are left to fend for themselves. This may sound crazy to us, but the lizards have this instinct inbuilt in them.

Another interesting fact is, for lizards that have a live birth, they do not have any milk from their mother. This is usually assumed that every live born offspring will suck milk from its mother, but this is not the case for baby lizards.

The sad thing is though, the survival rate for these lizards is pretty low. There are lots of predators that look out for them and it is essentially survial of the fittest. Maybe this is the reason nature instinctively generates multiple eggs to increase the chances of some of the lizards surviving.

Related Questions:

Is it True that some Lizard species do not need a Male to reproduce? The short answer is yes. These lizards are typically called Asexual, because they can reproduce without the opposite sex. An example of this i the Whiptail Lizards. The female can reproduce without the need of a male.

In a normal conception there is two types of chromosomes one from the male, and the other from the female. In this case, with the Whiptail Lizard, the female will provide all the chromosomes. The female effectively produces twice as much chromosomes.

She also does not need the male lizard to fertilize the eggs. This process is referred to as”heterozygosity”. It is believed that this happened by some historical evolution caused by cross-breeding with other lizard species.

The downfall of this however is it is believed that the offspring to be weaker and more prone to germs and diseases.

How can you tell if a lizard is male or female? If you ever wondered how you can tell if a lizard is a male or female, there are a few things that will help you identify this.

Males usually have a bigger head than females. Typically males benefit from having bigger heads so that they can fight and bite their enemies.

Also, males tend to have brighter and bolder colours. This is usually used to help them attract females and in some cases a form of communication. An example of a lizard with these bright vivid colours is the Western Fence Lizard. This lizard is also known as the “Blue Belly”.

The final tell tale sign is spikes, horns or flaps around their throats. These things are typically found on males. The spikes and horns usually aid them in combat.

Do Lizards Have Bones?

In this article I will answer if Lizards have bones, if they are vertebrates or not and reveal other interesting related biological facts. I was tempted to research this article after seeing some confusion and interest into lizards bone structure and to clarify even if they had bones.

Do lizards have bones? Yes, they have bones. They are vertebrates and have a backbone along with a collection of other bones. They also have Kinetic skulls that have moving parts. The exact bone structure varies from specie to specie.

Now that you understand that lizards have bones lets delve a bit deeper and understand a bit more detail about these lizards, in particular their bones and general anatomy.

Does a lizard have a backbone?

As briefly discussed earlier. Lizards do have a backbone. This is the same as humans and they are commonly referred to as vertebrates.

What is a Vertebrate?

A vertebrate is basically any animal that has a backbone. This includes us humans, reptiles, etc. The opposite of this is invertebrates, who do not have a back bone. Invertebrates have soft bodies without a backbone. An example of this would be jellyfish or a the common garden worm.

What is a kinetic skull and Do Lizards have this?

Lizards typically have a Kinetic skull meaning that it has moveable joints. The term for this movement is typically referred to as Cranial kinesis.

It basically means that apart from the normal upper and low jaw movement there is movement in other skull bones. Humans do not have such skull movement, and are commonly referred to as having akinetic skulls, the opposite to kinetic.

Do Lizards Shed their Skin?

Yes, lizards do shed their skin. It is a natural part of being a lizard in fact. For example Iguanas are known to shed their skin every 4-6 weeks. Younger lizards are even known to shed their skin even more frequent.

You usually get some clear signs when your lizard is about to or just starting to shed its skin. Such as the following:

  • Change of colour – Geckos can go a mix of white & Grey.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Not wanting to be touched, act irritated when touched.
  • Eyes puffing out substantially (two or three times), if they have eyelids

The shedding can take up to three weeks to complete. However this varies quite a bit. For example an Alligator lizard can literally shed its entire skin in hours. This is mainly due to the fact that it does this in one go and sheds its whole skin in one session.

There are problems that can occur during this process. If the shed does not occur correctly this is called dysecdysis. This can be caused by a poor diet, but in other cases thier could be other reasons that could make this happen.

Don’t be surprised if find your lizard eating its own skin after its shedded. I know, this may sound unpleasant, but this is actually a healthy and natural thing for lizards.

They benefit from the minerals in the skin and eating the skin helps them re-generate a new skin faster.

What is the Parietal Eye Lizards Have?

The parietal eye is commonly referred to as the the “third eye”. It is also sometimes called the Pineal eye. Lizards have this Parietal eye. It is particular useful to them to detect and decipher light levels.

When I say light levels, I mean working out when it is light and day. The eye will detect changes in the time of day based on colour changes of daylight.

Related Questions:

Do Lizards Have Red Blood? Before we answer this question, first let’s understand what actually makes blood red. The hemoglobin in . the oxygen is what gives blood the red colour. Which is present in human blood. This is the same for lizards, but not for all species.

