This Sunday, August 14th, we celebrate World Lizard Day! With more than 6,000 species around the world, why wouldn’t we take the time to recognize this diverse and fun-loving reptile? Here are some fun facts about some of the different lizards guests will see when visiting Newport Aquarium.
To learn more, we talked to Newport Aquarium biologist and herpetologist, Ryan Dumas. “Lizards are important because they occupy many different niches throughout the environment,” Dumas said.
Yellow Tree Monitor
The Yellow Tree Monitor can only be found in the tropical rain forests on the small island of Misol in Indonesia. They can grow to become three feet long from head to tail and they mostly eat invertebrates. Did you know these monitors were discovered as recent as 11 years ago?
Chinese Crocodile Lizard
Chinese Crocodile lizards can live for at least 20 years. They are a Species Survival Plan (SSP) Animal, which means their population is managed under professional care, by biologists and herpetologists to ensure the species isn’t threatened. They are semi-aquatic creatures that enjoy cool and wet habitats. The interesting thing about these lizards is that they are ovoviviparous, which means they give live birth instead of laying eggs.
Some lizards are closer to home than you think. For example, the Chuckwalla can be found in the southwestern part of the United States. They can be highly susceptible as food for other animals but their bodies allow them to expand in smaller places to stay out of reach from predators. They also like hanging out on rock crops as it serves as the perfect place to bask in the sun.
Eastern Collared Lizard
Eastern Collared Lizards also reside in the southwestern part of the United States. What makes these little ones unique is that the coatings on the males are brighter than the females. The brighter the male, the more attracted he is to the female.
Panther Chameleons come from Madagascar. Males are more vibrantly colored than females which are tan or peach-colored.
They are zygodactylous: on each foot, the five toes are fused into a group of two and a group of three, giving the foot a tongs-like appearance. Chameleons have unique eyes – they can rotate and focus on two different objects at the same time! Panther chameleons have very large tongues, often longer than their entire body! They extend their tongue very fast to catch prey. Males are more vibrantly colored than females which are tan or peach-colored. They also lay 20 to 30 eggs between two to three times per year. This species of chameleon has a very short life span that only lasts between three to four years.
Argentine Black and White Tegu
The Argentine Black and White Tegu is the largest species of tegu. It has a six-inch forked tongue that it uses to smell its surroundings. Black and white tegus have unique coloring. When they’re born, they have a bright green head and darker body. As they mature, that green gradually fades to tones of black and white. They can grow to be 45 inches long and their diets consist of invertebrates and vertebrates. Tegus are not tree dwellers. They spend most of their life on ground, but they are excellent swimmers.
Solomon Island Skink
The Solomon Island Skink or “Monkey Tail Skink” is one of the few lizard species that has a prehensile tail, which means it can grasp or wrap around something. Although they primarily eat vegetation, they are easily agitated animals and are considered “circulars” which means one male will lead in a group of females. One of a few ways you can distinguish the gender is by the shapes of their heads and bodies – females have narrow heads and pear-shaped bodies.
These are just a few of the many lizards you can see here at Newport Aquarium. Visit www.newportaquarium.com to plan your next trip and see the latest promotions.
Happy World Lizard Day from Newport Aquarium.
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