Southern Alligator Lizard

(Gerrhonotus multicarinatus)

AlligatorLizardThe Southern Alligator Lizard inhabits grassland, chaparral, oak woodland and open forest habitat from southern Washington to central Baja California. It is one of three native lizard species still living in the remaining natural areas of San Francisco.

Their common name is due to their fearless nature and willingness to bite the hands of humans rather than a close relationship to
actual alligators or other Crocodilians.  In
addition to biting, alligator lizards will also writhe around smearing
the unwary collector with 
feces and also resort to voluntary caudal
self-amputation or dropping its tail. This last adaptation is effective
in luring a predator away from eating the lizard itself by diverting its
focus on the wriggling tail that continues to move through
involuntary muscle contractions for up to several minutes after
being shed.

Southern Alligator Lizards are predators that feed on just about
anything small enough to eat. This includes slugs, insects,
centipedes, scorpions and spiders (even black widows!); in addition
they will also consume smaller lizards (even of their own species)
and mammals. They are very adept at climbing and will go up into
bushes/trees to escape predators and to pursue prey. Large
individuals have even been observed eating small songbird chicks
and eggs.

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