Lizards are slimy, slippery reptiles with very interesting characteristics. They can be seen on all continents except Antarctica and are closely related to snakes. Here are some fascinating facts about these cold-blooded animals that are often kept as pets!
Fact 1: Lizards drop their tails in defense from predators. For example, Iguanas have evolved a defense mechanism that helps then drop a section of their tail and make a getaway while the predator is occupied with the wriggling body part.
Fact 2: Although their tail dropping technique may seem impressive, the loss of a tail is traumatic for a lizard. Lizards often store critical fat in the tail and this loss may be dangerous during a period of low food availability.
Fact 3: There are over 5,000 lizard species in the world.
Fact 4: The largest lizard in the world is the Komodo dragon. It is an ancient species of reptile belonging to the family of monitor lizards whose ancestors date back more than 100 million years. Komodo dragons live on five islands in southeastern Indonesia and their natural prey is the Timor deer. They can grow to three meters long (10 ft), weighing up to 150 kg (330 lbs).
Fact 5: All lizards have several common traits; they are cold-blooded, they have overlapping scales and acute vision.
Fact 6: There are only two species of venomous lizards, one of them being the Gila monster. Unlike snakes, Gilas don’t inject their venom through hollow fangs, but use their enlarged, lower jaw teeth to chew in the venom through capillary action. The name of this lizard comes from the Gila River, flowing through New Mexico and Arizona, in whose drainage it is a common resident.
Fact 7: Lizards range in color depending on their natural habitat. They use camouflage to blend into their surroundings. Those living in trees are usually bright green, while those commonly found in deserts adopt a brownish orange color.
Fact 8: Chameleons, a unique species of lizard, live in Madagascar, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia. Their skin layers have four different pigments or chromatophores which activate themselves to blend in with various surroundings. The uppermost layer of a chameleons skin is transparent and depending on which layer becomes active the skin changes color.
Fact 9: Chameleons eyelids are joined together and the pupil is revealed through a small hole in the middle. Unlike human eyes, which move in unison, a chameleon’s eyes move on their own. This means that one eye can look back, while the other looks forward.
Fact 10: Geckos can’t blink! They have a clear membrane that shields their eyes from dust and bright sun and they use their tongues to clean their eyes.
Fact 11: Lizards use their tongues to smell things. A lizard sticks out its tongue, pulls it back and using special sensory cells found on the roof of its mouth it sniffs the collected scents.
Fact 12: Lizards protect our environment and benefit agriculture by consuming large amounts of injurious insects, pests, each year!
Fact 13: The Draco lizard moves about the jungles of Southeast Asia using its wings! Over the course of thousands of years this small, teacup sized lizard developed wings to escape its predators. It is commonly referred to as the flying dragon because of its elongated ribs that are attached to folds of skin which act as wings.