An Odd Interaction in Sitana and Anolis

When videotaping Sitana last year, I noticed an odd interaction between a male and female, wherein the female suddenly ran towards the male, and after he displayed a little bit at her, she sat on him. She remained there for a couple of minutes, and then ran away.

Anolis cristatellus female sitting on male (photo by Kristin Winchell)

Anolis cristatellus female sitting on male (photo by Kristin Winchell)

I had no idea what was happening–there were at least two more females in the vicinity, and I wondered if this sitting behaviour was an instance of female competition over the male. But I didn’t see the behaviour again, and thought no more of it until Kristin Winchell mentioned that she had seen similar behaviour in her captive Anolis cristatellus, being housed in male-female pairs for a common garden experiment. Moreover, she has noticed the same pairs repeatedly engaging in such interactions. Any thoughts on what might be going on?

Anolis cristatellus female sitting on male (photo by Kristin Winchell)

Anolis cristatellus female sitting on male (photo by Kristin Winchell)

10 thoughts on “An Odd Interaction in Sitana and Anolis

  1. I regularly see this in captive Anolis. I have always attributed it to the limited perch availability in captive situations or perhaps aggregation in an optimal thermal microclimate in the cage. Now you’ve got me thinking if there is more to it.

    1. It would be interesting to see whether the behaviour persists in captive animals after adding more perches or new heat sources. It’s quite possible that there are different reasons for the behaviour in these different taxa, but it would be cool if it were the same!

      1. I think this behavior is most likely due to limited perch availability and microclimate within cages, but it would be worth testing this by adding more perches and or heat sources. I don’t recall seeing this behavior with much frequency in our colony of A. distichus. Perhaps this is because our lizards can perch on the walls or the tops of our cages as well as the dowels? We also don’t have spot lights or other heat sources that might attract them to a particular end of the cage.

          1. That’s fantastic! Given how common this seems to be in captive anoles, and how rare it is in the field for Sitana, I’m tending towards there being different explanations.

          2. I agree 100% with Rich that this is most likely an artifact of captivity. Anolis cristatellus (being trunk ground anoles) do not generally perch from the cage lid or on the sides of the cage, so their perch sites are strongly limited in captivity. (At least under the captive housing conditions that we use.)

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