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Do Lizards Have Bones?

In this article I will answer if Lizards have bones, if they are vertebrates or not and reveal other interesting related biological facts. I was tempted to research this article after seeing some confusion and interest into lizards bone structure and to clarify even if they had bones.

Do lizards have bones? Yes, they have bones. They are vertebrates and have a backbone along with a collection of other bones. They also have Kinetic skulls that have moving parts. The exact bone structure varies from specie to specie.

Now that you understand that lizards have bones lets delve a bit deeper and understand a bit more detail about these lizards, in particular their bones and general anatomy.

Does a lizard have a backbone?

As briefly discussed earlier. Lizards do have a backbone. This is the same as humans and they are commonly referred to as vertebrates.

What is a Vertebrate?

A vertebrate is basically any animal that has a backbone. This includes us humans, reptiles, etc. The opposite of this is invertebrates, who do not have a back bone. Invertebrates have soft bodies without a backbone. An example of this would be jellyfish or a the common garden worm.

What is a kinetic skull and Do Lizards have this?

Lizards typically have a Kinetic skull meaning that it has moveable joints. The term for this movement is typically referred to as Cranial kinesis.

It basically means that apart from the normal upper and low jaw movement there is movement in other skull bones. Humans do not have such skull movement, and are commonly referred to as having akinetic skulls, the opposite to kinetic.

Do Lizards Shed their Skin?

Yes, lizards do shed their skin. It is a natural part of being a lizard in fact. For example Iguanas are known to shed their skin every 4-6 weeks. Younger lizards are even known to shed their skin even more frequent.

You usually get some clear signs when your lizard is about to or just starting to shed its skin. Such as the following:

  • Change of colour – Geckos can go a mix of white & Grey.
  • Reduced appetite
  • Not wanting to be touched, act irritated when touched.
  • Eyes puffing out substantially (two or three times), if they have eyelids

The shedding can take up to three weeks to complete. However this varies quite a bit. For example an Alligator lizard can literally shed its entire skin in hours. This is mainly due to the fact that it does this in one go and sheds its whole skin in one session.

There are problems that can occur during this process. If the shed does not occur correctly this is called dysecdysis. This can be caused by a poor diet, but in other cases thier could be other reasons that could make this happen.

Don’t be surprised if find your lizard eating its own skin after its shedded. I know, this may sound unpleasant, but this is actually a healthy and natural thing for lizards.

They benefit from the minerals in the skin and eating the skin helps them re-generate a new skin faster.

What is the Parietal Eye Lizards Have?

The parietal eye is commonly referred to as the the “third eye”. It is also sometimes called the Pineal eye. Lizards have this Parietal eye. It is particular useful to them to detect and decipher light levels.

When I say light levels, I mean working out when it is light and day. The eye will detect changes in the time of day based on colour changes of daylight.

Related Questions:

Do Lizards Have Red Blood? Before we answer this question, first let’s understand what actually makes blood red. The hemoglobin in . the oxygen is what gives blood the red colour. Which is present in human blood. This is the same for lizards, but not for all species.

Some species, in particular in New Guinea, there is a type of Skink Lizard that has green blood. Not just blood is green, also the muscles, bones and organs have this green colouration.

But why is its blood green? The reason is this lizard does not have the hemoglobin that we talked about earlier, meaning they do not have the same red colour we have.

Do lizards have teeth? Yes, lizard do have teeth, but they are different to our teeth. Depending on which specie of lizard you look at some have teeth that look more like little pegs.

However, a Komodo Dragon for example, has sharp serrated teeth that can injure animals that they wish to eat. Then on the other end of the scale you have the Mollusk that has blunt teeth.

Do Geckos have bones? Yes, they do have bones and what has been discussed earlier actually address this. All lizards have bones and are vertebrates.

What is Bipedal running and which Lizards can do this? This is basically running on two legs. Essentially this is what we do as humans. Obviously Lizards have four legs, so this is more of an interesting thing to see for them.

The Basilisk lizard can do this. It uses its two legs and uses its tail as a balance for their weight. AN interesting fact about these Basilisk lizards is they can actually run across water for short distances.

Do Lizards drink blood? There is a specie of lizard sometimes referred to as the “bloodsucking lizard”, however it is not really a true blood sucker and more of a myth. The name mainly comes from the colour of the male’s throat colour in mating season. At this time the male has a vivd red coloured throat and hence the name “bloodsucking lizard” came from.

This lizard does not stay this colour though, they tend to change colours quite drastically during the year.

Which lizard squirts blood from its eye? The Horned Lizard is known for squirting blood from its eye. It does this purely as a defence mechanism. The idea is it waits for its attacker to get real close, to the point where it’s in the jaws of the predator, then unleashes the squirt, to make sure it gets it.

Do Lizards have limbs? Yes, they do have limbs, they have 4 legs as well as a tail. The size and weight of these limbs varies quite a lot depending on the specie of lizard.

Can a Lizard Grow back a limb if lost?  Yes, they can. This behaviour is very different to humans because once we loose our limbs that is it for us. However this is a different story for lizards.

Once they loose a tail for example, the blood clots up in the limb. But rather than the skin growing back to cover the missing tail a replacement will come throw. It will not be an exact replica of what was there before, but it is re-growth none-the-less.

Do Lizards Sleep? Yes, they do sleep. In fact they have sleep cycles in the same manor as humans. The only difference is they have shorter cycles.

To put this into context, us humans are known to have sleep cycles of 90 minutes, and during a nights sleep this can equal about 4 sleep cycles.

Lizards on the other hand can have hundreds of smaller sleep cycles. Also the duration of their sleep is usually shorter than us. A small sleep for them is 80 minutes. But a long sleep can be 4 hours.

How do lizards cool off? Lizards have a very primitive methods to keep them self cool. If they are feeling hot they can simply hide behind an available rock. If they need to get hot and they are in a warm climate, they will basically expos themselves to the sun.

For larger lizards, for example, Komodo Dragon’s due to their large body size they can hold in their heat and regulate their temperature. For smaller lizards this is more of a challenge. They are affected by even the smallest changes in temperature in their environment.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.