Encyclopedia Article


There are approximately 6,000 species of lizard, a diverse group of reptiles which are classified as part of the subgroup "lacertilia," distinguishing them as relatives to snakes. Reptiles are cold-blooded, carnivorous animals who generally lay eggs and shed their skins in a process called molting. Lizards have very strong eyesight, and many of them can shed and regenerate their tails as a defense mechanism against predators. In addition, many lizards prey on insects and arthropods, making them useful allies in pest control.

The Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research has identified 169 species within the U.S. Southwest alone, six of which have been introduced, meaning that these six species are considered non-native, or invasive, to the region.

Photo Credit: 

"A very small Texas horned lizard ('horned frog') held in palm of hand" by Steve Hillebrand/US Fish and Wildlife Service is licensed under Public Domain.