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All male lizards have a skin flap at the base of their tail, covering what is called the cloaca. The sexual organs are concealed within the cloaca. They have paired organs, called hemipenes. They are within the ventral portion of the tail, covered in sheathes. A vans deferens connects each testicle to one of the hemipenes. The lizard’s testicles are located inside the body.

The vast majority of mammals mount their mate from behind, which is not true of lizards. It is actually impossible for a lizard to mount their partner in this fashion. Male lizards will approach the female from the side, with many biting the neck of the female, and try to get their cloaca in a position as close as possible to the female. At this point, the closest hemipenes is erected. The hemipenes of many species of lizard is adorned with thorns or ‘hooks’ of some kind, securing a hold during mating.

At this point, the sperm will travel through the penis, along the hemipenes’ channel, to the females cloaca. Fertilization occurs when the sperm enters the oviducts of the female. Some species of lizards, as with Veiled Chameleons, can store the sperm for later fertilization without the need of a male.

Check out these pictures of Green Anoles Mating on a screen enclosure, courtesy of Ed Sheffield.

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