1. Lizards are in the class called Reptilia (reptiles) and in the order Squamata (lizards and snakes). There are over 3,000 lizard species throughout the world. Lizards are found all over the world except in polar regions. Most live in trees or on the ground; only a few live in the water.
2. Lizards are small cold- blooded reptiles that have a long tail, eyelids, and usually have four legs with five toes on each foot (a group of lizards called amphisbaenas have no legs). Most lizards also have ear openings. Only two types of lizards are poisonous. They are the gila monster and the related beaded lizard of the North American deserts.
3. Lizards vary in size from under 3 inches (7.5 cm) long to over 10 feet (3 m) long The Komodo Dragon is one of the largest lizards.
4. Lizards also vary in color. Ground and tree-dwelling lizards are usually brightly-colored. Desert lizards are usually camouflage so they blend into their surroundings. Chameleons can change the color of their skin to match their surroundings.
5. A lizard can break off part of its tail if being attacked. The predator is often distracted and eats the tail as the lizard escapes. The lizard will regrow the tail.
6. Most lizards eat insects and that is why they are called insectivores. Lizards are extremely valuable because they help to control the insect population. The lizards that eat small animals and birds are called carnivores. A few lizards eat plants and they are called herbivores.
7. Most female lizards lay soft-shelled eggs, but a few give birth to live young. The baby lizards that are born in an egg have a special temporary tooth they use to break the shell which allows them to hatch.
8. Most lizards live in trees (Arboreal) and are well adapted to climbing. They are often fast runners, some achieving speeds of over 15 mi (24 km) per hr. Some are adapted for burrowing. Most can swim and a few lead a semi-aquatic life. Gliding forms of lizard, or the flying dragons, are found in the forests of SE Asia.
9. The greatest number of species in the United States is found in the South and West. The majority are members of the iguana family, or collared lizards, which includes the swift, utas, horned lizards (known as horned toads), and the so-called American chameleon, or anole.
10. Most lizards are active during the day and can be found basking in the sun.