Lizards are part of squamate reptiles that include more than six thousands species. They are found in all continents except Antarctica. Lizards vary in size from the small chameleons to the large Komodo dragons. They are mostly quadrupedal meaning they move on four limbs with a side-to-side motion. Some lizards have no limbs and are more snake-like in apperances. Lizards are territorial; males fight for control of territories but tolerate the presence of females. Large lizards such as the Komodo prey on large animals such as water buffaloes while smaller lizards such as the chameleon prey on insects. The following are the largest living lizards.
7. Giant Tegu
The giant tegu is also known as the black and white tegu. It is the largest of the tegu lizards with adult males growing to between 4.0 and 4.5 ft. These lizards inhabit the semi-deserts, savanna, and tropical rainforests of Central and South America. The giant tegu is capable of running at high speeds for short distances; they charge at preys and other lizards.The tegu is among the few lizards that can regulate temperature during the reproductive season. They are omnivorous and feed on insects, snails, spiders, and invertebrates.
6. Asian Water Monitor
The Asian water monitor lizard is endemic to Southeast and South Asia. They are the most common monitor lizards on the continent. Their habitats range from northeast India, Sri Lanka, the Malay Peninsula, and the islands of Indonesia. The water monitor is a large lizard that can grow to between 4.9–6.6 feet and weigh 2.2 pounds.They have muscular bodies and powerful tales. The lizard’s keen sense of smell helps it identify and reach carcasses miles from its habitat.
5. Gila Monster
The Gila monster is a lizard found in the Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran Deserts in northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States. The lizard is black with dramatic patterns of yellow, orange, and pink. The Gila monster has an extremely painful and venomous bite that can kill a human being. They are lethargic animals that raid nests for eggs and newborn mammals. The lizard spends 95% of its life in underground burrows and only emerge to feed and bask in the sun. They store massive amounts of fat the oversized tales that allows the animal to last for several weeks without feeding.
4. Crocodile Monitor
The crocodile monitor is native to New Guinea, it is the largest lizard in the island. The lizard has an exceptionally long tail that can stretch to eight feet. Some specimens of the lizard have exceeded the length of the Komodo dragon that is officially is the longest lizard. It inhabits the coastal rainforest and mangroves swamp in the southern part of the island where it feeds on carrion, birds, eggs, and small mammals. The crocodile monitor is threatened by poaching and deforestation.
3. Rock Monitor
The rock monitor is the largest lizard in Africa, it is found in South, East, and Central Africa. An average rock monitor is between 2 ft 9 and 4 ft 11 inches in length and weighs between 33 to 37 lb. They have bulbous and convex snouts, and pink or bluish forked tongues. Rock monitors prefer living in trees away from water. They are known to hold their ground when threatened, but are likely to bite, scratch, or lash their powerful tails when the threat gets too close. Research study has shown that the monitor lizard is more intelligent than the other forms of lizards.
2. Perentie Goanna
The Perentie Goanna is the largest lizard in Australia. It is native to the deserts of South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Their habitat consists of gorges and rocky outcroppings. The lizard prefers remote places with little human interference. The Perentie Goanna can grow to 8 ft 2 in and weigh up to 33 lb. They hunt insects, fish, smaller lizards, rabbits, and rats. The larger ones hunt wombats, dingoes, and kangaroos. When threatened, the lizard will either run or freeze flat on the ground, a behavior typical of goannas.
1. Komodo Dragon
The Komodo dragon is the largest living lizard; it can grow to about 10 feet and weigh as much as 150 pounds. It is native to the Indonesian Lesser Sunda Islands of Komodo, Flores, Padar, Rinca, and Gili Motang. The Komodo dragon has a long flat head with a rounded snout, huge muscular tail, bowed legs, and scaly skin. They are not shy of hunting large prey including deer, carrion, pigs, and water buffalo. Attacks on humans have also been reported. The saliva of the Komodo dragon is highly venomous and a single bite is enough to down a buffalo in less than 12 hours.