Odd Behavior in Captive Anoles – Notes from an Anolis cybotes breeding project

Anoles cozy up in captivity. Photo by Huai-Ti Lin

This summer I have been breeding several populations of cybotoids to assess egg stage at laying in this environmentally-varied clade of anoles. The cybotoids are trunk-ground anoles from Hispaniola, which includes Anolis cybotes and related species. Captive animals often exhibit behaviors they normally may not perform in the wild, and my colony is no exception. I offer two examples and am wondering if the readers of this blog have come across similar phenomena. First, a female Anolis cybotes ate one of her eggs. When I came to search for eggs it was already in her mouth and, when I returned later, she had swallowed it. Second, the two anoles pictured here found a cozy sleeping spot together on their bamboo pole perch. Is it odd for females to eat their own eggs, or do anoles in captivity commonly do so? I should add that these lizards are properly fed, and so hunger is not likely to be the cause of the behavior. Do mating pairs warm up to each other when kept together in captivity, or do they generally keep a healthy distance even in a cage?

About Martha Muñoz

Martha is a postdoctoral researcher in Sheila Patek's laboratory at Duke University. She received her Ph.D. at Harvard University, where she studyied the evolutionary ecology and thermal physiology of anoles, focusing on the cybotoid anoles from the Dominican Republic. Martha serves as Conference Editor for the Anole Annals. Website: www.marthamunoz.weebly.com

6 thoughts on “Odd Behavior in Captive Anoles – Notes from an Anolis cybotes breeding project

  1. In our A. distichus breeding colony we haven’t encountered females eating eggs, although I have come across unfertilized eggs eaten by the crickets we feed our anoles. Our cages are set up with one male and two females and I think we’ve seen every possible combination of that set piled up on the wooden dowels we keep in the cages as perches. I’ll check to see if we have images tomorrow.

    1. Interesting! I have seen crickets eating each other in the cages, but not the eggs, yet. I’ll keep an eye out for that. Multiple A. distichus on a wooden dowel might redefine the moped top game. I’d love to see pictures.

  2. We have not seen a female eat her own egg before either. Similar problems with crickets or earwigs in the substrate, but never the female. In our colony, if an egg is not buried by the female who is housed on several inches of substrate, it is a strong indication that the egg is infertile. May be the same case here? We commonly see our Anolis and chamaeleolis “couples” perching together, most commonly under their hot spot.

    1. I wonder if the egg was infertile – that might explain things. And it seems that perching together is pretty common for anoles. Thanks for the info!

  3. Yeah, I was also wondering if it was infertile, since captive females of other lizard genera (e.g., Phelsuma) will commonly eat their infertile eggs – “duds” in breeder lingo.

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