15 Thorny Devil Facts I Wish I knew Before I got started

Want to learn some great Thorny Devil Lizard facts? Well then read on because you are in the right place. In this article I plan to cover their Scientific name, other names they are known by, why they "Puff Up" their bodies, why the wak real funny, and so much more.


This blog post will be taking a look at 15 unique facts about an Australian reptile lizard known as the ‘thorny devil’. This Australian lizard can grow up to 25 cm and has a lifespan up to 20 years.

There are many interesting things to learn about this type of lizard, which is why the purpose of this blog post will be to inform you about the very many interesting facts that this Australian lizard has to offer.

Some of the various facts that we will be talking about include this lizards appearance, size, lifespan, habitat, self-defense tactics, diet, and core survival tactics.

There are many things to explore in regards to the thorny devil, and we hope that you find many of the facts that will be mentioned in this article to be interesting and educational.

What is the Thorny Devil's Scientific and other names?

The first subject that we are going to take a look at in terms of the thorny devil is to explore the official scientific names and other nicknames that are associated with this particular lizard. the official scientific name for the thorny devil is Moloch horridus which is the soul species of genus Moloch.

To local residents in Western Australia, this lizard is also known as the mountain devil or the thorny lizard. The lizard’s thorny appearance has earned the nickname as the thorny lizard which accurately represents its form.

Why are they called Thorny Devil?

While there is no official reason that they have been dubbed as the thorny devil lizard, in most cases people use this nickname because of the lizards appearance. The thorny devil is an intimidating Australian lizard with spikes similar to that of a porcupine, and this collection of spikes runs across the majority of the top side of the thorny dragons body.

This lizard originates from Western Australia, which is where it was dubbed with the nickname thorny lizard and thorny devil. This nickname has stuck because of its appearance over the course of its lifetime with its painful spikes and intense lifestyle. It appears that this nickname suits its purpose.

How big are they?

This particular type of Australian lizard typically ranges between 10 and 15 cm in length. In some cases, the thorny devil can grow up to about 20 to 25 cm in length. The thorny devil typically grows for the first half of its life before it reaches its optimal size and stabilizes for the rest of its life span.

There are a number of factors that can differentiate each particular lizard in terms of its growth potential. Their diet, location, and habitat can all contribute to their growth potential which is why you see a wide variety of different sizes when exploring thorny devil lizards.

What do they look like?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the thorny devil Australian lizard is the fact that its appearance pretty much dictates its reception towards humans. Humans nicknamed this Australian lizard as the thorny devil because of the fact that its appearance is so intimidating and because this remarkable lizard lives its life based off of its own appearance.

The thorny devil is equipped with hundreds of spiky thorns that are used as a self-defense tactics towards its predators. Potential predators and enemies will be far less likely to want to eat the thorny dragon because of the spiky thorns and rough skin type. These thorns sort of act as a lifeline for the thorny lizard so that it can escape and dangerous situations and continue to survive in an ever-changing world.

What food do they eat and love?

The thorny devil lizard has a relatively simple diet that consists of various species of ants, mainly Ochetellus flavipes, and other similar species. The thorny devil lizard often eats hundreds or even thousands of ants in one particular 24 hour period. This particular diet is what dictates its growth potential, so a healthy diet can help the thorny devil grow to its optimal size of up to 20 centimeters.

The thorny devil often scavenges and scouts the desert surface for several hours at a time in order to find food but it is willing to eat. They are very effective at finding what they are looking for, and while they are searching a camouflage skin tight can often defend them and mask them from potential predators.

Why do they "Puff" themselves up to look bigger?

The main purpose of the thorny devil lizard Puffs there appearance up to look bigger is so that potential predators are more intimidated from the lizards of appearance and are less likely to want to swallow it for food.

This is one of the thorny devils defense tactics that it uses when necessary so that it can continue to survive and thrive in Western Australian deserts.

The thorny devil is smart and stubborn which is why it does such a good job surviving in harsh conditions where the predators are constantly scavenging for potential food.

The thorny devil has an impressive reputation when it comes to self defense which is why it has remained one of the most impressive lizards that has continued to thrive in Western Australia.

Do they walk funny?

The thorny devil has a unique walking choreography that may look different than what you might expect. They walk in such a way that appears that the upper part of their body rocks back and forth almost like a rocking chair.

While there is no confirmed reason that they choose to walk in this manner, one good guess that could potentially be correct is that the thorny devil lizard believes that this movement is less likely to bring attention especially towards potential rivals out in the wilderness.

There are number of self-defense tactics at the thorny devil uses to its advantage, and it appears that this unique walking technique is another great way for the thorny devil to continue to thrive and defend itself against potential threats and nature.

Where do they originate from (Natural Habitat)?

The thorny devil lizard originates from Western Australia and can now be found across central parts of Australia where a majority of the species currently lives. The thorny devil lizards tend to prefer dry desert land and considers the Western Australian climate its home climate. It's fair to say that the thorny devil practically rules among the majority of lizards in Australia.

One of the particular unique things about this type of lizard is the fact that it's Western Australian climate actually helps them change colors during warm and cold weather so that these lizards can disguise themselves from potential predators as a self-defense tactics.

What is their behavior like?

The thorny devil has a unique behavior pattern that primarily focuses on their internal characteristics in order to provide optimal self-defense tactics and survival techniques.

This particular lizard is extremely stubborn and smart and knows how to get around in hot and dry desert climates. They specialize in protecting themselves from potential predators like wild birds by using camouflage to change color and by using a false head that is attached to its neck so that wild birds can't determine whether the lizard is vulnerable or not.

The thorny devil can being extremely intimidating lizard because of its harsh living conditions and intimidating self-defense features. They are constantly exploring for food, usually ants located on the desert surface and enjoy living in Western Australian climate.

How do they Breed?

Thorny devil female lizards tend to lay a clutch of five to twelve eggs between the months of October and December. The female lizards place these eggs into a nest approximately 40 centimeters under the Earth's surface and then eventually these eggs will hatch after approximately 90 days.

This cycle takes place every year and should be considered a relatively consistent process that most female thorny devil lizards will follow on a year-to-year basis.

How do they consume water in the desert?

The thorny devil lizard is capable of consuming water in unique ways because of its harsh climate that it has become accustomed to. The thorny devil lizard is capable of consuming water simply by touching water because of the scales on the lizard's body. As water strolls across the surface of the thorny devil body, it uses its skin to transport water to its mouth through its skin complexion.

This is one of the remarkable ways that this particular lizards consumes water, as it uses its scales to generate a mechanism to consume as much water as possible when the opportunity arises. The characteristics of this lizard are simply remarkable, which is why many people are stunned to find out how its lifestyle is different than some other creatures that live in Western Australian climate.

What are their natural predators?

The thorny devil has dozens of potential predators that it has to use its self-defense tactics for, but its primary predators tend to be wild birds and goanna’s that exist in Western Australia. The thorny devil uses its camouflage and false head to protect from these potential predators during desperate times.

The thorny devil is capable of using his camouflage to change color which is particularly useful in the Australian climate at various times of the year.

One of the more prominent body features that the thorny devil uses to fend off potential predators are the harsh spikes that are extremely sharp and unappealing to potential predators.

Are they endangered?

The thorny devil Western Australian lizards is considered an endangered species, which is why some people have looked to try and help eggs hatch so that the Western Australian lizard known as the mountain devil can continue to thrive and produce additional babies so that the species can move towards a less endangered state.

It is hard to determine whether this process has been working, but it does appear that at least for now, the thorny devil is stable and is not moving towards an imminent extinction. The biggest threat to the thorny devil species should be considered wild birds that can swoop down and kill the thorny devil lizard in just a matter of moments.

What do their horns do for them?

The horns that are located on the thorny devil lizard are simply another self defense tactic that it uses among its unique variety of characteristics to protect against potential predators.

This particular lizard has a long list of characteristics and self-defense tactics that it has successfully used against many predators, although it tends to struggle with self defense against giant birds that seem to come out of the wild.

These horns don't serve too much of a purpose and are not one of the main self-defense tactics that the lizard intends to use. These horn serve as a complementary measure to try and intimidate potential predators, however they are not as useful as the sharp thorns that help distinguish this particular lizard from others.

While their horns may not be a major part of their anatomy, some people might find that these horns add character to the thorny lizards already unique list of features that make them appealing to some lizard enthusiasts.

Are they ideal for beginner Lizard owners

Determining whether owning a thorny devil lizard in Western Australia is a good idea comes down to the core principles that surrounds a lizards lifestyle. It is important to remember that these lizards are designed to live outdoors in their natural habitat and that by placing them into a cage or confined environment can drastically change their internal lifestyle and senses which can have significant impact on their health and well-being.

Potential lizard owners and lizard enthusiasts should strongly debate the potential costs, challenges, and tribulations that could potentially arise from owning a thorny devil lizard as a pet. First off, it is important to remember that the thorny devil lizard tends to eat ants and other small similar species which can be costly over a long period of time. In addition, these lizards like to scavenge and move around for long periods of time which could potentially raise health risks if the lizard is confined for long periods of time inside of a small environment. It would be extremely difficult to raise a healthy thorny devil lizard for long periods of time without spending a lot of money to create a custom lifestyle that they would be happy with.

After taking a look at all the information that is available, it is hard to imagine a situation where a beginner lizard owner would be able to successfully meet all of the requirements that a thorny devil lizard would need in order to live a happy life style inside of a confined environment as a pet. While it is not impossible to do this, there are probably other lizards that are better candidates for beginner lizard owners before taking a look at the thorny devil lizard.

Regardless of whether owning a pet lizard is in your future, doing research on some of these creatures like the thorny devil lizard is really fascinating and can bring up a lot of interesting facts that you didn't even know where possible.


These fifteen facts in regards to the thorny devil lizard that has lived most of its life in Western Australian climate are extremely fascinating especially for lizard enthusiasts. Each of these fifteen facts create a unique characteristic that separates this particular lizard from other similar lizards that are not quite the same.

The thorny devil lizard lives up to its name and description as one of the prominent yet endangered lizards that currently strolls across the dry and harsh deserts of Australia. While it is unclear whether the thorny devil lizard has a bright future in terms of its overall species, the good news is that as of right now it is currently in a stable endangerment and is currently likely to stay around for many years.

As a writer and lizard enthusiast myself, it was fascinating to get to know some of the interesting facts that make the thorny devil mountain lizard so unique compared to other similar lizards that live across Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed doing research and finding out new information about this particular type of lizard.

