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Wildlife: Curly-tailed Lizard or Lion Lizard


Curly-tailed Lizard or Lion Lizard – Leiocephalus carinatus varius; (Grand Cayman)

Curly-tailed Lizard
Photo by Tom Poklen

Lion Lizard


Lizard Palace - Lizards love it

Add a Lizard Palace to your garden by simply piling up rocks into a pyramid! Especially if you live along the coast, curly-tailed Lion Lizards will move in. You can enhance the appearance of your Lizard Palace by purchasing a ceramic "Lizard Palace" tile from the National Trust (handmade by the students of Bodden Town Primary) or decorating it with a toy or ceramic lizard from a tourist shop.

Lion lizard on top of Lizard Palace

Size: Males up to 130 mm SVL*; females are smaller.  These are easily recognized by a long banded tail that curls over the back. This lizard has a glossy look, though scales are rough. Colour is brownish-green-gray with considerably barring and mottling. Underside is pale yellow. Full-grown males have a bulkier head than the females. Males have throat fan, but this is hardly ever seen. They are commonly seen, even in urban areas, but usually near the beach and using rocks for cover.  They bury themselves in the sand to sleep at night, but during the day they emerge to sun themselves to stimulate their metabolism before hunting insects. They lay eggs in small batches (perhaps three), usually adhering to rocky surfaces. Hatchlings emerge in July, August and September. It is reported that they lay several batches of eggs during the season. Hatchlings have a bright orange throat that lasts only for the first three or four days.

These lizards can become very tame and will learn to expect food from humans. They prefer high protein snacks such as eggs, cheese or meat. This charming lizard, found all over the islands in gardens and on beaches is particularly vulnerable to predation by housecats.

* Key:
SVL Snout to Vent Length

Total Length (including tail)

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