Lava lizards of the Galapagos

Another animal which can be seen all over the Galapagos is the lava lizard. As the name suggests, they are lizards which live in areas that have lava. The Galapagos has plenty of lava – so it also has plenty of lava lizards!

The lava lizards were one of our favourite creatures – they are very small and have a habit of running out on the path in front of you. They can be found on pretty much all of the Galapagos islands, and like many of the species in the Galapagos, they have evolved separately on different islands. They are the most abundant reptile on the Galapagos.

Identifying them is slightly more complicated than identifying the mockingbirds, because there are more lava lizard species than mockingbird species, and more crossover on the islands that they live on. They vary tremendously in colour – so once again it’s pretty much impossible to tell the species apart unless you spot it on an island that doesn’t have any of the other species.

What you can do though, is try to distinguish the males from the females. The males can be up to three times bigger than the females, and the females often have a bright red patch on them. The males also move in a ‘press-up’ motion to make themselves look bigger and tougher compared to the other lava lizards.

So to identify the gender of the lava lizard, it’s pretty much ‘large with no red mark’ = probably male, and ‘small with red mark’ = probably female. However, there were plenty of large ones with red marks, and small ones with no red marks – so I’m not sure how good we really were at telling the males and females apart…

There are seven species of lava lizard in the Galapagos – one of them, called the ‘Galapagos lava lizard‘ is found on ten of the islands, whereas the other six species are only found on one island each. What this means in practice, is that if we saw a lava liazrd on an island that is not one of the islands that the Galapagos lava lizard lives on, then it can only be the lava lizard species from that island… are you with me?

The islands that we visited where the ‘Galapagos lava lizard’ species does NOT live were… San Crist贸bal, Espa帽ola, and Floreana – therefore we can conclude that we saw four different species of lava lizard, one from each of these three islands, and also the ‘Galapagos lava lizard’ species 聽– YAY US! 馃檪

Now I’m sure that you want to see what these fine creatures look like, and on the following pictures you can also spot some missing or regrown tails – yes, if they lose their tail then they can grow back a new one! 馃檪

Female Espa帽ola lava lizard – Espa帽ola.
Male Espa帽ola lava lizard – Espa帽ola
Male Espa帽ola lava lizard – Espa帽ola
Probably male San Crist贸bal lava lizard (without tail!) – San Crist贸bal
San Crist贸bal lava lizard – San Crist贸bal.
San Crist贸bal lava lizard – San Crist贸bal.
Floreana lava lizard – Floreana.
Floreana lava lizard – Floreana.
Galapagos lava lizard – Santa Cruz.
Female Galapagos lava lizard – Santa Cruz.
Galapagos lava lizard – North Seymour.
Galapagos lava lizard – Isabela.
Female Galapagos lava lizard – Isabela.

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