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Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) Fact Sheet, 2008   Tags: egg, fact sheet, north america, reptile, san diego zoo, sdzg, southern alligator lizard, tail  

Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata)
Last Updated: Dec 28, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) Fact Sheet, 2008

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Anguidae

Genus: Elgaria

Species: Elgaria multicarinata - Southern Alligator LIzard

Subspecies: E. m. webbi (San Diego Alligator Lizard)
Subspecies: E. m. multicarinata (California Alligator Lizard)
Subspecies: E. m. scincicauda (Oregon Alligator Lizard)
Subspecies: E. m. nana (Los Coronados Alligator Lizard)
Subspecies: E. m. ignava (San Martin Alligator Lizard)

Brown, gray, reddish or yellowish with dark vertical crossbars spotted with white on top side.

Adult Length
Snout-vent: 2.5-7 in (7.3-17.8 cm)

Adult Weight
More than 30 g

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Washington State, USA, to northern Baja California, west of the Cascade-Sierra Nevada crest

Coastal sage, chaparral, grasslands, oak woodlands, pinon-juniper woodlands, some pine woodlands, and forests.

IUCN Status
Least Concern

CITES Appendix
Not listed

Population in Wild
Not thouroughly investigated. Thought to exceed 100,000.

Snake-like movement on the ground. Spends time in trees. Good swimmer.

Activity Cycle
Active during the day, dawn, and dusk. Has ability to be active during cooler periods.

Carnivorous, generalist predators. Eat insects, snails, other reptiles.

Snakes, loggerhead shrikes, red-tailed hawks, domestic cats

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Mating in the spring, hatching through summer/early fall.

Clutch size
5-20 eggs

Up to 55 days

10 to 15 years

Feature Facts

  • Much still to be learned about this common species.
  • Tail is slightly prehensile; hold onto branches when climbing
  • Eat tadpoles
  • Intimidate predators by opening mouth and showing teeth
  • Losing a tail is energetically costly; may result in a missed reproductive season

About This Fact Sheet

© 2008 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates 2016.

How to cite: Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) Fact Sheet, 2008. c2008-2016. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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