Did you enjoy this in-depth research and fact based article about the remarkable Australian thorny devil lizard? We would love to hear your feedback about this article and would also love to hear your opinions about the thorny devil lizard. Would you ever make the bold decision to own one of these intimidating lizards? Let us know!

Does The Blue Tongue Lizard Need A UV Light?


As you can gather from its name, the ubiquitous blue tongue lizard, or skink, found around Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has an integral association with ultraviolet (UV) light.

Intended to be startling to predators, its most notable characteristic can be just as surprising for those who see it for the first time, which is the melanin-pigmented, UV-reflective blue tongue that looks as though it was dipped in paint.

My curiosity was further intrigued by a recent study published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology about the northern blue tongue skink’s cobalt-blue tongue: It is more UV-intense toward the back of the tongue appearing even brighter than the front.

Considering the popularity of the blue tongue skink as a pet, I wanted to know if it can thrive without exposure to full-spectrum light being enclosed indoors in a glass or wooden case.

Read on for the answer to that and many other questions I explored about the blue tongue skink.

So, Does the Blue Tongue Lizard Need a UV Light?

As I said earlier, in a word: Yes. The blue tongue skink will live a longer, healthier life when supplied with UVB light. In all honesty most lizards, wall geckos, iguanas, etc, will need good heating and lighting. This may be achieved both by supplying an artificial light source within its indoor habitat as well as allowing the skink to soak in the natural rays by spending time outdoors.

What is the difference? Much the same way it is for us, the skink is better able to synthesize vitamin D3 through the skin. This is crucial for the proper absorption of calcium necessary for proper bone growth and development.

Just like us, without exposure to the sun, the skink may not be able to metabolize the calcium it gets from its diet.
You should provide vitamin supplementation such as calcium and D3 and other vitamins depending on what you are feeding your lizard already.

Both UVA and UVB light are beneficial to your blue tongue skink. UVA are the long visible wavelengths. This is the light that is supposed to influence basic instinctual behaviors such as mating and eating as well as positively influencing general well-being and mental health.

UVB are the short invisible wavelengths that allow for the formation of vitamin D3 essential to bone health. Don’t think that placing a glass terrarium next to a window will help since UV rays do not penetrate the glass. The most this might do is cause the habitat to be too warm.

What is the Ideal Temperature for Blue Tongue Lizards?

The blue tongue skink is diurnal ​(Click here to see how often Blue Tongue Skins shed their skin)​​​, as opposed to nocturnal. They do not produce their own body heat. They are accustomed to hot, humid weather, so it is important to arrange the habitat to accommodate the warm heat of the day and the cool of the night.

What does that mean? The regular temperature during the day needs to range from 70 degrees up to 100 degrees, at the most. Your heat lamp is enough to achieve these temperatures if your placement is correct.

Make sure to create a cooler side to give your lizard a way to control his own comfort. You can use a handheld electronic thermometer to gauge the temperature, or you can place the skink inside the terrarium once you have everything in place and monitor the behavior.

If it is too warm, you might see the lizard retreating to the cool side of the tank, or you may find him inside his water trough. At night, you should turn the lamp off to replicate the natural atmosphere once the sun sets. The optimal temperature at night is between 60 and 70 degrees.

What is the Ideal Humidity for Blue Tongue Skinks?

The simplest method of providing for adequate humidity levels inside your reptile’s habitat is in the use of substrate and plants

. A substrate that is lightweight allows for the lizard to burrow, and if it is absorbent, you can use a spray bottle for misting to introduce moisture without soaking the interior, something you want to avoid.

Other things to avoid are:

  • Newsprint – leaves ink on the tank floor
  • Aromatic products – typically disagreeable to the reptile
  • Excess moisture – promotes the growth of bacteria

If you want to test the acceptable level of humidity, check the scales on your skink’s belly. Rough scales indicate the need to increase the moisture level, but silky smooth scales means your balance is just right and your reptile is shedding nicely.

What are the Best Water Requirements for Your Blue Tongue Lizard?

Let’s start with what to put the water in first since your lizard will need to use water when shedding. Anything that is shallow, preferably heavy and low enough to access is perfect, such as a basic 9x13 glass baking dish.

Another reason you want something of this size is to help maintain the moisture level inside the tank.

The water from the tap is the best water you can supply your lizard with, assuming it is suitable for people to drink. You don’t need to go through the effort of purchasing distilled water or installing a water softener.

The water must be changed regularly since the blue tongue skink will use it as a toilet bowl. Go ahead and disinfect the dish with a sterilizing solution. This is easily accomplished with a diluted solution of either bleach or vinegar as long as you thoroughly rinse this out before refilling it with fresh water.

What is the Best Habitat for "Blueys"?

You are not dealing with a climber with blue tongue skinks, so your enclosure does not need to be very tall. The adults can grow quite long, so the bigger the better.

You can select a smaller enclosure for juveniles, but you will just have to enlarge it as the reptile grows. There are cases where a lizard will raise up on the hindquarters and manage to pull themselves right out of the enclosure. Glass is a good choice when you consider your bluey enjoys peering out at you as much as you like to watch him.

You are better off keeping the elements inside the enclosure simple for ease of cleaning.

The typical illnesses that beset blue tongue skinks are the result of an unclean habitat or poor feeding. A 40- to 60-gallon terrarium is roomy enough for an adult skink. A screen for the top will help keep your pet contained while still allowing for ventilation.

What are the Best Accessories to Keep Your Lizard Happy?

The blue tongue lizard is a ground dweller, which eliminates the need to place branches or pile up rocks for climbing. They do like to dig and hide, which calls for areas that will allow for hiding rocks or hollow logs. Arranging different levels using branches, logs and flat rocks will aid in naturally wearing down their claws.

A flat rock placed at the heated end of the tank gives your reptile a basking stone and a way to make the most of lighting. Fake plants may be used to create a livelier space. Wooden elements are helpful for scratching especially while shedding.

You may choose to use live plants, but you will want to research the ones that do not present a toxic threat. Overall, you want to create a stress-free environment for your bluey. This video gives you a good idea of how to set things up:

Is the Blue Tongue Lizard a Specie or a Special Group of Lizards

From the family of Scinidae, there are six species of the blue tongue lizard including two sub-species. They are identified by a pale belly and darker back adorned with dark variegates.

They have small eyes that can range from a reddish-brown to grey. They have a long body and large head, but the legs are short. They grow long in the body though their tails are typically shorter tapering to a point. Their most unique characteristic is that dark blue tongue contrasted by a bright pink mouth.

What Different Types of Blue-Tongue Lizard Exist?

Though they vary in size and color, the blue tongue lizard is commonly grey having brown stripes going down the back and tail and grow to as much as a foot in the length of the body, not including the tail.

From the Reptilia class of the Tiliqua genus, the blue tongue lizard is of the scincoides species with a subclass called Lepidosauria. They break down as follows:

  • Northern Blue Tongue - T. scincoides intermedia found on the savannahs of Australia's tropical regions
  • Eastern Blue Tongue - T. scincoides scincoides found widely in the south east of Australia marked with dark stripes
  • Western Blue Tongue - T. occipitalis listed as vulnerable
  • Pygmy Blue Tongue - T. adelaidensis found in the mid-north of South Australia and listed as endangered
  • Centralian Blue Tongue - T. multifasciata listed as vulnerable
  • Blotched Blue Tongue - T. nigrolutea found in the south west but restricted to the highlands with a slightly different appearance being a dark brown with light-colored blotches down the back

What is the Ideal Diet of the Blue-Tongue Lizard

Left to their own devices in the wild, blue tongue lizards feed on a wide range of plant matter and invertebrates of the slow-moving variety. They are omnivores, but their diet tends to be restricted by what is available within the immediate area.

You want to familiarize yourself with what they eat so you can provide the same sort of variety when they are a pet in your home. In addition to plant matter, the small creatures they consume may be crickets, caterpillars, beetles or even other small lizards, but their favorite delicacy are snails and slugs.

In addition, the following list is a decent guide of what you can feed to your lizard:

  • Apple
  • Beans and Peas
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Figs
  • Fresh lettuce
  • Lightly blanched sweet potato
  • Melons
  • Pear
  • Pitted stone fruits
  • Squash
  • Feeder insects provide extra nutrition and trace elements

You should feed your blue tongue lizard a combination of vegetables, greens, fruits and proteins. Switch things around to provide a diverse variety of foods.

The ideal ratio for each feeding consists of 50 percent vegetables and greens; 40 percent protein, and the remaining 10 percent in fruit. Adults only need to eat every two to three days while the young ones should eat every other day.

Go ahead and feed them as much as they will consume at one time, but when they are finished, remove all remaining food stuffs.

What is the Best Season of the Year to Find Blue Tongue Lizards?

The birthing season for blue tongue lizards is January and February. You are likely to start seeing them late in January, and this holds true throughout Australia.

Pregnant mothers will give birth to as many as 21 live babies, however most of those do not survive.

They are vulnerable when young due to their poorly developed scales. Without a strong protective armor, they are susceptible to attacks from cats who are particularly attracted to them as prey.

They are engaged with foraging for food during the day when the weather is warm, but as it gets cold and winter has arrived, they will hibernate anywhere they find a deep crevice, a drain pipe, a hollow log or a pile of debris under which they can wait out the cold.

They emerge by August when you can see the return to their morning sunbathing to help warm them up before they resume foraging. September starts the breeding season all over again and continues through November.

It can be tricky for the females to maintain a constant body temperature warm enough to regulate the rate of growth in the embryos.

How Big is the Typical Blue Tongue Lizard?

The largest of the blue tongue lizards is the Northern blue tongue skink ranging between 18- and 24-inches in total length. Their heads are triangular, and they tend to be medium-sized with a heavy body overall. They have rather short, stubby legs and tails, which is why they aren’t very good climbers.

This combination of characteristics makes them slow movers. While the size of your pet bluey depends upon which species you have, count on this species to grow to an average length of 20-inches, sometimes even more than that.

What is the Lifespan of the Blue Tongue Lizard?

There is enough of a variety of types among the blue tongue skinks, and each has its own average lifespan and unique characteristics. They are considered a long-lived family of lizards.

Anyone who is planning to have one as a pet should prepare to care for them from 15 to 20 years. Among those blue tongues in captivity, many have lived as long as 20 years. They are a medium-maintenance creature, and when kept well, there have been blue tongue lizards living as long as 30 years.

Do You Need a License to Own a Blue Tongue Lizard

Due to the fact that all native reptiles fall under the protection of NSW, if you want to own a blue tongue lizard, you are required to obtain a Reptile Keeper’s License. You can pursue this through the Office of Environment and Heritage.

