A-z - Animals

lizard

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Lizard-1

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Lizards are scaly reptiles.

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This includes the lizards (scientific name Lacertilia), the snakes Serpentes and the worms Amphisbaenia. Lizards are paraphyletic, meaning that a few species have more in common with their sister suborders than with their own order Lacertilia.

There are more than 7,000 different lizard species in the world, and that number is constantly being revised upwards. While one might think that limbed lizards descended from limbless snakes, the opposite is true—lizards are the ancestors of the snake family, not the other way around. Some form of this reptile is found on every continent of the world except Antarctica.

6 Unbelievable Lizard Facts!

monitor lizard look left
These reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is not fixed like that of mammals, but depends on environmental conditions.

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  • Adult lizards range in length from 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) for small geckos to 3 meters (10 feet) for monitor lizards, and weigh from less than ½ gram (0.02 ounces) to 150 kilograms (330 pounds).
  • All species are terrestrial, except for the marine iguana in the Galapagos Islands. Even marine iguanas spend most of their time basking on rocks.
  • In the taxonomy of venomous lizards, the Gila monster and the beaded lizard of the American Southwest and Mexico's Sonoran Desert are the best known. Certain species of monitor lizards also have varying degrees of poisonous venom.
  • Some species have the ability to voluntarily separate their tails, primarily as a way of distracting predators, and then regenerate at a later date.
  • Many species possess the ability to change color to camouflage themselves from predators, or to blend into their surroundings to ensnare their own prey.
  • As a general classification, these reptiles are ectothermic, meaning that their body temperature is not fixed like that of mammals, but depends on the environmental conditions around them. Lizards all have an ideal body temperature range where they function at maximum efficiency, and when they don't have proper body heat they move much less.

scientific name

Types of Green Lizards - Jewel Geckos
Lizards are reptiles of the order Squamate, from the Latin word "squamates," scaled or scaly.

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Lizards are reptiles of the order Squamate, from the Latin word "squamates," scaled or scaly. Three suborders of squamous animals: snakes, amphibians (worm-lizards), and lizards. Together, these three suborders comprise nearly 11,000 species and are the second largest group of vertebrates on Earth today.

Lizard Health and Recreation

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characteristics of lizards

Lizards That Look Like Dragons - Armadillo Lizards
Lizards range in size from less than an inch to 10 feet and vary widely in appearance.

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scale and appearance

As their presence in the squamous class suggests, the main characteristic of these reptiles is their scaly skin. The scales themselves, made of keratin, act like a layer of armor, sealing in moisture that would otherwise evaporate and protecting it from various environments, such as dry deserts.

Scales can have a variety of structures such as platy, smooth overlapping and ossified. As the lizard grows, it tears its tough skin to shreds. Some lizards have spiny scales that protect them from predators.

With some exceptions, lizards have four legs, long tails, external ear holes, and movable eyelids. They have rounded bodies with short necks and high heads. A distinguishing feature of this reptile, and of all other members of the order Squamata, is the ability to simultaneously open its upper and lower jaws. This enables them to swallow larger prey than those animals with only movable jaws.

The popular image of a lizard as a low-lying creature that either wriggles slowly or sprints close to the ground applies only to a limited number of lizard species. Among the thousands of variants, there are also lizards with hind legs that run like bipeds, flap-sliding lizards that extend like basic wings, and even other lizards that don't have limbs and move in the same way as snakes species.

Males often display various types of ornamentation, such as permanent horns and crowns, as well as temporarily deployable features, such as large mane-like frills and crowns, designed to attract females or by making the animal appear larger and more intimidating run predator. more threatening than it actually is.

Many species have long tongues. Some of these are intended to be used as sensory probes used in hunting, while a limited number of other species without eyelids use their long tongues as eyes similar to windshield wipers.

In general, lizards have very good eyesight. Of all lizard species, chameleons have the most well-developed eyesight. They can see a variety of colors and the ultraviolet spectrum in a 360-degree field of view.

These reptiles come in many different colors, including species with colored bands, those with tails of different colors when young, and some that change color to better blend in with their surroundings.

The last attribute, best known among chameleons, is both offensive and defensive. It allows an individual lizard to thwart predators looking for it, and to camouflage itself so that it can lure its own prey close enough for capture.

venom

10 Most Venomous Animals - The Mexican Beaded Lizard, one of two venomous beaded lizards found mainly in Mexico and southern Guatemala
Mexican beaded lizard, one of two venomous beaded lizards found primarily in Mexico and southern Guatemala

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Some lizards produce venom in glands in their mouths. Nine different toxins produced by snakes can also be found in lizards. One example is the toxin found in rattlesnake venom — the same toxin is also found in the venom of bearded dragons, a popular pet for lizard lovers. Other venomous lizards include Komodo dragons, monster lizards, Mexican bearded lizards, iguanas, and lacy monitor lizards.

