Lizards are a large, unique group of reptiles that can be found all over the globe. You can even find some of these amazing creatures in your own yard if you know where to look.
Some lizards can drink water with their feet, climb on the ceiling and even shoot blood out of their eyes! Others can reach up to 10 feet long and weigh 300lbs.
They have perfected living in every habitat imaginable, and have even worked their way into the homes and hearts of people around the world as pets.
Continue reading to learn 50 amazing facts about these unique reptiles.
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Lizard Facts For Kids
The First Lizard On Earth Was 260 Million Years Ago
A Megachirella fossil was recently discovered and places the earliest known lizard in the Permian Era. This means they roamed the earth nearly 260 million years ago.
Lizards Bob Their Heads To Communicate
Males usually bob their heads to scare other male lizards or to try to attract a female. This behavior is seen in many species like Anoles.
Komodo Dragons Are The Largest Lizards In The World
The Komodo Dragon is thought to be the biggest lizard on the planet. They can weigh up to 300 pounds and reach lengths of up to 10 feet! Not only is its enormous size intimidating, its bite is also laced with venom.
Some Can Live Over 65 Years
A Grand Cayman blue Iguana called Godzilla holds the world record for the longest living lizard at an estimated 69 years old! Most lizards don’t live quite this long and species like the Leopard Gecko normally live around 15 years as pets.
Lizards Are Not Dinosaurs
While dinosaurs and lizards may have similar appearances, dinosaurs are actually an extinct group of reptiles. They are more closely related to birds than lizards.
There Are Over 6,500 Species
Lizards are classified in the suborder of reptiles known as Lacertilla. In this suborder there are over 6,500 different species! This number is constantly growing as we discover new species. In 2021 scientists discovered a new species in Peru called Liolaemus warjantay.
Lizards Live On Every Continent Except Antarctica
These reptiles live all over the world. They can be found in a wide range of habitats from jungles, to deserts, grasslands, plains, forests and even your backyard.
They Are Reptiles
Lizards are part of the Class Reptilia which also includes crocodiles, alligators and snakes. There are over 40 families of lizards with over 6,500 different species.
Lizards Can See In Color
These reptiles have pretty unique eyes that have multicolored oil droplets. These droplets allow them to see in color. Some species can even see in the ultraviolet range that humans can’t.
Some Species Don’t Have Any Legs
There is an entire group of over 200 species of lizards that have lost their legs. Legless lizards live all over the globe, but species like the Eastern Glass are found in the southeastern United States. Though they may look like snakes, they are actually lizards because they have external ears, eyelids and no forked tongue.
The Nano-Chameleon Is The World’s Smallest Reptile
The smallest species of lizard is a chameleon that can fit on the tip of your finger. The nano-chameleon was recently discovered in North Madagascar. A full grown male measures only 22mm from its nose to the tip of its tail.
Geckos Have Hairy Feet
The microscopic hairs on the feet of Geckos are called setae. These hairs are what make Gecko feet so “sticky”. They can use these hairs to climb on walls, ceilings and even glass surfaces.
Lizards Actually Make Lots Of Noises
Most people think lizards are silent, but they actually make lots of noise. Chirps, barks, squeaks and clicks are just a few noises that you may hear them make. Sometimes they make noises that humans can’t even hear!
Some Species Have Been Known To Play
Mammals aren’t the only ones who enjoy a little play. Monitor Lizards have been known to playfully interact with objects like buckets, boxes, old shoes and balls. They have even been known to play tug-of-war with their keepers.
Their Teeth Are Specialized Based On What They Eat
Predator lizards like the monitor species have large cone-shaped teeth that are curved. Smaller species with specialized diets have round, blunt teeth near the back of the jaw.
Some Species Play Dead
Lizards like the Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink will play dead when threatened. They do this with the hope a predator won’t want to eat something dead and will leave them alone.
Lizards Shed Their Skin
As a lizard grows their skin doesn’t grow with them. Just like taking off a jacket that has gotten too small, lizards will shed their skin. Underneath is a new layer of skin that fits their new larger body perfectly.
Some Species Are Venomous
Most lizards are not venomous, but there are two exceptions. The Gila Monster is a venomous species whose venom is as toxic as a rattlesnake. They can be found in the deserts of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. The other venomous lizard is the Komodo Dragon which is not nearly as toxic as the Gila Monster.
They Like To Hide In Dark, Cool Places
Species you might find in your yard like to hang out in dark cool places like behind cupboards, furniture and in garden pots. If you want lizards in your backyard then try giving them various places to hide like a rock or brush pile.
Lizards Are “Cold-Blooded”
While their blood isn’t actually cold, lizards are ectothermic. This means they are unable to regulate their own body temperature and must use the sun to help warm their bodies.
Most Are Completely Harmless
The majority of lizards are completely harmless to humans. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and some lizards can have a pretty nasty bite.
You Can Pay Between $15 And $100 For A Pet Lizard
If you want a pet species like a Bearded Dragon or Leopard Gecko you can usually find one for under $100. Prices vary depending on the species you choose. Some morphs like the Rhino Iguana can sell for over $1,000!
They Are Omnivores, Carnivores And Herbivores
While some lizards like the Komodo dragon eat just meat, other species like the Iguana only eat plants. Most lizards eat a little bit of everything. A good example is Bearded Dragons who eat both plants and animals!