You want to make sure you have followed the law in all Australian states because it is illegal to take them from the wild without the proper permit.

In WA and Tasmania, no one is allowed to own one. South Australia and Victoria permit blueys to be kept by commercial dealers. You can go online to apply using the OEH website. If you are applying at a store, you can apply for a license with the assistance of their specialist reptile staff.

This legislation was enacted for the purpose of preserving the existence of wild populations of blue tongue skinks. A licensing system is the best way to monitor those species that are owned, traded or bred. If you want to know what the situation in your area provides, your state wildlife authority is a good place to start. They are also a good source for obtaining your local Herpetological Association.

What Health Issues are Blue Tongue Lizards Susceptible To?

One of the reasons the blue tongue lizard is such a popular pet is due to their hardiness. Much of what befalls them in the way of poor health or diseases can be traced back to their fundamental care.

Adding calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to the diet is for the purpose of avoiding Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), a direct result of incorrect diet or lack of correct UV lighting exposure.

Watch your humidity levels so you can prevent Dysecdysis, or abnormal shedding. Intestinal parasites are another area of concern as blueys are susceptible to worms. In some cases, this can be fatal.

Be sure to consult an experienced reptile veterinarian if you have concerns about potential parasites. With proper feeding and care, the majority of health issues are easily avoided.

Are Blue Tongue Lizards Ideal for Beginners

Blue tongue lizards are not a high-maintenance pet. They are prone to good health because they are so hardy. They are typically calm, and while they do not necessarily like to be handled, they will tolerate it quite well. It helps that they have so much personality with a great disposition.

Their intelligence is high, and they are capable of discerning sounds and recognizing people in the home. With persistence, they are trainable. The more they are handled, the more they acclimate to the family habits, happy to lounge around with you and enjoy the tele.

As placid as they are, they are great with children because they are easy to hold.

Just don’t mistake their laziness for a lack of curiosity because when they are out of the enclosure, you could lose track of them if you don’t keep an eye open.

It is hard to resist a lizard that seems to enjoy having his chin or head scratched. The blue tongue skink is mix of reward and surprise as you get to know them.

It is the main reason I wanted to pursue this level of research on them, so I could share it here with you. If you got something worthwhile out of this article, let me know in the comments, and if you liked this piece, I hope you share it with others who might also get some value from it.

Pygmy Short Horned Lizard Care Guide


Interested in knowing about the shortest lizards? These pygmy Short-horned lizards are true to their name. They are barely 3-4 inches long in their adult life. Their shiny and spiky skin makes them quite attractive.

As a kid, we had often wondered about these toad-like animals. They had intrigued us from the beginning due to how small they were and how well they hid. However, our interest was just mild and nothing out of the ordinary.

What turned the situation around was a documentary that showed one of these squirting blood from their eyes on their predators! We had never seen that before! And we know you haven’t either!

So, we figured it was time to delve deep into these mysterious creatures. We found them to be absolutely fascinating creatures that had a ton of defensive capabilities apart from squirting blood. They could inflate up into a spiky balloon to ward off any predators!

We were stunned by these small yet unique creatures. We bet you want to know more too?

So, to help you find more about pygmy lizards, we have compiled a bunch of questions that ran through our mind. These will help you learn more about them!

What does the pygmy short horned lizard look like?

Well, if you haven’t seen the pygmy short horned lizard, we are sure you will mistake it for a horned toad. The species has a rather inflated, fat sort of look which makes them look like a toad.

However, they do have some defining features of their own. Their skin is mainly shiny and they rather look like a miniature dragon. They are usually 1-3 inches long, which is shorter than most other lizards.

Their bodies are flat, round, squat and spiky. Most have a crown of long spines covering their head while shorter spines can be found dotting the body along the sides.

The spines jut out horizontally and are found on the back of the head. They are supposed and have short legs. The belly is usually smooth with no spikes. They have a short triangular tail.

The color of the pygmy depends on the geographic area and usually ranges from grayish-tan to reddish brown.

The color of most pygmies matches the color of the soil and the pebbles they live in. This helps them to blend in with their surroundings and be invisible to the naked eye.

Amidst the brown, tan, beige, white, gray or black color, dark splotches can be found on their top body. These dark spots are usually in the form of two rows. The belly is cream or white in color.

When these short reptiles are threatened, their colors become more intense in an attempt to intimidate their enemies.

Where is their natural habitat?

The Short Pygmy lizards can be found in mostly rocky or sandy flat plains, sagebrush or bunch grass plains or even in pine forests and juniper woodlands. They usually prefer areas with loose soil so they can easily burrow inside when they need to defend themselves.

They can be found in regions of semi-arid plains to mountains. They prefer more open areas, which is why they are more likely to be found in open, shrubby or open wooded areas.  

In the US, they can be found in the northwestern areas which include all regions extending from the northwestern border with Canada to northeastern California. This includes Northern Nevada, Southern Idaho etcetera.

In case of too much vegetation, it makes it harder for them to burrow. The pygmies are more cold tolerant than other species. They can be found in the upper, colder parts of the Cascade Mountains.

However, the secret might be hibernation. Studies show that most of these lizards that live in colder regions spend two-thirds of their lives in hibernation.

What size is it?

Well, there is quite a reason these lizards are called pygmies. Even the largest adults are only about 4 inches in total length.

The pygmy short horned lizards usually range from 1.25-2.5 inches or 3.2-6.4 cm in length from snout to vent and 3.5-4 inches in length from snout to tail. The adult species are small enough to fit the palm of a small child.

These animals are quite lightweight as well, weighing only about 4.5 -5.6 grams whereas, the younglings weigh 1.8-2.5 grams. If you’re wondering how light that is, well, a dime weighs 2.2 grams.  

What do they eat?

Most of these lizards are diurnal or daytime predators, i.e. they hunt during the day. You could almost call this species lazy as they usually take up a ‘sit and wait’ method of hunting.

They first bury themselves inside the soil and then wait for any unknowing prey to pass them by.

The major food source of these animals is ants. Ants are mostly sufficient to provide most of their dietary needs. Most pygmy lizards have specialized teeth and a larger stomach capacity to store and digest prey which it developed as an adaptation for eating ants. This is also why they appear fat and round.

Babies prefer eating ants and they make up 90% of their total diet. However, the younglings prefer to eat beetles while the adults like to mix and match and eat other insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, flies, honeybees, termites and even larvae. However, ants still constitute about 70% of their total diet.

They do not require free-standing water. Instead, they lick dew and make use of precipitation on the air for meeting their water needs.

When do they breed?

During the winters, this species of lizard goes into deep hibernation. Mating only takes place after hibernation. Most of these lizards start emerging from their hibernacula from late March to June. The lizards are territorial lizards and mark their territories as soon as they emerge.

They can often be seen fighting for their territory. This is because they use their territories to impress females. They advertise their territories to the female species by bobbing their heads so as to gain attention.

In case a male manages to impress a female, the female enters the territory and bobs her head along with him before mating with him.

What’s truly unique and shocking about this species is that they give birth to their live. Most other short horned species and even most lizard species lay eggs.

However, they are still reptiles as their eggs hatch inside the mother’s body. When the species mate, their eggs are formed and they hatch inside the mother. After, hatching they remain inside the mother’s body for a period of about 2 months until the female gives birth (August to mid-September).

They give birth to 7-10 babies yearly. These neonates are very small and usually measure about 1 inch or 25 mm long.

Most scientists believe that the ovoviviparous (retaining eggs inside the body and bear the young babies) method of reproduction is a form of adaptation to cold weather.

As these lizards live in cooler climates than other species of horned lizards.

Studies also show that most females do not engage in mating each year due to temperature constraints. This is because the cold temperatures often result in a high infant mortality rate. So, females tend to refrain from reproducing each year as it would be useless and would only result in dead babies.

Are they easy to breed?

These animals are quite easy to breed. However, they prefer privacy and generally like to mate right after hibernation.

The process is quite simple as we described above. The male simply advertises his territory and if the female takes a liking to him, they mate.  

As most conservation specialists advise against keeping them for pets, there is very little information on how to breed them in captivity.

What are their natural predators?

Their natural predators include snakes, magpies, ravens, and hawks. Although roadrunners, dogs, wolves, and coyotes hunt these lizards as well. Apart from this, larger lizards are found to eat these pygmy lizards as well.

Since they are small, they have a larger number of predators. Perhaps, this is why they utilize a larger number of defense tactics than other lizards.

What is the difference between the male and female?

Like most animals, the females are much smaller than the males. The males are also found to have larger scales. During the breeding season, the difference is more pronounced as the males are found with a swollen base under the tail.

What is its behavior like?

The pygmy short horned lizard is a rather lazy species of lizard. It prefers to sit and wait for its food to come by rather than go out hunting. These are diurnal creatures, i.e. they perform most of their activities during the day.

They are most active from spring through fall and go into hibernation if it gets too cold. They mostly make burrows for themselves to hibernate in or hide inside rodent burrow.

They mostly thrive in colder environments and prefer a temperature between 60-80 degrees F. In the summers, they are most active in the morning when there are less heat and warmth. They prefer burying themselves in soil if the temperature gets too hot or too cold.

Are they aggressive?

Like most lizards, the pygmy short horned lizard is not aggressive. They mostly resort to aggressiveness when provoked.

Mothers are often protective of their young ones in the earliest ages. However, the pygmy lizard is actually known more for its defensiveness and the tactics it uses to defend itself.

These lizards rarely participate in territorial disputes but when they do, they tend to use their claws and teeth.

How does it defend itself?

When confronted with predators, the pygmy short horned lizard has a surprising number of defenses it uses. The first and most common is that they shimmy their body from side to side and hide their body in the loose sand so that the predators cannot find them.

They also use camouflage to their advantage. Since the color of their skin mostly resembles the color of the soil in that region, they successfully and seamlessly blend into their surroundings.

They usually sit still to avoid their predators from detecting them. Remaining motionless is another one of their defense mechanism.

Another impressive defense mechanism they have adapted is inflating their bodies to twice their size. This way they resemble a shiny and spiky balloon, which most predators avoid.

The short horned pygmy lizards employ one of the most unique defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom, i.e. shooting blood from their eyes. The blood is shot from their ducts present in the corner of their eyes and the stream can often travel distances of greater than three feet.

The bloodstream successfully confuses their predators. The stream tastes bad as well, so a direct hit into the mouths of their predators can successfully indispose them. It might contain noxious chemicals as well that affect dogs, wolves, and coyotes.  

