Is this lizard protected or endangered?

Is this lizard protected or endangered?

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We think that it's a type of alligator lizard. It was found in the open space area near my home in Moss Beach California (about 10 miles south of San Francisco). Thank you!

It appears to be a California Alligator Lizard - Elgaria multicarinata (subspecies multicarinata), although another photo from the side would be helpful for a positive ID. This species seems to fit the range for the observation as well.

According to, there are no associated conservation concerns for this particular species.

Elgaria multicarinata multicarinata conservation status

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

June 2012
WASHINGTON – As a result of unprecedented commitments to voluntary conservation agreements now in place in New Mexico and Texas that provide for the long-term conservation of the dunes sagebrush lizard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the species does not need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Service Signs Conservation Agreement with Texas Comptroller and Reopens Public Comment Period for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

February 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has signed a Candidate Conservation Agreement with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts that provides for the conservation of the dunes sagebrush lizard.

The Service will reopen the Public Comment Period for 15 days beginning on Febrary 24. 2012. Written comments should be received on or before March 12, 2012. For more information, see the News Release below.

Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period for Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

April 2011
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), after numerous requests, has reopened the public comment period for 30 days on the December 13, 2010 proposed listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard. This comment period will begin with the publication of this announcement in the Federal Register.

The Service will hold public hearings in Texas and New Mexico. The first will be on April 27, 2011, in the Midland Center & Centennial Plaza, 105 N. Main Street, Midland, Texas, 79701. The second will be held on April 28, 2011, at the ENMU-Roswell Performing Arts Center, 64 University Blvd., Roswell, NM. In each location we will hold a public informational session from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Peer Review

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the dunes sagebrush lizard ( Sceloporus arenicolus ) as Endangered throughout it's range in southeastern New Mexico and adjacent southwest Texas. Because of your expertise in lizard ecology or conservation biology, we would like your review of this proposed rule. Peer reviewers will not be asked to provide recommendations on the classification of the species, but will be asked to comment specifically on the quality of any information and analyses used or relied on in the review identify oversights, omissions, and inconsistencies provide advice on reasonableness of judgments made from the scientific evidence ensure that scientific uncertainties are clearly identified and characterized, and that potential implications of uncertainties for the technical conclusions drawn are clear and provide advice on the strengths and limitation of the overall product. We will use the information received from the peer review in the final rule.

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register today (Dec. 13, 2010), and the peer review process will commence once all of the peer review panel has been determined.


What is a lizard? Lizards are part of a group of animals known as reptiles. They are most closely related to snakes. In fact, some lizards, called sheltopusiks, look like snakes because they have no legs! Many lizards today resemble the ancient reptiles of the dinosaur era. Their ancestors appeared on Earth over 200 million years ago.

In general, lizards have a small head, short neck, and long body and tail. Unlike snakes, most lizards have moveable eyelids. There are currently over 4,675 lizard species, including iguanas, chameleons, geckos, Gila monsters, monitors, and skinks.

Geckos, like this banded-knob tailed gecko, have clear membrane shields over their eyes in lieu of eyelids.

Most lizards have eyelids, just like we do, that clean and protect their eyes when they blink. But some lizards, like geckos, can’t blink! Instead, they have a clear membrane that shields their eyes from dirt or bright sun and use their tongue to clean their eyes. Many lizards, such as iguanas, can see in color. Their colorful body parts allow them to communicate with each other and help them tell which are male and which are female.

Blue-tongued skink using his eponymous tongue to smell.

Lizards smell stuff with their tongues! Just like snakes, a lizard sticks out its tongue to catch scent particles in the air and then pulls back its tongue and places those particles on the roof of its mouth, where there are special sensory cells. The lizard can use these scent “clues” to find food or a mate or to detect enemies.

Lizards don’t have earflaps like mammals do. Instead, they have visible ear openings to catch sound, and their eardrums are just below the surface of their skin. Even so, lizards can’t hear as well as we do, but their hearing is better than that of snakes.

Lizards have dry, scaly skin that does not grow with their bodies. Instead, most lizards shed, or molt, their old skin in large flakes to make way for the new skin growth underneath. The exception to this is with the alligator lizard, which may shed its skin in one piece, like a snake. The scales on lizards vary, depending on their habitat. Skinks have smooth scales so mud won’t cling to them some lizard species have bony plates, called osteoderms, under their scales for added protection against rough terrain.

