Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lizard love?

I shall preface this story with an incident that happened yesterday afternoon. I was in my office, seated at my desk, when I heard something scratching at a window behind me. I got up, thinking What kind of bird this time? I peered through the mini blinds and saw a TEXAS SPINY LIZARD! I ran to the dining room and quietly opened the door to the back yard. Sure enough, the lizard was by the window, perched on the brick facing (which we call the "catwalk" because cats like to walk along it). As soon as I started down the back steps, the lizard scurried along the catwalk, then down the brick wall and into the salvias. Oh, well. I thought nothing more of the incident. Other than how cool! We love our spiny lizards.

THEN last night after supper, I was making my rounds through the gardens when I happened to spot a spiny lizard, apparently in the process of digging out a place to deposit her eggs in a flower bed. Last August, we observed one doing the same thing in the Meadow.
I was headed back inside the house to tell James when I SPOTTED A SECOND LIZARD on the side of the house! James was just coming out to the back yard. "JAMES, COME SEE!" I hollered (but not too loud) as I waved him over. This was a first for us–to observe two lizards while one was laying eggs.

Here's a photo of the two of them. She's on the ground in the far bottom corner, up against the rocks. The second one on the wall was very dark colored, but later he/she lightened and she darkened.
We left them alone and went inside the house to watch from our bedroom window. After we were gone, the second lizard climbed down the wall and got closer to her. The photo below was taken through the window (she's barely visible on the left bottom side). She finished her project while the other one climbed over to the other side of the rocks near the plant. Finally, the first lizard scuttled away. We don't know where the other he/she went after that because we gave up the watch.

I'm going to email this post to Travis LaDuc with Herps of Texas (and the curator at the Division of Herpetology at the Biodiversity Collections, Department of Integrative Biology at The University of Texas at Austin) and ask if he's seen this behavior before. 

UPDATE Travis responds: "Some lizards are known to lay eggs in communal nests, though I don’t know if this has been reported in Texas spiny lizards. My guess is that lizard #2 was another female, scoping out the nest site excavated by lizard #1. Lizard #2 looks a bit chunky, like she’s ready to lay some eggs too. Just a guess, but good for you guys for seeing and documenting such interesting behavior!"


TexasDeb said...

Even for some lizards it takes a village, eh? : ) Fascinating post - thanks for sharing!

Melody said...

Sheryl, I love Texas Spiney Lizards too! For 3 years I've had one that comes racing out of the barn whenever I turn on the hose to water my compost pile. It knows that insects are going to come scrambling out and it will have a yummy meal. I even started digging up grubs for it and now it's totally spoiled. During the winter it disappears and then shows up again in the spring. I've taken some neat video of it eating and once put down rhinoceros beetle grubs to see if it would eat it them. I wish I could have read his mind when it saw those huge things!

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