The mechanism is quite simple, the lizard has two sets of muscles surrounding the major vein in the eye. They constrict these muscles to cut the blood flow back into the heart.

This results in the blood filling up the sinuses at a lot of pressure. By increasing the pressure, even more, the sinuses rupture resulting in a thin stream of blood that shoots very high and gar. This is known as auto-hemorrhaging.  

What is their scientific name?

Like most other animals, the scientific name of the short horned lizards is actually a combination of their genus name and their species name.

The pygmy lizards usually belong to the family called Phrynosomatidae which includes horned, spiny, tree, earless, fringe-toed, zebra-tailed lizards. They further belong to the genus ‘Phrynosoma’ which related to all horned lizards and their species name is ‘Douglasii’.

So, their scientific name is actually Phrynosoma Douglasii. In more etymological terms, the term ‘Phrynosoma’ is actually Latin for ‘toad body’ which is a nod to their toad-like fat bodies and the fact that most folks mistakenly identify them as toads.

The term ‘Douglasii’ is an honorary term for the Scottish botanist David Douglas.

Are the pygmy short-horned lizards rare?

The pygmy short horned lizards are actually found in abundance in regions of Northwestern US. If you live in some of the Northwestern states and wonder why you haven’t seen them often.

Well, this is mostly because they are excellent at hiding. Their sand colored hides make it easy for them to hide in the soil. This might be why you have never seen these small lizards.

Apart from the Northwest, the pygmy short-horned lizard is rarely found in other locations. If you’re outside the US, chances are you might never get to see a short horned lizard.

Although the short horned lizard is extremely vulnerable to extirpation through colonization as their natural habitat is destroyed due to urbanization. They need soil to thrive and protect themselves, which can be hardly found in urban areas such as the Washington state.

They may also be found in regions of British Columbia that are colder and in the mountains as well.

Are they likely to be found as pets?

You might want to adopt these short horned pygmy lizards as they are attractive and cute. However, we strongly advise you against bringing them home to make them your pets. Although they can make lovely pets, chances are you might not be able to provide for them as well as Mother Nature could. This is often why they do not live for long during captivity.

They need a special diet of ants to sustain themselves. However, the amount is usually too high for you to provide. So, it gets very difficult to feed them as they might go under malnutrition.

This is why the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife deems these lizards as protected. SO, you cannot take these lizards from the wild to your home. It is against the law to do so.  


All in all, the Short-horned Pygmy lizards are one of the smallest lizards you will find. Although they are rarely found in other parts of the world, they can be found abundantly in the Northwestern States of the US. We have often wondered about these cute toad-like lizards and we are sure you might have too. And the word of warning! As we mentioned before, these are not to be used for pets.

Although they have many defense tactics, they are still quite peaceful animals. We hope you found out everything you needed to know about these pygmy lizards! They are truly unique yet interesting creatures!  

For more content like this, be sure to like, share and subscribe. Comment down below if you have any more lizard-related queries! We’d love to hear from you! Cheers!

Are Lizards Poisonous? I Wish I knew This Before


You might be afraid that the pet you want to keep is poisonous. With kids around, can you really afford the risk?

We have had to research each animal we brought into the house beforehand to ensure it would not pose any threat to humans or other pets.

So, we get how hard it is to search pages upon pages of websites only to come up with two facts relevant to you. Read ahead and find out the answer to your most worrisome queries:

What is The Difference between poisonous and venomous?

The first fact you need to know is that there is a difference between being ‘venomous’ and ‘poisonous’. In the simplest terms, if the creature bites you and you die, it is venomous.

If you bite it and you die then it is poisonous. Lizards are venomous i.e. they can inject venom into your bloodstream when they bite you. However, there are very few lizards that are venomous mainly iguanas, Gila Lizard, and Mexican Beaded Lizards.

This is a remarkable new discovery in the recent years as it can help scientists find out about the relationship between snakes and lizards.

Contrary to popular belief, most Lizards are not poisonous though. Although they have a plethora of dangerous bacteria and viruses on their skin, they do not have poison on it.

Eating one might make you seriously sick, but it has nothing to do with poison.  Only a few ones such as the Blue-tailed lizards and skinks produce toxins in their skin and hence can be called poisonous.

What Happens If A Cat Tries To Eat A Lizard?

Since most lizards have some form of bacteria on their skin, chances are your cat might get sick.

However, if the lizard was poisonous, the cat might end up getting some sort of reaction to the toxins.

This involves severe vomiting, drooling, fever, staggering around and looking dazed. It can further dim their hunger so they might even end up starving themselves.

If the toxins are at a higher concentration it can even lead to severe diarrhea and even paralysis. If it’s your cat that has been infected, then you might want to clean the mouth to ensure all toxins are gone and then check with a vet.

Try to identify the species of the lizard it might have eaten.

Chances are your vet might have an anti-venom.

What Symptoms Can You Get If You Get Bitten?

If the lizard is venomous, then its bite can inject you with venom. This venom may not be as strong as some snakes, because it might not kill you. However, it can still cause you to be seriously sick.

Until recent years, it was thought that the swelling associated with lizard bites was due to the bacteria present on them. It was thought that this bacteria infected the wound.

However, it has been discovered that the swelling and bleeding is actually due to the venom.

Not only is this poison painful, but it can also reach life threatening conditions as well. Kids are at the highest risk of more serious complications including death.

Symptoms usually vary on the type of venom but generally includes pain, swelling, difficulty in breathing, tissue death, numbness, blurred vision, excessive bleeding, rapid pulse, diarrhea, convulsions, shock, paralysis, low blood pressure and in the most serious cases, death.  Victims should be treated immediately.

Are There Dangerous Parasites That Live On A Lizard?

Since lizards live around trees and bushes, they are bound to catch some parasites. They may carry some microbes on their skin and even in their digestion tract.

These parasites may not necessarily be harmful to the lizard, however, it can be very harmful to their predators.

These can include germs such as Clostridium, Salmonella, and Campylobacter etc. These can result in a number of diseases such as Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Campylobacteriosis, Botulism etc. Apart from germs, lizards are known to carry a number of smaller insects on their skins such as mites, ticks, and maggots.

These can infect your food and transfer to your hands easily any time that you touch them.  

Why Do Lizards Bite?

Most lizards, like the Green Anole, will leave humans alone as long as they do not disturb them. Most lizards only bite to ward off any potential predators.

They do so to scare them away. Only two to four species of lizards are found to be venomous.

They use the venom to daze to their predator so that they become distracted. This way the lizard can make their getaway. Even if the lizard is non-venomous, biting its predator will still cause a lot of pain to the attacker.  

For humans, this is quite similar to pit viper venom, which might not kill them, but can cause a series of infections and conditions. The worst part is that unlike snakes, lizards are hard to dislodge.

They continue secreting their venom for a long time. Most folks have to use pliers to remove it. They hold on so strongly that their teeth often end up broken and stuck in the human skin.

Do Lizards Carry Salmonella?

As we have already established that many lizards and even the house lizard are nonvenomous, however, they are still harmful to humans. Since they spend most of their time outside, their skin catches many harmful bacteria.

One such germ is called Salmonella. It can cause serious illnesses in people.  

Thus, it is highly recommended that you wash your hands with an anti-bacterial soap after handling animals. Salmonella can also be caused by handling lizard environments such as handling their water or food containers or even the terrariums that they live in.

It can result in a number of diseases such as salmonellosis which is evident by Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, blood in stool, and abdominal cramps.

So, be sure not to touch anything after touching your lizard and wash hands as soon as possible.

If A Lizard Fell In Milk or Food, Would It Make You Sick?

Yes, as we mentioned before, their skin is crawling with a bunch of different germs that can be harmful to humans. So, if the lizard fell in any food, it would definitely transfer germs such as Salmonella into the food.

However, if the food was to be cooked later, it would kill the germs so it would be safe to eat such food.

If the food was ready-made then, it would mean that the germs would not be eliminated before ingesting.

Although you could eat the food after cooking it, we don’t recommend it anyways! Not many people would like to eat it either!

Which Lizards Produce Venom?

Most Australian lizards such as Iguanas and monitor lizards as well as the Gila Monster and the Mexican beaded lizard produce venoms in their bodies. When the lizard bites another animal, it releases the venom from the para mandibular sack that is present behind their teeth.

The venom mostly contains neurotoxins that can paralyze or cause hallucinations. However, very few cases have been reported. The venom is called the helodermatid venom which includes substances such as serotonin, hyaluronidase and gilatoxin and helothermine. Gilatoxin is the main neurotoxin found in most Gila Monster and Mexican beaded lizards.

It can cause convulsions, restlessness, lethargy along with paralysis and even death.

Apart from these, very few lizards might have toxins, however, these are still to be known.

What Is Venom?

Venom is a poisonous or toxic substance that is secreted by many animals including snakes, scorpions, spiders, bees, wasps etcetera. It contains one or more than one toxin and usually causes harm to animals that it is injected into.

Some animals such as bees use it as a defense mechanism to try to discourage any potential predators, while others use it to attack their prey such as snakes and spiders.

The venom contains any of the four types of toxins: Necrotoxins (causing instant death), Cytotoxin (causing cell death), Neurotoxins (affects the nervous system) and mycotoxins (damage muscles).  

Venomous animals are those which can secrete venom and inject it into their victims through their teeth or a stinger. These animals are responsible for killing thousands of humans every year. However, research has found that the toxins might be able to treat diseases.


All in all, lizards are mostly harmless. Only a few species are known to be poisonous or venomous (Click here to see if read-headed Lizards are poisonous). However, this does not mean you shouldn’t look out for these species.

If you live in an area that is frequently inhabited by lizards, you might want to check if some of them are poisonous or venomous. Next, you might want to ensure what kind of anti-venoms are present at your local hospital or vet clinic.
This will help you respond quickly to any emergencies.

Even with non-venomous lizards, you should be careful as they are known to cause cross-contamination. Be sure to wash your hands with a good anti-bacterial soap when handling them. And keep the kids away from them!

Lace Monitor Lizard vs Komodo Dragon: Which is Best?

In my opinion, its the Komodo Dragon. But to be truthful, its really a subjective choice when you are comparing these two beauties! If you want the real comparison, that has led me to this choice, please read on.


Monitor lizards, like the impressive Komodo dragon and Lace Monitor, are some of the most astonishing creatures on the planet. Monitor lizard interest and ownership has increased dramatically in the last century.

