12 largest lizards on planet Earth

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Lizards are truly amazing creatures. Leading their genus since the days of the dinosaurs, they have remained practically unchanged to this day. Evolutionarily adapted to a wide variety of climatic conditions, they have spread almost throughout the entire planet Earth. And if in 'our area' there are only the usual real lizards (this is the name of the family, scientific), which fit in the palm of your hand, then in distant countries these creatures can reach enormous sizes – reminiscent that the ancestors of animals were dinosaurs.

And in this article we will tell about the largest lizards of the planet Earth – living witnesses of evolution, existing for millions of years and almost perfect.

The largest lizards on planet Earth

Nomination a place name Maximum length
The largest lizards on planet Earth 12 Giant chameleon 60 cm.
11 Arizona gila monster 60 CM.
10 Philippine sailing lizard 100 CM.
9 Common conolof 125 CM.
8 Marine iguana 140 CM.
7 Argentine black and white tegu 140 CM.
6 Green iguana 200 CM.
5 White-throated monitor lizard 200 CM.
4 Varane of Salvador 200 CM.
3 Striped monitor lizard 250 CM.
2 Giant monitor lizard 250 CM.
1 Komodo dragon 300 CM.

12th place: Giant chameleon (up to 60 cm)

Rating: 3.9

Giant chameleon

Some time ago, scientists made a rather interesting observation. It turns out that animals that exist on islands remote from the land with a strictly defined and unchanging set of species tend to increase in size. This phenomenon is called 'island gigantism' and is observed in mammals, reptiles and birds. And immediately

The same phenomenon is observed in several representatives of our rating at once, one of them is a giant chameleon. It lives only on the island of Madagascar and can grow up to 60 centimeters in length – from the 'nose' to the tip of the tail.

Males reach this size – as a rule, they are somewhat larger than females. Giant chameleons are dimly colored – mostly brown, but the body is covered with specks of red, green and yellow. The ridge on the back is small, like a saw.

Inhabits trees and is active primarily during the day. Predator – eats insects, small lizards, animals and birds. It 'runs' after prey along the branches, easily moving from one to another thanks to its very tenacious tail and strong paws. Able to live up to 15 years.

The giant chameleon is one of the oviparous lizards. However, he is very prolific. The female is capable of two clutches per season, and each time lays up to 60 eggs. True, they mature for a very long time – young giant chameleons hatch after 9-10 months.

Like other chameleons, the giant is capable of changing body color. But it does it relatively slowly and infrequently. It is not of particular interest to predators because of its habitat in tree crowns, and due to its almost omnivorous nature, it is able to feed on any animal prey.

11th place: Arizona Gila monster (up to 60 cm)

Rating: 4.0

Arizona gila monster

The Arizona Gila monster is a rather large and dangerous lizard. Contact with her can leave very painful wounds. Because of this, as well as its large size, it is also called the 'Gila Monster' ('Gila' is the river in Arizona where the Gila Monster lives).

An adult Arizona gila monster reaches a length of up to 60 centimeters, of which 15-17 are thick and massive tail. The lizard is painted in contrasting stripes and spots of orange and black. This appearance scares off predators, warning them about the toxicity of the animal.

The lizard's venom is produced in the salivary glands and enters the body of the victim after being bitten. It causes a sharp muscle relaxation, and also has a neurotoxic and anticoagulant effect. For humans, the bites of the Arizona gila monster are not fatal, except in rare cases, but small animals die literally a few minutes after 'meeting' with this lizard. True, the reptile itself prefers to hunt without poisoning its prey. And on the basis of one of the substances that make up the poison, in the 1990s, it was possible to develop a medicine for type 2 diabetes.

The Arizona Gila monster is not only large, but also heavy. It can reach up to 2 kilograms of 'live weight'. Ironically, but the diet of a reptile is mainly 'protein' – the animal feeds on eggs of birds, snakes and turtles, and in their absence, it can eat small mammals or birds. But especially to hunt for food, the gila monster is not required. The reptile eats 8-10 times a year.

Due to hunting and destruction of habitats, the number of Arizona gila moths is gradually decreasing. The lizard is included in the American Red Book and is prohibited from export from the United States.

10th place: Philippine sailing lizard (up to 100 cm)

Rating: 4.1

Philippine sailing lizard

The Philippine sailing lizard is the largest member of the agama family. Another species in which the phenomenon of island gigantism is observed. The reptile, as the name implies, lives exclusively in the Philippines.

One of the most interesting features of the Filipino sailing lizard is that it is omnivorous. That is, it feeds not only on small mammals, birds and eggs. Her diet also includes plants – fruits, flowers and leaves.

