Mingxia FU,Shaoyong CHEN,Zhichao HE,et al.Behavior of Phrynocephalus frontalis to Avoid Traps[J].Asian Herpetological Research(AHR),2017,8(1):55-60.[doi:10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.160007]
Click Copy

Behavior of Phrynocephalus frontalis to Avoid Traps
Share To:

Asian Herpetological Research[ISSN:2095-0357/CN:51-1735/Q]

2017 VoI.8 No.1
Research Field:
Publishing date:


Behavior of Phrynocephalus frontalis to Avoid Traps
Mingxia FU Shaoyong CHEN Zhichao HE Zhiliang JIE and Junhuai BI*
College of Life Sciences, Inner Mongolia Normal University, Hohhot 010022, Inner Mongolia, China
reptiles escape spatial learning Phrynocephalus frontalis fitness
Previous studies have shown that reptiles are capable of spatial learning and learn to locate important environmental resources so that they can return to those locations at a future time, when needed. Lizards improve their adaptability and survival by learning the position of their shelter in a complex environment. This behavior raises the question, whether lizards can sense danger, such as a trap, in their surroundings, by determining the location of the trap and avoiding it. In the present study, we used a pitfall trap to test if steppe toad-headed agama, Phrynocephalus frontalis, can learn to recognize the position of the trap and avoid it. Our results revealed that the percentage of activity time in the trap area was significantly reduced (P < 0.001) and the time of drop trap was also significantly reduced (P = 0.00631). The number of burrows dug by lizards distributed in the trap area was the least. Reduced activity time in the trap area was observed to have no obvious relationship with the drop in the number of burrows. The present study, therefore, demonstrates that P. frontalis are capable of learning the avoidance of a trap by locating its position. The findings offer significant insight in the understanding of reptilian behavior, which is important in the study of the role of reptiles in global ecology, especially because they are often very sensitive to environmental changes.


Cooper W. E. Jr. 1997a. Escape by a refuging prey, the broadheaded skink (Eumeces laticeps). Can J Zool, 75: 943–947
Cooper W. E. Jr. 1997b. Factors affecting risk and cost of escape by the broad-headed skink (Eumeces laticeps): predator speed, directness of approach, and female presence. Herpetologica, 53: 464–474
Cooper W. E. Jr. 2003. Risk factors affecting escape behavior by the desert iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis: speed and directness of predator approach, degree of cover, direction of turning by a predator, and temperature. Can J Zool, 1: 979–984
Day L. B., Crews D., Wilczynski W. 1999. Spatial and reversal learning in congeneric lizards with different foraging strategies. Anim Behav, 57: 393–407
Day L. B., Crews D., Wilczynski W. 2001. Effects of medial and dorsal cortex lesions on spatial memory in lizards. Behav Brain Res, 118: 27–42
Day L. B., Ismail N., Wilczynski W. 2003. Use of position and feature cues in discrimination learning by the whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus inornatus). J Comp Psychol, 117: 440–448
Dingemanse N. J., Réale D. 2005. Natural selection and animal personality. Behaviour. 142: 1159–1184
Gosling S. D. 2001. From mice to men: what can we learn about personality from animal research? Psychol Bull. 127: 45–86
Gu X. D., Liang C. P. 2009. A simple and practical method monitoring for small terrestrial vertebrates - drift fences and pitfall traps. Sichuan J Zool, 2: 237–275 (In Chinese)
Hertz P. E., Huey R. B., Nevo E. 1982. Fight versus flight: Body temperature influences defensive responses of lizards. Anim Behav, 30: 676–679
Holtzman D. A., Harris T. W., Aranguren G., Bostock E. 1999. Spatial learning of an escape task by young corn snakes, Elaphe guttata guttata. Anim Behav, 57: 51–60
La Dage L. D., Roth T. C., Cerjanic A. M., Sinervo B., Pravosudov V. V. 2012. Spatial memory: are lizards really deficient? Biol Lett, 8: 939–941
Lopez J., Gomez Y., Rodriguez F., Broglio C., Vargas J., Salas C. 2001. Spatial learning in turtles. Anim Cogn, 4: 49–59
Paulissen M. A. 2008. Spatial learning in the little brown skink, Scincella lateralis: the importance of experience. Anim Behav, 76: 135–141
Schall J. J. 2000. Learning in free-ranging populations of the whiptail lizard Cnemidophorus murinus. Herpetologica, 56: 38–45
Shang Y. C. 2005. Animal Behavior. Beijing, China: Peking University Press, 84–86 (In Chinese)
Xu R. G., Zhao K. T., Xing L. L., Yang G. S. 2001. Fauna Inner Mongolia. Inner Mongolia: Inner Mongolia University Press, 2: 162–164 (In Chinese)
Zhao E. M., Zhao K. T., Zhou K. Y. 1999. Fauna Chia: Reptilia. Beijing, China: Science Press (In Chinese)


Last Update: 2017-03-25