Lizards are popular prey for many types of predators, from birds of prey to snakes and carnivorous mammals. Their camouflage and ability to stay still for hours helps keep them safe. Several types of lizards are able to escape from an enemy’s grasp by breaking off part of their own tail. The tail has a weak spot just for this purpose. If a predator grabs the lizard by its tail, the tail easily comes off. It can grow back over time, although the tail won’t look quite the same. Still, it’s better than being someone else’s dinner!

Other lizards have different ways to stay safe. Horned lizards are able to squirt blood from tiny blood vessels in their eyes to scare away or confuse a predator. The armadillo lizard has sharp, spiky scales and can roll up into a tight ball to protect its soft belly from attack. The sungazer lizard has impressive spikes that cover its body, including the tail. The alligator lizard bites, thrashes about to get loose, or voids foul-smelling feces. The tropical girdled lizard darts into a crack, expands its body, and lodges itself in so tightly that a predator can’t remove it.

Which end is which? Shingle-backed skink showing off its tail.

The shingle-backed skink is the reptile equivalent of Dr. Doolittle’s two-headed llama, the “push-me-pull-you” with its fat, wide tail that resembles the head. If confronted by a predator, the skink bends its body into a C shape, which confuses the predator because it appears as if the skink has two heads. The Australian frilled lizard has a “frill” of loose skin around its neck that can stick out when the lizard is frightened. This makes the lizard look much bigger than it really is, and a predator may decide to look for something smaller to eat. If that doesn’t work, the lizard runs away on its hind feet!

Claims of legal trade

Shirawa told me that in addition to working with people who smuggled earless monitor lizards out of Indonesia, he imported some legally from Malaysia. Other reptile dealers also assert that Malaysian officials have issued legal export permits for the lizards.

Jürgen Schmidt, a professional reptile breeder in Austria, said in an email that in 2016, he imported eight earless monitor lizards legally from a Malaysian reptile dealer located near Kuala Lumpur called Versus Creation.

Schmidt “is one of the best breeders I know,” says Anton Weissenbacher, a zoological curator and reptile specialist at Schönbrunn Zoo, in Vienna. The zoo obtained four captive-bred earless monitor lizards from Schmidt in 2017. “We would not work with him if we had even a little bit of a feeling that there is something wrong or strange,” Weissenbacher says.

Versus Creation did not respond to interview requests.

Schmidt says he knows of three other people who say they legally imported a total of 20 to 30 earless monitor lizards from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Officials in both countries contest this. They say permissions have never been granted to export the species.

Authorities in Sarawak have never issued export permits for the species to leave the country or even to leave Borneo for other parts of Malaysia, says Melvin Gumal, head of the biodiversity conservation and research division of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, the government body that issues CITES trade permits.

“Sarawak has a problem with this,” Gumal says of the trade in earless monitor lizards. “First and foremost, this is illegal. It is also unethical.”

In Indonesia, on the other hand, reptile traders may have taken advantage of a paperwork loophole arising from confusion over the scientific and English names of earless monitor lizards. Traders could apply for permits using a name for earless monitor lizards that did not appear in Indonesian legislation, evading customs officers. (This confusion was cleared up in 2018.)

“There were a lot of windows and doors that could be opened to smuggle the species,” says Amir Hamidy, a herpetologist at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences and a member of Indonesia’s CITES team.

But that didn’t change the fact earless monitor lizards are protected, he says. “This is smuggling.”

Are zoos inadvertently complicit in wildlife trade? The case of a rare Borneo lizard

Should zoos display legally protected species that have been smuggled out of their range countries? A new study suggests that a pause and rethink may be needed, as it reports that accredited zoos have acquired a rare and legally protected reptile, the earless monitor lizard endemic to Borneo, without any evidence that the animals were legally exported.

The earless monitor lizard occurs only on the island of Borneo and has been described as a "miniature Godzilla" and "the Holy Grail of Herpetology." Discovered by western scientists almost 150 years ago, for most of this period the species was known largely from pickled specimens in natural history collections, and wasn't recorded from the wild for decades. In the 1970s, the three countries that make up Borneo - Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei - added it to their protected species lists. This means that the species can neither be legally traded within these countries, nor legally exported out of them.

