Scatting behaviour of the sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa
Majoros, Peter N
Bull, Christopher Michael
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The use of chemical signals for communication is wide spread in many animal taxa. Squamates in particular have a highly developed vomeronasal system and investigate chemical signals through tongue flicking. In some lizard species, individuals have been shown to be able use chemical signals, including those from faeces (scats), for discriminating between kin and conspecifics and members and non-members of social groups. The Australia scincid lineage Egernia, is one group that has an unusually high number of species reported to produce scat piles close to their refuge sights. In this paper we explore the scatting behaviour of the sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa, a member of the Egernia lineage to determine whether there is any evidence of an aggregated deposition pattern of scats by this lizard, similar to other member species in the lineage. We found that unlike related species that appear to use scat piles as social markers, sleepy lizards do not deposit scats in any systematic latrine system, or in piles to indicate occupancy of an area. Rather, they appear to be scatting haphazardly inside their home range. A conclusion from this comparison is that scat piling in the Egernia lineage is associated more with refuge defence than with social aggregation.