As more homes are welcoming new scaly friends, it’s important that potential owners and lizard-lovers are staying educated. Below is a quick, informative Q&A that sheds some light on these amazing animals.

How many different species are there in the monitor lizard family?

Any lizard of the Varanus or Lanthanotus genera is considered part of the monitor (Varanidae) family. There are approximately 50 species. Typical physical features of these lizards include elongated heads/necks, long tails, and prominent, muscular legs.

Monitors also have forked, snakelike tongues. They are found in Africa (south of the Sahara Desert), Australia, southern and southeastern Asia, and in various islands in the southwestern Pacific.

The smallest monitors can grow to a full length of 8 inches (20 centimeters), and the largest (Indonesia’s infamous Komodo dragon [V. komodoensis]) can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters) long!

Is the Lace Monitor bigger than the Komodo dragon?

The Komodo dragon is the biggest monitor lizard. In fact, it’s the largest living lizard on Earth! Komodos can reach lengths of up to 10 feet (3 meters) and weigh approximately 154 pounds (70 kilograms) on average.

The largest verified Komodo specimen was measured at 10.3 feet (3.13 meters) and weighed a gargantuan 366 pounds (166 kilograms)!

But the Lace Monitor (V. varius) is no chump. Lace Monitors grow to between 4.9 and 6.5 feet (1.5-2 meters) long and weigh about 44 pounds (20 kilograms) on average.

Which one has the longest tail?

Komodo tails are equal in length to their body. Since Komodos can grow up to ten feet, this makes its average tail length approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters). Lace Monitor tails are usually half to 1.5x the size of the body, measuring around 2.5 to 3 feet (0.7-1 meter).

What are their differences in color?

Adult Komodo dragons are greyish-brown. Juveniles can have a more pronounced yellow pattern with bands of varying colors and specks of yellow, green, grey, and brown. Notably, Komodo dragons from the Indonesian island of Flores are an earthy red color with yellow heads. (Here’s an excellent photo album.)

Lace Monitors have a more complex color scheme. Juveniles have broad yellow and blue-black stripes spanning the length of the body and tail. They also tend to have scattered yellow, white, or cream-colored specks/blotches. As Lace Monitors age, the colored bands fade, leaving only the paler spots and blotches.

Do they eat the same food?

Komodo dragons are very fierce hunters, often preying on much larger animals. They’ve been known to eat water buffalo, deer, and pigs. If needed, they will eat carrion. Komodos have also been known to eat smaller Komodos.

The Lace Monitor also has a varied diet. They eat a wide range of prey, including: birds/bird eggs, insects, and small mammals. Like Komodos, Lace Monitors will also scavenge carrion if the opportunity presents itself.

Why is the Komodo called a ‘dragon’ instead of a lizard?

The Komodo’s intimidating name comes from Indonesian lore. It is named after a mythological, dragon-like creature that is rumoured to have once lived on Komodo Island. Locals call these behemoths ora, meaning “land crocodile”, or biawak raksasa (“giant monitor”).

The name was coined by W. Douglas Burden in 1926. Fun fact: Burden’s expeditions to Komodo Island were the inspiration behind the famous 1933 film King Kong. Many speculate that the creature’s unprecedented size helped give credence to the unusual name. Mythology aside, though, these dragons are still technically lizards.

When does the Komodo start mating?

The period between May and August is Komodo mating season. If you’re lucky enough to be in their territory during this time, you’re bound to see male Komodos warring with one another over mating rights.

The battles can be intense! But the winners of these epic bouts aren’t free to just take their prize. Females will fight aggressively, biting and scratching would-be suitors. Mating males need to fully subdue their female mates during fornication to avoid serious injury (That can be a real challenge after a hard day of fighting!).

Once the female has been impregnated, her aggressive nature toward the male will cease. Mated Komodos can sometimes form monogamous pair-bonds, a characteristic exclusive to only a few animals in the world!

What is the most common species for monitor lizard pets?

In general, smaller monitors are easiest to care for. It should be noted here that monitor lizards are NOT typically recommended for beginner pet-owners, as their temperaments and special needs can be costly and time-consuming.

Popular monitors for pets:

  • Blue-tailed Monitor (Varanus doreanus)
  • Dumeril’s Monitor (Varanus dumerilii)
  • Mangrove Monitor (Varanus indicus)
  • Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)
  • Ornate Monitor (Varanus ornatus)

Find a fuller and more detailed list of popular monitor pets and their needs here.

Are Komodo dragons dangerous?

Yes! Komodos that haven’t formed a mating pair are solitary by nature. They prefer to be left alone. Not only are they incredibly territorial, but their huge claws and teeth can rend the hide of fully-grown water buffalo.

They also tend to use their huge tail as a powerful and effective battering weapon, known to knock down small trees and rocky outcroppings. Perhaps the deadliest feature of the Komodo is its saliva, which contains fast-acting toxic bacteria analogous to venom.

In general, it is advised to stay well clear of Komodo dragons if you spot one in the wild. Luckily, there’s a low chance you’ll accidentally happen upon one. Park rangers at Komodo National Park will strictly enforce safety procedures to ensure you’re protected.

That said, attacks on humans—though rare—have happened. Komodos are surprisingly fast (maximum land sprint speed of 12 miles per hour), and they’re shockingly stealthy despite their size.

You should not assume you’ll hear or see a Komodo coming at you just because of it’s large. These beautiful and amazing lizards should be viewed at a very safe distance.

Are Lace monitor lizards aggressive?

Lace Monitors are notoriously hard to tame. Those born in captivity are usually easier to domesticate. Some domesticated monitors can enjoy being scratched under their chin, atop the head, and behind the “ears”.

Tip: if the lace monitor is breathing heavily, it probably means they’re enjoying the affection. If they start inflating their throats or hissing: stop immediately. It is generally unwise to underestimate the potential ferociousness and physical danger of these lizards.

Owning monitor lizards as pets has become quite popular over the years, and it’s no wonder: these creatures are entrancing, entertaining, and wonderful to look at.

But there’s also no denying that they are dangerous. In general, pet owners should only consider owning a monitor if they have some experience with handling monitor lizards. Many experts recommend against owning them as pets. Bonding with humans is not commonly considered a usual characteristic in monitors. Their loyalty to owners is questionable.

Many monitors are venomous (though their bites are typically only fatal to smaller animals). These bites do, however, pose a health concern. They can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly. Monitor bites—even from the smallest of monitors—have been known to break bones, penetrate skin and muscle, and cause excessive bleeding.

So, which one is the best?

Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘best’. Komodo dragons are the largest and most aggressive living lizard. When it comes to sheer size and power, there’s just no other lizard on Earth that matches these titans.

However, Komodo dragons are an internationally-protected endangered species, and it is not legal anywhere in the world to keep them as pets. Honestly, knowing what they can do, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with one in my home!

Lace Monitors can be kept in captivity, but only by licensed and trained professionals. So, unless you’ve got the qualifications, you won’t be getting one from your local pet store anytime soon. They can be just as aggressive (and nearly as big) as Komodos, so keeping them as pets is inadvisable anyway.

If it’s a fight, my money’s on the Komodo.

Monitor lizards are beautiful and mesmerizing creatures, and they should be admired. But they’re just as ferocious as they are pretty. Uneducated owners are hurt all the time by their monitor pets.

With proper knowledge, anyone can appreciate them safely. My goal is for more people to reach a respectful understanding of monitor lizards so that humans and monitors can live together happily and peacefully.

If you like the article, or if you have some experience with monitors that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below! Was this article informative? Is there anything we should add? Let us know! The more accurate the information, the more we can protect monitor-lovers and their pals!

How Do Lizards Escape From Their Enemies?

The short answer is biting, camouflage, hissing, squirting blood from their eyes, bright colours and removing their tails. If you are looking for some more in-depth detail on this, and more answers to common follow up questions, keep reading.


Surrounded by their enemies, how do lizards keep their cool and find out ways to survive? These might be the first questions that pop into your head when talking about lizard predators.

Well, it is quite essential for most pet owners to know these different defense mechanisms as these lizards pet can use them against you if they deem you threatening.

For example, some lizards might be venomous which might be something you should know. Apart from that, it is necessary that you keep you lizards safe from any predators.

So, you might wonder how do lizards escape from their enemies. Well, to answer your most questions, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about lizards and their defense mechanisms.

How Do They Use Biting?

When face to face with a dangerous predator, some lizards might resort to biting it to scare them away. Although all lizards can bite, only two of them are known for being venomous.

The Gila Monster and the Beaded Lizard have venomous bites which come in handy when fighting off predators. When in danger, they will bite the predator which will cause them to die so they can no longer pursue their prey.

Unlike snakes, most lizards chew the poison into their enemies instead of injecting it. In humans, the venom has the same effect as the pit viper venom, however, the symptoms are much less severe.

For humans, the venom is not fatal and only results in headaches, pain, swelling, swollen lymph nodes, weakness, sweating etcetera. The lizard is often hard to dislodge and you may have to resort to removing it with pliers. The tooth fragments must be removed as soon as possible.

How Do They use Camouflage?

Camouflage is the act of using materials, coloration or light to conceal yourself into a specific environment. Lizards mostly use color to camouflage and hide away from the predators.

Small lizards that are mostly brown and black can easily blend into the environment where they live, near trees. It makes them much harder to see and thus they remain safe from any potential predators.

Some lizards might also use it as a warning. Lizards such as the Gila Monster and the Beaded Lizard use camouflage as a form of warning to their predators that they are venomous.

However, many other non-venomous lizards have bright tails to make their predators think that they are dangerous.

Some lizards such as Chameleons change their color based on their environment to camouflage themselves into their surroundings. Most other lizards use their spiky texture to look like rocks.

What Does Hissing Do to Protect Them?

You might already be familiar with hissing as a defense mechanism. Most animals hiss at their predators to scare them away or to warn them. Lizards are no exception to this rule.

This is actually a quite common method of scaring away their enemies. Their hiss serves as a warning to their enemies. However, other reptiles may use hissing with a wide variety of other techniques to appear much more dangerous to their enemies.  

A great example is a frilled lizard which opens its frill and hisses at the same time to scare the predators away.

How Does Removing its Tail help it Escape?

You might already know about this eccentric phenomenon. Commonly found in leopard geckos and even house lizards, they can easily shed their tail if they feel threatened.

This defense mechanism works well in case the predator has taken a hold of the lizard through their tails.. 

Breaking away the tail allows the lizard to escape from the clutched of the predator. Even when it is simply stressed by a moving enemy, it drops its tail off.