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Scientists initially thought that some of these lizards simply believed that the harmful bacteria in their mouths' saliva made them venomous, but recent research has put many more lizards in the "venomous" category.

Lizard venom is not as dangerous to humans as it is to animals bitten by venomous lizards. Symptoms may include a sudden drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, hemorrhage, kidney failure, nerve failure, and muscle failure, eventually leading to the death of the animal.

Behavior

komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon is one of the largest lizards in the world today.

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Although some species are at least partially herbivorous, they are primarily predators, feeding on insects and other small animals. However, the largest species of lizard, the Indonesian Komodo dragon, has been known to pounce and prey on very large creatures such as buffaloes.

These lizards are typically classified as "sit and wait" hunters. This means they will camp in favorable locations and wait for their prey to come to them. Once a potential victim approaches, they either jump out and grab it with their open jaws, or grab it with their long tongues and send it into their mouths.

In addition to serving as a sign of courtship, they often lower their heads to make prey and predators appear more intimidating. Males lead solitary lives and defend their chosen territorial hunting range from other males. Females are free to move about, but will usually live in groups close to dominant males.

Because of their temperature-shifting properties, lizards are known for basking in warmer regions. This raises their body temperature to optimal levels and allows them to perform functions such as hunting, mating or fighting at full capacity. These reptiles prefer to live in easily defensible places, such as holes or crevices in rocks.

Their scaly skin can barely evaporate, so lizards require very little water beyond what they collect from food and even from licked dew that accumulates on themselves. This makes them ideal for desert conditions where many lizard species are found.

largest and smallest lizards

Animals that reproduce asexually - Komodo dragons
The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world.

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The largest lizard species in the world is the Komodo dragon, which can grow up to 10 feet in length. The largest Komodo dragon ever recorded weighed 365 pounds. Most of the largest lizard species are monitor lizards, but some iguana species can also grow very large. Blue iguanas weigh about 31 pounds and can reach lengths of 5 feet.

The smallest lizard, on the other hand, is the nanochameleon, which measures less than an inch and lives in a small area of Madagascar. Incredibly, scientists have classified nanochameleons as a species for the first time in 2021!

There are many tiny chameleons in the northern tip of Madagascar. They are thought to have shrunk to adapt to habitat loss.

type of lizard

While it's impossible to provide a list of species everywhere, here are some examples of the types of lizards that can be found in different parts of the globe.

monitor lizard

More than 70 different species of monitor lizards are found in Africa, Asia, and the island chain leading to and including Australia. Monitor lizards are the largest lizards and include the famous Komodo dragon as well as the Nile monitor lizard in Egypt and the Perentie monitor lizard in Australia.

caiman lizard

South America is home to caiman lizards, which inhabit swampy lowlands and feed mainly on shelled organisms such as crayfish, freshwater clams and snails. The caiman lizard dumps these creatures in the back of its mouth, where its powerful jaws crush the shell of its prey. The broken shell is spit out, and the soft parts of the creature are swallowed.

frilled lizard

The famous frilled lizard is native to Australia and New Guinea. When threatened, frilled lizards fan open the frills of skin that usually lie flat on the back of their necks, creating the illusion of a creature that is larger and more menacing than it really is. It is also known for running on its hind legs with its tail and front legs dangling in the air.

armadillo lizard

The unique armadillo lizard comes from South Africa. When in danger, it curls up and presents an armored ball to thwart predators. Its overlapping scales make it look like a very small dragon. Additionally, armadillo lizards are one of the few social reptiles that live in groups rather than alone.

sand lizard

The UK's rare sand lizard is now protected from further habitat destruction, found on sandy outcrops on the edges of dunes and heaths. As with many other threatened species, increasing population density is the main reason for its decline.

Also, here is a list of other types of lizards:

  • Iguana
  • skink
  • Mexican alligator lizard
  • spiny lizard
  • western fence lizard
  • bearded dragon
  • Mexican Beaded Lizard
  • Monster lizard
  • chameleon
  • Eastern Collared Lizard
  • feathered lizard
  • Basilisk
  • lizard
  • leopard gecko
  • chameleon
  • spiny tail lizard
  • glass lizard
  • horned lizard
  • Murosauridae
  • green chameleon
  • Tigers
  • tricky devil
  • birds
  • Chinese water dragon
  • Scorpionidae
  • gecko
  • Razor fish
  • Eastern Fence Lizard
  • peacock grass
  • Burton's Legless Lizard
  • whip tail
  • giant ringed lizard
  • Crayfish
  • mosasaur
  • gecko
  • crested gecko
  • Mosasaurs

Habitat

These reptiles inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica. Some species are found in the far north, above the Arctic Circle, while others are found in the inhospitable southern tip of South America.

