Dear Editors,

Greetings, I can’t stand any kind of bugs or reptiles, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn about them. Would you kindly help me identify this “iguana,” so when I’m working in my gardens I know what’s coming towards me, and call it by its name and ask it to leave? By the way, the one in the picture, we found it dead. That’s why it posed so well on my helper’s hand.
Thank you for your effort on this matter.
Kindly, F. Sevillano

Dear Kindly Sr. Sevillano:

Though lizards are not my forte, it appears to me as though you have found a very young specimen of alligator lizard, one which met with an untimely, unnatural death. Not being in possession of a set of Encyclopedia Britannica, I tempted fate by trying to locate information for you on the internet. My search led me to the San Diego Natural History Museum Field Guide. There I learned that the Southern Alligator Lizard goes by the scientific name Elgaria multicarinata. The Southern Alligator Lizard has a slender body up to seven inches long, and relatively small legs. An individual that has never suffered the traumas of a caudal autonomy (loss of its tail) may have a tail twice the length of its body, making for a 21 inch long lizard. If the tail is lost, it can regenerate, though it is usually shorter and differently colored. The lizards tend to be brown to yellow ochre and adults are marked with dark cross bands. The species is common in the Los Angeles Basin( and is often found in yards and gardens. Alligator Lizards aren’t easily intimidated by humans, and, while not poisonous, can inflict a painful bite. They have an ornery disposition and if you decide to catch one, expect to get nipped. They eat mainly insects and snails, which make them the gardener’s friends, but they have also been known to eat small birds and mice, frogs and other lizards. Perhaps your helper would like to bring his lizard by my place some time so I can verify my identification through a thorough first-hand investigation.

(01/19/2004) Iguana
FYI: The lizard shown on your "Iguana" page is a fence lizard also commonly known as a "Blue Belly" in Southern California. They are common, non aggressive and tend to bask in the sun on walls wood piles etc. Boys frequently catch them, I spent a majority of my childhood doing so. They have a blue throat and sometimes blue sides hence- blue belly (we aren’t very accurate with our use of English here in CA). I hope this helps you and the site. I originally found your excellent site by looking up wind scorpions to try to discover the name of the awful monstrosity that attacked me in Death Valley one night. I hope they aren’t endangered because I ended up shooting it after it repeatedly advanced on me in an aggressive pose. Thanks for the help and the cool site.

Thanks Chad, for the info and compliments. That is a very old letter and I totally forgot we had that page, which was a quirky question with an equally quirky answer. Wind Scorpions are not endangered. How about that one from the Desert Storm veteran which he calls a Camel Cricket. Glad our Southern California specimens arent that big.

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