Lizards - the largest group of modern reptiles, numbering more than 3,500 different species. Lizards belong to the squamous suborder. They live on all continents except Antarctica. In Europe, real lizards live, in Asia - agamas and some geckos, in Africa - belt tails, and in Australia - lizards and scale-footed. They can be found almost everywhere: in forests, steppes and even deserts. The largest modern lizard is considered the Indonesian monitor lizard living on the island of Komodo. It is often called the "Komodo dragon." These lizards reach a length of 3 meters, and their weight reaches 120 kg. The smallest lizard (South American gecko) does not exceed 4 cm in length.
The variety of lizards causes great differences in their appearance. Some of them have well-developed five-fingered limbs, others lack them altogether and are more like snakes. The body of lizards is usually elongated round or flattened, and a long tail is a significant part of it. Most lizards have moving eyelids, but for some they are transparent or hidden under the skin. Lizard teeth can be attached to the inner surface of the jaws or to their edge. Some lizards are poisonous. Most lizards can, in case of danger, throw their tail away without any harm to themselves, which then grows back.
The color of the lizards varies depending on the area in which they live. Sand lizards are usually brown or yellowish, and those living in the grass are green. Lizards are masters of disguise. Merging with the earth, grass, stone, tree trunk and other objects, they become completely invisible. Some species (for example, a chameleon) are able to change their color within a few seconds.
Usually lizards lead a terrestrial lifestyle, but some can climb bushes or trees, burrow into the sand, move along vertical rocks. Sea lizard lives on the coastline and often goes into the water. Lizards can lead an active lifestyle at night or during the day.
Lizards are oviparous and viviparous. Oviparous lay usually from 1 to 35 eggs, covered with a soft leathery shell or shell. Lizard eggs are laid in sand, under stones and other similar places. In viviparous species, the fetus receives nutrition from the mother's body through a false placenta. There are so-called ovoviviparous species in which the cub develops in the egg located in the mother’s body.
The diet of lizards is quite diverse. Some species eat only plant or animal food, others successfully combine both. Small lizards usually feed on insects or berries. Large, as a rule, are predators, feed on frogs, fish, small mammals (mainly rodents), as well as snakes and even smaller lizards.
How do basilisks run on water?
In the tropical regions of America, an amazing lizard lives, named after the mythical monster, who had the head of a rooster, the body of a toad and the tail of a snake, basilisk. Despite the fact that the basilisk lizards are not as terrible as the described monster, nevertheless, they have the same crest, or helmet, which really resembles a cockscomb.
However, these lizards are not only remarkable for their appearance: they have a unique ability to move on water. Moreover, basilisks do not swim, namely, they run around water bodies, holding their entire body above the surface. Scientists have found that this is possible due to the huge speed - up to 12 km / h, which this lizard develops, very quickly sorting through its hind legs.
How do iguanas escape from their pursuers?
Not differing in special sizes iguanas (their growth, as a rule, does not exceed 1.5 m, and their weight barely reaches 7 kg) often become the prey of various predators - crocodiles, birds of prey, some snakes, etc. - even despite the saving coloring of their body. When an iguana realizes that it has suddenly become an object of hunting, it primarily tries to escape from a bloodthirsty predator or tries to swim away from a dangerous place as soon as possible.
If the escape failed, and the enemy literally grabbed the iguana by the throat, she begins to hiss and swell, trying to increase her throat sac as much as possible. As a rule, this turns out to be enough to scare the predator, however, if the tricky technique “does not work”, the lizard connects its sharp claws, strong teeth and a rather powerful tail, which can hit very painfully.
Why do some lizards need a cloak?
In some places in Australia, you can sometimes find a rather strange creature - outwardly it looks like a lizard, but it is "dressed" in a bright leather "cloak". It turns out that they look like this lizard lizardswho use this “item of clothing” when they want to scare someone very much or, on the contrary, they are very scared. And I must admit, she quite succeeds in that: having spread her huge collar in anger and climbing up to any surface for special intimidation, the lizard-like lizard begins to make terrible hissing sounds and, in addition, beat her tail hard. Even a very brave eyewitness can lose their feelings from such a sight!
The lacquered lizard is not a big lover of open spaces, so to find it, you need to take a closer look at the withered foliage, where this mysterious reptile loves to hide.
Short description and photo of a lizard
The length of the fast lizard does not exceed 25-27 cm, of which more than half falls on the tail. In size, it is larger than a viviparous lizard, but noticeably inferior to green. It differs from the first not only in size, but also in the number of scales (from 35 to 38) around the middle of the body and a large number of femoral pores (from 10 to 18).
