Mating behavior and female accompaniment in the whiptail lizard Cnemidophorus ocellifer (Squamata, Teiidae) in the Caatinga region of northeastern Brazil

Comportamento de acasalamento e acompanhamento da fêmea no lagarto-da-cauda-de-chicote Cnemidophorus ocellifer (Squamata, Teiidae) na Caatinga, nordeste do Brasil

We report here a set of observations on mating behavior and female accompaniment by the whiptail lizard Cnemidophorus ocellifer in an area of Caatinga (xerophilous open forests) in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, northeastern Brazil. We observed a stationary male lizard performing repeated vibratory movements of the pelvis and tail base upon the sandy soil. Since that male was in front of a burrow in which a female of the same species was sheltered, we hypothesize that this behavior may be part of a courtship display. We continued the observation and later, when the female emerged from the burrow, the male climbed on her and the copulation occurred. The incident of accompaniment observed was characterized by one male continuously accompanying a female during foraging. Plausible functional explanations for a male accompany a female include mating guarding, post-copulatory courtship, and sperm loading. By accompanying females, males would be guaranteeing insemination by multiple copulation and stimulation of the female, and protecting their paternity by chasing away other males, diminishing the chances of extra-pair copulations.

behavior; courtship; mating; reproduction; teiids; Caatinga


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