Looking for some great Galapagos lava lizard facts? I knew you were, so I have 7 of them for your perusing pleasure!
These little guys may not be ferocious fire-breathing dragons, but they’ve got the wow factor. Lava lizards, with their fire-colored scales, can be seen all over the Galapagos Islands.
Aptly named, the lava lizards spend most of their time scuttling and scurrying over the black lava that covers most of the Islands. They are entertaining because they are very charismatic and seem to enjoy the attention of swooning tourists.
In this post, I’ll answer the following questions:
- Why do Galapagos lava lizards do push-ups?
- What do lava lizards eat?
- Should the painted locust be scared of lava lizards?
- Are lava lizards cannibalistic?
- What is the habitat of the Galapagos lava lizard?
- How many eggs does a Galapagos lava lizard lay (and how long do they take to hatch)?
- Can a lava lizard drop its tail?
Galapagos Lava Lizards by the Numbers
- Latin name: Microlophus albemarlensis
- Length: from snout to tail, males are about 6-7.9 inches (15-20 cm), and females are 4.7-7 inches (12-18 cm). Their tails may be as long as, or even longer, than they are.
- Weight: unknown, but the male may be two to three times as heavy as the female.
- Color: colors can vary between islands, but the bright red chins are relatively constant. The color of their bodies may range from a dark greenish brown to lighter yellows and golds with black and brown spots and a red underbelly.
- Cool feature: There are distinctive subspecies for almost all of the islands in Galapagos, with the main difference being the color variations. Color will also vary slightly depending on the lizard’s mood.
If you travel to the Galapagos, you will undoubtedly see these little beauties at some point on your trip; that is if you don’t see a hundred of them.
Unlike some other reptiles, they don’t give me the – oh, how should I say – heebie jeebies. They are very cute and generally quite friendly.
7 Crazy Galapagos Lava Lizard Facts
1. I Dooz Da Hip-Hop!
To defend their territory, a male Galapagos lava lizard will do a series of “ferocious” push ups. Why do lava lizards do push-ups? It may make a smaller male appear larger and more menacing.
If the push-ups aren’t enough to scare away a challenger, the two males may get into a physical fight involving tail slaps and biting.
Males will also use their patented push-ups to attract a lady friend. Much like human males, these lizards enjoy cockily showing off their muscles; regardless of how pathetic it may look; at least lava lizards don’t wear muscle shirts – yikes.
2. What do Lava Lizards Eat?
Their diet primarily consists of bugs; flies, ants, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, centipedes, and spiders.
Sufficient to say, they eat gross stuff. Other than bugs, they also enjoy leaves, nuts, seeds, grains, and other lava lizards. Blaaaahhh…
3. Death to Bugs!!!!
Because of their buggy diet, lava lizards help with keeping the population of certain yucky bugs, such as the painted locust, in check.
4. Are You Going to Eat Me?
Galapagos lava lizards have a lot of natural predators. This is to be expected because they are such small reptiles.
The predators of the lava lizards include snakes, scorpions, Galapagos hawks, herons, and even cannibalism from other lava lizards.
I guess if you’re a lava lizard, “family dinners” have a whole other meaning. Gross.
5. Is Your Room Satisfactory? (Lava Lizard Habitat)
Lava lizards need some special conditions to be happy. These lizard’s need to have dry leaves on the ground for sun shelter, as well as lots of lava rocks that they can sunbathe on and that they can hide under.
They also need lots of cacti, plants, and flowers around their home, because these attract the bugs that they like to munch on.
6. Tiny Little Eggs
Lava lizards lay 3-6 tiny pea-sized eggs deep in the ground every month or so.
It takes 3-12 months for the 2 inch (5 cm) long babies to hatch. They’re shorter than your typical desk eraser, and of course, much more delicate.
7. Honey, I Lost my Tail
Like other lizards, lava lizards can drop their tails to escape predators. It grows back afterward so they can repeat the same trick.
It may take weeks for their tail to grow back and it may look a little funny when it does. This ability is called autotomy.
Lovin’ the Galapagos Lava Lizard
Those are my 7 Galapagos lava lizard facts. I hope you enjoyed them! Even though I love these cool little lizards, I’m glad I’m not one! I don’t think I could bear to eat bugs… or extended family! YUUCCCKKK!!!!
Wich fact is your favorite? Do you have one to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, thanks for reading!
Drew Haines is an animal enthusiast and travel writer. She loves to share her passion through her writing. She graduated high school at sixteen and started her own business, Everywhere Wild Media. And she runs Everywhere Wild and JustBirding. She also guest blogs on Storyteller.Travel
She lived in Ecuador for 6 years and explored the Galapagos Islands. Currently based in N.S., Canada.