Collared lizard, North America, up to 30 cm (12 inches) long Lizards are a large group of reptiles that includes iguanas, chameleons, geckos, skinks and monitors. They have thick, scaly skins. Most have four legs and a tail, although a few kinds are legless. Their eyesight is usually highly acute. Lizards have long tongues that they flick in and out to “taste” the air or ground and to pick up information about their surroundings. Most lizards communicate with one another by the way they move their bodies, change colour or display their throat flaps, called dewlaps. Lizards are mostly land-dwellers—the marine iguana is an exception—living all over the world except in polar regions. Some are burrowing animals, while many live in trees. Most are good swimmers.
Many lizards are carnivorous, feeding on insects, birds, small mammals and other reptiles. The iguanas are herbivorous. The largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, a member of the monitor family, may measure up to 3 metres (10 feet) in length. It is a powerful predator, and can kill large mammals, such as cattle. It has even been known to attack and kill humans.
There are 5796 known species of lizard.
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