The color and pattern of the covers is quite variable. The upper body of sexually mature males is most often green, in females and young individuals, with rare exceptions, brownish in different tones. The ventral side of the body of males and females is yellowish-green.
The pattern consists of well-defined stripes, spots and eyes. However, lines and spots, and sometimes the eyes, often disappear in it. Not uncommon - monophonic individuals of green, greenish, brown and grayish shades.
Where does the fast lizard meet? Habitat
Compared to green, the nimble lizard is quite widespread. It inhabits the European part of the former USSR from the Karelian Isthmus to Turkey, Siberia to Transbaikalia, the foothills of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Widely distributed in Europe, England, Northern China and Mongolia.
The favorite habitats of the fast lizard are sparse dry forests, steppe areas, bushes, bushes, vineyards, ravines and riverbanks, as well as railway embankments and roadsides. Known to an altitude of 3,500 meters above sea level. Everywhere prefers open, dry, well-warmed places.
Lifestyle and habits of a fast lizard
Like other real lizards, the nimble leads a daily life. In summer, as soon as the sun begins to warm the earth, from the early morning, reptiles crawl out of their holes and bask in the sun not far from them. At the same time, they do not miss the chance to hunt for various types of insects. At noon, they hide in shelters and leave them again in the afternoon, when the heat decreases somewhat. For the night go with the sunset.
Individual habitats of common lizards are small. When they get their own food, they usually leave their shelters no further than 5-7 meters. The usual dwellings are burrows, which they dig themselves with the help of the head and forepaws, sometimes they use abandoned burrows of other small animals. Shelters are usually located under the roots of trees and shrubs. They hibernate in the same burrows, clogging the entrance to them with earth and leaves.
Depending on the habitat, these reptiles go to winter in September-October, and after hibernation appear on the surface in April. As a rule, young individuals leave winter shelters 1-2 weeks later than old ones.
Contrary to its name, the nimble lizard is the least dexterous and fastest in comparison with its relatives. Although it can not be called clumsy, but it does not run so fast that it was difficult to catch. Nevertheless, she deftly makes her way among the dense grass, climbs shrubs well, but does not climb high. Running away from the enemy on level ground, an ordinary lizard often dramatically changes the direction of movement, while making such turns that can direct the pursuer past the target. And if she is caught, she strongly resists, opens her mouth wide and, on occasion, will not miss the opportunity to clutch her finger. She knows how to swim.
When kept in captivity, nimble lizards are well accustomed to new conditions, comparing favorably with many other species.
Reproduction of ordinary lizards, the appearance of offspring
During the breeding season, which begins shortly after leaving hibernation, the males become quite active. They often rise on their front legs, surveying the surroundings in search of their pair. Seeing the female, the male begins to pursue her.
In the mating season between males of an ordinary lizard, fights often occur. After brief and threatening demonstrations, one of the males grabs the other by the neck and holds it tight for some time. The victim does not resist and patiently waits for the aggressor to open its jaws. Then comes the turn of the victim. Now he clings to the opponent. This alternate exchange of bites continues until one of the rivals decides what is enough with him and does not give up. It is worth saying that the superiority of fast lizards is established not by the strength of bites (this is strictly regulated to avoid serious injuries), but by the ability to tolerate bites. The vanquished performs the symbolic "dance of flight." He turns to the winner with his tail and begins to bounce, while remaining in place. This is perceived by the opponent as a sign of surrender and a truce immediately sets in.
During the mating season, lizards form pairs that temporarily live in the same hole and hunt together.
At the end of May - June, the female lays from 5 to 14 eggs, digging them shallow in the sand or leaving them in the depths of a residential hole. Eggs of a fast lizard have a whitish-yellowish color, oval shape, and their sizes range from 12-16x8-10 mm. Embryonic development lasts 40-60 days, sometimes longer, depending on the ambient temperature. During the incubation period, an increase in eggs in volume and a change in their color is observed - they become gray. Young are born between the end of July and September. Males reach puberty in the second year of life, females in the third.
The basis for feeding the fast-moving lizard is mainly made up of not very large insects. In spring and summer, these are mainly beetles, hymenoptera, butterflies, damselfly, bugs, orthoptera, dipterans, spiders. Sometimes they diversify their diet with worms and slugs.
They are actively looking for prey. It is worth saying that nimble lizards are very voracious, since among the invertebrates they eat, the majority are species harmful to agriculture, these reptiles must undoubtedly be considered very useful.
Megalania / Varanus priscus
Once upon a time, 40–20 thousand years ago, the largest land megalania lizard roamed the earth, which the scientific and the whole world learned about in the second half of the 19th century.
