Lizards, which are close relatives of the snakes, are probably the most feared creatures after spiders. It’s their aura, filled with mystery, which makes humans fear them. A mere sight of them is enough to invoke feelings of disgust because of their physical appearance and eating habits. And it is because of these characteristics that lizards are liberally used by Hollywood storytellers to depict an alien life form or a giant lizard-like dinosaur wreaking havoc on Tokyo or Manhattan. However, despite of all their detestable traits, fact remains that there is a sect that considers lizards as the best of pets, for being low maintenance and looking exotic. And the human-lizard relationship is believed to be quite old, as there are certain cultures in the world which used to worship these reptiles as gods; and a tale that Shivaji of Maharashtra used the common Indian monitor lizard with ropes attached to them to scale the walls of Sinhagad fort during war, makes them even more interesting. It’s not the end of interesting traits lizards possess, but just the beginning. The next section focuses specifically on many other amazing facts on lizards; read on to know more.
Scientific Name: Lacertilia
Diet: Omnivore (insects, birds and small rodents)
Size: 1.6 cm to 11 feet
Weight: Up to 166 kg
Average Life Span: 1 to 30 years (depending on the species)
Skin Type: Scales
Habitat: Worldwide, except Antarctica
Interesting & Fun Facts About Lizards
- There are as many as 3800 species of lizards known to man. These reptiles populate almost every part of the world with the exception of the continent of Antarctica.
- Among more than three thousand species of lizards, only two have been found to be venomous: namely, the Gila monster (Heloderma sucpectum) and the Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum). Though venomous, their venom cannot kill a human, but can cause acute pain.
- The largest lizard, Komodo dragon, found in the world, is a species native to the Komodo Island of Indonesia. They can be as big as 11 feet and are so powerful that they can easily bring down a predator much bigger in size. Komodo dragons have a strong jaw line and toxic saliva which helps them in killing their prey. They are also known to attack humans, and on occasion, kill them.
- Gecko, a species of lizard, is the only one which has vocal chords. This means that lizards are dumb by birth. Hence, gecko is the only one which can communicate by making noises; other species rely on their body language for this purpose. This style of communication becomes quite useful when demarcating territory, threatening predators, and attracting mating partners etc.
- Lizards are excellent climbers. Most species are equipped with suction cups on their feet which aid climbing on almost any surface. This ability also comes in real handy when escaping a predator.
- A couple of species of lizards native to the American continent, namely, the basilisk and the collared lizard have the ability to run on their hind legs. When these creatures are young they can even run on the surface of water; this ability is called bipedal locomotion.
- It isn’t that because these creatures are mostly small in size so they live any less. In fact, there are species of lizards which live for a long time. For e.g. a Mexican beaded lizard has been recorded to live for 33 years and 11 months, and its close second, Cayman island ground iguana has been recorded to live for 33 years and 5 months.
- There are lizards which can actually fly. Dracos, a genus of lizard, have the ability to actually glide from one tree to another. This gliding is made possible because of a thin membrane which joins the front limbs with the rear ones acting as a parachute. These lizards are also known as flying dragons.
- Lizards have amazing eyesight and a few even have acute colour vision, meaning they can differentiate between colours. These animals have what is called the vomeronasal organ, which helps them in tasting different smells in the air.
- Some lizard can surprise their enemies with powerful defence mechanism. There are a few horned lizards which can squirt blood from their eyes, up to a distance of four feet, to warn their enemy. Another interesting defence mechanism which works great with predators is displayed by the Frilled lizard, which expands the skin around their neck to ward off a predator.
- Camouflage is yet another method to escape the sight of its enemies as well as its prey. Chameleons are expert in camouflaging and the other lizard which does so is the collared lizard.
- Tail autotomy is one of the prominent features of a lizard’s anatomy. Almost all lizards can let go off their tails, to dodge a predator, without much problem. The tails can grow back again later.
- Lizards are cold blooded animals and hence during winters, they become slow and have to come out to bask in the sun to regain dexterity to use at night while hunting.
- The female slow worm lizard incubates the eggs inside its womb and lays them out only when the eggs are fully hatched.
- Though closely related to the snake, lizards differ from snakes. Almost all lizards have external ears and limbs too. The legless lizard can also be categorized as a lizard only because of these features only.
- Lizards known as green iguanas are eaten in Central America. These are considered to be fishes of the desert.
- Greeks and Egyptians regard lizards as the representative of divine wisdom and good fortune; that is perhaps the reason that these creatures in hieroglyphics represent the symbol of the word plentiful.