Despite legal protection and lack of export permissions, reptile enthusiasts and unscrupulous traders have long been smuggling small numbers of earless monitor lizards out of Indonesia and Malaysia, eventually bringing them to Europe. This greatly accelerated in 2012, when the species' rediscovery was announced in a scientific journal. In 2016, all 183 countries that are signatory to the Convention on international trade in endangered species agreed to regulate global trade in earless monitor lizards in order to limit the negative effects of smuggling on wild populations. Agreed export numbers were set at zero.

Enforcing the laws has proven to be challenging, however, and to date only two smuggling attempts have been thwarted. In both cases, German smugglers were apprehended at Indonesian airports while attempting to move respectively eight and seventeen earless monitor lizards out of the country.

The first zoo that proudly announced it had obtained earless monitor lizards was Japan's iZoo in 2013. This zoo is not accredited, and the ways in which the animals were obtained remain questionable. In Europe, the first zoos to openly display earless monitor lizards were located in Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. The animals were obtained from what zoos referred to as "private individuals" or "dedicated hobby breeders", and, in one instance, from iZoo. Just like in Japan, how these animals ended up in Europe is questionable, but perhaps not illegal - and it is evident that no export permits were ever issued.

In recent years, more and more zoos in Europe, and since the beginning of this year also in the United States, have started displaying earless monitor lizards. Some cases were part of zoo exchanges, others were obtained from private individuals, and a handful were placed in zoos by authorities after they were seized, but it is clear that many were at one point illegally exported out of Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei, or were illegally imported into non-range countries. The acquisition of these protected lizards by zoos is neither in line with the intentions of national laws of their countries of origin, nor with international wildlife trade regulations. Moreover, it is diametrically opposed to the commitments the international zoo community has made to address illegal wildlife trade.

"To me, the current situation concerning the purchasing and proudly displaying of earless monitor lizards by accredited zoos can be compared with a road safety organisation posting online videos of its CEO doing wheelies on a motorbike and then adding that it was done on a private road where neither wearing a helmet nor having a driver's licence is required," said Vincent Nijman of the Oxford Wildlife Trade Research Group, author of the study that was published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation. "Both may be legal in a technical sense, but the optics are not good."

"Modern, scientifically managed zoos are increasingly organising themselves with set ethical values and binding standards which go beyond national legislation on conservation and sustainability, but, unfortunately, this still only counts for a small proportion of zoos worldwide," said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Executive Director of Monitor Research Conservation Society. "Zoos that continue to obtain animals that have been illegally acquired, directly or indirectly, are often fuelling the illegal wildlife trade, supporting organised crime networks and possibly contributing to the decline in some species."

Seven years ago, the price for a single earless monitor lizard was in the order of EUR 8,000 to 10,000 , so any zoo or hobbyist wanting to have one or more pairs had to make a serious financial commitment. These high prices put a restriction on the number of people that wanted to acquire them and could afford them. It probably also gave potential buyers a tacit reminder that the trade was illicit. In recent years, however, prices have come down, to less than EUR 1,000. Now that earless monitor lizards are more affordable, and with accredited zoos giving a sense of legitimacy, Nijman is concerned that it might become more and more acceptable to keep these rare animals as pets.

"When I grew up in the 1970s, it was still perfectly acceptable for what we now see as accredited zoos to regularly buy rare and globally threatened birds, mammals and reptiles from commercial animal traders. Few questions were asked about the legitimacy of this animal trade. This has dramatically changed for the better, and now many of the animals we see in zoos today have been bred in captivity, either in the zoo itself, or in partner zoos", Nijman said. He added that in many ways zoos are a force for good in the global challenge to preserve species and conserve habitats. "It is imperative that these efforts are genuinely adopted by all in the zoo community, and, when there is doubt about the legitimacy of animals in trade, that a cautionary approach is adopted."

