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Why Do Lizards Fight Each Other?

If you are researching lizards, or just curious, chances are you may have wondered what motivates them to fight…

Why do lizards fight each other

Not all lizards are guaranteed to get along – even, sometimes, with their species! Lizards can fight for different reasons, though most often it is about territorial dominance or for the right to court a desired mate. In some cases, lizards will even kill a potential mate, if she is the only female there to receive his attention.

Except for a handful of species, such as Bearded Dragons, some Geckos, and Anoles, most lizards will do best if they are housed separately and you want to include lots of hidey-hole and space to help things along.

If your lizards are fighting, it could be quite vicious, and so you’ll need to separate them to ensure their safety, as one or both of them may become wounded enough that you could lose them.

Do lizards ever fight to the death?

Two ocellated lizards outdoors fighting.

Two ocellated lizards are outdoors fighting.

Usually, the fighting will stop when one lizard is heavily wounded, but there is no guarantee of this. Alligator lizards, for instance, will bite the heads off of other species of lizard that invade their territories.

Unless you are very careful about the species that you select, fighting is a possibility, and it’s best to keep the lizards in their enclosures to avoid this.

Do domesticated lizards still fight?

Yes, domesticated lizards can and do fight from time to time. This is instinctual behavior, as each lizard wants to be the boss of their territory, although some species will get along together in an enclosure as long as there is plenty of space, places to hide, and enough food to go around.

How can I prevent my lizards from fighting?

Separating the lizards is the only 100% foolproof method of keeping them from fighting, though in some cases you can add some hollow logs and other potential hiding places inside the enclosure and this will help the less dominant lizard to keep a healthy distance from the more aggressive one.

Just keep in mind that there are no guarantees, here. If they are currently fighting and you don’t separate them, then eventually they may fight again and one of the lizards may become badly hurt. Your best bet is always going to be separate enclosures if you are hosting a species that is known to be aggressive to its own.

Some species can learn to get along, such as anoles who simply fight to establish a ‘pecking order’ of dominance, but you’ll need to check your specific species to determine if this is the case for them as well.

Are two male lizards more likely to fight?

Yes, two males are more likely to fight than a male and a female, or two females housed During mating season, if you have a male and a female housed together, the male can be quite rough with her and she may become wounded if she is the only female in the enclosure.

In general, housing two females tends to result in less fighting, but some can and does still occur, although it’s less likely if there is disproportionate sizing between the two – as the small one will generally steer clear of the larger.

That said, you need to check the specific species, as females can still get into fights, and while they are usually less intense than male fighting, one of the females could still get hurt.

Do lizards fight to mate?

Yes, lizards do fight over females, and when one of them wins the right to court a female, in some species that will entail ‘biting’ the back of her neck or even her head to hold her still and to mate with her.

If you have a male and a female lizard together and it looks like the male is biting at her neck or head, and it just happens to be spring (the mating season for most North American lizards), then you aren’t necessarily witnessing a fight.

That said – check the species for specific mating information and for how they get along with others of their species. Some lizards have to be housed on their own; others mayough with a single female in the cage, possibly enough to harm her.

Behaviors can vary a lot with the different species, so if you are housing them together then this is research that you need to do to avoid any fighting when you won’t be there to separate them.

Will lizards eat each other?

It depends on the lizards, but there is certainly a possibility. Some lizards hunt smaller lizards of other species in the wild, while some lizards may be unsafe to keep around even their own.

Bearded Dragons, for instance, often do quite well when housed together, but if you have a male and a female and they become parents, then things can get a little dangerous for the baby Beardies. While it doesn’t happen 100% of the time, Bearded Dragons – even the mom – sometimes eat their babies.

It’s vital to do your homework when it comes to housing two particular species together. Remember – just because they are the same species doesn’t mean that they won’t fight or even eat each other. Many are solitary and they seem pretty intent on keeping things that way.

Do lizards eat each other’s tails?

Two green lizards fighting with one biting the others tail.

Two green lizards fighting with one biting the tail of the other.

Yes, when a lizard detaches its tail to foil a predator if the predator doesn’t gobble it up then another lizard or even the one that dropped it might well eat that tail. It’s got protein and fat, after all, and once it’s detached then the practical lizards don’t seem to see much point in wasting a potential food source.

What happens when you see two lizards fighting?

It could be actual fighting to establish dominance (or even to the death) or if you have a male and female in the cage, then it might simply be mating behaviors. Some species of lizards, when they mate, will bite at the head or the neck of the female and clamp their jaws into place to hold her still for mating.

If you have two males, however, then it could be a fight that will end when one is dominant or when one is gravely injured. As such, it’s best to separate them and house them individually, or at least separate them for feeding (especially during spring, as the mating season ramps up the aggression).

Why do small lizards fight?

There are a handful of reasons why small lizards may fight. Territorial dominance is a big one, and depending on the species they might pose and posture, puffing themselves up first, before locking jaws and going to battle, or they might just flat-out attack each other.

Fighting over a potential mate is another common reason, and in enclosures, lizards will sometimes fight over favorite foods or even get along fine until you add another lizard into the tank and it becomes viewed as ‘overcrowded’.

Check the species that you are looking to house together out in advance to avoid this issue in the future. Often you will find species-specific requirements, such as only housing two females together, or male and female only, or even a strict recommendation of housing each lizard on their own.

Some lizards can’t even be housed with their own young – so it pays to do a little research before you purchase more than one lizard with the hopes of housing them together. They might not get along as well as you would think, even with their species!


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