Interesting Facts About Lizards
A Group Of Lizards Is Called A Lounge
They were given this name because large groups of lizards were thought to lounge around together in the sun and wait for their prey to come to them.
Lizards Sleep Just Like Humans Do
While lizards and humans both sleep, their sleep cycles are a little different. Where humans will sleep in cycles lasting around 90 minutes, lizards usually will sleep in cycles that last a few minutes each. These cycles are much faster and more regular than human cycles. Scientists think these rapid cycles may be a more primitive sleep pattern.
They Are Smart Reptiles
People used to think reptiles weren’t very intelligent, but that opinion is changing. Scientists now think some lizards are pretty smart. Anoles have been seen forming strategies to capture prey and Monitors are able to recognize objects and count up to six!
Galapagos Iguanas Sneeze Salt
Galapagos Iguanas are marine reptiles that spend a lot of time in the ocean and eat large amounts of salt. To get rid of the excess salt in their bodies they sneeze it out!
Lizards Have A Third Eye
This third eye is called the parietal eye and is located on the top of a lizard’s head. It isn’t quite as noticeable as the other two eyes and is actually covered by skin. This eye is interesting as it can collect information about the time of day, ambient light and day length.
Certain Species Have Night Vision
Lizards that are active at night need to be able to see well in the dark. Crested Geckos are nocturnal and have vision that allows them to see at night. Their eyesight is so good that Geckos can tell the difference between blue and gray colors.
Some Lizards Run On Two Feet
There are a few species like the Frilled Lizard that rear up and run on two legs. Scientists think they are doing a wheelie just like you would do on a bike.
They Are Great To Have Around Your House
Lizards are the perfect animal to have in your yard. Not only are small species like Fence Lizards completely harmless, they also eat pests. They will eat ticks, ants, termites and other harmful insects and make your yard a better place.
Some Lizards Eat Other Lizards
Carnivorous lizards are known to eat other, smaller species. When food is hard to come by these reptiles won’t hesitate to eat any smaller lizards they can find. Collared Lizards actually eat other species as a main part of their diet.
Lizards Have Ears And Can Hear Very Well
The holes on the side of a lizard’s head are actually their ears. Geckos can hear just as well as humans because they frequently vocalize to communicate and find their mates.
Most Will Run Away From You
Wild reptiles are generally more afraid of you than you are of them. Small lizards like Anoles will quickly run away from any approaching humans. Mediterranean House Geckos that live near people are more comfortable and will occasionally approach if food is offered.
Lizards Can Bite
When threatened lizards will use their teeth and bite. Most species that you will find in your garden like Anoles have small teeth that will barely even break the skin.
Armadillo Lizards Curl Up Into Balls
The Armadillo is a very spiky lizard that bites its own tail and rolls into a ball when threatened by a predator. This behavior makes it very difficult for a predator to get a good bite.
They Can Lay Eggs Or Give Live Birth
Some lizards lay eggs while others prefer to give live birth. One species of three-toed skink in Australia can actually do both.
Desert Species Have Spiny Toes
Some lizards in the desert have developed spines on their toes that help them run across the sand dunes without sinking in. If you have ever run on sand you will know how easy it is to sink in with each step.
They Cannot Regrow Their Limbs
Some species like the Leopard Gecko are able to regrow their tails, but not their limbs. If your lizard loses a limb it will not be able to grow it back.
Cool Facts About Lizards
The Parachute Gecko Can Fly
Parachute Geckos have unique flaps of skin on their feet, the sides of their body and their head. This skin acts like a parachute and allows them to glide from tree to tree.
Horned Lizards Can Shoot Blood Out Their Eyes
The Horned Lizard has a pretty unique defensive tactic. When threatened this reptile will shoot blood from their eye sockets which startles predators and gives them a chance to flee.
The Basilisk Lizard Can Walk On Water
Basilisk lizards are also known as the Jesus Lizard. They are given this name because they have special skin on their feet that allows them to run on water for up to 5 meters. They usually do this to escape from predators.
Anoles Can Breathe Underwater
Anoles can breathe underwater by trapping an air bubble to their snout. They are able to submerge for up to 20 minutes at a time!
Chameleons Can Change Color
Lizards like Chameleons can change color because of specialized skin cells called chromatophores. They don’t actually use this ability as camouflage, but to communicate with other reptiles. Male chameleons will display red, yellow and white to threaten other males.
Some Lizards Can Drop Their Tails
The Leopard Gecko can let go of its tail if it feels threatened! This is called autotomy and their severed tail will continue to wiggle to attract any predators away from the lizard. Normally they can regrow their tail in 6 months.
Most Don’t Swim
Most lizards are able to swim, but they can’t do it very well. Only the aquatic Marine Iguana spends lots of time in the water while searching for algae to eat.
Chameleons Can Look In Two Directions At Once
Chameleons have very interesting eyes that are able to move independently from each other. This allows them to look in two directions at once and have almost 360° of vision.
Some Drink Water Through Their Skin
The Thorny Devil is a species of Australian lizard that is adapted to desert life. Their mouth is so specialized to their diet of ants that they can’t actually use it to drink water! They absorb water through the skin of their feet and body.
Some Lizards Like To Be Handled
Pet lizards like Bearded Dragons are known to enjoy spending time with their keepers. They often enjoy being handled and are considered the perfect pet for people new to keeping reptiles.
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