This week’s featured critter are lizards! Lizards are a type of reptile that are closely related to snakes. There are over 4,600 types of lizards in the world. Lizards have a small head, a short neck, a long body, and tail.
Most lizards have movable eyelids, but some lizards such as geckos cannot blink. Finding lizards around our homes and parks is usually quite easy so they make an excellent animal to observe.
The 2 main types of lizards common in Central Florida are the Green Anole and the Brown (Cuban Anole). Another type of lizard the House Gecko sometimes lives in our homes.
Fun Facts about Green Anoles
Males are very territorial and sometimes fight their own reflections.
They are mostly arboreal (they dwell in trees).
Since the accidental introduction of Brown Anoles (Cuban Anoles) it is believed that they are escaping competition with the Brown Anoles by staying higher up in trees.
They can drop their tail as a defense, but when it grows back it will not look the same as the original.
They are native to North America.
They are sometimes called the American Chameleon because they can change color, but they are not true chameleons because they change color due to temperature, humidity, health, and mood, not to blend into their surroundings.
They make no sounds.Male Green Anoles have a solid pink dewlap or throat fan.
It is displayed to defend territory.
If Green anoles are relaxed, they are deep green, but if they are stressed, they turn brown.
The darker brown they turn the more stressed they are.
They are closely related to iguanas.
They can climb really well due to enlarged finger and toe pads that are covered with microscopic hooks.
Fun Facts about Brown Anoles
They are also called Cuban Anoles.
They were first reported in Florida in 1887.
It is believed that they may have been accidentally introduced by eggs nested in imported plants.
They cannot change color.
They have shorter snouts than Green Anoles.
They tend to be terrestrial (stay on the ground) unlike Green Anoles.
They are native to Cuba and the Bahamas.They have relatively long toes and reduced toe pad surfaces good for running and jumping.
Male Brown Anoles have an orange dewlap with a white or yellow border.
Brown Anoles are now the most common species of lizard in Florida.
Both Brown and Green Anoles will eat their shed skin, which is nutritious to them.
Fun Facts about House Geckos
They originally came from Southeast Asia.
It is believed that they hitched rides on ships that were carrying goods to the U. S.They were first documented in Florida in 1990.
They hunt at night.
They are also called the Moon Lizard.
Their skin is almost see-through.
They do not have eyelids and they clean their eyes with their tongues!
They are insectivores so they will eat bugs such as roaches in your house.
Unlike many other lizards they can vocalize with many different sounds such as chirps, clicks and barks.
Their toe pads can cling to just about any surface! (Be sure to play the Gecko Grip game in the Lizard activities link).
Gecko grip experiment- adapted from PBS.org
Geckos are a type of lizard that have tiny hairs on their toes which attach to surfaces by a weak electrostatic attraction. For this activity you will explore this electrostatic charge.
- Blow up a balloon and tie it off.
- Rub the balloon on your hair for about 10 seconds.
- Try to suspend your balloon by placing it gently on a wall
- See how long your balloon stays up on the wall.
- Try rubbing the balloon for different amounts of time to see if it changes how long it stays suspended.
- Try rubbing the balloon on different members of your family’s hair to see if it effects the time the balloon stays suspended.
- Try suspending the balloon on different surfaces in your home.
Lounge with a lizard!
- Lizards are fairly easy to find and observe.
- Locate an area around your home or local park where there are lizards.
- Find a comfortable spot to sit and watch the lizards.
- Watch how the lizards interact.
- Here are some questions to think about:
- Are there Brown and Green Anoles? What are they doing?
- Do they seem to prefer a certain place to hang out?
- What are they eating? How often does the male display its dewlap?
- How close do they get to each other?
- Draw pictures of the lizards you see or if you prefer take pictures of them. Write descriptions of their behavior or interactions with other animals.
- You can make a simple natural journal using 4-5 sheets of paper folded in half.
- It is fun to keep a written record using words or drawings of all the cool things that you are discovering in nature this summer!