Today it is the largest species of extinct lizards. Her length reached 7 m, and she weighed 1 ton. Megalania growth was 1.5 m. She lived in Australia, and perhaps the local Aborigines hunted a large creature.
Scientists have established that she belonged to the family of monitor lizards. Recently stated that they met this creature in New Guinea. But scientists have proven that megalania has died out long ago. By the way, you can learn about animals that have died out in the 21st century in one of our articles.
Arizona Venom Tooth / Heloderma suspectum
A beautiful and intimidating dragon-like creature is found in the United States and parts of Mexico. It is often called the “Hila-monster,” along the Hila River, where a large population of pufferfish lives.
The length of the body of an Arizona toothfish reaches 60 cm, of which 17 cm falls on a powerful tail. The lizard is colorful in color. On the brown body are bright orange-yellow spots. Young individuals are bright, and over time the colors fade.
It feeds mainly on reptile and bird eggs. Hunting them in the United States is prohibited. Is the official mascot of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey club.
Chameleon / Chamaeleonidae
One of the most amazing lizards of the planet, able to change the color of its body. During evolution, chameleons easily adapted to the arboreal lifestyle.
The word "chameleon" came to the Russian language from the ancient Greek language. And it means "earth lion." In total, there are 193 species of chameleons on the planet, which vary in size and lifestyle. The largest reach 60 cm in length. Chameleons are found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In Europe, they chose the south of the Iberian Peninsula.
Small populations settled in Hawaii, as well as the states of Arizona and California. Recently, chameleons have become popular inhabitants of home terrariums.
Philippine Sailing Lizard / Hydrosaurus pustulatus
A large representative of the agam family, unlike her brothers, does not have a neck collar. They have a crest on their back and tail, which is why they were called sailing lizards.
They grow no more than 1 m, and the body color is greenish-gray. This color helps them easily hide in the foliage. They live in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines. They prefer to settle along the banks of rivers, as well as near vast rice plantations.
The male from the female is easily distinguished by the size of the dorsal crest. In males, it is much larger. These lizards are omnivorous, eating fruits, plants. Perfectly prey on reptiles, insects and small rodents.
Iguana Kinolof / Iguana Kinolof
The graceful inhabitant of the Galapagos Islands prefers to settle in holes among the stones, and she eats the fruits of tropical trees and plants. Young cactus sprouts are especially fond of.
It grows to 1.25 m, and adults weigh up to 13 kg. Body color is quite original. Most females and males are spotty with a yellowish green tint. Color changes depending on the time of day. A crest runs along the back, which gives the iguana a resemblance to mythical dragons.
A rather slow creature, it spends most of the day basking in the sun on coastal stones.
Marine iguana / Amblyrhynchus cristatus
Another inhabitant of the Galapagos Islands spends most of the time at sea. That is why in 1825 it received its specific name.
The black lizard, crawling ashore, basks on the stones, and the black coloring helps to absorb more sunlight and quickly warm up. There are special glands in the nostrils of the sea iguana through which excess sea salt is removed from the body.
In length, animals grow to 1.4 m, and males are much larger than females. They feed on algae. They swim superbly, curving the body. Dive during low tides, and under water can be up to 1 hour. Under water, blood flows only to vital organs.
Argentinean black and white tegu / Tupinambis merianae
In the jungles of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, you can meet an unusual and beautiful large lizard. Settles in tropical rainforests, savannas and semi-deserts.
Adult individuals reach a length of 1.5 m, and local residents reported that they met two-meter specimens. Daegu are omnivores, and besides plants they feed on rodents, snakes, and ravage the nests of birds. It can throw off part of its tail to disorient the attacking predator.Over time, this part of the body quickly regenerates.
A large American lizard is often kept as a pet. They are easily attached to the owner, require a minimum of attention, and some note that the Tag can be trained.
Bengal monitor / Varanus bengalensis
It's time to get acquainted with an amazing family of monitor lizards, and the list of the majestic and graceful resident of Pakistan and India Bengal monitor opens the list.
They grow up to 180 cm in length, and weigh from 7 to 8 kg. The color is usually light brown, practical sand. Sometimes there are dark spots all over the body. Settle among the rainforests, and can come close to human dwellings. Individuals living in northern Pakistan fall into hibernation.
This is an agile, but not aggressive hunter. It feeds on small rodents, snakes. With pleasure he eats eggs of birds, crocodiles, snakes. among natural enemies, the tiger python is considered the most dangerous, which attacks the lizard even in its refuge.
