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Scatting behaviour of the pygmy bluetongue lizard

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We used video recordings of 29 pygmy bluetongue lizards for ten days of each month during their spring and summer activity season to observe scatting behaviour. This was possible because resident lizards rarely moved from their single entrance burrows. We used these observations to ask questions about social communication that might be relevant to conservation of this endangered species. We found lizards produced more scats in the middle of the day than earlier or later in the day, and more scats in the spring and early summer than later in the summer. Lizards moved an average of 68.54 ± 0.09 cm from their burrow entrance to deposit scats, taking an average of 2.4 min per defecation trip. They tended to use the same path direction for most defecation trips, but used more different directions if there were more close neighbours, strongly supporting a hypothesis that scats mark burrow ownership. The results suggested that conservation managers might reduce stress for relocated lizards by removing scat piles in the early stages of settlement.

Affiliations: 1: 1School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia


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