Dominican anoles that bask together, stick together

I am irreparably fond of anoles, but I must admit that they are not the cuddliest of beasts. In fact, they can be downright unfriendly, especially with each other. The mere sight of another male sends anoles into spasms and, when not mating, males and females seem to barely tolerate each other, at best. It would seem that cuddling is best left to mammals and birds, but recent observations would indicate that even the ornery anole has a soft side.

Anolis shrevei mating pair cuddling in Valle Nuevo, Dominican Republic.

post by Kat Wollenberg on this blog documented two Anolis etheridgei sleeping with their tails intertwined. A follow-up  post by Melissa Woolley shows that Anolis gemmosus mating pairs sleep near each other, even if not touching.

But does an anole have to be asleep to show its softer side? In June 2011 I observed an Anolis shrevei mating pair in Valle Nuevo cuddle as they basked one afternoon. It is chilly at 2500 meters, even in the Dominican Republic. It had been a cold morning, and neither the sun nor the lizards had shown themselves until almost noon. But when the sun did peek out from behind the clouds, there was a mass exodus of anoles, which came out from under their rocks to take advantage of the day’s first rays. This little pair came out from under the same rock and sat together for close to an hour. They were touching each other, despite the fact that there seemed to be enough rock to go around. Whether this was coincidence or another mechanism of behavioral thermoregulation, the anoles of the chilly Cordillera Central know how to keep warm.

About marthamunoz

Martha is working on her PhD on the thermal ecology and evolution of anoles in the Losos Lab at Harvard University.
This entry was posted in Natural History Observations, Notes from the Field. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Dominican anoles that bask together, stick together

  1. hispanioland says:

    Ha! It was joyful to watch this, after several days of rain, how these critters came out from the hides and gathered in such a “tender” or smart way. No doubt Valle Nuevo is a land of extreme weather, they earned their spot up there. Thanks for sharing, didn’t take any pictures.

    Indeed, it seems they cuddle in seek of protection and possible for warming up, I wonder If it would ever happens with more than two individuals, let’s keep an eye on this!

  2. marthamunoz says:

    It’s true – It was so interesting to see them all come out at once! I also wonder if cuddling has ever happened with more than two individuals, or if two females would be as tolerant of each other… You the one who creates magic with the camera, so keep an eye out for all of us!

  3. Bill Bateman says:

    Could it not simply be mate guarding?

  4. marthamunoz says:

    Interesting! Seems quite possible to me, Bill.

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