October 19, 2006
The lizards may stop eating during the courtship period. There is no need to worry if they were well fed beforehand. Eating will begin later and the females will often eat more than usual. The reason for this is because females need more energy than usual for the production of the eggs.
The sexual organs of male reptiles are in the external opening of the cloaca. The lizards’ cloaca is covered by the flap-like vent. Male lizards have paired organs called hemipenes which lies in sheaths in the ventral part of the tail. Each hemipenis is connected to a testicle by a tubular vas deferens. The testicles are in the body cavity and lie near the kidneys.
It is impossible for male lizards to mount for copulation as the mammals do. What they do is approach the female from the side (the males of many lizard species bite the neck of the female and try to get his cloaca as close as possible to the female’s cloaca). Then the hemipenis that is closest to the opening of the female’s cloaca is erected. The hemipenes of lizards have thorns or barbs, which keep the pair secure during mating. It can be creased or grooved in a variety of ways, depending on the species. The sperm flows through the tube-shaped penis in a path along the hemipenis to the female’s cloaca. There the sperm enters the oviducts where fertilization occurs. Some female reptiles can store sperm so that fertilization of late-maturing eggs can still occur after months or years.