Parental care in reptiles has been correlated with cold climates and harsh environments. We investigated whether behavioral patterns indicating parental care occurred in the lizard, Liolaemus elongatus, a viviparous species found on rocky outcrops of the Argentinean Patagonia. Five pregnant females were captured during the austral summer and brought to the laboratory for observations. The females were filmed for short periods of time during six days after the birth of their young. During that time, the mothers and offspring were presented with three predatory stimuli, a Diplolaemus sexcinctus, a male Liolaemus elongatus, and a stuffed hawk, Elanus leucurus. Their responses were recorded as well as the distance between mothers and offspring during the experiments and when no stimuli were presented. Except for one female, mothers constructed burrows in which the neonates were born. Mothers and their offspring occupied the same shelter for the whole period of observation. When presented with predatory stimuli, females seemed to choose between remaining near or on top of the burrow with the young inside, or moving away from it. When the offspring were out of the burrow, a female occasionally covered a neonate, forming a bridge over it, particularly when threatened. Mothers showed individual variations in the way they responded to the different stimuli that were presented.
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Vol. 2 • No. 2