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There are thousands of species on earth, and some lizards can adapt to almost all environments and climatic conditions. In areas with abundant food sources, such as tropical jungles, they can grow very large. Where supplies are limited, smaller species tend to predominate.

Some lizards prefer to live in trees, while others live in open areas with easy access to a lot of sunlight. Most of these reptiles are diurnal species, but there are also some nocturnal lizards, such as geckos and a Galapagos marine iguana that lives mainly in the ocean.

diet

what do lizards eat
Lizards primarily eat insects, but some species can also eat rodents, frogs, birds, and other lizards and reptiles.

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Lizards are primarily predators in nature, often so-called "sit and wait" hunters, who remain motionless until their prey is within reach. At this point, they sprinted out, pounced and grabbed it before it could escape.

What do lizards eat?

Most lizards are carnivorous, feeding on insects, ants, and other invertebrates. Larger lizard species feed on small animals such as mice and other rodents, as well as snails. Larger species such as monitor lizards can hunt larger prey such as frogs, birds, fish, large mammals, and even snakes.

About 2 percent of lizard species are predominantly vegetarian as adults, although younger members eat meat and then gradually adopt a vegan diet as adults. Even carnivores often eat the fruit, and the eggs of birds and reptiles are often sought out by larger lizards.

Predators and Threats

In nature, animal species must balance their own feeding needs with the needs of other species to use them as a food source. Just as predatory lizards are always on the hunt, other predators are also looking for them.

human predator

Humans are one of the biggest predators of these reptiles. Some people view lizards as pests, so they constantly try to eradicate them, especially in residential environments. It is wise to humanely get rid of lizards rather than kill them, as some species are already endangered.

What do lizards eat?

Closeup shot of a sharp eagle against a background of blue sky
Large birds such as eagles are a major threat to most lizard species.

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Since lizards are able to move very quickly when in danger, most lizard predators need to move fast.

Large birds such as eagles are a major threat to most lizard species. Their keen eyesight allows them to detect motion from great distances. This leads to lizard defenses such as changing color to match the terrain and remaining absolutely still in exposed locations.

Most canids and felines, including dogs and house cats, eat lizards.

Although not dependent on lizards as their primary source of food, the fast-moving mongoose is well suited to prey on lizards.

Just as the lizard eats the snake, so the snake eats the lizard in return. Larger lizards have also been known to prey on smaller species.

Weighing only 2-3 grams, the emperor jumping spider has been known to catch lizards up to three times its size.

Since lizard meat is often considered a delicacy in some cultures, humans are the ultimate top predator of lizards. This is especially true of iguanas, prized for their succulent tails.

environmental threat

Because a large number of species are often engineered to live in specific environmental regions, and they are temperature-variable, climate change could pose serious challenges to many species by adversely altering the thermal balance of the region or severely reducing their preferred food supply. threaten.

Human-caused sprawl has also encroached on the lizard's primary habitat through methods such as urbanization or deforestation. This could also lead to increased predator numbers due to habitat destruction of another species nearby. This brings a large number of threatened species into a previously balanced ecosystem. As populations continue to grow, additional pressure is placed on lizards that are considered a food source for humans.

threatened lizard species

Tarzan chameleons are nearly extinct due to the destruction of forest-covered habitats conducive to agriculture.

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In a rapidly changing world, it is estimated that nearly 20 percent of all reptiles, including lizards, are threatened to varying degrees. The most serious risks are:

The Tarzan chameleon of Madagascar, scientific name Calumma tarzani , is usually green or yellow but adopts a striped pattern when threatened. Tarzan chameleons were all but wiped out by the destruction of their forested habitat, which favored agriculture and gold mining in the area.

The Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collei , was virtually thought to be extinct until a small group was rediscovered in 1990. Jamaican iguanas, now numbering only about 100 in number, have collapsed as they are hunted for food and face human-sponsored habitat invasions by introducing non-native predators such as dogs and pigs into the area. Human development activities in the area have also reduced and degraded its remaining habitat potential.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

A baby Lazarus lizard (Podarcis muralis) is held in a human hand.
A baby Lazarus lizard (Podarcis muralis) is held in a human hand.

© Furiarossa/Shutterstock.com

There is no single rule that fully covers the breeding methods of these reptiles.

Most species use the fertilization of the female's eggs by the male's sperm as a method of reproduction. Generally, the eggs are laid in a safe place and then abandoned, although some species employ females to incubate the eggs until they hatch.

About 1 in 5 types are viviparous or liveborn, that is, born from eggs that develop inside the female and are then born as functional members of the species, rather than hatching from eggs laid outside the body.

Some species reproduce by parthenogenesis, or eggs that do not require fertilization by a male. In rare cases, this even occurs in aparthenogenous lizard species where females cannot access males.

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When it comes to sex selection of embryos, eggs are known to be temperature dependent in some cases. High temperatures during incubation produce more females and vice versa.

