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Northern Alligator Lizard

Elgaria coerulea

  • Family: Anguidae
  • Adult Size: 3 to 6 inches, with the tail adding that much more
  • Range: Pacific coast of the U.S., and into the Rocky Mountains
  • Habitat: The dryer parts of forests
  • Captive Lifespan: 5 to 8 Years
  • Dangerous:
  • Care Level: Beginner


This medium-sized lizard prowls mostly by day in wooded areas in hilly and mountainous areas where it’s not too wet. The northern alligator lizard is mostly terrestrial, but also is a capable climber in low brush and trees. Its long, prehensile tail aids tremendously in maneuvering through branches by hanging on while the feet gain new footholds.

In captivity, the northern alligator lizard is a hardy pet. They feed well on a huge variety of invertebrates such as spiders, crickets, slugs and other small bugs. It stealthily stalks its prey and pounces from a short distance. Northern alligator lizards will also dig out food that hides in the substrate. Feed them during the day after they’ve had time to bask under heat lamps and reach an active temperature.

Cages should be long with a deep layer of wood mulch and soil. Place one larger hollow log in as a shelter. The water bowl should be anchored securely in a corner so the lizards don’t overturn it while prowling. Make sure it’s not too deep so they don’t curl inside and get stuck with their heads under the surface.

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