The result is that the predator might be confused and might focus on eating the tail while the lizard can make its getaway. It may even confound and shock the predator into not following the lizard anymore.

Some other species such as geckos leave around moving tails. 

The predator might go for the moving tail instead of the lizard thus saving it. Most lizards can easily grow their tails back depending on the type of species.

Why Do Some Lizards Squirt Blood from their Eyes?

Like most defense mechanisms, squirting blood from their eyes is another technique to scare away their predators. This mechanism is usually used by the southern desert horned lizard.

When in danger, the lizard fills its sinuses with blood and shoots it out of its eyes. They usually cut off the flow of blood to the heart and instead redirect it to ocular sinuses.

As a result, these sinuses expand in size. They then contract these muscles to increase pressure and then release the blood from their eyes.  

The bloodstream is often shot up 4 feet from the eye socket. The blood tastes very bad so, a shot into the mouth of a predator might discourage it from eating the lizard.

It might even cause it to distract the predator so the lizard can make its getaway.

Can They inflate their Bodies to Look Larger?

Like most animals, lizards puff their bodies up to make them look much larger than they are. Most lizards are found to puff their throat out to appear larger and thus discouraging the predator from eating them.

An example can be the bearded dragon. Some other lizards such as the horned toad lizard and horny devil puff up their entire bodies to appear more menacing and threatening and thus, warding off any potential attacks..

They appear like a spiky balloon and discourage others from eating them.

Do They Whip their Tails As a Defense Mechanism?

Whipping their tails is yet another defense mechanism used mostly by larger lizards to scare off any potential predators. Lizards such as the Green Iguana lash their tails out when confronted with an attack.

The actually use it to attack and harm other animals. It might even result in bleeding or seriously hurting their enemies.

What is the Blue-Tongue Attack? (Like The Blue-Tongued Skink)

Lizards such as the Blue-Tongues Skink have a blue ultra-violet tongue capable of reflecting such colors. When these lizards stick their tongue out, predators might be intimidated by the bright color and may not want to attack. It may even shock and daze their predators into not moving.

The tongue is broad from the base and narrow at the tip. They can even expand the tongue out to further intensify the bright colors. Studies have shown that the back of their tongues is much more UV intense than the front. The back is shown only in the most extreme cases where the predator might be UV sensitive.

So, one might wonder why do they not use this defense mechanism with the whole tongue in the first try. The main reason why their defense is so powerful is that it has an element of surprise to it.

If they start flicking their tongues very often, it might allow the predators to become used to it. It might also attract more attention to them. Thus, most blue-tongued skinks use the mechanism as a last minute resort.

What Are Lizards’ Biggest Predators?

Lizards are often a hot menu item for most other animals. There are a wide variety of predators that can prove to be dangerous to the lizard. Birds are a common predator that easily snatch these animals away since they love hanging out in the open Sun.

There are many mammals such as fox, wild cats, canines that consume lizards and their eggs. It depends mainly on the location of the lizard. Coyotes and snakes can be a huge enemy to the lizard.

Sometimes, other larger lizards can easily eat the smaller ones. Most larger lizards eat the young of others. Even lizards of the same species might indulge in cannibalism and eat the young of their own species. Lizards are not safe from parasites either.

Various insects and rodents are known to kill and eat a lizard or cause them to starve by attaching themselves to the lizard.

Humans are also considered a threat to lizards in a number of ways. Whereas most humans usually consider house lizards a pest and tend to destroy them.

In more primitive parts of the world such as Africa, tribes are known to hunt and eat lizards when food is scarce. This is probably why lizards have developed a wide number of defense mechanisms to wriggle out of such situations.


All in all, since lizards have a large number of predators, they use many tricks to ward them off. These could include biting them, hissing at them, squirting blood, showing off their blue tongues or using their bright colors. These serve as an essential source for the survival of the lizard and is essential in studying their behavior.

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Can Lizards Hear?

The short answer is yes, lizards can hear. To fully understand why some people would question this, I have laid out a full article explaining this, and some common follow up questions and answers.


Perhaps one of the largest responsibilities that come with being a pet owner is knowing everything about your pet. You need to have a proper understanding of the animal you keep and how it works.

Otherwise, you could end up neglecting potentially dangerous circumstances. We often found ourselves pouring over books and the internet trying to find answers to trivial questions such as ‘Can lizards hear?’ or ‘Do Geckos Blink?’

Although the nature of such questions might seem trivial, they do end up being handy in the long run. When you have a good grasp on how your animal works, you can quickly discern if something is wrong with it.

So, to help you answer such trivia, we have compiled a list of commonly asked questions:

How do Lizards Hear?

You might think that due to the absence of ears, present in many animals, lizards are deaf! However, the truth is far from it!

The main source of vibrations in lizards is the tympanic membrane which catches vibrations and passes them along to the bones in the middle ear cavity and finally to the cochlear duct to transmit the information to the auditory nerve.

So, it goes without saying that many lizards can still hear while, visibly, they appear to be earless, since the tympanic membrane may be mounted on the surface or the subsurface of the ear.

However, there are quite a few variations in auditory that can be found amongst these lizards. These morphological variations usually arise due to the difference in depth of the membrane from the surface, the size of the membrane as well as the thickness.

Some lizards have surface tympanic membranes while others have recessed ones, such as in humans. However, they do not have extensive external structures like ours. Instead, they have ear openings. Although some lizards do have angled openings or scales in front of opening that function quite like the human external ear.  

Do Lizards Have Ear Flaps?

The quick answer is no! You will not find any lizards with elaborate and complex ear structures found in many mammals.

They have small ear openings for catching sounds. Their tympanic membrane, or known more commonly as the eardrum, is located inside these openings.

However, some lizards do not even possess these ear openings. These lizards are mostly burrowing lizards that often need to dig deeper into the sad. The absence of ear opening, thus, prevents any sand from entering their ears and damaging their hearing.

Even the tympanic membrane is absent in these lizards. Instead, they hear using low-frequency vibrations from the ground since they are sub-terranian.

What Is a Lizard’s Typical Hearing Range?

Most lizards can generally hear from 100-5000 Hz, however, the best level is in the range from 400 to 1500 Hz since they possess a tympanic membrane, cavity, and Eustachian tube. Most lizards have basilar papillae which serve as the auditory sensory organ.

These papillae are divided into two different regions, where one responds to frequencies below 1000 Hz while the other performs best with higher frequencies.

Most basilar papillae can hear sounds higher than 5dB.

How Do Reptiles Hear?

Most reptiles have ears and can hear to some extent. Obviously there are differences in species, such as the Komodo dragon, is vastly different to a Gecko. However, the common structure is a tympanic membrane present on the surface and the subsurface which catches vibrations and transmits them to the stapes.

The stapes is a singular bone present in the middle ear cavity in reptiles. The stapes then transfer these vibrations to the inner ear fluid which then send the message to the auditory nerves. A Eustachian tube connects the middle ear with the mouth.

The inner ear, in reptiles, consists of a series of hollow parts which are in an ovoidal or spherical configuration. These tubes are suspended in a fluid and are filled with a different fluid.

Most crocodiles and lizards have properly developed hearing, while turtles and snakes are not as sensitive to airborne vibrations as low-frequency earth vibrations.

Are Lizards Sensitive To Sounds?

Most lizards are incredibly sensitive to sounds. As we mentioned before, most lizards can hear sounds in the frequency range of 100-5000 Hz. Iguanas can easily hear sounds in the 500-4000 Hz range and have the ideal sensitivity at 700 Hz.

Other highly sensitive lizards such as Alligator Lizards have a wide range of high sensitivity while many others such as the Madrean Tropical Night Lizards show high sensitivity at lower frequencies in a smaller range.

Vocal Geckos can easily hear above the 10000 Hz mark and show high sensitivity. Many earless lizards such as Hoolbrookia have sensitivity limited to lower earth-borne frequencies.   

Since most lizards have a smaller head, they cannot use binaural time or intensity to determine the sound direction. Mammals with much larger heads can usually detect the arrival time differences between the two ears and can guess where the sound is coming from.

With smaller heads, such as in the reptiles, the differences are much more subtle.

However, lizards can use the two tympanic membranes and couple them acoustically to produce directionality. The tympanic membrane, when exposed to sounds in the range of 1800-2400 Hz around their best-heard frequency, results in a better sense of direction. 

How Big Are Lizard Ears?

Since lizards do not have external ears, the size of their ears is pretty small. It only consists of one auditory bone in the middle ear cavity while the tympanic membrane makes up most of the outer ear. The inner ear is small as well, having ovoidal and spherical tubes to carry fluids.

Due to the small heads of lizards, they have no cavity to support larger ear organs. However, some lizards do have a primitive form of external ears. These are in the form of scales in front of the ear. These may help capture vibrations and direct them further into the ear.

Do All Lizards Have Eyelids?

Most lizards possess eyelids such as most mammals do. The main function of these eyelids is to protect the eyes and clean them. These eyelids help them to blink which keeps the eyes moist and prevents desiccation.

Mostly the lower lid is movable and moves upward to close the eyes. In some lizard species, the lower lid is transparent and allows them to see with their eyes closed.

In some other species, a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane is present as well. This is usually semitransparent. It easily closes across the eyes while the eyelids are open.

In some geckos and chameleons, these eyelids have fused to become a clear membrane that protects their eyes. However, these are immobile and require constant cleaning by the animal itself.  

So, the short answer is yes all lizards have eyelids, however, not all of them are mobile or can perform the same functions.

Can Geckos Blink?

While all lizards have eyelids, geckos have immobile ones. Their eyelids have fused to become an immobile transparent aperture called a spectacle. This membrane is clear and transparent and protects their eyes from dirt, dust, and sun. The pupil thus contracts and forms a series of pinholes through which the gecko sees.

The absence of an immobile eyelid makes it impossible for geckos to blink. Instead, they usually lick and clean their eyelids of any dust or debris that may have collected on it.

However, not all geckos are unable to blink! Leopard geckos are an exquisite exception to this rule. Leopard Geckos have eyelids quite like many other lizards and can easily blink. They do not have to rely upon their tongues to clean their eyelids.

Their eyelids are opaque and perform the same functions as in other animals.

How Do Lizards Smell?

It might come as a shock to you but lizards actually smell through their tongues! You might think that their nostrils would be used for smelling as in mammals. However, their nostrils serve no other purpose than to simply breathe regardless if you have a gecko, garden lizard, Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink, or any other specie.

Most lizards stick their tongue out and catch the scent particles. This tongue flicking is what brings these particles to the olfactory sensory organ called the Jacobson’s organ.

