Galapagos Lava Lizard

The Galapagos Lava Lizard has stunnig bright colors and is the most abundant reptile in the Galapagos Islands.


galapagos lava lizard

They belong to the Tropidurus genus and there are seven species of these reptiles in the Islands. These species are:

  • T. albemarlensis
  • T. habellii
  • T. grayi
  • T. bivattatus
  • T. delanonis
  • T. pacificus
  • and T. duncanensis

One particular characteristic about lava lizards is that (as most Galapagos animals) they are not afraid of humans and can be observed closely.

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The color of lava lizards is beautiful and eye-catching and it depends on its location, sex and age. The colors may vary from dark brown, black with gold stripes to dark red.

In the case of the mature females they have a red area on their throats, and they are smaller than the males which can grow up to 25 cm. Lizards can be found usually in loose soils and leaf trash.

The male lava lizard is different from the female because aside from the bigger size they have more bright colors.

The males have black and yellow throats. But of course colors and size are also different between the diverse species.

Galapagos lava lizards are very common to visitors to the Galapagos Islands because they are very active during the day and you can see them almost everywhere.

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An attractive characteristic in lizards is to change color if they are threatened or if there is a variation in the climate.

All the species of lizards found in Galapagos and their variations in color and shape show the incredible way they have adapted to the different climates and environments of the Islands.

Many scientists believe that the Galapagos lava lizards are another evidence in support of the Theory of Evolution promulgated by Charles Darwin

This is because it is assumed that all of the different species of lava lizards in the Galapagos Islands evolved from one single species.

These Galapagos reptiles play an important role in controlling insect populations.

They are omnivores and eat flies, beetles, ants, spiders, grasshoppers, and some plants. But since they are also predators they often eat each other.

Lava lizards have another curious defense system (besides its great camouflage) and it consists in dropping their tail when a predator grabs it.

Then another tail will grow back to replace the old one. This unique characteristic allows Galapagos lizards to live longer.

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Lizards begin each day basking on the warm rocks for about an hour depending on the sun's heat. Then they start their activities that include hunting and moving quickly from here to there.

Male lizards will mate with all females passing through their territory. Females will dig deep in the soil to lay their eggs to protect them.

The period of incubation lasts about 1 year before the young lizards born measuring about 2 inches long at birth. This is the time when Galapagos lava lizards are more vulnerable to predators such as birds and Galapagos Snakes

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


More About the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Island Wildlife

Galapagos Iguanas

Colorful Galapagos Crabs

Galapagos Turtle

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If you have questions about the Galapagos Lava Lizard or these Islands, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you want to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Island Tours to visit this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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