Female Brown Anole Inspecting Nest Pot

It is not new to most of us that female lizards choose between different nest sites (e.g. Shine & Harlow, 1996; Warner & Andrews, 2002), anoles included (Socci et al., 2005; Reedy et al., 2012 – covered on Anole Annals). But what is new to me is how females assess soil characteristics to decide where to lay their eggs.

Brown anoles in an intimate moment.

Brown anoles in an intimate moment.

For context, I recently started to breed brown anoles in the lab for the first time. I’m using large vertical screen cages in an outdoor set up, which I believe makes them pretty comfortable to keep their daily anole life. There have been lots of  male-male interactions (displaying and serious fights), mating and nesting.

A few days ago I started to notice females head down in the nests pots, breathing heavily from time to time. I wondered if they were inspecting the nest pots before laying and shared a video on Twitter. They take a long time in that position, which made me really curious to know how they assess their chosen nest-site characteristics. Let me know if you know more about it. Posted above is the video I uploaded to youtube.

I feel so lucky to be able to observe all these cool behaviors and I hope to share some more soon!

About Renata Brandt

I'm currently a post doc with Dan Warner at Auburn University and Tiana Kohlsdorf at USP Ribeirão Preto. I'm broadly interested in all aspects of lizard evolutionary biology, first Tropidurus and now anoles! For more on me and my research go to renatabrandt.weebly.com

4 thoughts on “Female Brown Anole Inspecting Nest Pot

  1. That’s pretty cool! Looks like she makes a bit of a cavity with her head and then smells using her nose (main olfactory system). The rib movement is associated with lung ventilation and air is inhaled through the nostrils, i.e., she is ‘sniffing’ (which is technically a mammalian trait, but analogous behaviors are known for a variety of animals, including invertebrates). A number of lizards use buccal pulsing for ‘sniffing’ (notably geckoes), but I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in this context. By making a cavity, she presumably can sample volatiles given off by the soil and assess it that way. She might also get information about humidity. It’s possible she is tongue-flicking, as well (vomeronasal olfaction), but I don’t see any evidence of that. Lizard olfactory behavior is so poorly known and described, I think that if you observe this in more than one female, it is worth at least a natural history note in Herpetological Review. Thanks for sharing this!

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