California Alligator Lizard


Reproductive success is one of the most important aspects of life on Earth. Producing viable offspring that can grow into populations can guarantee the survival of a species. The California Alligator lizard is no exception. There are both physical and environmental conditions that must be met before sexual reproduction can occur. The environmental conditions required for reproduction between male and female Elgaria are not very complex. At the most basic level, the lizards require cooler body temperatures in order to be physically active. The coolestAlligator Lizard Reproduction temperatures being recorded near fifty- two degrees Fahrenheit (Brattstrom 1965). In order to provide the cool climate, the lizards will often seek shelter in rock crevices or burrows. Another basic requirement for reproduction to occur is the time of year. The California Alligator lizard mates in the springtime. It will typically be the second spring of a lizard’s life, when the reptile has reached the maturity of about eighteen months. (Goldberg 1972). Physical conditions that dictate the reproduction of Elgaria ceorulea include a mysterious courtship practice that has not been studied very extensively at this time. However, male alligator lizards have been known to bite down on the heads of female lizards and hold the females at bay until permission to begin the reproductive cycle has been granted (califoriaherps 2014). It is unsure whether or not this is an evolutionary practice that is an attempt to impress the female or simply to keep her away from other prospective Reproducticonbachelors. Once the female accepts the male’s courtship she will eventually lay a hatch of eggs in one of her cool climate hideouts which can occur as early as May or late as July and there are typically 5-20 eggs per hatch (National Park Service 2014). The size of the female will also determine the amount of the eggs in a hatch as larger females will yield more eggs than smaller females (Goldberg 1972). Female lizards also have the capacity to lay two or three hatches of eggs per mating season (Burrage 1965). This evolutionary trait ensures the survival of the lizards in spite of predation from snakes and raptors in addition to unexpected environmental changes. Once the eggs are laid, they will hatch after eleven weeks of incubation by the mother. The newborns will be just over an inch long and will weigh approximately two ounces (National Park Service 2014). Adult maturity is reached within eighteen months of life and at that time the lizards will have the ability to reproduce. The California Alligator lizard can live up to fifteen years of age with the average being between ten and fifteen years (San Diego Zoo 2008). An adult alligator lizard will grow up to a foot in body length and the tail can be up to twice the length of the body. Successful reproduction has yielded a diverse collection of reptiles throughout North America. Elgaria ceorulea is one of the species that has thrived due to the evolutionary advantage of sexual reproduction. However, proper climate, maturity, and courtship are requirements for this particular reptile to reproduce. The production of viable offspring is further compounded by the size of the mother lizard as well as time in the mating season that would allow multiple hatches to be laid. All these factors make up the reproductive aspect of the California Alligator Lizard’s biology.