Some species, in particular in New Guinea, there is a type of Skink Lizard that has green blood. Not just blood is green, also the muscles, bones and organs have this green colouration.

But why is its blood green? The reason is this lizard does not have the hemoglobin that we talked about earlier, meaning they do not have the same red colour we have.

Do lizards have teeth? Yes, lizard do have teeth, but they are different to our teeth. Depending on which specie of lizard you look at some have teeth that look more like little pegs.

However, a Komodo Dragon for example, has sharp serrated teeth that can injure animals that they wish to eat. Then on the other end of the scale you have the Mollusk that has blunt teeth.

Do Geckos have bones? Yes, they do have bones and what has been discussed earlier actually address this. All lizards have bones and are vertebrates.

What is Bipedal running and which Lizards can do this? This is basically running on two legs. Essentially this is what we do as humans. Obviously Lizards have four legs, so this is more of an interesting thing to see for them.

The Basilisk lizard can do this. It uses its two legs and uses its tail as a balance for their weight. AN interesting fact about these Basilisk lizards is they can actually run across water for short distances.

Do Lizards drink blood? There is a specie of lizard sometimes referred to as the “bloodsucking lizard”, however it is not really a true blood sucker and more of a myth. The name mainly comes from the colour of the male’s throat colour in mating season. At this time the male has a vivd red coloured throat and hence the name “bloodsucking lizard” came from.

This lizard does not stay this colour though, they tend to change colours quite drastically during the year.

Which lizard squirts blood from its eye? The Horned Lizard is known for squirting blood from its eye. It does this purely as a defence mechanism. The idea is it waits for its attacker to get real close, to the point where it’s in the jaws of the predator, then unleashes the squirt, to make sure it gets it.

Do Lizards have limbs? Yes, they do have limbs, they have 4 legs as well as a tail. The size and weight of these limbs varies quite a lot depending on the specie of lizard.

Can a Lizard Grow back a limb if lost?  Yes, they can. This behaviour is very different to humans because once we loose our limbs that is it for us. However this is a different story for lizards.

Once they loose a tail for example, the blood clots up in the limb. But rather than the skin growing back to cover the missing tail a replacement will come throw. It will not be an exact replica of what was there before, but it is re-growth none-the-less.

Do Lizards Sleep? Yes, they do sleep. In fact they have sleep cycles in the same manor as humans. The only difference is they have shorter cycles.

To put this into context, us humans are known to have sleep cycles of 90 minutes, and during a nights sleep this can equal about 4 sleep cycles.

Lizards on the other hand can have hundreds of smaller sleep cycles. Also the duration of their sleep is usually shorter than us. A small sleep for them is 80 minutes. But a long sleep can be 4 hours.

How do lizards cool off? Lizards have a very primitive methods to keep them self cool. If they are feeling hot they can simply hide behind an available rock. If they need to get hot and they are in a warm climate, they will basically expos themselves to the sun.

For larger lizards, for example, Komodo Dragon’s due to their large body size they can hold in their heat and regulate their temperature. For smaller lizards this is more of a challenge. They are affected by even the smallest changes in temperature in their environment.

Do Geckos Eat Roaches

After seeing a fat cockroach looking at me, I wondered, what animals would naturally deal with these pests. Then I was compelled to research this and discovered some interesting facts about this in relation to Gecko’s. Let me explain.

Do geckos eat roaches? Yes, they do eat cockroaches, however it is not good practice to feed your pet random cockroaches found around the house because they can contain germs, pesticides and dangerous bacteria. You can purchase cockroaches or other insects that are more suitable to make sure they are safe.

So, now you know if they will eat roaches or not, if you really want to care for your pet you need to know not only what they will eat, but also things they shouldn’t be eating. Read on to discover this and other weird things they will eat that you may have overlooked before.

What is a Gecko?

Before we get into the detail, what even is a Gecko? Geckos are lizards that belong to the infraorder Gekkota. They prefer warm climates and there are over 1600 different species in existence. So the term “Gecko” is quite a generlization for literally thousands of potential options.

For the sake of specificity, in this article we will focus the details based on the Leopard Gecko, which is one of the more popular pet lizards in the western world.

What do geckos typically eat?

Gecko’s are Insectivores, meaning that they typically snack on nutritious insects. You may squirm when I say “nutritious” insects, but believe it or not, did you know you can buy Protein that i made from crickets? Yes, Crickets! (Facts). And yes, I am talking about humans eating crickets.

Therefore there is some nutritional value in some insects. And this explains why Geckos devour these meaty mortals all day long. In reality Cockroaches are not their preferred diet. They typically feed on mealworms or crickets.