An adult Filipino sailing lizard can reach up to 1 meter in length, with half of this falling on the tail. On it there is a crest, in honor of which the animal got its name. In males, it is much higher and longer than in females. The reptile's body is colored dark green with a gray tint and light ('yellowish') spots. On the lower jaw, throat and forepaws – deep blue scales. It is also brighter in males than in females.

Since the range of the Filipino sailing lizard includes the humid tropics with numerous rivers and rice fields nearby, the animal is excellent at swimming and spends quite a lot of time in the water. In coastal areas, it also digs holes in which it lays eggs.

The Filipino Sailing Agama can be kept in terrariums. She quickly acclimatizes and gets used to humans. However, it is forbidden to catch it – the species is among the vulnerable.

9th place: Ordinary Konolof (up to 125 cm)

Rating: 4.2

Common conolof

The common conolof, also called the Galapagos, is one of the largest members of the iguana family. In adulthood, it can reach 1.25 meters in length. It lives exclusively in the Galapagos archipelago, so its large size may also be the result of island gigantism.

Unlike most other iguanas, the common conolof (as well as its close relative, the pale conolof) does not have a high ridge on its back or tail. However, he still has a number of thorns. Due to their small size, they practically do not stand out, which is why the Konolof looks more like an overgrown lizard than a familiar iguana.

More than half of the body length of the Konolof is the tail. The scales are colored yellow-brown with various shades and transitions, but the appearance is still discreet. Thanks to this, the lizard hides on the surface of the dry land.

Konolophs are herbivorous, while their diet includes only one type of cactus – prickly pear. Lizards feed on their flowers and young shoots. Animals have also learned to get rid of the thorns that cover the cacti by simply rolling parts of the plant on the ground.

Another interesting feature of the Konolofs is that they are extremely picky about the choice of a place for laying eggs. Females can walk up to 15 kilometers before finding a suitable site. On the island of Fernandina, covered with rocks and dry land, females most often choose the crater of an extinct volcano for laying eggs. After 3-4 months, young lizards hatch.

8th place: Marine iguana (up to 140 cm)

Rating: 4.3

Marine iguana

The marine iguana is another huge lizard that lives exclusively in the Galapagos Islands. One of the brightest representatives of their fauna – from its appearance you can definitely understand that these reptiles descended from dinosaurs. The 140-centimeter body is painted black-brown and is crowned with a crest of white or dark sharp spines. And the broad and massive head is 'equipped' with strong and powerful jaws.

The lizard got its name due to the fact that it spends most of its time at sea or on the shore. Powerful paws with huge claws help it to hold onto rocks and resist the surf. True, the iguana comes to the shore mainly in order to bask in the sun.

Despite its impressive and eerie appearance and sheer size, the marine iguana is a 'vegetarian'. Most of the diet is algae, which the reptile eats by nibbling from coastal stones. For food, she is also able to dive and swim, but, being cold-blooded, she rarely dives to a depth where the sun's rays do not penetrate. A lizard can spend up to 1 hour under water – and at this time its physiology changes. Blood begins to flow only to the most important organs in order to conserve oxygen reserves.

The mating behavior of marine iguanas is also interesting. Males (which, incidentally, become brighter and covered with red spots) arrange 'carnages', butting their foreheads. During pregnancy, a fertilized female digs a hole away from the coast, where she lays eggs. For the first few days she protects the 'cubs' and then leaves. Young iguanas hatch after about 3 months.

The marine iguana is vulnerable to introduced predators, and is particularly vulnerable to dogs, cats and rats. In addition, pigs often break eggs. As a result, the species is now among the vulnerable.

7th place: Argentine black and white tegu (up to 140 cm)

Rating: 4.4

Argentine black and white tegu

On the territory of Argentina and neighboring countries, there is a family of tegu lizards, very similar to monitor lizards, and the black and white subspecies is the largest of them. Adult animals can grow up to 1.4 meters in length.

The species got its name, of course, from the color. The elongated body on powerful paws is covered with black and white scales. Light spots merge into broken stripes with characteristic 'eyes'. On the back there is a short, not too sharp crest. Paws are strong, but short, and therefore tegu practically does not run, but perfectly digs holes.

Tegu is one of the most dangerous Argentine reptiles. Fleeing from enemies, including humans, the lizard runs away. But, being cornered, it uses powerful jaws, sharp claws, and even strikes with its tail. Tegu leaves lacerated wounds that are painful and take a long time to heal.

Despite the good ability to dig holes, tegu prefers not to dig their own, but to use the already 'ready' ones. It takes 'housing' from armadillos, and is also able to settle in termite mounds. Small insects cannot damage the hard scales of the lizard, so they have to put up with harmful neighbors.

Tegu is a predator, and even its dental system has evolved specifically for eating meat. He has both canines and chewing molars. The heterodontic dental system (this is what this 'formula' is called) is a rarity for reptiles. Tegu's diet includes small animals, birds, lizards, insects, and even shellfish. However, if no meat food was found, the lizard can feast on fruit. Tegu is a pest for local villagers, as it often climbs into chicken coops.

