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10 Types of Lizards

Errah is a bookwormy and logophilic writer and science & technology teacher. He often writes about scientific ideas, theories, and research.

What Are Lizards?

Lizards are vertebrates or animals with backbones. They are classified as reptiles together with crocodiles, turtles and snakes. Like other reptiles, they are cold-blooded, lay hard-shelled eggs, have dry skin and breathe air. They differ from other reptiles by having paired male copulatory organs, scale- or plate-covered skin, a flexible skull, and movable eyelids.

Did you know that scientists have discovered more than 5,000 distinct species of lizards? They are found throughout the world except for Antarctica. From a lizard that can walk on the surface of the water to one that glides in the air. This article will showcase ten examples of different types of lizards.

10 Types of Lizards

  1. Fan-Throated Lizard
  2. Horned Lizard
  3. Flying Dragon
  4. Glass Lizard
  5. Parachute Gecko
  6. Basilisk
  7. Sailfin Lizard
  8. Frilled Lizard
  9. Thorny Dragon
  10. Komodo Dragon

1. Fan-Throated Lizard

Fan-throated lizards are small scaly reptiles native to the rocky environment of the Indian subcontinent. Depending on the species, the length varies but they can grow up to 5 inches long. They are insectivores but also feed on snails and seeds.

Their name originates from the colorful fan-shaped flap on the throat or underpart of the males, which is called a dewlap. The males show off their dewlap to attract females during mating season. Males climb high places such as trees or large rocks to display their dewlaps so that the females can be easily seen and approached them.

Public Domain

Public Domain

2. Horned Lizard

Horned lizards, as their name suggests, have spikes and horns covering every part of their body, from the top of the head to the end of the tail. The hard upright protrusions on their heads are simply true horns while the spikes on their bodies are actually modified scales that function to help them minimize water loss through their skin, especially since they live in arid environments. Horned lizards are frequently referred to as "horned toads" or "horny toads" due to their coloration and the broad, round, and flat bodies that resemble those of toads. These reptiles use weird types of defense mechanisms against their predators. They can inflate their body, much like porcupinefish do, to make them look larger. If that's not enough, they'll shoot blood out of their sinuses and eye sockets, which helps to frighten away their enemy. Horned lizards are found in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico, where they can be seen basking or hunting insects in rocky locations.

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3. Flying Dragons

The flying dragons, also known as flying lizards, are small lizards with disproportionately, long ribs that protrude on the sides of their bodies and form wing-like appendages. They use these modified appendages to move and glide from one tree to another. Despite their common name, the flying dragons actually glide rather than fly. They also use the wing-like structure as a defensive mechanism. When threatened, they spread them out to make themselves appear larger which helps them to frighten away the enemy.

Flying dragons are myrmecophagous, meaning they exclusively feed on ants and termites. Depending on the species, they can grow to lengths of up to 8 inches. They are native to Asia and their geographical distribution spans from Southern India in the west to the Philippines in the east.

4. Glass lizards

Glass lizards are often mistakenly thought for snakes due to their serpentine appearance and behavior. Like snakes, for physical characteristics, they are limbless, have a forked tongue, and have an elongated body; and for behavior, they slither and occasionally flick out their tongue to sense their environment. Glass lizards can set apart from snakes by the shape of their heads, morphological structures, the presence of eyelids, and the presence of ears. Aside from that, these animals are unable to swallow large prey whole because they can’t split their jaw bones when feeding, unlike serpents. Instead, they prefer to feed smaller prey, such as insects and spiders.

Glass lizards, like many species of lizards, can detach their tails from their bodies to escape predators. Their name comes from the tails which, like fragile glass, break easily into small pieces once detached. These reptiles can reach lengths of 2 to 4 feet, and the tails are around one-third the size of their entire bodies. Glass lizards inhabit sandy or semi-sandy environments as well as the surrounding forests. They are indigenous to Mexico and the United States.

5. Parachute Geckos

Parachute geckos are small gliding lizards that are characterized by having webbed toes, wing-like flaps on either side of the head, body, and back of the tights, and flattened tails with frills. These features allow them to glide from one location to another. They have earthy green, brown, and grayish coloration, which helps them to camouflage on tree barks, and rocks. Depending on the species, they can get as long as 8 inches.

