Where Do Sitana Sleep?

Sleeping Sitana

Sleeping Sitana

If you’re in the field looking for lizards, knowing where they sleep can be tremendously useful. Anyone who’s tried catching an anole at night knows how much easier this can be than catching it during the day.  When I began working with Sitana, therefore, I was keen to locate where these lizards slept. Being primarily terrestrial, it made sense that they would sleep under rocks, in cracks in the ground, or buried beneath grass, bushes, or leaf litter. I had some indirect evidence for the utilization of these locations as sleeping sites–I had seen lizards emerging from and retreating to these locations early in the morning and late in the evening, respectively.

However, I did not expect that fan-throated lizards would sleep completely in the open on the ground. Yet that is precisely what my colleague Divyaraj Shah recently observed. You can see the lizard’s head pointing downwards, resting on the ground below–he does not seem disturbed at this point.

Is it common for terrestrial lizards to sleep in open, unsheltered spots?

7 thoughts on “Where Do Sitana Sleep?

  1. Interesting finding! Hertz and Huey have observed A. shrevei occur in very open grasslands, but it’s unclear whether they sleep in there. I have also observed A. shrevei emerging from grassy clumps early in the morning, but I don’t know if they shelter there overnight. And, even still, the dense grass clumps provide more shelter than just sleeping out in the open like this lizard. At any rate, I have never seen anoles sleeping out on the ground in the open like that, but I also wasn’t necessarily looking for them there.

      1. So this is the only record you know of? It would be cool to try for more. Occasionally I hear of Central American anoles found on the ground in open places, but the only photo I’ve seen was of a clearly sick (potentially dying) individual.

        Have you tried flipping rocks at night to find them?

        1. This is the only record I know of of one sleeping in the open. I’m quite sure one can find them sleeping under rocks (found a few this way early in the morning), or in cracks in the ground, or under leaf litter/in the grass. I haven’t needed to do much searching at night–they’re abundant and easy enough to catch during the day. I’ll let you know if we come across more sleeping in the open!

  2. What nocturnal predators are there? And, if they didn’t use the ground, what options do they have? Could be a temperature issue. Or, is it possible that this one guy represents a freak occurrence?

    1. Saw-scaled vipers abound in Sitana habitat, so sleeping in the open seems risky. I imagine this guy is a freak occurrence, since they could easily sleep in more sheltered areas (under rocks, in cracks in the ground, under vegetation, etc).

  3. Not infrequently, I found small, diurnal lizards in the Mojave Desert on paved roads at night, apparently sleeping—notably Phrynosoma platyrhinos. They were undoubtedly attracted to the warmth of the asphalt, but staying in the open that way does seem very strange (many canid predators, for example, are nocturnal). In this case, it is probably not a ‘typical’ behavior, but I can’t say I ever looked for them sleeping on rocks at night away from the road (the observations were incidental while night-driving, looking for snakes).

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