Facts About The Galapagos Lava Lizard
Most inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands have an interesting story to tell, and the lava lizard is no different. A study in the evolution of species, seven different species of the lava lizard inhabit the Galapagos, all considered to have evolved form a single species. The central group of islands are home to one species, with six different but related species found spread among outlying islands. There are related species elsewhere is South America, mainly in the rain forests of the Amazon, but the species found in the Galapagos are unique to that area. The scientific name for the lava lizard species is Tropidurus.
Diet And Predators - Lava lizards are omnivores, although they eat mainly insects, and keep the population of several insects of the Galapagos in check. The lava lizard diet consists mostly of ants, spiders, and beetles, though they eat some vegetation as well and, on occasion, other lava lizards. Predators include hawks, herons, snakes, and scorpions, and other lava lizards. Like most inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands, the lava lizard has no apparent fear of humans. It is no known to be harmful nor aggressive towards humans, and is typically from 6 inches to a foot in length. A lava lizard will aggressively defend its territory against other lizards however.
Defensive Mechanisms - The lava lizard's main form of defense is to become detached from its tail if chased or caught, often losing only a piece at a time, but occasionally shedding the entire tail, which will grow back When a part of the tail is shed it will continue to move about, providing a distraction, while the lava lizard makes its getaway. When defending its territory or its harem against another lizard, the lava lizard does what many animals do in a similar circumstance. It tries to make itself look as large as possible, hopefully convincing the intruder that it is not a lizard to be fooled around with. The lizard will stand upright, turn sideways to its opponent, extend its scales outward, and do push ups. The lizard will also change colors at times when threatened, and is known to change color with temperature, though how accurate or reliable it might be as a thermometer hasn't been documented.
Mating - The lava lizard also does push ups as a prelude to mating. The lava lizard is very territorial, denote its territory (by doing push ups on top of a convenient boulder), and will mate with any female passing through the neighborhood. The female will lay about a half-dozen eggs more or less on a monthly basis. The eggs are quite small, about the size of a pea, and take nearly a year to hatch.
Being cold blooded creatures, they get their heat from the sun and spend part of the day basking on a rock, seeking shade when the sun gets to hot. They are quite active at night, but when nights are cool they will burrow in leaves or debris to keep warm. For such a small animal one would not expect them to have a terribly long life span but the lava lizard averages about 10 years in the wild, not quite the life span of the Galapagos tortoise, but not bad for a little lizard.
Color - The lava lizard can be quite colorful, with each species having more or lets its own unique colorings and markings. All members of the same species are not necessarily colored the same, and their marking may vary. The coloration of the lizard often depends on where it spends most of its time. On a given island, host to a single species, those lizards living in areas of dark lava are often darker in color than those living in light, sandy areas. The males are more brightly colored than the females, and have more distinctive patterns, as well as being quite a bit larger.