Do Lizards Have Placenta

Do lizards have placenta? What may seem like a simple question actually leads to a fascinating exploration of the reproductive strategies that different animals have evolved. We know that mammals, including humans, have placenta, but what about other species like reptiles? In this article, we will dive into the world of lizards and uncover the truth about their reproductive systems.

Lizards, like other reptiles, do not have a true placenta like mammals do. Instead, they have developed a variety of reproductive methods that are unique to their group. Let’s take a closer look at some of these methods and how they differ from placental reproduction.

Types of Reproduction in Lizards


The most common method of reproduction in lizards is called oviparity, which means they lay eggs. Female lizards produce eggs that are fertilized by male lizards. These eggs are then laid in a safe location, such as a nest or burrow, where they are left to hatch on their own. This process is similar to how birds lay eggs and is the most primitive form of reptilian reproduction.


Unlike true viviparity, where the embryo receives nutrients directly from the mother, in ovoviviparity, the eggs are retained inside the female’s body until they are ready to hatch. The developing embryos receive their nutrition from the yolk within the egg. Once the eggs are ready to hatch, the female gives birth to live young. This is a transitional form of reproduction between oviparity and viviparity.


Parthenogenesis is a unique form of reproduction found in some lizard species, where females are able to reproduce without fertilization from a male. In this process, the female’s egg develops into an embryo without being fertilized, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical or nearly identical to the mother. While this form of reproduction is rare in the animal kingdom, it is relatively common in certain lizard species.

Adaptations for Reproduction in Lizards

Lizards have evolved various adaptations to ensure successful reproduction in their respective environments. These adaptations allow them to overcome challenges such as finding mates, laying eggs or retaining them inside the body, and ensuring the survival of their offspring. Some of these adaptations include:

Reproductive Organs

Lizards have a pair of reproductive organs called hemipenes, located within their cloaca. These organs are used for internal fertilization and are unique to reptiles. Male lizards have two hemipenes, and during mating, one is inserted into the female’s cloaca to transfer sperm.

Nest Building

Many species of lizards, especially those that lay eggs, construct nests to provide a safe environment for their developing offspring. These nests are usually burrows dug into the ground or hidden among vegetation. The female lizard carefully selects a suitable location for her nest, ensuring that it provides adequate warmth and protection from predators.


Some lizard species exhibit a form of parental care known as brooding. After laying their eggs, the female remains in close proximity to the nest, protecting and regulating the temperature of the eggs. This behavior increases the chances of survival for the developing embryos and helps to ensure a higher hatching success rate.

Environmental Factors

Unlike mammals, which can regulate their internal body temperature, lizards are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature depends on the temperature of their surroundings. This can have a significant impact on their reproductive strategies. For example, some lizard species use temperature-dependent sex determination, where the embryo’s sex is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do lizards lay eggs?

Yes, the majority of lizard species lay eggs as part of their reproductive process. This method of reproduction is called oviparity.

Do all lizards lay eggs?

While most lizards lay eggs, some species have evolved to give birth to live young. This method of reproduction is known as viviparity or ovoviviparity.

Are all lizard eggs the same?

Lizard eggs can vary in size, shape, and color depending on the species. Some species lay soft-shelled eggs, while others lay hard-shelled eggs. The size of the eggs also varies, with larger species typically laying larger eggs.

Can lizards reproduce without a mate?

Some lizard species, particularly those capable of parthenogenesis, can reproduce without mating with a male. This form of reproduction allows females to produce offspring without the need for fertilization.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while lizards do not have a placenta like mammals, they have evolved a diverse range of reproductive strategies to ensure the survival of their species. From oviparity to ovoviviparity and even parthenogenesis, lizards have found unique solutions to reproductive challenges. By understanding these adaptations, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the complex and diverse world of reptile reproduction. So the next time you spot a lizard sunning itself on a rock, take a moment to marvel at the incredible reproductive journey that has brought it to that very spot.

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