Lizards

Northern Alligator Lizard

European Wall Lizard

European Wall Lizard, Vancouver Island, BCEuropean Wall Lizards are an invasive species. The wall lizard, unlike the Alligator lizard, has a relatively flattened body with long limbs and very long toes. Like other species of Wall Lizards, they have an angular head and strong-looking jaw. Males are up to 23 cm in total length, and females are a bit smaller. They have a very long tail. Read More….

 

Northern Alligator Lizard

Northern Alligator Lizard, Vancouver Island, BCThe Northern Alligator Lizards can be found on southern Vancouver Island, the southern interior, and in parts of Washington and Oregon. Alligator Lizards commonly are found in fir and hemlock forests, both on the coast and in the interior.  Look along rivers with lots of rock outcrops, lizards use these features for basking in the sun. Read More….

 

We only have one indigenous lizard on Vancouver Island, it’s the northern alligator lizard. We also have an invasive lizard here, the European wall lizard.

This alligator lizard can be found on southern Vancouver Island up as far as Campbell River. It is a short-legged lizard with a long body, it looks a lot like an actual miniature alligator. They can grow up to 20 cm long. Adults are a grayish color with a lighter colored belly. They will sometimes have dark marks or a wide bronze stripe running down along the back. There is a fold of skin running along the sides that allows them to expand as they breathe.

These lizards are not seen very often and if caught they will force out a bad-smelling liquid from their vent, bite you or as a last resort, they will drop their tail and run away. They spent the winter hibernating and in the spring, in lieu of a mating display, the males will run down a female, grab her head in his mouth, throw her down and mate with her. This can go on for hours, it’s quite brutal, but the female hardly ever gets hurt. The young develop inside the mother and when ready, the female gives birth to 5 or 6 live babies. The female will not mate again for 2 to 3 years.

Alligator Lizard, Vancouver Island, BC
Alligator Lizard, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

During the summer heat, they can be seen sunning on hot rocks, sometimes in large groups. This is when they are preyed upon by shrikes, hawks, owls, and snakes. Alligator lizards, in turn, feed on various beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, as well as spiders, snails, and millipedes.

Alligator lizards are found in southern B.C. and the Gulf Islands, plus the southern half of Vancouver Island. Northern Alligator lizards prefer to live in Douglas fir and hemlock forests and do well on our Island.

European Wall Lizards are an invasive species. The wall lizard, unlike the Alligator lizard, has a relatively flattened body with long limbs and very long toes. Like other species of Wall Lizards, they have an angular head and strong-looking jaw. Males are up to 23 cm in total length, and females are a bit smaller. They have a very long tail.

They are green or brown with black blotches on their backs, and their bellies are a light brown with spots that are more pronounced at the throat. The sides of the males have bright blue spots running down them. Although females can have these blue spots, they are usually less bright.

European Wall Lizard, Vancouver Island, BC
European Wall Lizard, Vancouver Island, BC

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