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Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network - Réseau Canadien de 
Conservation des Amphibiens et des Reptiles

Elgaria coerulea
Northern Alligator Lizard / Lézard-alligator Boréal


Alligator Lizard

Description
The Northern Alligator Lizard is olive brown or gray with a few or many small dark spots. It has dark longitudinal stripes on the belly. There is a prominent fold of skin on each side of the body, something common to all species in this family. Alligator Lizards can grow to 25 cm in total length, counting the tail which makes up approximately half of the length.

Confusing Species
The only other lizard found in British Columbia is the Western Skink which has a broad brown stripe down the back with a whitish stripe on each side. The tails of the juveniles are bright blue.

Distribution
The Northern Alligator Lizard occurs across much of southern British Columbia, from west of the mountains to Vancouver Island. To the south it is found along the coast to California.

Habitat
Northern Alligator Lizards prefer open wooded areas and sometimes grassland areas. They are often found under bark or rocks.

Reproduction
Mating occurs in the spring and females give birth to live young 7-10 weeks later. One female can give birth to up to 15 young, although half this number is more common.

Natural History
The Northern Alligator Lizard is active at cooler temperatures than most other lizards, which probably explains its presence in Canada. It is carnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders and snails. The Northern Alligator Lizard is extremely wary and darts for cover at any sign of danger. If attacked, the lizard's tail will break off at a fracture plane. The twitching tail distracts the would-be preadator while the lizard escapes. A new tail is eventually re-grown.

Conservation Concerns
This species is widespread in BC and is considered to be not at risk.