Elgaria and Gerrhonotus
©1997, 2001 Melissa Kaplan
The 67 species of alligator lizards range throughout the world. The ones common to North America, Elgaria and Gerrhonotus, includes 8 species ranging from southern Canada down through Central America.
Members of the family Anguidae (and thus related to the Old and New World legless lizards), they look similar to the Gerrhosaurus, the plated lizards in the family Cordylidae, native to southern and eastern Africa. The different species range through a variety of habitats, generally frequenting moist areas of foothills and mountains, but also found ranging down into the drier grasslands, staying near rivers and streams. Secretive in nature, they hide under windfall, undergrowth, and in rocky crevices. Pugnacious when caught, they will thrash around, often delivering a painful bite.
Alligator lizards sport a flat, wedge-shaped head. There is little neck definition, with the body about the same width as the head. The legs are small, thin, and end in five fine toes. Notable is a distinct lateral fold running along their lower sides from the corner of their mouth to their tail. Their scales are large, slightly keeled, and shingled. Ground color is pale to medium brown with darker crossbands. They shed in one piece, like a snake.
(formerly Gerrhontus coeruleus) Northern Alligator Lizard.
(formerly Gerrhontus kingi) King's Alligator Lizard; Madrean Alligator
(formerly Gerrhontus multicarinata) Southern Alligator Lizard.
(tormerly Gerrhontus panamintus) Panamint Alligator Lizard (Protected
Feldner, Jerry, 2001. Personal communcation.
Mattison, Chris 1992. The Care of Reptiles and Amphibians In Captivity. Blandford Press, London. 306 p.
Obst, F.J., Richter, Dr. K., Jacob, Dr. U. 1988. The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium. TFH Publications, Neptune City, NJ. 815 p.
Stebbins, Robert C. 1985. Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. 322 p.
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