Females lay eggs ranging from 5% to as high as 50% of their body weight. Depending on the size of the eggs of a particular species, this may produce a clutch of as many as 50 small eggs or as few as one large egg.

Once laid, most eggs hatch in about 3 months. Babies are born without family life. They are completely independent, like miniature versions of adults they will eventually grow into.

Be sure to read our full guide to lizards, called What a Lizard Is Called + 4 More Surprising Facts.

population

It is impossible to count how many lizards there are in the world. Some critically endangered species have been considered as part of their conservation and restoration efforts.

Almost certainly, while the number of identified lizard species continues to climb, overall lizard populations continue to decline.

lizard at the zoo

South Dakota seems unlikely to find the world's largest reptile zoo. The Reptile Garden, 6 miles south of Rapid City, is the official location.

Located in the heart of reptile country, Zoo Miami is a great place for the whole family.

Another underrated zoo is Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which boasts the world's largest indoor desert and largest indoor rainforest.

The Origin and Evolution of Lizards

Until the 13th century, lizards were grouped under the broad umbrella of reptiles, which includes snakes, amphibians, and egg-laying worms. In the early 17th century, James Macartney used the term Sauria, adapted from the Sauriens coined by Alexandre Brongniart, to describe a class of lizards and Crocodile reptile.

While the name may be new, the lizard's origin is not. The earliest known lizard fossils, Tikiguania , belong to the iguanian species and were found in the Tiki Formation of India. However, the age of the fossil is in doubt because it resembles a modern-day lizard.

They are related to Rhynchocephalia, a lizard order whose only extant species are tuataras found in New Zealand.

lizards and humans

Lizards have always been fascinating for the unique abilities specific to each species, such as the ability to grow lost limbs, blend into the environment, see 360 degrees, climb vertically and hang upside down from ceilings, walk on water and reproduce asexually.

They have been studied for years to see if these qualities can be deciphered. Although they look scary, lizards are mostly harmless to humans, with the exception of the Komodo dragon, which is known for stalking and attacking humans.

Despite all their drawbacks, lizards are very popular as pets. Especially bearded dragons, chameleons, geckos, iguanas, monitor lizards, tegu and green chameleons are some of the popular pet species.

See all 93 animals starting with L

If you have a lizard that is stranded in your home or garden, transporting it is usually not difficult. When catching lizards, first look for identification. Keep in mind that there are only 3 species of truly venomous lizards in the world – the Gila Monster, the Mexican Beaded Dragon and the Komodo Dragon. Both beaded lizards and monster lizards can be found in the American Southwest. Once you've identified it, use supplies like thick leather gloves or a container to catch it. Finally, you can set traps to catch it before releasing it into the wild.

Lizards can be repelled with household repellents such as hot sauce, garlic, coffee grounds, and citrus. Also, you can keep your entrance to your home clean and your lawn well maintained to avoid too many lizards.

Salamanders and lizards often look very similar. The main difference is that lizards can live in a variety of environments, while salamanders need to be closer to water. Additionally, salamanders have a "wet" exterior, lacking claws and ear holes.

Lizards are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

Lizards belong to the animal kingdom.

Lizards belong to the class of reptiles.

Lizards belong to the phylum Chordate.

Lizards belong to the lizard family.

Lizards belong to the order Squamata.

Lizards are covered with scales.

Lizards live in warm forests and deserts around the world.

Lizards prey on insects, birds, and small rodents.

Predators of lizards include humans, birds, and snakes.

The average number of young lizards is 18.

Lizards can live from 1 to 30 years.

The truth is some do and some don't. Iguanas are often good pets because they are gentle herbivores. Komodo dragons are not good pets because they are grumpy carnivores that outweight you by 2-1.

Not special. The main risk comes from salmonella, which can be present in some lizards. On the other hand, they eat ants, termites, and other potentially more annoying insects.

Most people are disturbed by wild animals passing by at unexpected times and places. As a wild animal, they are probably best kept outside. As family pets kept in herbaria, they are not much of a problem.

A simple rope lightly wrapped around its head from the front will usually do the trick. Another fun idea is to put some plastic wrap over the opened box. Cut a slit in the plastic for the lizard to drop, then place some lizard-friendly food on top. The lizard gets up and eats the food, then falls through the crevice and gets caught.

It depends on the species and whether they are in the wild or kept in captivity as pets or exhibits. Some Common Lizard Species Lifespans:

Lizards lay eggs.

It turns out that lizard droppings have a pretty unique look—and once you see it, you probably won't forget it. It usually has a long brown or black granular part that ends in a smaller semi-solid white "cap" or substance. The brown part is lizard droppings, while the white part is basically lizard urine.

In the wild, lizards live no more than 3-5 years on average. However, when kept in captivity as pets, lizards can live anywhere between 20-50 years old!