The Lizards of the Pacific Northwest
BC Lizards are part of a group of animals known as reptiles. They are most closely related to snakes. In fact, some lizards look like snakes because they have no legs! Many lizards today resemble the ancient reptiles of the dinosaur era. Their ancestors appeared on Earth over 200 million years ago.
In general, BC Lizards have a small head, short neck, and long body and tail. Unlike snakes, most lizards have movable eyelids. There are currently over 4,600 lizards living on our planet, this includes iguanas, geckos, chameleons, Gila monsters, skinks and monitors. We have just four types of lizards living in BC but there are only 2 that can be found on our coast, these are the European Wall Lizard and the Northern Alligator Lizard.
Lizards smell by using their their tongues, just like snakes, a lizard flicks out its tongue to catch scents in the air and then it pulls its tongue back into its mouth and rubs it on the roof where there are special sensory cells. The lizard can use these scents to search out food or find a mate or to even detect its enemies.
BC Lizards don’t have ears like mammals do. Instead, they have visible ear openings to catch sound, and their eardrums are just below the surface of their skin. They can not hear as well as we mammals do, but on the other hand, they do hear better than snakes.
Sight is very important for most lizards, both for locating prey and for communication, and, as such, many lizards have highly acute color vision. Most lizards rely heavily on body language, using specific postures, gestures, and movements to define territory, resolve disputes, and entice mates. Some species of lizards during mating rituals, will use bright but hidden colors, they are hidden so as not to broadcast to predators its location. They are hidden on the underside or between scales and only revealed when it is enticing a mate.