How Many Species Of Lizards Are There?

By Victor Kiprop on December 11 2018 in World Facts

The electric blue gecko.

Lizard is a collective name for animals classified under kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Reptilia, and order Squamata. There are about 6,500 species of lizards spread across all continents except for Antarctica. Lizards vary in size from the smaller geckos and chameleons to the ten-feet long Komodo dragon. Some lizards are legless and resemble snakes, unlike the typical lizards which are quadrupedal and run with a side to side motion. Others such as the Draco lizards inhabit the forest and have the ability to glide.

Lizards are territorial. Males engage in constant fighting for territory and females. Most lizards are carnivorous, often preferring to sit and wait for prey, but the Komodo dragon actively hunts larger animals. Lizards possess anti-predator adaptations including quick reflex, camouflage, reflex bleeding, venom, and the ability to regrow their tails.

Classification Of Lizards

There are sixteen families of lizards. The major families include iguanas, chameleons, girdled lizards, agamids, crocodile lizards, night lizards, alligator lizards, plated lizards, basilisks, skinks, tegus and greaved lizards, monitor lizards, earless monitor, and the typical lizards. A surprising addition to the family is the chameleon. A lot of people cannot comprehend the fact that chameleons are lizards because of their physical appearance, ability to change color, and their slow motion compared to the typical lizards.

Size

With over six thousand species, lizards are bound to come in a variety of sizes. The Komodo dragon is the largest with an average length of 10 feet and can weigh as much as 176 pounds. The tiny dwarf gecko grows to less than an inch in length and weighs .005 ounces.

Habitat

Lizards are found across the globe except for Antarctica. They inhabit almost every train from the canopies of dense forest, undergrowths, rocky terrains, to deserts. They are cold blooded and are therefore active during the day when the sun can warm their bodies. Lizards are generally not social animals except during the mating period when males and females can be found basking together. However, there are exceptions to this; the desert night lizards is active at night and lives in a community of family members.

Diet

Most lizards are carnivorous, meaning that meat is their primary diet. The typical diet of lizards include spiders, small mammals, ants, termites, and cicadas. Some lizards feed on shelled animals such as snails while others are cannibals. Some lizards such as Clark's spiny lizards are omnivorous meaning they feed on both meat and vegetation while others such as the marine iguana are herbivorous.

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