Lizards are part of a group of animals known as reptiles.
They have walked the Earth for some 200 million years.
Lizards live across all continents except Antarctica.
They live in all habitats except extreme cold and deep oceans.
In general, lizards have a small head, short neck, and long body and tail. Unlike snakes, most lizards have moveable eyelids.
Social interaction varies between lizards, with many species defending set territories. Some live in large colonies, while others lead a solitary existence.
Whether a lizard is nocturnal or diurnal really just depends on the species. Some lizards are nocturnal where others are diurnal.
The lifespan of most lizard species varies from 1 to 20 years, but it can be up to 50 years for some species.
Reaching 3 meters (10 feet) in length and more than 135 kilograms (300 pounds), Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on Earth.
The smallest lizards on Earth are the Jaragua sphaero or dwarf gecko [pic. below] (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) and the Virgin Islands dwarf sphaero or Virgin Islands dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus parthenopion), they are 1.6 centimeters (0.6 inches) long.
Coloration is remarkably varied in lizards. Many species display perfect cryptic coloration that makes them invisible in their natural habitat; others are vividly colored in shades of emerald and turquoise blues, reds and yellows.
Many lizards, such as iguanas, can see in color. Their colorful body parts allow them to communicate with each other and help them tell which are male and which are female.
Lizards smell stuff with their tongues! Just like snakes, a lizard sticks out its tongue to catch scent particles in the air and then pulls back its tongue and places those particles on the roof of its mouth, where there are special sensory cells. The lizard can use these scent “clues” to find food or a mate or to detect enemies.
Lizards don’t have earflaps like mammals do. Instead, they have visible ear openings to catch sound, and their eardrums are just below the surface of their skin. Even so, lizards can’t hear as well as we do, but their hearing is better than that of snakes.
All lizards grow continuously throughout their lives, however their skin does not grow to accommodate their changing size. It is for this reason that they must shed their skin regularly to allow for proper growth. This process is known as ecdysis.
Most lizards live on the ground, but others can be found making their home in a tree, burrow, or in the water.
Different lizard species eat different types of food. Some are predators, eating mammals, birds, and other reptiles. Others are mainly vegetarian, eating leaves, fruits, and flowers. But most lizards are insect eaters, grabbing crickets, flies, grasshoppers, and more with long, sticky tongues or quick bites.
There are only two lizard species around the world that produced venom, the gila monster [pic. below] and the Mexican beaded lizard.
Lizards are popular prey for many types of predators, from birds of prey to snakes and carnivorous mammals. Their camouflage and ability to stay still for hours helps keep them safe. Several types of lizards are able to escape from an enemy’s grasp by breaking off part of their own tail. The tail has a weak spot just for this purpose. If a predator grabs the lizard by its tail, the tail easily comes off. It will grow back, but without bone (just a rod of cartilage), and will be slimmer, shorter and a different color, with small scales.
Most lizards are oviparous (egg laying) though some species give birth to live young because the eggs develop inside the mother. Parthenogenesis in squamata (that is, asexual reproduction) occurs in about 50 species of lizard and it is believed that female ability to do this in the absence of males is widespread among lizards.
No matter what the circumstances of their start in life, baby lizards look like tiny versions of their parents.
Lizards enjoy spending time basking in the sunlight.
Lizards are most closely related to snakes. In fact, some lizards, called sheltopusiks, look like snakes because they have no legs!
Geckos are thought to be the only lizards that produce vocalizations.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the black spiny-tailed iguana is the world’s fastest lizard, reaching speeds of up to 34.9 kilometer (21.7 miles) per hour.
Most lizards replace their teeth throughout life, with the exception of the chameleon and the Agamid lizards.
Some lizard species can store up to 60% of their body fat in their tail.
Horned lizards are able to squirt blood from tiny blood vessels in their eyes. This not only confuses predators, but also the blood tastes foul to canine and feline predators.
A series of clever experiments into the reptilian “third eye” has confirmed that lizards use this patch of
light-sensitive cells as a sun-calibrated compass.
Lizards play positive roles in the folklore of many Native American tribes. In Plains Indian tribes, lizards are associated with healing and survival, and also with masculinity.
Lizard is also the symbol of dreams, the dreamer and shadowy depths of other realities we perceive that is not on the physical plane of existence.