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So I'm writing a story on a population of lizardmen who have subdued all the human population.

Since lizards spend lots of their time soaking in the sun, I'm not sure how should I go for the night-life cycle: if lizardmen also spent their daylight time soaking in the sun they should hunt and do other activities at night. Vice-versa if they were to sleep like humans how can I justify their lack of sun-soaking?

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  • $\begingroup$ It's worth it to note that a lot of lizards are diurnal, and still sunbathe. Is there a need to justify why lizardmen would behave the same way? $\endgroup$ – Jay Vogler Oct 4 '14 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ I know there's a tag for fantasy-based, but what kind of era/tech-level are we talking about? More tech means more solutions. If it's a typical fantasy setting, is there magic? if not, we're going to have to get creative :P $\endgroup$ – mechalynx Oct 4 '14 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ A fairly standard theory about a number of the dinosaurs holds that they were sufficiently massive and dense (unlike most of what we think of as reptiles) to be homeothermic: they didn't lose heat all that fast having built it up. So as long as your lizardmen get a good deal of warmth -- from fires, sunlight, whatever -- and perhaps keep themselves reasonably well insulated, they should be able to function perfectly adequately. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Oct 5 '14 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! Could you give some more detail? We need to know if the lizardmen are warm or cold blooded, roughly what technological era they are in, what the day-night cycle on the planet they live on is like (the answer may be earth-like), and what kind of lizard they are based off of. Any other detail would be helpful too. $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Oct 5 '14 at 11:56
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Assuming they're coldblooded, as that seems to be your worry, they'd be diurnal. The other answers are pretty clear on that. However, you can still have them work at night or even in closed spaces for long periods of time since, if they're sapient, they would have at least rudimentary technology.

According to this article on the terrible about.com, reptile pets need both a proper temperature gradient and ultraviolet to be healthy.

Heat isn't a big problem: stoves, heaters, radiators, torches, all kinds of things will work. They might not have high requirements depending on the climate and how fast they lose heat of course. Using these, they might not really have to bask in the sunlight during morning hours (or they get around this by sleeping naked and having windows always facing east, perhaps skylights would facilitate this further).

Ultraviolet is harder to artificially produce without some modern technology - at least I'm not aware of low-tech solutions. The issue is that you need very high temperatures, upwards of thousands of degrees K, to get UV emissions. However, if I understand the pet stuff properly, it's necessary to get some UV exposure and also to get it at proper intervals so you don't mess up the day-night cycle. It doesn't seem to be as critical as heat. Exposure to sunlight during the day would do a good enough job I think. Plenty of windows would help.

So all in all, you don't really need to have them bask in the sunlight for hours and definitely not all day. They'll get enough of both with proper dwellings, some fire and windows.

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    $\begingroup$ Lizards can be dinural or nocturnal. But otherwise, great answer! $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Oct 5 '14 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @DonyorM I know, but the other answers already cover that pretty well and I was trying to answer the spirit of the question more than comment on the overall broad possibilities. Thanks :) $\endgroup$ – mechalynx Oct 5 '14 at 13:08
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Lets say that your lizardmen are cold blooded (there are other options). This means that actually they would be most active during the day and not very active at all at night.

The sunbathing is done in the morning to warm themselves up, then once they have done that they become active during the warmth of the day, going to sleep once night falls. They wouldn't spend their daylight time soaking in the sun, they spend a few hours doing it in the morning and maybe occasional intervals during the day.

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Even if they can't manage their own heat, lizards only need to sunbathe because they don't have access to fire, warm clothing, buildings and the like. Just as we keep lizards with heat pads, even hunter-gatherer lizardmen would have access to all three of the solutions above. This means they could live quite happily diurnally or nocturnally.

Alternatively, they could spend half the day sunbathing, then doing all their -active- things, like hunting and whatnot, then during the night, they can sleep a little and do all of the activities that don't require quick reflexes, like accountancy. This would require them to sleep: Not very much, or: During two separate periods of the day, which humans can, and apparently did for much of our history.

Either way, a lizardman civilisation has options that don't require any major change.

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Assuming that your lizardmen are cold-blooded.

Komodo dragons sleep at night, so it is no problem for your lizard men to sleep at night like humans. Earth lizards display that behavior too. Komodo dragons actually hunt during the day, not at night. Lizards do need to warm up by sunbathing. but moving and generally being in the sun keeps them warm during the day. Some lizards are nocturnal, so you could have lizard-men active during the night if that worked with your plot better. If they are nocturnal, they generally follow a reverse day-night cycle to humans. i.e. They sleep the whole day, and do things the whole night.

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  • $\begingroup$ This website linked is very problematic. A good deal of the information is incorrect. The Wikipedia article is excellent, explicating (for instance) the probability that dragons' bites are not in fact venomous. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Oct 5 '14 at 21:25

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