In the photo, the largest lizard of New Guinea, and it received its species name in honor of the famous Italian scientist Tommaso Salvadori. Also known as a crocodile monitor lizard.
The largest specimen recorded in history was a male 2.63 m long, but usually does not grow more than 2.20 m. They live in tropical forests and on the coastal territories of mangrove swamps. Feel free among the branches of trees, and to navigate the terrain they rise high on their hind legs.
It can be distinguished from other representatives by a blunted muzzle, because in other monitor lizards it is elongated.
Striped monitor lizard / Varanus salvator
In rare cases, it can grow up to 3 m, but on average the length of this lizard does not exceed 250 cm. It weighs from 15 to 20 kg. And males are much more massive and larger than females.
The animals were chosen as the habitat by the Hindustan Peninsula and some large islands, including Sumatra and Java. It leads a semi-aquatic lifestyle, which is why it is also called water monitor lizard or kabaragoya. It dives perfectly and can be under water for up to 30 minutes.
In addition, deep burrows up to 10 m deep can be dug on the ground, and it also perfectly climbs tree branches. It looks intimidating, and therefore it has few natural enemies.
Giant Varanus / Varanus giganteus
You can meet this beauty in the vastness of Australia, from Queensland to the west coast of the Green Continent. The length, taking into account the tail, reaches 2.5 m, and the weight is from 20 to 25 kg.
This is one of the fastest and most enduring lizards on the planet. During hunting or danger, an adult can reach a speed of 40 km / h. Leads a secretive lifestyle, and is not often shown to the eyes of many Australian tourists. The species was first described and included in the classification in 1845.
More recently, Australian zoologists have discovered that this species is poisonous. The bite is painful, with swelling and fever, but is not fatal to humans.
Komodo lizard / Varanus komodoensis
The largest lizard and the heaviest of all scaly lives on the islands of Indonesia. On one of the islands it got its specific name, and the people still call them Komodo Dragon.
The length of adult specimens reaches 3 m, while they weigh more than 160 kg. Despite these sizes, they swim great, climb trees, and when running they reach speeds of up to 20 km / h.
Australia is considered the historical homeland, and discovered a new species in 1912. There are attacks on people, but basically a graceful and majestic monitor lizard is characterized by a calm disposition. Lizards in Thailand are a real natural asset. Meeting with monitor lizards will give only positive emotions.
Lizards are widely represented in culture. In Medieval Europe, she was a symbol of personified Logic, as one of the Seven Free Arts. In the tale of the Russian writer Pavel Bazhov, she guarded the treasures of the Copper Mountain, therefore she is depicted on the coat of arms of the Polevsky city district. In the legends and myths of the tribes of Australia and South America, they symbolized the process of reincarnation and adultery. Lizards were depicted on the knight's coat of arms, but many historians say that for the most part these are salamanders. TheBiggest is happy to read your comments on this interesting topic. Perhaps you met the largest lizards on this list?
Gecko currents (Gekko gecko) - a species of nocturnal reptile belonging to the genus Gekkofound in Asia, as well as on some islands in the Pacific Ocean. The gecko currents has a strong body, a large head, strong limbs and jaws compared to other types of geckos. This is a large lizard that reaches 30 to 35 centimeters in length. Despite the fact that the gecko currents disguises itself as its environment, it usually has a grayish color with red spots. Its body is cylindrical in shape and smooth in texture. Geckos currents are sexually dimorphic, which is expressed in a brighter color of males than in females. They feed on insects and other small vertebrates. Strong jaws allow them to easily crush the exoskeleton of insects.
Marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatu) is a species of lizards found only in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, with each island serving as a home for marine iguanas of various sizes and shapes. Recently, their populations have been threatened due to the large number of predators that feed on lizards and their eggs. Marine iguanas are marine reptiles that are often called ugly and disgusting due to their appearance. Contrary to their cruel look, marine iguanas are gentle. Their color is mainly black soot. A long flattened tail helps them swim, and flat and sharp claws allows them to cling to stones in case of strong currents. Sea iguanas often sneeze to clear salt from their nostrils. In addition to sneezing, they have special glands that secrete excess salt.
Lesser Belt Tail
Lesser Belt Tails (Cordylus cataphractus) lives in desert and semi-desert regions. They are mainly found along the west coast of South Africa. Lizards have long been used in the pet trade until they are endangered. The color of the small girdle of the tail is either light brown or dark brown, and the lower part of the trunk is yellow with dark stripes. They are daytime reptiles that feed on small invertebrates, plants, and other species of small lizards and rodents. If the lizard senses danger, it inserts its tail into the mouth to form a spherical shape that allows it to roll. In this form, spikes on the back are exposed, protecting the small girdle tail from predators.
