How Do Lizards Have Sex?
Let me explain exactly how lizards have sex. As interesting as this may sound, Lizards only interest is breeding to re-produce (Click here to see my favourite breeding box on Amazon), 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.
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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?
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.
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.