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Lava lizard

Lava lizard in Galapagos
© Joe Sullivan

Common name:

Lava lizard

Scientific name:

Microlophus spp.

Spanish name:

Lagartija de lava

Conservation status:

Least Concern


Average lifespan:

10 years

Average size:

20-25 centimetres

Maximum size:

30 centimetres


Lava lizards are some of the most abundant reptiles throughout Galapagos. They look similar to miniature iguanas and are often found in large groups warming up in the sun atop lava, which gives the group its common name. 

There are seven species of lava lizard from the genus Microlophus found across the Archipelago, with a further 15 species found along the Pacific coast of South America. Apart from the location of the lizard, it would be near impossible to tell the difference between two lizards based on their physical appearance alone. Any individual can range from grey to green or brown and even black. The males tend to be brighter coloured with yellow specks or gold stripes. The females can have a red throat or head. The male tends to be larger than the females and have a distinct spinal crest along the ridge of their backs. Males also have rougher skin with more patterning.

Lava lizards in Galapagos

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