Agama Mwanza (Agama mwanzae) are found in most sub-Saharan Africa. They usually have a length of 13-30 cm, and males are 8-13 cm longer than females. These lizards usually live in small groups with one male as leader. A dominant male is allowed to breed, while other males cannot mate with females from the group, unless they eliminate the main male or form their own group. Mwanza agamas feed on insects, reptiles, small mammals and vegetation. They mate during the rainy season. Before mating, the male digs small holes using his muzzle. After mating, the females lay eggs in the holes. The incubation period takes from 8 to 10 weeks.
Komodo monitor lizard (Varanus komodoensis) is the largest known species of lizards. They live on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinka, Flores and Gili Motang. Mature lizards weigh an average of 70 kg and are about 3 meters long. Komodo lizards hunt from ambush for different prey, which includes birds, invertebrates, small mammals, and in rare cases, people. His bite is poisonous. The venom of the protein that they inject when they bite can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, muscle paralysis, and hypothermia in victims. Komodo lizards breed from May to August, and females lay their eggs from August to September.
Moloch (Moloch horridus) mainly found in the Australian deserts. It grows up to 20 cm and has a life expectancy of 15 to 16 years. Its color is usually brown or olive. Milk is masked in cold weather, changing the skin tone to darker. His body is covered with spikes for protection. The lizard also has soft tissues resembling its head. The fabrics are located on the upper part of the neck and serve as protection, in which the prickly dragon hides his real head if he feels danger. Moloch has another amazing mechanism for survival in the desert. Its complex skin structure under the action of capillary force helps to deposit water into the mouth of a lizard. The basis of the diet of moloch is an ant.
Arizona Venom Tooth
Arizona Venom Tooth (Heloderma suspectum) - a poisonous species of lizards that lives in the desert and rocky regions of Mexico and the United States. These reptiles have flattened triangular heads, which are larger in males than in females. A long, thick and cylindrical trunk, wider in females. Their diet consists of reptile eggs, birds and rodents. Hunting skills are characterized by a strong sense of smell and hearing. An Arizona Toothpick can hear the vibrations of its prey from afar and smell the buried eggs. A large trunk and tail are used to store reserves of fat and water, which allows you to survive in deserts. Dry and flaky flakes prevent excessive loss of water from the body of the lizard.
Parson's Chameleon (Calumma parsonii) - the largest chameleon in the world in mass. It is found in the rainforests of Madagascar. On a large and triangular head are independently moving eyes. Males have two horn structures directed from the eyes to the nose. Females lay up to fifty eggs, which can be incubated for up to 2 years. After hatching, Parson's young chameleons immediately become independent. Due to their unusual appearance, they are imported for home maintenance to other countries. However, most reptiles die during transportation. Parson's chameleons are immobile animals, performing a minimum of movements only for food, drink and mating.
Lobatetail gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli) is found in Asia, especially in India, Indonesia, Southern Thailand and Singapore. They have unusual leathery outgrowths on the sides of the body and webbed legs. They feed on crickets, wax and flour worms. These are nocturnal reptiles. Males are very territorial and difficult to keep in a cage. They disguise themselves under the bark of trees, which helps to avoid meeting with predators. The lobate-tailed geckos live inside the trees and jump from branch to branch, especially when they sense danger.
Rhinoceros Iguana (Cyclura cornuta) is an endangered species of lizards that lives on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. They have a horny outgrowth on the face, similar to a rhino horn. The length of iguanas-rhinos is 60-136 cm, and the mass ranges from 4.5 kg to 9 kg. Their color ranges from grayish to dark green and brown. Rhinoceros iguanas have large bodies and a head. Their tail is vertically flattened and fairly strong. They are sexually dimorphic, and males are larger than females. After mating, females lay 2 to 34 eggs for 40 days. Their eggs are among the largest among lizards.
Usually, lizards are considered to be all reptiles with legs, but several of them without legs also belong to them. There are a lot of species of lizards, according to the estimates of zoologists on our planet there are more than 6000 different types of lizards, and all of them, of course, differ in their habits, appearance, color and habitat. Some of the particularly exotic species of lizards are currently on the verge of extinction, and for this reason are listed in the Red Book.
The most common real lizard has a body length of 10-40 cm. The body of the lizard is long, elastic, elongated and has a long tail.
Unlike their relatives of snakes, lizards have moving and divided eyelids. The legs of the lizard are of medium length, possess claws and are generally proportional to its body covered with keratinized scales. The skin of a lizard exfoliates during molting a couple of times per season; in some languages of the world, this amazing feature of these reptiles to change their skin even gave them a name. In particular, in our language, the word “lizard” comes from the old Russian word “speed”, which means “skin”, or “skin” if more literary.
