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Why do common lizards lift their feet?

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 5:11pm
This is very true Chris regarding papers, one has to be very careful and I'm usually more skeptical than convinced! 

I just had a thought dawn on me. When I'm really really close with the macro photography and the lizards are in the cracks in the logs, I wouldn't suspect they can see another lizard. (bearing in mind I probably know where the others are located at the time out of direct line of sight etc). What they may well see though is their own reflections in the lens! Perhaps a mirror will investigate this.

You are right about the finger, the usual response is to run towards it, then sit on top of it, nice and warm. So for me at least that points towards them definitely not regarding me as a predator, at least not in this situation.




Edited by GemmaJF - 28 Mar 2014 at 5:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 5:18pm
one of my favourite sand lizard sites, in Dorset, consists of piles of tiles next to a nature reserve (well known to quite a few people).  Here you can watch the sand lizards foot-waving to each other as they go about their business at high densities in this favoured area.  I'm certainly going to try to be more scientific when I next visit the site, and try to see exactly what's going on, but I would agree with Chris that most of the foot-waving is conspecific and seems to do with establishing / acknowledging the pecking order!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 5:46pm
Does the paper not also assume though that Type I and Type II responses do exist? I found that not well explained, I'll need to go through it and find the references as I'm assuming one or both relates to conspecific activity and somehow from video captured they established Type III was not.

Edited by GemmaJF - 28 Mar 2014 at 5:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 5:32pm
Reading through the paper again:

"One foot shake type in particular is performed in the presence of potential predators (e.g., snakes) leading to the hypothesis that the display may have an antipredator function, but this has never been tested."

From this Chris I assume the observers were able to recognise the foot shake as not of a type used towards conspecifics and as in someway distinct. 

"Type III foot shake displays are performed by lizards of both sexes and all ages, and consist of rotating motion of the entire foreleg. Lizards perform type III foot shakes while stationary or following a short relocation run often with no other lizards in sight"

I have seen the rotating motion rarely but Zootoca vivipara does do it. This seems to me distinct from plain foot lifting I've recently been observing. So I think the investment in a laser range finder to repeat the experiment with Zv might be worth the effort.


Edited by GemmaJF - 29 Mar 2014 at 5:38pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Mar 2014 at 7:03pm
Hi Gemma

I have had to read it again. One day, scientists will learn the rules of writing good English and that won't be necessary!

Certainly your assumption would be correct, but in all honesty I have seldom seen a one foot shake (assuming this is different to the Type III shake). Conversely, I can remember no example of the  Type III shake in relation to a predator. And "no other lizards in sight" is unfortunately very observer biased. Since I have seen several occasions on which territorial male sand lizard has seen and attacked another male 5 metres away from it, then unless the lizard in question is on a totally flat white canvas surrounding it for several metres, then one cannot assume there is no other lizard within its sight! Nor should one imply that this is the case as this quoted sentence does.
All of this simply confirms that this is worthy of further study - but on a much firmer basis.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Mar 2014 at 10:41am
Yes I agree Chris, I think we need a very firm foundation for what defines a foot shake, foot lift etc.

I think the researchers possibly did this using video capture evidence, but then do not reference the previous work sufficiently. There is only very scant mention of Type I and Type II and no explanation as to how they are distinct from Type III. So one is left to assume the observers in the experiment knew the difference - yet with very little insight as a reader as to what that difference might be! (I think I may contact the authors and see if they can shed further light on this).

I think a very simple way to test would be to use the research in the other paper posted by Liam. 

Placing a lizard in a container that has previously housed an adder should stimulate a Type III response in Zv. If this is clearly visually different to the responses observed towards conspecifics, it's 'game on'! Sadly the authors of the second paper though they mentioned observing foot lifts they didn't think to actually describe it and apparently also lost all the data on it!

I'm not keen to bring animals into captivity, but placing an animal briefly into say a small plastic aquarium or bucket for a short period in the field may work. 



Edited by GemmaJF - 30 Mar 2014 at 10:49am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Apr 2014 at 5:18pm
Having stated in black and white that most "foot waving/shaking" I have seen has been both con-specific and not followed by running away, today, in one of my vivaria I saw a Darevskia unisexualis (I'll leave you to guess what sex it was! Smile ) give the classic foot wave to an approaching Podarcis siculus male and then run away. The Ps was substantially bigger than the Du (and they are aggressive so and so's - I've seen one attack a cat and get away with it!!) so I think this could well qualify as a reaction to a potential predator.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote naysu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2014 at 11:48pm
Hi Guys :)
Sorry for dragging up this topic, as it's a little old, but I was reading the whole thing and joined the site to comment here and share my own experiences!

This is a behavious in common lizards that I have observed myself and also found incredibly interesting :).

I originaly had 3 baby common lizards (zootoca vivipara) 2 female and 1 male.
Initially, i had observed rapid front feet waves (up and down not in circles) when the lizards met face to face suddenly, and a couple of nips here and there, but within a week they had settled right down, and lived together for a while. I hadn't seen any foot gestures for the rest of their lives, no fighting, (spare them trying to steal food from one another at times) and so I just put it down to them being babies, and a little jumpy.

cut to now, I do not have the male anymore and have now just introduced 2 new lizards to the terrarium. one male to fill the gap and one very large pregnant female I wanted to observe and study the birth, feed the young for a good start and let the mother and babies go again.

now as soon as they were introduced the big female was very aggressive. nipping at any lizard that walked within range. lots of tail wiggles, and single front foot lifts (never two feet) up and down in rapid succession. she would do this just before biting, or if the other lizard walked away she would stop.

after a couple of nips, my lizards became wary of her (they were smaller in size) and this time, every time they approached her, or she approached them, they displayed very clearly, very exaggerated front arm waves (both arms, one up, one down) but no tail wiggle. to me this was clearly submissive, as they never followed it with an attack. (either relaxed or ran away)

now after that day I removed the large female and set up her own tank to give her peace. but left the male in, (she really hated that male for whatever reason) so now there was only 1 new lizard in the tank.

My two females (although slightly smaller) were not afraid of this male at all, and were happy to sit alongside him, on him, smell him etc.
however, the male for the first few days did the two arm wave when they approach or he approaches. after seeing no reply from them, he then approaches and basks next to them. Definitely appears to be submissive. he is settled right down now, and is hardly worried about them anymore.

I have some footage of these different behaviours i can put on youtube privately if any of you guys are interested for your research :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2014 at 11:27am
Thanks for sharing your observations, I would love to see the footage.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 May 2014 at 6:04am
Hi Gemma,
 
when I was young (here we go thinks Gemma, Uncle Albert with his stories again haha) I used to keep a young Grassie in the same tank as a common lizard, ignorant then of potential predation.
 
But the young grassie never ever made a move in that direction that I saw, but when it used to slide past the Lizard, the lizard would always raise its front left foot but never ran away...
 
I just made a mental note - but now you've struck a chord - you should do a paper like you say, especially as you have a few in your back garden.
 
Rob
 
Look at these two photos... Same lizard, a minute in between shots, as he got used to me being there... The change in expression from sort of shocked to sort of pissed off is I think pronounced...
 
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RobV
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