Reptiles come in many shapes and sizes. Lizards, a form of reptiles, have scaly or spiky skin, as well as long bodies and tails, four legs, and mobile eyelids. They can exist in a variety of environments, including prairies, swamps, deserts, rocky environments, and forests, to name a few, and more than 4,675 species of lizards are said to exist today.
These creatures are cold-blooded, meaning they do not produce their own body heat and must sit in the sun on a warm rock to warm themselves.
What are some of the rarest lizards on Earth? Here’s a look at the top 10 rarest lizard species you could be lucky enough to find in the wild.
10. Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti
Source: Danny S. | CC BY-SA 4.0 International
This lizard only lives in one place on Earth. He lives in an isolated stretch of desert in Guatemala. He is poisonous and was discovered by scientists in the 1980s, but has long been known to the locals who live near his home.
9. Cnemaspis Psychedelics
This gecko hails from an island in Vietnam called Hon Khoai Island, and it inhabits a space that is said to be only 300 square meters in size. It is estimated that there are now only about 500 adult Cnemaspis psychedelic geckos left in the wild. More like a candied lizard than a real lizard, these colorful critters can even be caught sunbathing on rocks and tree branches in the Vietnamese rainforest.
8. Jeweled Gecko
Native to New Zealand’s South Island, the gem gecko is brightly colored and patterned. It can have stripes or diamond-shaped patterns on its back, and they are known for their longevity. Unfortunately, smugglers have recently taken these creatures out of New Zealand to sell them abroad as exotic pets, reducing their numbers in their native countries.
7. Oligosoma polychroma
Source: Tim Park | CC BY-SA 4.0 International
Another native New Zealand lizard, the canterbury grass skink likes to live in wooded areas, as well as rocky habitats. It hunts during the day. This skink is brown and striped, almost like a snake, and sheds its scales one by one.
6. Oligosoma salmo
Described as extremely rare, the chesterfield skink is only found on the west coast of New Zealand in an area smaller than one hectare. This species was first discovered in 1994. It is so rare that up to seven years have passed between sightings. Its beautiful color scheme mixes copper with green, gold and black for a unique look. He can regrow his tail if he loses it, but the new one will not have its original pattern.
5. Varanus olivaceus
This rare lizard only lives on a few select islands in the Philippines. It can grow quite tall, about 1.5 meters, and lives on a diet of fruit, unlike many lizards that eat meat. Authorities aren’t entirely sure how many gray monitor lizards now live in the wild, but numbers are thought to be low. This species is on the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
4. Ctenophorus pictus
Popularly known as the painted ground monitor or painted dragon, Ctenophorus pictus lives in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and can camouflage itself very well, giving its name a good meaning. A dusty brown colorway allows this lizard to blend in almost seamlessly with its rocky environment. It is very elusive and can go for years – even decades – without being seen by botanists.
3. Sceloporus arenicolus
Source: Franco Folini | CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic
This pale lizard lives only in the gleaming oak sand dunes of southeastern New Mexico, and in some counties in Texas. The dunes sagebrush lizard is like the Hidden Dragon in that it is very well camouflaged to hide in its living space as it is a light brown color to match the surrounding sand and rocks.
Oil and gas development in the US threatens the habitat of this lizard and is currently listed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Since 2001, it has also been listed under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species Act.
2. Anolis roosevelti
Source: wikipedia | CC BY 2.0 Generic
This lizard is known to be endangered, with some even claiming it is extinct. The Culebra Island Giant Anole has not been seen in its native Puerto Rico since 1932. Deforestation in Culebra is thought to have caused its loss, or feral cats preyed on it too much, rendering it extinct. If it still existed, it would be one of the rarest lizards on Earth.
1. New Zealand Geckos (Hoplodactylus)
Source: Jennifer Moore | CC BY 3.0 Unported
Another lizard native to New Zealand is also on the endangered lizard list and has ‘National Critical’ status in its homeland. It is one of about 39 geckos now known to live in New Zealand. Not much is known about many of the geckos in this country, and efforts are constantly being made by researchers to document more about them before they may disappear.