Sitana Fight!

Sitana at Manimutharu, Tamil Nadu (photo by Ambika Kamath)

Sitana at Manimutharu, Tamil Nadu (photo by Ambika Kamath)

Earlier this year, I lamented not having any cameras when I witnessed the most epic fight in 5 months of Sitana fieldwork. As luck would have it, I saw an equally impressive fight on the last day of my sixth month of  Sitana observation, and this time I had a video camera! I was working in Manimutharu, Tamil Nadu, at the Agasthyamalai Community-Based Conservation Centre, home to Sitana with partially-coloured dewlaps.

A map of the Sitana populations I've sampled.

A map of the Sitana populations I’ve sampled.

This male-male interaction lasted over 11 minutes, and ended only because I disturbed the lizards. Neither male was injured at all when I caught them after the fight. I’ve broken the video into two parts, one short and one long. The video begins when I realised I was watching two lizards–one is on the large rock to the right, and the other just below the rock on the left. Apologies for the shaky camera-work.

In between the two videos is over two minutes of the lizards biting each other ceaselessly. This length of fighting is atypical–actual combat between Sitana males is usually over in seconds, though the displays and staring-competitions can persist for much longer.  This second video gives a better feel for the pace of these interactions. The lizards start out near the rocks on the right of the screen.

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