Natural Habitat Adventures

Know Before You Go

Lava Lizard Facts | Galapagos Islands Wildlife Guide

Similar to Darwin’s finches, the seven species of lava lizards most likely evolved from one single ancestor millions of years ago. They are physically less spectacular than the iguanas, but they are the most abundant reptile on the islands and are frequently seen scurrying around.

 

Physical Characteristics

  • They can reach up to 1 foot in length, but are usually about 5 to 6 inches
  • The male is larger than the female and has a strong coloring of yellow, black and brown
  • Females have bright red skin under their throats
  • They have long, tapering tails and slim bodies

 

Range and Habitat

It is easy to separate the seven species of lava lizard by geographical distribution. One species occurs on the western and central islands, which were possibly connected during times of lower sea levels. And one species each occurs on the other six peripheral islands.

Behavior and Communication

Their most distinctive behavioral patterns are rapid head bobbing and push-up stances, which are performed in order to defend their territories and to assert dominance. They will also stand high on all fours and change color if they are threatened or if there is a temperature change. Scientists believe there are specific aggressive postures for each species, depending on which island they inhabit.

They are cold-blooded creatures and rely on the sun to keep them warm. During times of extreme heat, they retreat to shady spots to conserve energy.

Feeding Habits

Lava lizards are omnivores but dine mostly on insects. They eat spiders, moths, flies, beetles and some plants. They are extremely helpful in controlling insect populations, especially the painted locust. They sometimes live among humans and eat human foods, such as scraps found in trash or crumbs on floors.

Breeding and Reproduction

Males often mate with any female that passes through the male territory. Females lay three to six tiny eggs every month, which hatch after a 12-month incubation period. Females mature at nine months, and males mature after three years.

Lava lizard population sizes often depend on climate. During dry spells, populations decrease, and they will resort to eating seeds and sprouts.

Conservation

Lava lizards are food for hawks, snakes, centipedes, mockingbirds and herons. However, their major defense is their ability to drop their tails, literally. The tail keeps moving and attracting predators, while the lizard will flee or camouflage itself by remaining still and maybe hiding behind a rock. This is how they protect themselves. Human conservation efforts include managing domestic and feral cats, dogs and rats and, of course, guarding their habitat against human destruction.

Header Credit: Chris Willis

Marvel at Lava Lizards on These Galapagos Trips
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure
New Itinerary!

Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure

Paddle, hike and explore in places not included on typical trips! Our catamaran-based adventure offers rare access to less-visited spots (and extended paddling time) with our special kayaking permits.
8 or 10 Days / Year-Round
From $5995 (+air)
Limited to ~14 Travelers
New Itinerary!
Know Before You Go

Get Weekly Updates

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Request Your 2022 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2022 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2023/2024 Catalog
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2023 Digital Catalog

View Our 2023/2024

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Questions? Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/know-before-you-go/galapagos-islands/wildlife-guide/reptiles/lava-lizard/