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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 12:41pm
You'd need a mortgage for a Komodo Dragon mdoel Will!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote liamrussell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 12:46pm
Some more useful research seems to point to it being a predator response, I guess to demonstrate ability to flee quickly and make potential predators think it's not worth effort. So they are waving at you rather than other lizards, to say you can't catch me so you might as well not even try.

This is for Podarcis muralis and is quite detailed: http://paucarazo.com/Font_et_al.JCP.2012.pdf

This is for common lizards, but a bit less conclusive: http://lacertilia.de/AS/Bibliografie/BIB_1055.pdf
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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 1:03pm
Thanks Liam, I was just searching through to see how much previous research there has been, hadn't found those. I'm pretty sure now a lot of what I've captured on film recently of arm lifting is directed at me as I see it most often with lone individuals and during the macro photography when I'm very close and there is a lot of noise from the camera shutter. I wonder what they would do if I did it back to them!

This one I've just started to read through, not a closely related species but it does seem arm waving it well developed in several/many lizard species





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote liamrussell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 1:29pm
Here's a picture of one waving at me with all four legs...


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 1:34pm
There are so many strands to this. I guess observation of lizards - how many/proximity/gender/age, then air temp and ground temp, then times of day (perhaps this will only help as regards temperature).
As you will 'know' your lizards Gemma you should soon be able to spot patterns, if any, and maybe make predictions.
I think it is fascinating to do this kind of stuff. Find things out not in books.
Suz
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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 4:11pm
It's intriguing stuff for sure. So reading through the papers Liam posted  Podarcis muralis has 3 types of foot movement type III being the signal to predators. I've definitely seen a foot lift with clear circling motion from common lizards in the past. The ones I'm currently seeing are direct lifts up like in Liam's picture. I'm wondering if they have different meanings.

Interesting the second paper mentions 'Starts' which is the behaviour I've also observed a lot recently, where they will suddenly make a move and run and thrash about then start to move normally.

I've also observed stroboscopic movements in the past too, though interestingly the author of the paper only reports seeing this in direct response to chemical cues from snakes.

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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 4:14pm
exactly, Suz - perhaps leading to rauk's first joint scientific publication?

Liam - foot-waving could therefore perhaps be like a warning call given by a bird, not so much to alert other birds but to say to the predator 'don't even try!' another interesting possibility, although in my experience the lizard will wave once the human has approached it up close, ie exactly when it could be caught. I would expect a lizard to foot wave as soon as it was spotted by the lizard, to discourage a closer approach. The more you think about it, the more complex it gets...
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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 4:24pm
Originally posted by will will wrote:

exactly, Suz - perhaps leading to rauk's first joint scientific publication?

Liam - foot-waving could therefore perhaps be like a warning call given by a bird, not so much to alert other birds but to say to the predator 'don't even try!' another interesting possibility, although in my experience the lizard will wave once the human has approached it up close, ie exactly when it could be caught. I would expect a lizard to foot wave as soon as it was spotted by the lizard, to discourage a closer approach. The more you think about it, the more complex it gets...

That's a very interesting point Will, reading the Podarcis muralis paper suggests that the Type III foot wave when displayed, is followed by the animal fleeing. The signal being given no closer than a meter away from the predator. I'm in much closer than that with the photography, and they do not flee, usually at the end of the session I can retreat leaving them just where they have been basking all morning. In fact recently I've even moved my finger up close to them just to see what happens. Can anyone predict what they do?
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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 4:49pm
PS Will I like the idea of a joint paper, that would be something!

I'm in a position to repeat the methodology (on a small scale) of the first paper posted by Liam:


This would involve approaches using binoculars to ACO and observing lizards on the objects I have at a local survey site (i.e. with lizards not accustomed to me sitting with them for hours on end) and see what happens. This could then be repeated by other members and we could pool the results. Certainly for now trying to establish how many types of signal exist for Zootoca vivipara seems like a way forward, so evidence or not of a 'Type III' response will help.


Edited by GemmaJF - 28 Mar 2014 at 4:50pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Iowarth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 4:54pm
I have read the two papers. Although there is some excellent work I feel that the Podarcis one has some shortcomings. Referring specifically to the Type III foot shake or wave I certainly wouldn't dispute that it may well be a predator response - but far from exclusively so. They make a specific statement that it does not appear to be conspecific which is totally opposed to my observations in both captivity and the wild. I believe this may simply be observational error - the fact that the observer cannot see another lizard doesn't mean it isn't there! I regret that we have a common problem, even in and certainly not restricted to scientific papers - the drawing of foregone conclusions from unwarranted assumptions!
When searching for lizards I tend to move very slowly (actually the only way I can move nowadays!) and try not to be silhouetted against the sky. Consequently, judging by the lizards' reactions, I seldom cause anything other than curiosity once I get reasonably (=very) close.
In almost every case, the observation of this arm waving is followed, shortly thereafter by the appearance of another dominant or potentially dominant animal in the same species. I have seen this innumerable times in Zootoca and several species each of Lacerta and Podarcis.
Probably the most outstanding example was a female green lizard which my partner and I saw on small open patch adjacent to dense heather. My partner saw it first and actually spotted it quickly due to the waving motion - although the lizard wasn't even looking at us. She said " There must be another lizard nearby". Look as we might, we were unable to see one - and yet, three minutes later a large male emerged from the heather in the direction she had been looking eliciting even more frantic arm waving. He just settled down to bask next to her and the arm waving ceased. After just a minute she started again, now looking in a slightly different direction. Sure enough, this time within seconds, another larger female emerged from the heather. Again she was content just to bask and the arm waving ceased. Even though the first female clearly saw and reacted to the other animals, we were unable to see them until they emerged into the open - and we are both very good at spotting animals even in dense vegetation.
I am bound to say that despite my training as a scientist I am growing more and more sceptical of more and more scientific papers on an almost daily basis - due generally to their conflict with many years of personal observation. (Incidentally, Gemma, when I was younger and didn't shake so much, I was able to approach Common Lizards as you do and even get them to climb onto my fingers. They enjoyed it (the warmth of my hands) so much that the biggest problem was usually scraping them off!)

Chris

Chris Davis, Site Administrator

Co-ordinator, Sand Lizard Captive Breeding Programme (RETIRED)
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