Lizards are reptiles belonging to the same order (Squamata) as snakes. Lizards, however, are divided into the suborder Sauria. Unlike snakes, most lizards have two pairs of legs, external ear openings, and movable eyelids. Other characteristics include a dry, scaly body, internal fertilization, and hard-shelled eggs.
With about 3000 known species, lizards are the largest group of reptiles. They are found everywhere in the world besides Antarctica. The most diverse lizards are found in the tropics. They can live high in the Andes Mountains and among the volcanoes of Mexico. Some lizards like crocodile lizard of China and the brown water lizard of South America even have become semi-aquatic, while the gecko are well-adapted to living on dry deserts.
Lizards are cold-blooded animals, meaning the environment affects their body temperatures. Like many reptiles, lizards hibernate during colder times of the year and may aestivate during hot weather.
One interesting and common characteristic of lizards is their ability to change color. This is called metachrosis. The skin color is darkened or lightened in response to light, temperature, or emotional state. Chameleons and a few other species have developed the ability to significantly change their color to fit their surroundings. A cave lizard of Trinidad is reportedly luminous (producing light).
When a predator approaches, lizards try to ward them off by hissing, inflating the body, biting, scratching, and lashing with the tail. Some lizards' spiny scales make it difficult for a predator to swallow them. When caught by a predator, many lizards break their tails (autotomy) to escape. The whole time the tail wiggles and squirms as if it was alive. Many lizards and skinks can lose their tails easily and regrow new, shorter ones later. A new tail is eventually regenerated, and the lizard is not harmed in any way. Compared to the original tail, the new one is different in color and in the size and form of scales.
A lizard's eating habits aren't as interesting as a snake's, but some are different. Some eat plants instead of animals and bugs. Most lizards aren't picky eaters and will eat many things. Lizards feed mostly on insects, though a certain number eat plants. A few lizards have a tongue they shoot out in front of their nose to snare a bug on the go. Others just grab something in their mouth and wait until it stops struggling to swallow it.
Most lizards lay eggs in simple nests. Female skinks wrap themselves around the nest to guard it and gather the eggs if they become scattered. Some lizards give birth to live young after the egg hatch inside the mother. Still others reproduce like mammals, with the young lizard getting food from the mother before being born. Some species of North American whiptails and European lacertid lizards have only females. She lays unfertilized eggs that develop to become female lizards themselves.
The most common lizard on Bonaire is the blue whiptail lizard or blau-blau (Cnemidophorus Murinus Ruthveni).