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Lizards

Lizards belong to the order Squamata (scaled reptiles) and are widespread all over the globe in all continents except Antarctica even in places with very low temperatures. The group of lizards includes more than 6,000 different species. This group bears several similarities with snakes (as they are in the same evolutionary clade) but differs from them mainly because lizards have four well developed limbs (feet) and outer ear.

In Cyprus we can find 11 species of lizards divided in four families. Those families are (a) Agamidae with only one representative, (b) Chamaeleonidae with only one representative, (c) Gekkonidae with two representatives, (d) Lacertidae with three representatives and (e) Scincidae with four representatives. The starred Agamas and the Schneider’s skink are among the biggest lizards of the island with a length that can rich up to half a meter (50cm).


All lizard species are protected by the Bern Convention and most of them are also protected by national legislations [Law 153(I)2003] and the European Directive 92/45/EC. Of particular importace is the Schreiber’s fringe-toed lizard which is strictly protected and has been declared as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 

Skin

Lizard’s body, similarly to snakes, is covered in scales that protect the animal with various ways. A very important ability of the skin is that due to its waterproofness it prevents the loss of water allowing lizards to colonize arid regions. Lizards, like snakes, change at regular intervals their skin through a process called skin shedding. Unlike snakes lizards’ skin is not shed in one piece, but partially.

 

Smell

Lizards are able to identify several chemical odors in their environment both though their nostrils and through an organ located in the palate of their mouth called «Jacobson organ». With the help of their tong, which they extend continuously out of her mouth, they collect odors (chemical particles) from the air and soil. When their tong recedes back to the mouth this particles adhere to the chemical sensor of «Jacobson organ» which detects and classify them. This system is extremely sensitive and much better than the smell of humans.

 

Vision

A majority of lizards has very good color vision which helps them both to identify movements, to capture their food and to development a variety of behaviors. These behaviors are based on the response to visual messages through movements and demonstration of color patterns in their body.

 

Hearing

The hearing ability of lizards though better than snakes are quite limited. In most species, the outer ear is absent or quite vestige which makes it difficult to capture sounds waves. Through the external tympanic membrane and the transmission system in the inner ear lizards can hear well enough especially low frequencies, while some categories like Gecko can hear equally well and high frequencies.

 

Tails Autonomy

 Several species of lizards have the ability to cut their tails (autotomy of the tail) in an attempt to escape predators. The severed tail section performs intense contractions attractive predator and giving enough time to the lizard to flee in a safe place. The severed portion of the tail.

 

will regenerate over time (a few weeks). This regenerate tail part differs from the original tail to its internal composition since its spine consists not from bone tissue but from cartilage.

 



About Us

 

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Herpetological Society of Cyprus (HSC) was established in 1990 with the aim of promoting, studying and conserving Cyprus’ herpetofauna. As part of its work, HSC fulfill presentations, educational seminars, studies and researches, along with other activities that relates with informing and educating the public about reptiles Cyprus.

Contact Details
 
 
           Address:   Herpetological Society,
                            P.O box 61435,
                            8134,
                            Paphos, Cyprus
 
           Tel:          +357 26 967600
 
           Fax:         +357 26 967007
 
           Email: HerpetSocietyCy@gmail.com
 

            



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