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Well over 100 kinds of lizards are found in the United States, yet only one, the gila monster of the southwestern deserts, is poisonous. Of the eight kinds of lizards in the park, three belong to the group known as skinks, or blue-tailed lizards. Locally they are termed "scorpions" and, in spite of the fact that they are quite harmless, are considered dangerous. This reputation may have been gained by their tendency to bite when captured. The largest of the three native skinks may reach a length of 10 or 11 inches. In the extreme western end of the park lives a legless lizard known as the "glass-snake," or "joint-snake," rarest and largest of the eight species of lizards. Seldom observed, it is occasionally turned up by the plow and, if captured, will squirm so violently that the tail may part from the body and break into a number of pieces. There is no truth in the belief that the broken pieces may become rejoined or may grow into new individuals. Like most lizards, this one has movable eyelids and external ear openings, characteristics which snakes do not possess; these characteristics, together with the absence of legs, are reliable means of identification.

The lowest altitude in the park is along the western boundary, where, on the warm dry ridges, we find such lizards as the six-lined race runner, the Carolina chameleon, the little brown skink (ground lizard), and the common fence lizard. The last named is widespread throughout the park, occasionally occurring up to 4,500 feet. All the other lizards tend to remain below the 2,000-2,500-foot altitude.

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Last Modified: Sat, Nov 4 2006 10:00:00 pm PST

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