Definitions

alligator lizard

Southern Alligator Lizard

The Southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) is a lizard native to the Pacific coast of North America. It is common throughout Southern California and can be found in grasslands, chaparral, and forests as well as urban areas. In dry climates, it is likely to be found in moist areas or near streams. Three subspecies can be distinguished: the California alligator lizard (E. m. multicarinata), the San Diego alligator lizard (E. m. webbii), and the Oregon alligator lizard (E. m. scincicauda). (Stebbins, 2003)

The southern alligator lizard has a long prehensile tail, up to twice the length of its body. Like many lizards, however, it can drop its tail if attacked, possibly giving it a chance to flee; the tail will regenerate, but will never be as long or richly colored as the original. Individuals with intact tails can reach up to about 50 cm in total length.

The lizards can frequently be found near human habitation and are notable for their fearless self-defense; they will often bite and defecate if handled. In the wild they eat small arthropods, slugs, lizards, small mammals and occasionally young birds and eggs. (Stebbins, 2003) They are not difficult to catch or keep in captivity, and make suitable and interesting pets. They will thrive and even breed if fed on small insects such as crickets supplemented with suitable vitamins and minerals.

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See also

References

  • Stebbins, Robert (2003):331. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-98272-3

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