As soon as the lizards catch these particles through their tongues, they quickly touch their tongue to the roof of their mouth. They then proceed to flutter their throats to help the air movement along the Jacobson’s organ allowing the particles to be moved as well.  

This then allows them to sense whether there is any food nearby or whether there are enemies. Lizards use their sense of smell to find a mating partner as well.


All in all, knowing your lizard well can ultimately help you in giving it the best care possible. We truly believe that if you showing interest in your pet is another form of showing love and care. It is crucial that you understand your pet through and through. It can help you discern any irregular behavior at a moment’s notice!

We hope you found this article interesting. Be sure to like and comment if it caught your interest and helped you in any way! 

Can Lizards Swim?


Lizards are a perplexing creature, with countless varieties throughout the world. Just by looking at one, you can see that they seem to have a look that they at least appreciate water – but do they live in water? Can a lizard swim, or can it breathe underwater?

As an enthusiast of all things reptilian and proud owner of several varieties of lizards over the years, I’m here to tell you that this question doesn’t really have an easy answer!

Whether you were brought here by curiosity, or by the desire to do best by your pet, or even for some other reason – buckle up, because asking if lizards can swim is like asking what kind of food humans enjoy. You’ll see that the answers are endless, interesting, and wildly variating when you look into specifics.

I’ve put together a few common questions regarding lizards and their abilities to swim (both in and out of water – check out the abilities of the Sandfish Lizard!), and answered them here! Some questions are from pet owners, others are from the curious-minded or those intrigued by lizards. Don’t forget the comment section below for more questions!

Can Lizards Swim? The Longer Version

Lizards are exceptional creatures, especially because of the variety of them that exist – both in the wild, and as pets. If you are looking to find out if your specific pet can swim or not, it’s best to find out exactly what type of breed you have.

When starting out with your pet, remember this rule of thumb: don’t let the water go above the lizard’s shoulders, as the little guy should always be able to choose between walking or swimming.

Lizards have four legs, usually with five toes per foot.

In most cases, this means that they are not only good little runners, but are often quick swimmers as well. There are many lizards that live in the water, but these cases tend to range towards larger, wilder lizards (in other words, not your average house pet).

There are also exceptions, including some lizards who do not like to swim. This can vary by breed in the wild, but also per the individual. For example, Bearded Dragons often like to swim; although, some Beardie owners will find that their little guy just doesn’t enjoy it.

With all pets, it’s important to not force play activities on them that they are ill-suited for, or do not enjoy.

How long can the water Lizard hold its breath under water?

Lizards that live most of their life in water can hold their breath much longer than those lizards that simply live near it. Some exceptional creatures such as the Marine Iguana and the Basilisk can hold their breath in the thirty minute range, allowing them to find food underwater, or escape from predators if needed.

Most lizards, especially those we keep as pets, have a much, much smaller span of time. Always remember, with your pet lizard, that they certainly cannot breathe under water! As mentioned, avoid having a lizard’s habitat set up in a way that the lizard is forced to swim underwater.

Why does the sandfish Lizard swim in sand?

The sandfish lizard is certainly one of the most unique types of lizards that you could ever come across. Their small curl into an S-shape and, with a wriggling motion, actually swim through the sand!

This environmental advantage allows them to escape both the hot heat of the desert and stalking predators by burrowing down into the sand.

Can lizards breathe underwater?

This question is often asked, and while the answer is a bit more complicated, the answer is technically no. The reason that I say that this answer is a resounding no is because lizards can technically drown, even though it does seem unlikely. There is no known species of reptile that is truly able to breathe underwater.

One great example of the confusion that many people find on this topic is the Marine Iguana, mentioned above.

This animal is fully aquatic and even feeds underwater. This is because of its ability to hold its breath for up to thirty minutes, and dive for sometimes over thirty meters. Yet, this animal is still forced to return to land for air.

How well can bearded dragons swim?

When in the wild, Bearded Dragons are actually decent swimmers. Most folks believe that these critters come from the desert when, in fact, they originate from an area in Australia that is populated with soil rather than sand. The Bearded Dragons natural experience with water includes swimming holes throughout the soil areas, in which they can both swim in and drink from.

As pets, some of them do not enjoy the activity – it is very important not to force it upon a pet Bearded Dragon. Get to know your pet as well as you can, taking cues from him or her. There are many ways to learn what your Bearded Dragon needs for a happy life and a safe environment.

Can a chameleon swim?

Chameleons are a common pet, one that is known for their swimming abilities. Their trick is to inflate themselves with air, in order to float on the surface, and then they move by doing what looks similar to a doggy paddle. Chameleons are also a unique creature in that they come from a very wide variety of habitats.

This includes anywhere from deserts to rain forests, and they are typically found inhabiting trees or bushes. While these animals typically live their life at a little bit of a higher altitude (they are climbers!)

, they have the ability to swim for natural reasons, such as seeking out food or to find a mate.

What kinds of lizards live in water and land?

Lizards (Click here to see if Geckos can Swim) truly come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that most of them have in common is their high body temperatures. In most lizards, the high body temperatures urge them to seek life on land; however, the majority of lizards tend to stay near some source of water, as they are dependent on it for both breeding

and feeding.

Water is a very important habitat feature for all types of lizards. Many use it as an escape from danger, such as water dragons (click to see why they need such a big vivarium) and basilisks. Each of these tends to live on land, but will dive into a source of water to escape danger. The latter also do not need necessarily need a water source to obtain food; however, it can be helpful as their food sources are often drawn to bodies of water.

8. Are Salamander lizards born in water?

The answer to this question is yes: salamanders are always born in water; however, many don’t remain in it. This depends on the species or variation of the specific salamander lizard in question. Salamanders vary from terrestrial, to aquatic, to semi-aquatic. Aquatic salamanders, of course, live out their whole lives in the water.

Terrestrial salamanders have a less direct definition, as they spend their lives on land, but do return to water for mating and reproduction only. Semi-aquatic salamanders similarly return to water to reproduce, after spending part of their adolescent lives on land.

Water is almost always an important necessity for any type of lizard. For salamanders, water is crucial to their breeding and reproduction process. Even terrestrial salamanders choose their terrestrial homes based on how near it is to a body of water, and by the moistness that is necessary for keeping their skin hydrated.

Can baby lizards swim?

Not at all surprisingly, even a cursory internet search on this topic will prove to be more confusing than when you started! The reason for this is, yet again, because of the wide varieties of lizards. In most cases, the question of whether or not the baby or adolescent can swim is answered by the adult’s ability to swim. Especially for lizards who are born in water, such as salamanders, the ability to swim is reflexive and is known since birth.

I hope you found the information that you needed in this article! If you’re a new lizard owner, or even an experienced one, there are some tricky things that your new pet will need.

For example, playing with a lizard is much different than furry pets. It’s equally important to make sure that they are comfortable in the best environment you can provide for them – and different types of lizards require different types of cages and cage setups.

As a lizard enthusiast, I’ve loved the joy these pets have brought to myself and others over the years. Caring for these amazing creatures is such a blast, and it’s always rewarding to help others do the same.

Even if you just came here for fun, or for a distraction from work, let us know if you found this information fun and/or useful in the comments below – and if you liked it, feel free to share!

Can Lizards Breathe While Running?

So, Can Lizards Breathe While Running? 

It has been commonly observed that most lizards cannot breathe while they run.

You might ask why?

Well, this is because lizards run by twisting and flexing their bodies sideways. These muscles help lizards move forward. However, these muscles also control how the ribs expand, allowing the reptile to breathe.

Since lizards rely on these same muscles for respiratory and locomotory functions, they cannot do both at the same time.

The sideways flex compresses one lung and expands the other, resulting in the passing of the same stale air from one lung to the other. So, most lizards have to stop after running a while to catch their breath and recover the oxygen in their blood.

Some lizards such as the monitor lizards use a technique called a ‘gular pump’. With a gular pump, they use sacs in their throat to pump in the air while their torsal muscles are busy in running.

This allows the air to enter the lungs even when they run and the lungs cannot expand. This is why monitor lizards are much more aerobic and faster than common lizards.

Can Lizards Hold Their Breath?

Yes, most lizards can hold their breath for a long period of time. This is because they breathe by expanding their torso muscles.

These muscles are being used to run as well. Lizards cannot use both of these muscles at the same time. So, while running lizards need to hold their breath.

Furthermore, they can easily hold their breath underwater as well. Some monitor lizards, that many have wondered if this lizard can really swim, exhibit unidirectional breathing which allows them to store and trap air in their lungs until all the oxygen is extracted out.

This further enhances their ability to hold their breath as they can easily survive off of the excess oxygen in their lungs.

How do Lizards Breathe?

Lizards breathe through their lungs, just like us. However, they do not have a diaphragm and instead depend on their torso muscles to expand the ribs to inhale and exhale.

They flex these muscles to breathe. A study by researchers showed that most lizards exhibit unidirectional breathing.

This means that air enters through the trachea and into the lungs of these lizards. However, it is not exhaled back as in humans. Instead, it loops back into another airway from one bronchus to another.

Lizards have many bronchi in their lungs, up to a dozen in the count. There is one primary pathway with many another branching off of it. The airflow from one airway to the other improves oxygen extraction.

Do Lizards Breathe Through Their Skin? 

Most amphibians have the ability to breathe through their skin as well as lungs. However, in reptiles, only some breath through their skin and lungs, such as the salamander.

This results in a slimy texture of their skin because they can dry up easily. Most reptiles, such as lizards, only use their lungs to breathe. This is because there are scales on the body of the lizards.

These scales are responsible for protecting the lizards from UV rays and from the ground. When most reptiles scurry, their sensitive skin might be damaged and so these scales help them.

Do Lizards have Lungs?

As discussed previously, lizards rely on their lungs to breathe. Their lungs contain about a dozen bronchi each of which extracts oxygen efficiently. The main pathway is branched off into various bronchi.

This provides the lungs with a greater surface area for the exchange of gases. However, not all lizards have several bronchi. In fact, most primitive lizards have only two bronchi which do not further divide at all.

Their lungs are hollow sacs with internal folds for a higher surface area.

The expansion is aided by the movement of the ribs. Some lizards even use the anaerobic mechanism of breathing during apnea.

The gaseous exchange takes part in the cranial part and the caudal part stores the lungs.

How Long can Lizards Hold Their Breath? 

Most lizards can hold their breath for a very long time. When submerged in water, most lizards can hold their breath for 24 minutes!

