|Lizards are reptiles of the order Squamata, normally possessing four legs, external ear openings and movable eyelids. The adult length of species within the order range from a few centimeters (some Caribbean geckos) to nearly three meters (Komodo Dragons).|
Lizards have scales on their skin which may be tubercular or have ossified encrustations called osteoderms.
Most lizards are oviparous, though a few species are viviparous. Many are also capable of regeneration of lost limbs or tails.
Some lizard species, including the glass lizard and legless lizards, have some vestigial structures though no functional legs. They are distinguished from true snakes by the presence of eyelids and ears and a tail that can sometimes break off as a physical defense mechanism. Many lizards are good climbers or fast sprinters. Some can run bipedally, such as the collared lizard and the world's fastest lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana in the genus Ctenosaura.
Many lizards can change color in response to their environments or in times of stress. The most familiar example is the chameleon, but more subtle color changes occur in other lizard species as well (most notably the anole, also known as the "American chameleon," "house chameleon" or "chamele").
Research at the University of Melbourne, Australia proposes that some lizards in the iguanas and monitor (lizard) families may have venom-producing glands. If proven to be true, however, these would pose little or no danger to humans, as the poison is introduced slowly by chewing, rather than subcutaneous injection as with venomous snakes. According to this study, nine toxins previously thought to only occur in snakes have been discovered out of several thousand. Prior to this theory, swelling and irritation from lizard bites was believed due to bacterial infection and in most cases this is likely, but the study suggests it may be due to partial envenomation. The scientists behind these findings are calling for a re-evaluation of the classification system for lizard species to form a venom clade and if successful may result in changes to the beliefs regarding the evolution of lizards, snakes, and venom.
Relationship to humans
Lizards in the Scincomorpha family, which include skinks (such as the blue-tailed skink), often have shiny, iridescent scales that appear moist. They are dry-skinned and generally prefer to avoid water. All lizards are capable of swimming if needed and a few (such as the Nile monitor) are quite comfortable in aquatic environments.
Lizards as pets
Suborder Lacertilia (Sauria) - (Lizards)
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