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- Has ability to be active in cool temperatures during foggy or cloudy periods of the day.
- Can be active (and grow and digest food) with body temperature as low as 11° C (52° F) (Brattstrom 1965)
- Its capacity for activity despite low body temperature is distinctive. Many other lizards are 'obligate' thermoregulators and need to be warmer to function well. (Kingsbury 1994).
- Active in the day (diurnal) or at dusk and dawn (crepuscular)
- Largely unknown for Southern Alligator Lizards, although may be similar to northern species
- Northern species studied by Rutherford and Gregory can be found under favored rocks and do not travel far throughout the year; only one out of 334 lizards moved as far as 750 m (slightly less than .5 mile)
- Northern species rarely found in the open; remain close to a rock and within 2 m (6.6 ft) of a shrub
- Largely unstudied although may be like the Northern Alligator Lizards which may have territorial behavior since they inhabit the same site for many years (are 'site tenacious') (Gillette 2008)
- Not the primary means of communication for lizards (Ditmars 1933).
- Has snake-like undulating pattern to its locomotion on the ground
- Is the most arboreal of the alligator lizards
- A good swimmer; swim in serpentine manner rather than "dog-paddle" swimming (Cowles 1946)
- Tail is slightly prehensile, helping hold onto branches when climbing
- Tailless individuals run slower and are more secretive than ones with intact tails (Pough et al 1998)
- Females with eggs are less mobile
- Snakes, loggerhead shrikes, red-tailed hawks, domestic catsare predators on alligator lizards (Morey 2008)
- Around human habitations, cats killing of alligator lizards may lead to a significant increase in unwanted garden and yard 'pest' insects (which are food items for the lizards)
- When threatened by a predator, alligator lizards open the mouth widely, showing teeth
- When caught, bite strongly and may defecate on predator
- When attacked or caught, quickly shed their tail
- Wriggling tail left behind distracts predators
- Losing a tail is energetically costly; may result in a missed reproductive season (Pough at al 1998)
- Both Northern and Southern Alligator Lizards often found co-existing at same sites with Western Skinks ( Rutherford and Gregory 2003)
- Nature of the relationship with the skinks is unknown - perhaps it is competitive
- Southern Alligator Lizards are also known to eat Western Skinks (Cunningham 1956)
Pough et al. (1998)
Rutherford & Gregory (2003)