Are roaches bad for Geckos?

They are not always bad, but you have to be careful which type of cockroaches you feed them. If you are thinking that you have a cockroach infestation and you want to use your Gecko as a “roach hoover”, instead of paying for pest control, then think again.

Whilst they can each roaches, it is not good practice to feed they random roaches you find as pests roaming around your house. These are some reasons why:

  • Germs
  • pesticides
  • Dangerous bacteria

What do I mean? There is a good chance that these pets will have germs, pesticides and potentials unwanted bacteria that can harm your pet. So please try and avoid that.

How much do Geckos Eat?

They will eat as much as you give them. But this is not a good thing. Reason being they have a tendency to over eat and become sick. This comes from their natural instinct to overeat and store fat reserves in the wild for bad hunting days.

In the desert they are not guaranteed daily meals, so if they get food they would store the fat reserves and over eat. But as a house pet this natural behaviour can become a health risk. Therefore it is your responsibility not to overfeed them.

A healthy amount of food is usually as much as they can consume within a 15 minute time period. And it is [not advisable to feed them daily]. It is better to feed them every other day in fact.

What happens if you over feed your Gecko?

If you feed your Gecko too much there is a chance that it will bring the food back up, basically to be direct with you, it will be sick. If you notice this happening it is a sign that you are giving her too much food and you need to adjust the portion sizes.

What is the ideal body proportion for a Gecko

To make sure that you understand how to identify a healthy Gecko I will reveal the expected body proportions. In an ideal world the tail will be wider than its body. Also when you look at their stomach, it should look flat.

The only deviation on this general rule is immediately after eating. You may notice that they may be a little bloated and not maintain a flat stomach.

What food should you avoid giving your Gecko?

It is just as important to learn what you shouldn’t be feeding your lizard, as well as what to feed it. For that reason I will share with you some big “no-no’s”. Avoid feeding them them insects or bugs that generate light in anyway. This is just one of natures warning signs.

Also, you should avoid feeding her wild insects. We touched on this briefly earlier. To re-iterate, the issue is we have no idea where these wild insects have been. And there is a chance that these insects could harm your lizard.

 

Related Questions:

Do geckos eat spiders? The short answer is yes. In . the wild they will typically eat any insect or small animal it can physically fit into its mouth. However in captivity they have a more of a reduced list due to convenience and availability of food sources by their owners.

Do geckos eat ants? Similar to above, Yes they will. As stated above, in the wild they will pretty much eat anything they can get hold of and can physically fit in their mouth.

Do geckos eat scorpions? Yes, geckos do eat scorpions. In particular baby scorpions in the wild. In fact some species help to control the population of scorpions.

Do rats eat geckos? Yes, rats will Geckos if they get a chance. However they would have to be quite big and more likely to eat it if they find it dead and easy prey. On the flip side, Geckos will eat small rat babies if available.

Do lizards eat termites? Yes, they will eat Termites, as well as any small insect for that matter.

Do geckos bite? Yes, but only if they are actually provoked. And in reality the bite is not that powerful, so in the event that the average man was bitten, it would not likely be a big issue. It’s more likely to surprise  someone rather than cause major physical damage.

Is it possible for a Gecko to eat another Gecko? Yes, but it is more likely to happen if they are different species of Gecko. Or a substantial size difference.

Do Geckos eat Fruit or Vegetables? No, They do not each fruit or veg. As discussed earlier they are insectivores, so they only real go for insects. They will eat an insect that eats fruit and veg but that is really as far as it goes for them.

How to Clean a Vivarium

If you are serious about keeping lizards, cleaning out your vivarium is a must if you want to keep them happy. Personally growing up I was always a tidy person, fortunately I am a man of habit. So I will share with you some habitual practices needed to clean and care for your vivarium.

How do you clean a Vivarium? You need to clean it daily as well as more in-depth weekly clean. Weekly tasks includes removing all items, temporarily moving your lizard to a temporary tank or box, disinfecting the glass of the tank and replacing the substate.

As they say the devil is in the detail, so let’s look more in detail into these activities so you can understand how to do this starting immediately. But first let’s discuss why you even need to do this.

Why Should You be Cleaning Your Tank Regular?

If you are not a person who naturally feels the urge to clean regularly, you may even question, why even bother to clean it? Or maybe, why so often? Good question, in a nutshell, here are the main benefits:

  • Prevent bacteria
  • remove unwanted smells in your home
  • keep your lizard happy
  • Remove any chances of salmonella

Firstly, if you leave the tank unclean, there can dead plants, faeces, etc. These things can start to grow bacteria, which in turn can lead to infection and may in some cases affect the health of your lizard.

Another thing is the smell. If you have an average sized house, it won’t take long for a neglected lizard tank to turn into something smelling like rotten sewage.

