Research output

Chemoreceptive and behavioural responses of the common lizard Lacerta vivipara to snake chemical deposits

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article



Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1805-1813
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1986


Behavioural cues were used to assay the capacity of common lizards to detect chemical deposits of snakes. The lizards were observed in cages that had been previously inhabited either by one of two species of snake that feed on lizards (the viper Vipera berus and the smooth snake Coronella austriaca), or the grass snake (Natrix natrix), which does not feed on lizards. As a control, the lizards were tested both in a clean cage and in one sprayed with a pungent odorant. The lizards responded to the snakes' chemicals by increased tongue-flick rates, with the highest rates being given in response to the deposits of their predators. The chemosensory examination of the snakes' odours induced a shift in general behaviour in response to the predator, but not to the non-predator chemical cues. This behavioural response consisted mainly of a disruption of the locomotor patterns. Our findings strongly suggest that lizards detected and distinguished between the chemicals deposited by three species of snake. Behavioural performances were highly variable among individual lizards in all trials, but the relative scores of individuals tended to be similar in response to different stimuli.

EWI Biomedical sciences


Research output (related by authors)
  • Amfibieën en reptielen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingContribution to Nature Reports of Research Institute for Nature and Forest

Shopping cart
Add to cart Saved citations

Copy the text from this field...



  • Thoen_etal_1986_AnimBehav.pdf

    Final published version, 4.54 MB, PDF document


View graph of relations