Q:

How do lizards communicate?

A:

Lizards communicate through body language, sound and visual displays, such as posturing and gestures, in addition to bright colors and even barking or hissing. These communications are used to ward off rivals or potential predators and to attract mates.

Lizards have many different methods for communicating with each other and with other creatures. The frilled lizard has a large flap of brightly colored skin around its neck, which it can unfold to look more menacing, while hissing loudly with its mouth agape, according to the American Museum of Natural History. If that tactic fails, the lizard rears up on its hind legs and, as a last resort, runs away. A male anole uses a combination of head-bobbing, tail-waiving and a colored flap of skin under its neck to discourage other males from entering its territory. The tokay gecko barks and gapes at almost anything that gets near it and readily attacks if the warning goes unheeded.

Lizards also use tail-slaps to indicate irritation and aggression. Some defensive displays, such as inflating the body and facing broad-side to a potential threat to appear physically larger, are used to send a type of false communication. Some species of island lizards compete fiercely to get noticed by females, jumping high into the air to stand out among the thousands of other suitors. The same species also puts on a visual display for rival males by flattening its body and turning to one side, which, if not successful in warding the rival off, is the prelude to a physical confrontation.


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