The lizard tongue, depending on the species, has a different shape and size, as a whole it is mobile, and easily protrudes from the mouth. And some lizards use their tongue to fish at all.
The teeth of a lizard are also their weapons, with their help they capture and grind food, and for lizards sharp teeth literally cut the prey. Among the lizards there is also the only poisonous representative, named accordingly - a venomous tooth, which, with a bite, injects poison into its victim, thus killing it.
The skin of a lizard has, depending on the species, it can have a variety of colors and patterns.
The color (color) of the lizard also varies, which many of their species can change depending on the situation, sometimes literally merging with the surrounding area - color mimicry is one of the main means of protection. Usually, lizards have a combination of gray, brown and green colors.
There is no uniformity in the exterior of the lizards, with the exception of the background color of the body, designed to mask the reptile among its native landscape. Most of the lizards are painted in green, gray, brown, olive, sand or black, whose monotony is enlivened by various ornaments (spots, stains, rhombs, longitudinal / transverse stripes).
There are also very noticeable lizards - a long-eared round-headed with a red open mouth, a bearded agama, and mottled (yellow and orange) flying dragons. The size of the scales varies (from small to large), as well as the method of laying them on the body: overlapping, like a tiled roof, or right next to each other, like tile. Sometimes the scales transform into spikes or ridges.
In some reptiles, such as skinks, skin integuments acquire a special strength created by osteoderms, bone plates that are inside the horny scales. The jaws of the lizards are studded with teeth, and in some species, the teeth grow even on the palatine bones.
It is interesting! The methods for fixing teeth in the oral cavity vary. Pleurodontic teeth are periodically replaced and therefore sit on the inner side of the bone unstable, unlike acrodontic, non-replaceable and completely fused with bone.
Only three types of lizards have acrodont teeth - these are amphisbens (dvukhhodki), agamas and chameleons. The limbs of reptiles are also arranged in different ways, which is due to the way they live, adapted to a certain type of earth's surface. In most climbing species, geckos, anoles and part of the skinks, the lower side of the fingers is transformed into a small pad with bristles (hairy outgrowths of the epidermis). Thanks to them, the reptile clings tenaciously to any vertical surfaces and quickly crawls upside down.
Lizards predominantly lead a land-based lifestyle, can bury themselves in the sand (round-headed), crawl into bushes / trees and even live there, from time to time, launching into a planning flight. Geckos (not all) and agamas easily move along steep surfaces and often live on rocks.
Some species with an elongated torso and lack of eyes adapted to exist in the soil, others, for example, the sea lizard, love water, therefore they live on the coasts and often refresh themselves in the sea.
Some reptiles are active in the daytime, the second (usually with a slit pupil) - at dusk and at night.Some people can change their color / brightness due to the dispersion or concentration of the pigment in melanophores, special skin cells.
It is interesting! A lot of lizards have kept the “third eye” inherited from the ancestors: it is not able to perceive the form, but distinguishes between darkness and light. The eye on the crown is sensitive to ultraviolet light, regulates hours of exposure to the sun and other forms of behavior.
Contrary to popular belief about the toxicity of most lizards, only two closely related reptiles from the venomous family possess this ability - the escortion (Heloderma horridum), who lives in Mexico, and the vest (Heloderma suspectum), which inhabits the southwestern United States. All lizards molt from time to time, updating the outer layer of the skin.
How are snakes different from lizards?
Those species of lizards that do not have legs are almost the same in appearance as snakes. Such lizards include, for example, a copperfish, which many take for a snake, although in fact it is a lizard that simply does not have legs. But how to distinguish such a legless lizard from real snakes?
- The first difference between snakes and lizards is the eyelids. For snakes, the eyelids have fused and become transparent, for this reason snakes never blink. In lizards, on the contrary, the eyelids are mobile and blinking in their order of things.
- The snake has no hearing organs, but the lizard has them; on both sides of its head are ear openings covered by eardrums.
- Shedding and snakes and lizards occur in different ways, snakes try to shed their skin in one fell swoop, before soaking in water, the lizards shed gradually, dropping the skin with pieces.
How to distinguish a newt from a lizard?
Also, sometimes lizards are confused with newts, and, of course, they have a lot in common: a similar structure of paws and body, a snake-like head, a long rounded tail, movable eyelids and much more. But still there are a number of differences between it:
- The most important difference is the different structure of the skin, if lizards have always scaly skin, then in newts it is completely smooth and mucous to the touch.
