Monday, June 4, 2007

Oregon Gators

Oregon does have alligators, they're just really tiny! The Northern Alligator Lizard(Elgaria coeruleus "blue") are about 8-10" long. They like dry sunny places, like rock piles and oak savannah. You can see they are the same color as the clay-ish soil. I found this one on our motorcycle track. It was a cool day, so the lizard was sluggy and posed well. Otherwise they are very quick! Their bellies are bluish, and because scales are not very flexible, their sides are pleated so they can breathe(you can see the pleat if you click on the photo). If you pick one up, be prepared to have it bite(it's not poisonous) or poop on you, or....
...snap off its tail, as this one has a few weeks ago. Compare the shape of the old scales and the new scales. The new scales will each expand to its full size. Check out the delicate foot and those toes.
Smile for the camera! Here I am, eye to eye, belly on the dirt to get the lizard's portrait--I'm about 6" away. I got a few nice headshots.
My guidebook says "The young a born live, fully formed, in litters of two to thirteen in late summer." That I'd love to see, teeny miniature lizards.


Wanderin' Weeta said...

Cool lizard! Especially the "smiling" photo!

Come to think of it, I don't remember ever seeing a lizard of any stripe in the BC Lower Mainland. Odd, that. In other times and other places, they were always around.

Bpaul said...

They're like little pitbulls, once they chomp something, it takes a crowbar to get em to let go. One of the favorites when I was a kid.

wyldthang said...

Hi Weeta and BP--your comments made me think back to when I was a kid. I grew up on Puget Sound, and my cat loved playing with what I now think must be a smaller version of these lizards(she liked to eat the tails). They were about half the size of the ones here, but essentially the "same" thing. And yes we liked catching them for pets. Anyways, an interesting example of how a species adapts to different locales.

cyndy said...

What an interesting creature! Great photographs! Glad you happened upon it on a cool day!

Larry said...

Great lizard photos, Celeste! Mostly skinks around here, and are they ever quick! Someday I hope to get some good photos of them.

Sir Cucumber said...

Hi Celeste,

I just wanted to let you know I posted your cool gator post on our new Reddit on OregonLive.

You can see your post and vote it up here

In case you're not familiar with (or Digg), they are sites that allow users to submit whatever interests them and then let the other users vote to determine it's prominence on the site.

We hope this new Reddit on OregonLive will allow Oregonians to decide amongst themselves what interests them most.

The top-rated story appears on the front page of

Anyway, thanks for the pics, and I hope you check it out!

Advance Internet /