Lizards are the largest groups in the reptile family, with over 6,000 members! They include all reptiles, apart from snakes!
There is also massive variation in the lizard family, with members from as small as a few centimeters to a few meters long! Some are herbivores, some are omnivores, and some are exclusively carnivores – but they are all equally interesting!
So much variation means lots of fun quirks – here are eleven of our favorite lizard facts.
- Some lizards can detach their tails if caught by surprise.
As a last-ditch attempt to escape from a predator, a lizard may choose to detach their tail from their body. Known as autonomy, this is a left-over reflex from their wild counterparts, who could use this as a way to escape.
This reflex remains to this day and is often observed by pet lizard owners in times of great stress. It can be seen in many species, including Bearded Dragons, and many species of Gecko.
If this happens to your pet, it many be an indicator that an event or events has pushed their stress levels over threshold. Not to worry, in time your pet’s tail will grow back!
- Lizards live almost everywhere!
Apart from Antarctica, Lizards are found on every other continent! Lizards have a variety of natural habitats including marshes, rocky mountainsides and forests.
This versatility means they can be found in pretty much every corner of the globe. Wherever you go, you are likely to find a species of lizard!
- Some species of lizard will go their entire lives without drinking water
Yes, that’s correct! Some species of desert dwelling lizard are thought to be able to go their entire life without drinking water. This is hotly debated within the reptile community, as there is evidence both for and against this.
Most species of lizard, however, will need fresh drinking water, especially those who come from swampy or marshy areas. If you are looking to get a lizard as a pet, you will need to do lots of research prior to purchase to ensure you set up your vivarium in the right way for them!
- While most lizards are not dangerous to be around, there are a few exceptions to this rule
The Gila Monster, as pictured above, is one of the only lizards in the whole world with a venom toxic to humans! Native to Utah, Nevada and parts of Mexico, the Gila Monster is one to be wary of!
Though the species is rare and bites are rarer still, if you are travelling to this part of the country then it is one to be aware of!
Another great example is the Komodo Dragon. The largest lizard on the planet, these dinosaur-like creatures use their venom to kill their prey at a distance. Once bitten, the prey will die within the hour – then all they have to do is follow their incredible noses to their kill. Luckily, this species only lives on certain Indonesian islands, so they are not a threat that is too close to come!
- Lizards can change color at will
Some species of lizard, such as the Chameleon or the Anole can change color at will. It is not know what factors cause this color change, but it is believed to be heavily influenced by their environment or by the presence of other lizards!
- Geckos have unique physiology
One of the most popular species of pet lizard is the Gecko – who have some rather unique qualities! One of the unique quirks of the Gecko subspecies is that they have no eyelids. Another is that they haveuniquely formed toes that allow them to climb trees.
- Chameleons odd eyes
Not only do Geckos have unique physiology, chameleons do also! Their eyelids are joined together once at the top and once at the bottom, leaving only a small hole for them to see through. This odd evolutionary quirk allows them to look in two directions at once.
- Horned lizards have an unusual defense mechanism
When threatened, North American Horned Lizards can squirt blood from their eyes! The process is known autohemorrhaging and can be repeated several times in a short person where necessary. The jet of blood, which can squirt up to four feet, is used to frighten predators, as well as occasionally to clean dirt and dust from their eyes.
- Basilisk Lizards can run on water!
The Basilisk Lizard (pictured above) has a rather unique quality- they can run on water! Nicknamed the Jesus Christ lizard, this curious reptile has the ability run on water. Their ability to do this comes from scaly fringes on their third, fourth and fifth toes. When running away from a predator, the spreading of these fringes plus the momentum gathered from running means these speedy lizards can temporarily run on water!
- Some species of lizard can live on three meals a year
The rarest species of lizard in the world, the Mexican Bearded Lizard is thought to be able to survive on only three meals per year. This carnivorous reptile is so efficient with this food intake that they need minimal food intake.
- Only one species of lizard can swim
Of all lizard species, only one can swim! The Marine Galapagos Lizard swims, not for fish, but for algae, which they scrape off rocks with their sharp teeth and claws. They can even hold their breath for an hour to do.