|Types of Lizards
Gila Monsters: Helodermatidae
Spiny Lizards: Phrynosomatidae
Whiptails and Racerunners
With the exception of the legless lizards, lizards often get generically described as the four legged members of the Order Squamatareptile, which includes both snakes and lizards.
Lizards get further classified by placing them within a smaller grouping called Lacertilia.
Growing up to ten feet in length, the Komodo dragon receives credit for being the world's largest lizard. However, it's still a bit small compared to some fossils found in Queensland, Australia, which show an extinct species, Megalania prisca, that measured some twenty feet long and possibly weighed in the one thousand pound range.
Growing up to two feet in length and weighing in over the five pound mark, Gila Lizards are the largest native North American lizards.
Native lizards, however, come in a range of colors and sizes. Scientists usually organize them into eight lizard families, consisting of some 155 species.
With the exception of Alaska, lizards are native to every state in the United States. Detailed information covering native North American lizard families can be found by clicking on any of the links in the box.
Alligator lizard, the common name given to lizards in two different genera, Elgaria and Gerrhonotus, generally get characterized by the presence of triangular flat heads, long thin bodies and short legs.
The Alligator Lizard in the top picture was enjoying a sunny day. It is probably a Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea).
Approximately ten different Elgaria species inhabit western North America.
Handling Alligator Lizards can be challenging. The name "alligator" comes from from their strong jaws, and they do bite.
Like all reptiles, lizards are cold blooded. They can often be seen, and photographed basking in the sun, their primary means for regulating body temperature. Because they are cold blooded, most species that live in northern climates also hibernate during the cold winter season.
Their affinity for warm climates makes the Southwest prime lizard territory. Florida also hosts a large number of lizard species, many of them are non-native species.
Lizard diets vary from family to family. Most iguanas, for example, are herbivores. They consume only plant life. Spiny lizards, on the other hand, are considered omnivores, and they consume a variety of insect and plant life.
Skinks, geckos, spiny lizards, iguanas and anoles rank among the most common lizards found in the United States.
The video provides a glimpse of a Rosbelly lizard, one of many native spiny lizards, in its natural environment. The links in the box point to articles with extended coverage of native lizard families.
© 2007-2012 Patricia A. Michaels