- Newts do not know how to cast their tail, while lizards easily and simply get rid of this part of their body in case of danger.
- The lizards have a solid and ossified skull; in newts, it is cartilaginous.
- While lizards breathe exclusively with the help of the lungs, newts are able to breathe, both with the lungs and the gills, and even with the help of their skin.
- If lizards breed by laying eggs, then newts lead their reproduction process like fish - in water and through spawning.
The tail of a lizard. How does a lizard swing its tail?
One of the most amazing and unique features of the lizard, of course, is its ability to cast its tail in emergency situations, or autotonia, as this phenomenon is called scientifically. How does this happen? The contraction of the tail muscles of the lizard allows it to break the cartilaginous formations of the vertebrae and thus discard most of the tail. The blood vessels in this case are very narrow, and there is practically no loss of blood during this procedure. The discarded tail continues to wriggle for some time, which distracts the enemy, and the lizard manages to hide during this time. Over time, the tail of the lizard grows again, although in a somewhat shortened form.
An interesting fact: it also happens that after autotonia, not one, but two or even three tails grows in a lizard.
How to distinguish a male lizard from a female?
The male and female lizards look almost the same, although there are a number of signs by which one can determine the gender of the lizard.
- In some species of lizards, such as basilisks and green iguanas, males have a bright crest on their backs.
- Spurs on the legs are another sign of a “man” among lizards.
- You can also determine the gender of the lizard by the throat sacs that some species have.
In general, all methods for determining the sex of a lizard are not perfect, and it’s possible to know for sure whether a boy or a girl can only do this through a lizard blood test for testosterone made in a professional veterinary clinic.
How many lizards live in nature and at home?
The longevity of lizards is highly dependent on their species, usually, the shorter the lizard, the shorter its lifespan. So the smallest representatives of the kingdom of lizards live on average about 3 years, while the largest: iguanas and monitor lizards live for 50-70 years, almost like people. And in captivity, they live longer than in natural hazards.
The largest lizard in the world is the Komodo lizard.
Of the existing representatives of lizards, the largest is the Komodo lizard (giant Indonesian lizard, Komodo lizard). Some specimens are striking in their dimensions, reaching almost three-meter length and weight of 80-85 kg in adulthood. By the way, the “dragon” from Komodo Island, which weighed 91.7 kg, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. These giants with appetite eat small animals - turtles, lizards, snakes, rodents, and are not disdain about their impressive prey. The Komodo lizard often feeds on wild boars, wild goats, cattle, deer, or horses.
The smallest lizard in the world
The smallest lizards in the world are the Kharaguan Sphero (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) and the Virgin Round-toed Gecko (Sphaerodactylus parthenopion). The dimensions of the babies do not exceed 16-19 mm, and the weight reaches 0.2 grams. These cute and harmless reptiles live in the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands.
The eyes of reptiles, depending on the species, are more or less developed: all daytime lizards have large eyes, while digging species are small, degenerative and covered with scales. Many have a moving scaly eyelid (lower), sometimes with a transparent “window” that occupies a large area of the eyelid, which grows to the upper edge of the eye (because of which he sees through the glass).
It is interesting! Some geckos, skinks, and other lizards have such "glasses", whose unblinking look resembles a snake. Reptiles with a moving eyelid have a third eyelid, a blinking membrane that looks like a transparent film that moves from side to side.
Those lizards who have holes in the external auditory canals with eardrums catch sound waves with a frequency of 400–1500 Hz. The rest, with inoperative (clogged scales or completely disappeared) auditory openings perceive sounds worse than their "eared" relatives.
A key role in the life of lizards is played by the Jacobson organ located in the front of the sky and consisting of 2 chambers connected to the oral cavity by a pair of holes. The Jacobson organ identifies the composition of a substance that enters the mouth or soars in the air. The tongue protrudes as a mediator, whose tip the reptile moves to the Jacobson organ, designed to determine the proximity of food or danger. The reaction of the lizard is completely dependent on the verdict issued by the Jacobson organ.
What do lizards eat in nature?
Lizards are omnivorous animals; after all, they are more predators and the diet of their food directly depends on the type and size of a particular lizard. Small lizards eat various insects: butterflies, grasshoppers, locusts, snails, various worms. Larger lizards, for example, the monitor lizard prey on various small animals: frogs, snakes, mice, do not mind eating bird eggs. And the biggest lizards - monitor lizards from Komoda Island even attack wild boars, buffaloes and deer.
Lizards first sneak up to their prey, then make a rapid jerk and overtake it with their claws and sharp teeth.