Researchers have concluded that unidirectional breathing allows more oxygen to be extracted from the inhaled air. This means that one gulp of air is enough to last a long time, which is why it’s easier for lizards to hold their breaths for so long.

They can also survive in situations with lower oxygen levels since they can maximize the amount of oxygen they get.

Can Lizards Breathe Upside Down?  

You might often find that lizards go to sleep if they are turned upside down. Well, the truth is that they are knocked out since they cannot breathe while upside down.

This is because they do not have a diaphragm separating their lungs and lower abdomen. When they are upside down, their stomachs start pressing on their lungs, which makes it harder to inhale.

This makes it harder for them to breathe and results in suffocation. Also, their torso muscles hang around and are weighed down by the rest of the body. This makes it harder for lizards to push these muscles and breathe.

This usually causes a trance-like state which can eventually result in death.

Do Lizards Fall Asleep If You Put Them On Their Back?  

When you put a lizard on its back, it seems like it goes to sleep. In fact, this state is not sleeping, it is a state of trance called as Tonic Immobility. This is referred to as a state of temporary immobility where the animal acts like it is dead. This is because of two reasons:

When they are put on their back, it presses a lot of weight on their lungs. They have no diaphragms, so their lungs tend to collapse and their torso muscles can no longer help expand the ribs to inhale air. This results in them suffocating. The lack of oxygen can lead to a trance-like state to ensure their metabolic processes are slowed down.

However, this is not the only reason. Another reason is that they might feel threatened or vulnerable. They enter into a state of stupor to discourage their predator.

The predator might think it is dead and leave it alone. And as soon as it does, the lizard pops back up and runs away.

Do Lizards Have Diaphragms? 

As we have already discussed before, lizards and most reptiles do not have a diaphragm. A diaphragm is a thin layer of muscles inside the body that separates the heart and lungs from the stomach and everything beneath it. It is the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm that allows us to breathe.

Lizards, however, do not have a diaphragm, and instead, rely on their axial muscles to breathe. These muscles are responsible for expanding the ribcage. However, some lizards such as the Tegu Lizards possess a proto diaphragm that separates the lungs from the rest of the body parts.

However, this is its only purpose as it does not expand or collapse for breathing. It does allow for a larger inflation, but that’s it!

Why Do Some Lizards Play Dead?

When some lizards are put on their back against their wishes, they might end up thinking they are being attacked. They are in a vulnerable situation where they might not be able to run from any potential predators.

So, when they are put on their back, they often feign to be dead to discourage their predator from eating them since most predators will not engage in eating dead prey. This is called Tonic Immobility.

This immobility condition ensures they do not respond and do not show any signs of movement. One reason could be that most predators prefer live prey while another reason could be that these predators rely on movement from the prey to detect them.

However, most lizards play dead on their back because their lungs collapse and their system enters a catatonic state. This results in a lower respiration rate. These lizards then enter a comatose state to preserve oxygen and slow down their metabolism.


Well, there you have it! Lizards do not have a diaphragm which results in many breathing problems. You may also be wondering, can lizards hear?

We encourage all our readers to do their own research on the topic and find out as much as they can. The more educated you are, the better you can care for your pet.

Like, share and comment any more questions you have about your lizard!

Are there any Lizards That Don’t Need a Heat Lamp?

There are several thousand lizard species, and lizards can be found on every single continent except Antarctica. Most species are diurnal or active during the day.

While a majority of lizards prefer humid and tropical climates, some favor deserts or temperate climates. Lizards from the tropics or desert will need heat lamps, while lizards from cooler climates might not.

Bearded dragons and leopard geckos, which are among the most popular pet lizards, come from the desert. Green iguanas, anoles, and Chinese water dragons are examples of tropical lizards, while the various skinks hail from temperate climates. The skinks thus might not need heat lamps, but all of the others will.

Why do lizards need heat lamps?

All organisms require heat for essential biological processes like digestion, respiration, circulation, and reproduction. Animals are either warm-blooded (endotherms) or cold-blooded (ectotherms). The former can make their own heat, while the latter get it from the environment.

Reptiles, like lizards, and snakes, are ectotherms. They use various behavioural strategies to get the heat they need. For example, many reptiles will bask or lie in the sun to warm up their bodies.

Similarly, they may rest on hot rocks or other surfaces to get the heat they need. Reptiles are especially apt to bask first thing in the morning to raise their body temperature and speed up their metabolism.

When a reptile starts to feel overheated they will seek shade or burrow into the ground to cool off.

As stated earlier, lizards are ectotherms. As such, they can’t maintain a steady body temperature on their own but need help from their environment.

In the wild, lizards will bask in the sun or lie on hot rocks or ground to warm themselves up and boost their metabolism, so they can forage or hunt for food.

Pet lizards need their owners to provide the environment they need. The heat lamp will provide their basking site with the necessary warmth.

Heat lamps can use halogen or incandescent bulbs. While incandescent bulbs can produce a lot of heat and don’t cost much, halogen bulbs are less likely to dry out the air. People who keep lizards that need a lot of humidity generally prefer lamps with halogen bulbs.

There are many types of heat lamps. Some produce infrared light. They heat the terrarium without producing any visible light and can thus be left on at night without upsetting the lizard’s sleep-wake cycle. Infrared lamps also won’t dry out the air in the tank.

Nighttime incandescent basking bulbs are also designed to keep a lizard warm at night without interfering with their sleep-wake cycle. They produce plenty of heat but no light. Red heat lamps produce heat and a soft red light that lets you watch your lizard’s nighttime activities.

Daylight bulbs produce both heat and the UV rays that reptiles need to produce the Vitamin D their bodies require to make calcium. Spotlight basking bulbs concentrate light and heat into a specific place where the lizard can bask.

What is the ideal lizard temperature range?

The ideal temperature range for a lizard will depend on its species. Most, however, need an area that’s between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that lizards will also need a place where they can cool off, and that area should usually be in the low to mid 70s.

Lizards from temperate climates will need cooler temperatures than will those from a desert or the tropics. Most owners put the heat lamp at one end of the lizard’s tank. The lizard can thus bask under the lamp when it needs warmth and then scuttle to the other end of the tank to cool off.

How can you check the temperature level?

There are a variety of thermometers designed for use in a terrarium or tank. Adhesive thermometer strips are the most commonly used, and you put them on the outside of the tank.

Many people put an adhesive thermometer on either end of their tank, so they can measure the temperature of the coolest and warmest parts of the terrarium. They can then use those numbers to estimate the temperature of the middle part of the tank.

You can also use a digital thermometer with a probe; you just stick the probe in the tank’s substrate and check the monitor’s readout. Temperature guns let you check the temperature in specific places.

If you have a tropical lizard, you will need to check both the heat and humidity. In that case, you will need a dual thermometer and humidity gauge. Like the adhesive thermometer strips, many of these gauges can be stuck on the side of the tank.

What do lizards need in their tank?

Lizards also need light that provides UVA and UVB rays. Some heat lamps emit UVA rays, so you will need a light lamp that provides only UVB rays. Otherwise, you will need a light lamp that produces both UVA and UVB rays.

You should keep the light lamp on for around twelve hours a day. Turn it off at night so your lizard can sleep. Make sure the lizard can’t touch the light lamp, for it might burn itself.

Lizards also need hiding places like rocks or small logs. Make sure they’ve been sterilized first, so your lizard doesn’t pick up any diseases. Put at least one hiding place in the cool side of the tank. Some lizards, like chameleons, like to climb; give them branches so they can do so.

Why do you need to mist your lizard?

Many lizards are natives of humid and tropical environments. They thus need the humidity of such environments to stay healthy.

Misting the lizard replicates the humidity of their native environment. You should mist your lizard two or three times a day. Any spray bottle will do, so long as it is set to mist and not stream.

Not all lizards need to be misted, however. While lizards from tropical and some temperate environments need to be misted, lizards that come from deserts do not.

Thus, while iguanas need to be misted, and even seem to enjoy it, bearded dragons, which come from the Australian desert, do not.

How do you know if your lizard is not feeling well (sick)?

Lizards can get diarrhoea just like humans. If the lizard is excreting runny feces for over two days, it’s time to take it to the vet. If the lizard is producing fewer droppings than normal, that may mean they are eating less than they should, and you need to check their appetite.

If the lizard suddenly loses weight, it may not be eating or drinking enough and should also be taken to the vet. Other signs that your lizard needs a trip to the vet include the following:

  • Trouble shedding its skin
  • Discolored skin
  • Discharge from its nose, eyes, or mouth
  • Swollen joints
  • Increased avoidance of open spaces
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Do they need water?

Yes, lizards do need water. While many lizards will drink out of a water dish, some won’t. Lizards like chameleons will need a drip water system. Some lizards enjoy swimming and will need a big enough pool to do so. Change the water every day, especially if the lizard drinks out of a small bowl.

Bowls come in different sizes; some are just big enough to accommodate the lizard’s head, while others can serve as a swimming pool. Regardless of size, you want to get a bowl that the lizard can’t tip over. If your lizard needs a lot of humidity, you can place the bowl partially over a heater to make some of the water evaporate.

Clean the water bowl every week to keep protozoa, bacteria and algae from growing in it. Use very diluted beach and soak the bowl in it for a few minutes. If the bowl has mineral deposits, which look like white sandpaper, soak the bowl in vinegar or salt water.

What else do lizards need?

Lizards do need to be fed. Depending on their species, lizards can be carnivores, insectivores, omnivores, or herbivores; most lizards are insectivores.

Lizards should also be given a reptile food supplement. Carnivores and omnivores should be fed every two or three days, while the herbivorous iguanas should eat every day. Small and/or young lizards usually need to be fed more often than big or older lizards.

Your new lizard will need vet care, and you should take it to the vet shortly after getting it to make sure it is in good health. Like other animals, lizards should get a check-up once a year. Many lizards pick up intestinal parasites and will, therefore, need to be de-wormed.


As mentioned earlier, there are many types of lizards to choose from. If you are looking for one that does not need a heat lamp, then hopefully this article has added value.

Bare in mind, a pet lizard can be a few inches long, or it can be a six-foot long iguana. Some lizards like running, others are docile. Your lizard’s needs will therefore depend on its species. 

Some lizards like to climb while others are sedentary. Some lizards like being handled, while others get stressed if their owner picks them up too often.

Before getting your lizard, you need to research the ones that spark your interest. You will then need to equip your tank to suit your pet’s needs before buying the lizard. If you have never had a lizard before, you should consider hardy, docile lizards that are comparatively easy to take care of.

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