Original source:
Nijman V (2021) Zoos consenting to the illegal wildlife trade - the earless monitor lizard as a case study. Nature Conservation 44: 69-79. https:/ / doi. org/ 10. 3897/ natureconservation. 44. 65124

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


Field site

Our study site is located within the Elkhorn Plain (35.117998° −119.629063°) in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA. This area is characterized by extremely harsh, arid summers (average high 30–40°C) and cool winters (average low 5–9°C, Germano and Williams, 2005 Raws USA Climate Archive, 2019). This site is part of the San Joaquin Desert ( Germano et al., 2011), which in modern times has been frequently misclassified as a grassland prairie, despite early European explorers describing the landscape as lacking dominant annual or perennial grasses ( D’Antonio et al., 2007 Schiffman, 2007 Minnich, 2008). When temperatures rise in this area, the vegetation dies off in early May, leaving the ground barren and resembling that of an arid desert with occasional small saltbush plants ( Minnich, 2008) and in some areas, including our site, sparsely distributed Ephedra shrubs. The area is dominated by giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) precincts with extensive burrow networks. Our study spanned one active season of G. sila (May–July 2018). We obtained ambient temperature data from a weather station (Cochora Ranch, station ID: CXXC1) 3.7 km due east of the field site.

Study species and field monitoring

Adult G. sila (N = 30) were captured by hand-held lasso in early May 2018. Snout–vent length (SVL, ± 0.1 cm), mass (Pesola® 50–100 g precision scale, ± 0.5 g) and sex were recorded upon capture ( Table S1 ). Females were palpated for follicles and recorded as gravid or not. Lizards were fitted with VHF temperature-sensitive radio-transmitter collars (Holohil model BD-2T, Holohil Systems Ltd, Carp, ON, Canada) following the methods of Germano and Rathbun (2016). The transmitters were epoxied to nickel-plated ball chain collars, which were fitted around the lizards’ necks, with whip antennas (16 cm) extending dorsally from the collars. Lizards were released the same day of capture. Following release, lizards were tracked one to three times per day using a VHF receiver and Yagi antenna (R-1000 Telemetry Receiver, Communications Specialists, Inc., Orange, CA, USA), resulting in an average of 55 observations on each lizard over the active season. Behavioural observations, microhabitat (open desert floor, under shrub or in burrow), GPS location and time of day were recorded at each tracking event. At the end of the study, lizards were recaptured by lasso or excavated from burrows and collected for measurement of preferred body temperature and thermal tolerance (see below). Collars were then removed, SVL and mass data were recorded again and lizards were released at their sites of capture, at which time they entered estivation for the remainder of the summer.

Field active body temperature (Tb) and microhabitat use

We continually recorded the temperatures of the radio-transmitters as the field active lizard body temperature (Tb) using a Telonics TR-5 receiver with data acquisition system (Telonics Option 320) and 10-ft-tall omni antenna (Telonics model RA-6B). We programmed the system to log the interpulse intervals of the transmitters about every 10 min and used manufacturer-provided calibration equations to convert interpulse interval to temperature. This resulted in a total of

90 000 Tb points for the 30 lizards spanning their active season from May to July. Because radio-transmitters were external (collars), it is possible that they could heat more rapidly than the lizard’s core actual Tb, especially when lizards are in the sun. This may lead to a slight overestimate of lizard Tb than if core Tb had been collected, which is not possible with external radio-transmitters. Data were checked manually for aberrant points, which were removed. We used an ANCOVA to test whether SVL, mass, sex or gravidity affected mean Tb and a repeated measures ANOVA with time of day (daytime or night time), month, the interaction between time of day and month and lizard ID as a random effect, to analyze how Tb changed over the active season (May–July), and Tukey post hoc tests to compare monthly night time temperatures or monthly daytime temperatures. We also used field-active Tb data to calculate the field-active voluntary maximum Tb (VTmax), or the average maximum daily Tb, which presumably occurred when the lizard was active above ground exposed to solar radiation ( Brattstrom, 1965), to use in the activity restriction analysis (see below). To test the hypothesis that lizard microhabitat differed by month, we calculated an initial Pearson’s chi-square statistic from the observed data. We then ran a permutation test by shuffling the observations across months and computing a chi-square statistic for each permutation. This analysis was performed in R ( R Core Team, 2017), and all other analyses were performed in JMP® (v. Pro 14).

