Lizard Life Cycle



Introduction

Lizards come under the group of reptiles. There are currently around 5000 species of lizards, some having four legs, and some having two legs. Some of the species do not have legs and resemble snakes, and they are found in a variety of colours. They have a short head, a long body, and a long tail. The largest lizard is the Komodo Dragon, which is about 10 feet long and weighs about 80kg. Most species have movable eyelids, and in some species, there is a clear membrane that does not blink and acts as an eye shield. It protects the eyes from dirt and dust.

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Classification

  • Kingdom - Animalia

  • Phylum - Chordata

  • Class - Reptilia

  • Order - Squamata

Lizard Life Cycle

The life cycle of lizards is very simple. They are oviparous in nature, i.e., they lay eggs and include three stages to develop into adult lizards.

  • Eggs − The life cycle begins with the adult lizard laying and hatching the eggs. The process varies from species to species. Some lizards lay their eggs in a safe place, such as under the rocks, and leave them on their own to develop into fully functional adults while some lizards lay the eggs and visit them regularly to hatch them.

  • Juvenile lizards − After the eggs crack, they remain in the shell to absorb the full yolk. After that, they are ready to undergo changes to develop into adults. They do not receive any care from the parents; they have to protect themselves. The major change is that while developing their body size increases.

  • Adult Lizard − When the lizard develops fully, they undergo mating. The male lizards attract the female by spreading their frill. After that, female lizards lay 7- 23 eggs and the whole life cycle begins again.

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Adaptation by Lizards

Most lizards inhabit the dry environment of the desert, so it is important for them to adapt to some characteristics that help them survive and reproduce. There are various mechanisms they have adapted to, such as −

  • Metachromatism − It is the process or ability of a lizard to change colour according to fluctuations in temperature. As lizards do not have any other mechanism to maintain their internal environment, they have to rely on body colour. When the temperature goes down, they turn their colour to dark to increase the heat absorption and when outer temperature rises, they again go back to light colour, to keep inside cooler.

  • Thermoregulation − They have adapted certain behaviours to regulate homeostasis, such as when they need to warm up their body they come up in the sun and lie on the rock to absorb the brightest rays of the sun, and they hide under the soil or between rocks when they need to cool down and save energy.

  • Burrows − To save energy and to protect themselves from predators, lizards sometimes create burrows or dig holes in the soil or use burrows that were already made by other animals. They hide in the burrows during the day and come out at night.

  • Protective Adaptations − There are some features that lizards use to protect themselves from enemies, such as camouflage. It changes colour to hide itself from enemies and blends into the background or sometimes turns itself bright so that predators back off, thinking it poisonous. They also use their tails in times of danger. They dispose their tail in the claws of predators and run off, they have the ability to regenerate the tail.

Some Important Facts about Lizards

  • Lizards use their tongue to smell. They stick their tongue out, catch the scent particles that are present in the air, and pull the tongue in. After that, they place these scented particles on the roof of their mouth, where they have olfactory or sensory receptors and detect the smell.

  • Lizards are found on almost every continent except Antarctica because they cannot survive in very cold temperatures. Their preferred habitat is land, but they can also be seen living on a tree, building burrows or in water. Different species of lizard have different characteristics that can help them survive in their particular habitat.

  • Lizards have dry skin with scales all over their bodies, and the types of scales vary depending on the habitat they live in. Some have smooth scales while some have hard bony plates.

  • Lizards are cold-blooded animals, which means they depend on the external environment to keep their bodies warm. For example, during the daytime, the desert lizards keep moving into the sun and into the shade alternately.

  • Lizards are prey for many predators such as birds, snakes, and other carnivorous mammals.

  • Different species of lizards have different taste buds. Some are vegetarian, eating only flowers, leaves, plants, etc., while some are carnivorous, feeding on birds or other small mammals. Some are even omnivorous, they can eat both fruits and flowers and other insects also.

  • Some lizards lay eggs, while some can give birth to young ones. The number of eggs varies from species to species and ranges from 8-23.

Conclusion

Lizards come under the group of reptiles and are different from snakes in the sense that they have eyelids and legs. Some have four legs and run bipedally, and some have two legs. There are various species of lizard, each possessing different characteristics. Some lizards live in water, and they have webbed feet to help them swim. They have some spiky scales on their tongues, which help them to catch the flies and insects they feed on.

FAQs

Q1. What are the common predators of lizards?

Ans. Lizards generally come at the lower end of the food chain, and there are a wide variety of predators that prey on lizards. It includes eagles, snakes, hawks, wolves, dogs, etc.

Q2. Name any five group of lizards?

Ans. The five most common species of lizards are −

  • Iguania - It includes iguanas, chameleons, helmet lizards, dragon lizards, etc.

  • Gekkota - It includes every species of gecko that has eyelids.

  • Anguimorpha - It includes glass lizards, monitor lizards, etc.

  • Lacertidae - It is considered true lizards and includes wall lizards, whiptail lizards, and worm lizards.

  • Scincomorpha - It includes all species of skinks, girdled lizards, and night lizards.

Q3. State few facts about chameleons?

Ans. They have very long tongues, usually much longer than their own bodies. Their eye movements are also independent. They have 360-degree vision and can see in two different directions at the same time.

Q4. Do lizards also produce venom?

Ans. Yes, some of the lizards that belong to the family of Iguanas and the monitor lizard family have venomous glands and produce venom when they chew. But it is not as dangerous as snake venom.


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