Happy tank, happy lizard. If you keep it clean, your lizard will feel more happy there, and in turn will be more likely to stay there longer.

The faeces of these lizards can contain salmonella. Therefore it is within your interest to clear out the mess as soon as possible to stop this spreading to you or your family.

Why Should You Be Cleaning Out the Vivarium Plants too?

Clean vivarium Plants

Vivarium plants are great for decoration and keeping your lizard happy. However, they need to be maintained as much as the tank itself.

But why? Here are some reasons:

  • Can make your pet sick
  • parasites can be attracted to rotting plants
  • Rotting leaves can leave unwanted odours.

If the plants start to rot, not only can they smell like a baby has just filled its stinky nappy, they can start to attract parasites that can cause you and your lizard some problems.

How often should you clean a lizard tank?

As briefly mentioned earlier, there are two major intervals to consider. Daily as well as weekly. In the coming paragraphs I will explain why and what you need to do during these cleaning schedules to get it right.

What Should Do on The Daily Clean?

The Daily clean is more of a quick check up and tidy of essentials. The main things you need are as follows:

  • Empty and replenish Water Bowls
  • Remove lizard waste from substrate
  • Clean and food mess and re-stock as required.
  • Remove any debris in the substrate

The idea is to deal with urgent things that cannot wait for an entire week. When it comes to food and drink, you can’t wait a week to check, replenish and tidy these.

What Should You Do on The Weekly Clean?

The weekly clean is more in depth and should essentially bring the vivarium back to the same standard you started with, within reason.

Here are the key things that need to be done:

  • Completely empty the tank
  • Place lizards in another spare tank/box
  • Replace the substrate
  • Disinfect the glass enclosure.
  • Sterilise the rocks (3)

Some of these tasks will sound obvious, whereas, others, such as sterilising the rocks might not. So let me explain:

Completely empty the tank

Remove all the items from the tank. including plants, rocks, etc. This is so you can clean the glass later, don’t be lazy, empty the tank!

Place lizards in another spare tank/box

Move the lizards into another temporary vivarium or box to keep them safe while you clean out the tank.

Replace the substrate

Even if you have followed the daily steps above and cleaned the substrate on a daily basis. You will need to replace it on a weekly basis to keep it fresh.

Disinfect the glass enclosure.

One of the most important tasks is disinfecting the glass of the tank, assuming you are using glass tank. Firstly you need to wipe it down with warm soapy water and use something like a toothbrush to clean the hard to reach parts, such as the corners.

You then need to spray disinfectant on the glass and wipe it down to get rid of all the bacteria. Make sure that you choose a disinfectant solution that is powerful enough to clean the bacteria, but at the same time not enough to harm the lizard.

Things to Look out For on A Daily Basis

As well as the more thorough clean we just went through above, I need to explain the daily clean you will need to do, which is no where near as in-depth, but very important for you to keep on top of.

Here are the main things you need to do each day:

  • Amount of  food eaten
  • Temperature
  • Does the waste look normal?
  • Any unwanted parasites? (Mites, ticks, etc)
  • Do accessories look weathered and need replacing?
  • Does the cage look in good working order.

Let me break down each of these points for your convenience.

Amount of  food eaten

Check the food left over, is it ok or is it decaying? If its the later clean it up and replace it right away. We don’t want your lizard getting sick.

Temperature

Check the temperature to make sure that it is at the desired level for your lizard. This is not strictly a cleaning activity, but important to do while you are checking the tank.

Does the waste look normal?

Check your lizards waste to make sure that it looks normal. If it does not look normal to you, this is an opportunity to get your lizard checked out. Or just to flag up an issue that you can correct early.

Any unwanted parasites?

It is possible that your tank mite attract little unwanted parasites that could harm your pet. Look out for parasites such as mites and ticks. Sometimes you will see some warning signs in the feaces of your pet, hence the reason why it’s important to check that daily too, as discussed earlier.

Do accessories look weathered and need replacing?

You might find that the accessories you have in the tank start to look weathered and in need of replacement. This is an opportunity to get these replaced.

Does the cage look in good working order.

Are there any signs of damage to the actual tank itself? If yes, then it is a chance to get that replaced as well.

Related Questions:

How do you disinfect a bearded dragon tank? Disinfecting a bearded dragon tank, is the same as disinfecting a tank for any other lizard. As discussed earlier, you need to wipe it down with soapy water first, then spray disinfectant around the glass of the tank and clean off. Do not place the bearded dragon . back in until all smears are gone and tank is dry.

Can I use vinegar to clean my bearded dragons tank? According to petlifetoday, they say you can use a solution of vinegar and water. However this is something that I have not personally tried.