Preferred body temperature (Tset) and thermoregulatory accuracy (db)

At the end of the study (mid-July), lizards were collected from the field site and brought to a field station to collect data on their preferred body temperature range (Tset) in a thermal gradient. The gradient consisted of sand substrate divided into three lanes (250 × 20 × 25 cm each) separated by wood dividers so lizards could not see lizards in neighbouring lanes. One end of the gradient was heated to 47°C with a closed-circuit 4 gallon water heater (Stiebel Eltron model no. SHC4, Germany), and the other end was cooled to 10°C with a closed-circuit 400-L water cooler (ActiveAQUA Refrigerateur model no. AACH10, Petaluma, CA, USA). Water circulated under the gradient in insulated pipes from the heated side to the cold side to create the thermal gradient. Thermocouples (model 5SRTC-TT-K-40-72, Omega Engineering, UK) were inserted into the lizard’s cloacae and held in place by medical tape wrapped around the base of the tail. The thermocouples recorded Tb every 5 min on a data logger (model RDXL4SD, Omega Engineering, Egham, Surrey, UK). Lizards were placed in the centre of the gradient and left undisturbed for 3 h (the first 2 h were used as an acclimation period, and the final hour was used to determine Tset). We designated Tset as the 25–75% interquartile range of the final hour Tb. Data collection for the 30 lizards ran continually day and night over several days to minimize the amount of time the lizards were kept in captivity before release. We excluded Tset data for three lizards from the analysis (10.6, 14.3, 18.2°C) because they were >2 SD away from the median and were likely from lizards that failed to actively thermoregulate within the gradient in the time allotted. We used an ANCOVA to test the effects of sex, SVL, mass, capture method (lasso or excavation) and time of day on median Tset. We calculated lizard thermoregulatory accuracy (db) by subtracting the mean Tset IQR from each instance of Tb ( Hertz et al., 1993), then averaged all db values for a single lizard within each 1-h period per day from 0700 to 1900, then averaged all db by hour of day to create average hourly db values. Either very high positive or very low negative values of db represent poor accuracy (i.e. the field-active Tb are much higher or lower than Tset), and zero represents perfect accuracy.

Upper thermal tolerance (Tpant)

The upper thermal tolerance of lizards is typically measured as a loss of righting response or the onset of muscular spasms in response to high temperature, which represents the critical thermal maximum (CTmax), or the high temperature at which a lizard loses muscular coordination and will die if heated further ( Cowles and Bogert, 1944 Larson, 1961 Prieto and Whitford, 1971 Shea et al., 2016). At Tb slightly below the CTmax, lizards begin gaping and panting, presumably to increase evaporative cooling rates ( Dawson and Templeton, 1963 Heatwole et al., 1973 Tattersall et al., 2006). Given that G. sila is a federally endangered species, we chose to use their panting threshold (Tpant) as a conservative measure of their upper thermal tolerance so that we did not expose lizards to excessively stressful or potentially fatal high temperatures. To measure Tpant, we used a Cal Poly-engineered device, the Gas Analysis Temperature Oxygen Regulation System (GATORS). Lizards were fitted with cloacal resistance thermometers, heated at 1°C ambient temperature per minute in individual temperature-controlled chambers (18 cm length, 4 cm diameter), observed for panting behaviour (open mouth and rapid thoracic compression), then promptly removed and cooled. Tpant was recorded immediately following collection of Tset data. We used an ANCOVA to test the effects of sex, SVL, mass, capture method (lasso or excavation) and time of day on Tpant.

Biophysical models and microhabitat temperatures

We used biophysical models to model the ranges of temperatures within microhabitats throughout the course of a day a lizard would experience if it were behaviourally neutral to, or non-thermoregulating within, the environment. Models (N = 18) consisted of 1″ (2.5 cm) diameter copper pipes, welded with a copper female end on one side and a male end on the other. A Thermochron iButton (DS1921G-F5) programmed to record temperature every 10 min and coated in PlastiDip was suspended in the centre of each pipe by a 3D-printed plastic insert to avoid contact with the pipe walls, then pipes were filled with water ( Dzialowski, 2005), and PVC caps were screwed onto the male copper ends. Models were fitted with two 3.8-cm ‘legs’ made from copper wiring to prop models above ground on one end, mimicking a lizard propped up on its front legs. Biophysical model temperatures were validated by comparing internal temperatures to those of a preserved lizard over the course of 120 min of heating in the sun (models were continually within ±1°C of the lizard). Models were deployed from July 1–19 (a very hot period) in three different microhabitats: on the desert floor exposed to the sun (open, N = 6), in the shade under Ephedra shrubs (shrub, N = 6), and

1 m inside giant kangaroo rat burrows (burrow, N = 6). Models in burrows did not have legs to mimic lizards lying prone on the burrow floor. We compared the mean hourly temperatures of the three microhabitats during G. sila activity hours (0700–1900) using a two-way ANOVA followed by a Tukey–Kramer post hoc test.