Scientists have named and described 13 different kinds of parachute geckos, including Philippine parachute geckos. These reptiles live in tropical forests foraging for insects, worms, and sometimes fruits. They are primarily found in Southeast Asia but also in selected regions in China and India.

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6. Basilisk

Four species of basilisk have been identified by scientists: the brown basilisk, red-headed basilisk, plumed basilisk, and common basilisk. They are medium-sized lizards, with bodies that don't exceed 3 feet in length. The bodies are slim with long, whip-like tails. A crest that resembles a chicken comb is present on the heads. Males, however, have additional crests on the back and tail, that they can display to attract females. Some people also call them Jesus Christ lizards, due to their propensity to walk on the surface of the water. The toes have webs that can gather a pocket of air that gives them buoyancy in the water. Basilisks are found in rainforests close to rivers and streams in Central and South America.

7. Sailfin Lizards

The sailfin lizards are endemic to Indonesia and the Philippines. They are so-called from the sail-like crest on their tails. The crests help these lizards to regulate body temperature, facilitate direction change, and lessen air and water resistance, helping them to move faster while running or swimming. Sailfin lizards are also known as "water dragons" as they thrive in wet habitats like streams and rivers. They have also excellent swimming abilities, and, like basilisks, can walk on the surface of the water. When there are predators, sailfin lizards always utilize water as their protection. When they feel danger, they will rush toward the water. If they are perched on a tree branch, they will plunge into the water. Sailfin Lizards are capable of maintaining their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes. Hence, they can remain submerged for so long. They will not leave the water until they run out of oxygen or until they feel safe.

8. Frilled Lizard

The frilled lizard is an Australian and New Guinean agama named after the large frill or additional flap of skin around its neck. The frill is used to scare away predators and attract a mate as well. The frilled lizard is gentle, but when it encounters a predator, it pretends ferocious, opening the frill and hissing as if it is fighting. It will continue to do so until finds a way to escape. This lizard is known for its mating dance. A male opens its frill to show off the beautiful colors to attract a female, then constantly flicks its frills and tails and nods its head.

The frilled lizard is sometimes called a bicycle lizard, due to its bicycling-like pace. It is solitary, which means it prefers to live alone. Being arboreal, it spends most of its time on trees. It only comes down to forage. The favorite foods are small invertebrates but it has been observed also feeding small vertebrates and plants as well.

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9. Thorny Dragon

The thorny dragon is a small weird-looking desert lizard native to Australia. It can reach a maximum length of 8.3 inches and females tend to be bigger than males. The thorny dragon, also known as the mountain devil, thorny devil, or thorny lizard, is covered in thorny spikes and features a false head on the back of its neck. The thorns and the false head serve as defense mechanisms against creatures that aim to harm this little reptile.

The spiky body of the thorny dragon deters predators by giving the impression that it is deadly and can puncture the enemy's body. Apart from that, this lizard has another line of defense. When approached by a predator, it displays its false head. It hides its sensitive head between its front legs first, then reveals its false head. Predators may be misled by the false head and attack it rather than the true one. Camouflage is also used by the thorny dragon. It has a tan and brown body that blends very well with its sandy surroundings. It also moves weirdly; walking slowly and pausing frequently to avoid being noticed by predators.

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10. Komodo Dragon

The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard on earth that can grow to be 3 meters long and weigh up to 70 kilos. It is about the same size as a seal and weighs the same as an English mastiff. This massive reptile is a scavenger that eats carrion from dead animals, but it is also known to hunt living deer, buffalo, and pigs. The Komodo dragon is renowned for its deadly hunting attack. To kill the prey, it attacks in a very fast bite and also infects its victim with bacteria-laden saliva. It is a ravenous lizard that can consume a meal weighing 80% of its body weight in just one sit. When threatened, the komodo dragon has a disgusting escape strategy; it can vomit the contents of its stomach to reduce its weight and run away quickly. This dragon is endemic to the Savannah and beaches of a few Indonesian islands such as Komodo Island.

Sources and Further Reading

© 2022 Errah Caunca