California Alligator Lizard


Where does the organism live?

The northern alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea) is populated mostly in California but ranges

from British Columbia, Montana, and isolated areas of south east Oregon and northwestern

Nevada (Rutherford and Gregory 2003). Amazingly alligator lizards live in areas ranging from Where the Lizard lives

sea level to about 7,500 feet above sea level

 (Telemeco and Addis 2013). These lizards are

typically found in cooler, wet environments but can

also be found surrounding sunny clearings

(Telemeco and Addis 2013). Counties in California

with large densities of alligator lizards

include: Northern Sonoma County, Monterey

County and also on islands in the San Francisco Bay

and Ano Nuevo island (Lambertz and Graba 2011). Habitats of these cooler environments

include forests, wooded areas along clearings and also coastal marshes (Rutherford and Gregory

2003). These small reptiles often live under debris found in the forests such as under logs, rocks,

bark or any other type of surface cover. The alligator lizard has also been known to inhabit

forest openings that contain grassy cover with low growing bush cover (Lambertz and Graba

2011). This species has adapted to somewhat harsh environments containing rock piles and

rock retaining walls. Due to their slim, snake-like body and small size they can move between

rocks and under woodland debris without being seen. In the spring, during their mating season, Laying under a log

alligator lizard pairs have been noted to be dwelling in the

rock piles (Lambertz and Graba 2011). Alligator lizards

occupy the same habitat during the summer months as well

as in the winter during hibernation, resulting in no seasonal

migration (Rutherford and Gregory 2003). Without long

distance seasonal migration alligator lizards are at a lower

risk of being killed by predators or other hazards. These

lizards have also been found in residential areas living in man-made rocky formations and under

landscaping such as shrubs, bushes and also under wood boards. This specific lizard does not live

alone and most coexist with a variety of other species in the same environment. This species

interacts with the closely related southern alligator lizard map where it isalong with snakes, shrikes, some bird

species and also humans. Western skinks specifically inhabit the

same habitats as alligator lizards year round. During the spring,

summer, fall and winter months these skinks can be found under

rock piles and beneath vegetation. This indicates that skinks

exhibit no seasonal migration as well, living in the same location

year round.

How is the northern alligator lizard distributed?

Elgaria coerulea is mobile and distributes itself across a large part of the western United States

including parts of British Columbia and also islands off the coast of California. Northern

alligator lizards are not seasonal migrators and typically live in the relatively same spot year

round. Because of the temperate, cool climate they live in finding food and obtaining nutrients

is not a dire concern for these lizards. These lizards are capable of swimming so they are

not restricted to just land and may spread to islands or other water bound areas. As the name

suggests, they are reptiles so they are active during the day and tend to be inactive during the

colder months during winter.