Activity restriction

(i) Basking restriction: the average number of hours per day that lizards are currently restricted from continually basking in the open and are confined to burrows or shade because temperatures of biophysical models in the open exceed Tpant, VTmax or Tset (we calculated hours of restriction separately for each variable).

(ii) Above ground restriction: the average number of hours per day that lizards are currently restricted from remaining active above ground and are confined to burrows because temperatures of biophysical models in the open or in the shade exceed Tpant, VTmax or Tset.

(iii) Total restriction: the average number of hours per day that temperatures of biophysical models in all microhabitats exceed Tpant, VTmax or Tset.

Climatic projections

To assess how hr might change in the future due to consequences of anthropogenic climate change, we used Cal-Adapt’s representative concentration pathway (RCP) climate scenario 4.5 and 8.5 ( California Energy Commission, 2019). RCP 4.5 is a conservative scenario which predicts a steady decline following peak carbon emissions in 2040. RCP 8.5 is a worst-case scenario in which carbon emissions continue throughout the 21st century, peaking in 2050 and plateauing around 2100. Using the ‘modeled projected annual mean’ tool, we identified the years where the annual average temperatures in the Elkhorn Plain are projected to increase 1 and 2°C from the 2018 average. To make our predictions, we added a 1°C increase unilaterally across the 2018 biophysical model data. We projected how each hr variable would be affected by climate change by adding 1 and 2°C to current biophysical model temperatures (+1°C hr and +2°C hr). Note that temperatures inside burrows, under shrubs and out in the open are unlikely to actually increase at the same rates, but this method provides us with a coarse estimate as to how hr might change with warming climates ( Brusch et al., 2016).


Horned lizards used to be widespread in Texas but have been in gradual decline for the last few decades. Several factors have contributed, such as urban development, which has fragmented the landscape, robbing the reptiles of space and pressuring populations of the harvester ants they feed on. And that’s not all.

“The introduced red imported fire ants will kill hatchlings,” says Barber, as well as harvester ants. “As green spaces shrink, some predators become more abundant or consolidated.”

Female horny toads can lay a lot of eggs—20 to 30 a year—but those factors reduce hatchling survival rates.

For over a decade Texas conservation experts have relocated adult and baby lizards from parts of the state where they were plentiful to parts lacking in lizards. But that grew expensive, and many were lost to predation, despite their impressive arsenal of defense weapons.

When faced with predators, they can shoot foul-tasting blood out of their eyes, though they will only do that to members of the dog family. Another effective technique is to sit very still in an effort to blend in with the rocks they're perched on.

What do lizards eat?

Different lizard species have a range of different diets. Many species are herbivorous, feeding only on plant material. A good example of herbivorous lizards are the iguanas which are spread around the world but are mostly vegetarians. An extreme case is the iguana species found on the Galapagos Islands, Amblyrhynchus cristatus, which feeds entirely on seaweed several meters under water.

Some species are carnivorous and eat only animals while others are omnivorous and eat both other animals and plants. The monitor lizards, a well-known genus found through many parts of the world, are mostly carnivorous while the Lilford’s wall lizard, Podarcis lilfordi, is an endangered omnivorous species. Most species live on a diet of fruit and insects but some larger species, such as the Komodo dragon and monitor lizards, will also feed on larger animals such as pigs and even buffalos.

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In 1964, the US government created a nine-person panel to make the first endangered species list. The panel members were biologists and wildlife managers that worked for the government. The group was called the Committee on Rare and Endangered Wildlife Species, or CREWS for short. CREWS made a book that had one page for each of the first 62 endangered species. Each page gave some information about the species and why it was endangered. The book was named the Red Book, since red is a color of danger or warning. If a species of animal had a page in the Red Book people would know it was in danger of becoming extinct.

The US is not the only country to make a red list of endangered species. A simple Web search will turn up a number of other red lists from different countries. The most famous of these is the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List contains a page for every species in the world considered to be endangered. The first IUCN list was made about the same time as the US Red Book and is still maintained today.
What used to be called the US Red Book can now be found on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website. The new red book is called the Threatened and Endangered Species System or TESS.


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