Since lizards are omnivores, they can also eat vegetarian food - pollen from plants, ripe fruits, tree leaves. There are species of lizards that completely lead a vegetarian lifestyle, but most lizards still like to eat meat.
Enemies of lizards in nature
But the lizards themselves, under natural conditions, have many enemies, among them there are, including their closest relatives, for example, the same monitor lizards gladly eat other small lizards. They are attacked by birds of prey (owls, eagles, hawks), predatory animals: foxes, bears, wolves, martens, and sometimes even cats. A great threat to many lizards is also snakes.
During the mating season, males of many species of lizards acquire a bright color. They are characterized by peculiar mating games, during which the male shows a bright body color in front of the female, taking specific poses of “courtship”, to which the female responds with certain signal body movements, such as swaying or trembling of raised front legs and twisting of the tail.
The vast majority of lizards lays eggs, the number of which in one clutch ranges from 1-2 in the smallest species to 8-20 in medium and several dozen in large lizards. The eggs are enclosed in a thin, moisture-permeable, colorless leathery shell that can stretch during embryo development. Typically, the female lays eggs in a hole or in a shallow hole, then sprinkled with earth. Often eggs are laid under stones, in cracked rocks, in hollows or under tree bark, in wood dust, and are glued to tree trunks and branches by some geckos.
A smaller number of ovoviviparous lizards. Their eggs, deprived of a dense shell, develop inside the mother’s body, and the cubs are born alive, being released from the thin film that puts them on even in the oviducts or immediately after birth. A true live birth has been established only in some skinks and American nocturnal xanthus lizards, whose embryos are fed via a false placenta - blood vessels in the walls of the mother's oviducts. Live births are usually associated with harsh living conditions, such as living in the far north or high in the mountains.
In most cases, laying eggs, the female will never return to them again, and the developing embryos remain left to their own devices. The true care of the offspring is observed only in some skinks and spindles, the females of which wrap themselves around the laid eggs, periodically turn them over, protect them from enemies, help the young to free themselves from the shell and, remaining with them for the first time after hatching, give them food and protect in case of danger .
With some species of lizards, eggs are laid with almost fully developed embryos, so that young can hatch into the light in the next few days. By the time of hatching from the egg, the embryo in the front corner of the mouth develops a special egg tooth, which, shaking its head, the young lizard, like a razor, cuts a gap in the egg shell to exit. Recently, a phenomenon of the so-called parthenogenesis was discovered in a number of lizards, when females lay unfertilized eggs in which normal offspring develop. Males are absent during parthenogenesis, and such species are represented by females alone.
Population and species status
Due to the large number of species, we dwell only on those listed in the Red Book of Russia:
- medium lizard - Lacerta media,
- Przewalski's foot and mouth disease - Eremias przewalskii,
- Far Eastern Skink - Eumeces latiscutatus,
- gray gecko - Cyrtopodion russowi,
- Barbour's foot and mouth disease - Eremias argus barbouri,
- squeaky gecko - Alsophylax pipiens.
In the most dangerous situation on the territory of the Russian Federation is a gray gecko, with a habitat in Art. Starogladkovskaya (Chechen Republic). Despite the high number in the world, in our country after 1935 no gray gecko was found.
It is interesting! Barbura foot-and-mouth disease is also rare in Russia, despite the high abundance at individual points: under Ivolginsky (Buryatia) in 1971, 15 individuals were counted on a plot of 10 * 200 m. The species is protected in the Daursky State Reserve.
The population of the Far Eastern skink on about. Kunashir is several thousand individuals. The species is protected in the Kuril reserve, but places with the maximum number of lizards are located outside the reserve. In the Astrakhan region, the number of squeaky geckos decreased. Przhevalsky's foot-and-mouth disease is found sporadically in the Russian Federation, more often on the periphery of its range. Not numerous and medium lizards, whose Black Sea populations suffer from excessive recreational load.
How to feed a lizard at home?
And many more exotic species of lizards are very popular terrarium animals, among them a Yemeni chameleon, a bearded agama, a real iguana and others. With proper care, the lizards breed well and feel at ease. But if you do decide to get a pet lizard, then you will be faced with the question of proper feeding of so many exotic pets.
Fortunately, in terms of food intake, the lizard is not whimsical, in the warm season it needs to be fed three times a day, and in winter, due to the low activity of the lizard itself, it can be fed only twice a day. Well, meal worms, grasshoppers, spiders, fresh chicken eggs and pieces of raw meat are suitable as food for a lizard. It is said that lizards are very fond of a mixture of crushed boiled chicken, grated carrots and lettuce. It is also very important that the lizard in the terrarium always has fresh drinking water.