However, the locals are also not very friendly with the tegu. They hunt this lizard for food. Reptile meat, according to 'reviews', tastes like chicken.

6th place: Green iguana (up to 200 cm)

Rating: 4.5

Green iguana

The green iguana, also called the common iguana, is the largest member of the iguana family. And at the same time – the most common. Its natural range includes almost the entire north of South America and partly the south of North America – for example, part of the Mexican territory, the state of Florida in the USA and the Hawaiian Islands. In addition, the green iguana is often kept as a pet. This also contributes to the spread of the species – the lizard is unpretentious and, having escaped from the owners, can settle in local forests.

An adult iguana can grow up to 2 meters and reach a mass of 8 kg, although the vast majority of the species are usually about 50 cm 'shorter'. The lizard is painted bright green with dark areas and numerous white spots, which is why it got its name. On the back there is a row of spiny curved spines, stretching from the neck to the tip of the tail.

It should be noted that the color of the green iguana varies depending on the habitat. The 'residents' in Peru, for example, are painted bluish; in El Salvador – in bright blue; in Costa Rica – red-brown; in Mexico, orange. The shade also varies with age.

The green iguana has three eyes. Two of them are on the edges of the head. The third is rudimentary, located on the crown and hidden under the skin. In this area, it becomes translucent in order to transmit light. Scientists do not know specifically why the iguana needs a third eye, and assume that it is involved in the formation of circadian rhythms and orientation in space.

Interestingly, the green iguana is an exclusively herbivorous animal. It feeds mainly on fruits, leaves and flowers. In Panama, it is becoming a serious pest as it 'attacks' the Jamaican plum plantings.

5th place: White-throated monitor lizard (up to 200 cm)

Rating: 4.6

White-throated monitor lizard

The remaining half of our ranking of the largest lizards on planet Earth is occupied by monitor lizards. These animals themselves are larger than the rest, so they also grow to completely mind-blowing sizes. They were impressively huge even in prehistoric times. For example, the largest lizard in history was the megalania, which belongs to the monitor lizard family and reaches 7 meters in length.

Modern monitor lizards are somewhat more modest. For example, the white-chinned, living in central Africa, is able to grow up to 2 meters in length (males, females are usually 'shorter'). It got its name because of its characteristic color. The whole body is covered with brown scales, and only the throat is very light.

On the scales there are 'rosettes' – light spots with a dark edging. This is a characteristic feature of all monitor lizards. But in the white-chinned, they are placed so that they create the illusion of stripes.

White-chinned monitor lizard is one of the main predators of Central Africa. The lizard moves pretty quickly on the ground and can climb trees, where it catches everything it can. The diet includes snakes (especially cobras, vipers, and snakes), small mammals and birds. During the rainy season, the 'diet' of the monitor changes – snails and insects begin to prevail in it. Local farmers complain about the lizard – it is capable of plundering chicken coops.

The white-throated monitor lizard, due to its unpretentiousness and not too aggressive disposition, is often kept in terrariums.

4th place: Varane of Salvador (up to 200 cm)

Rating: 4.7

Varane of Salvador

The Salvadorian lizard, also called crocodile, is one of the largest in the world. Able to grow up to 2 meters in length, in addition, a single case of catching a lizard was recorded, measuring 265 centimeters from nose to tip of tail.

The crocodile monitor is the dominant predator of New Guinea. He is not only very large-sized, but also leads an active lifestyle. The crocodile monitor lizard is able to run quickly on long and powerful legs, and thanks to a special respiratory system it is also hardy. And the lizard knows how to climb trees. As a result, locals believe that the crocodile monitor is an evil spirit that can walk upright, breathe fire and kill people.

Indeed, the crocodile monitor lizard, thanks to its physical strength, sharp claws and powerful jaws, is able to kill a person. But people are of little interest to him. It preys on other large mammals – wild pigs, tree kangaroos, and so on. However, the animal does not disdain carrion, feeds on reptiles, birds, small couscous and even insects. When kept in captivity, he does not refuse food for dogs.

Like many other monitor lizards, the crocodile has powerful jaws and sharp teeth. When hunting, he seeks to immediately bite through the most important organs of prey. A case is described when a single bite of a crocodile monitor lizard caused a painful shock in an adult man. However, this does not prevent local residents from hunting the lizard – ritual drums are made of its skin.

3rd place: Striped monitor lizard (up to 250 cm)

Rating: 4.8

Striped monitor lizard

The striped monitor lizard, also called the aquatic lizard, is one of the largest lizards in the world. It can grow up to 2.5 meters, reaching a mass of 25 kilograms. However, such cases are very rare. Usually striped monitor lizards grow 'only' up to 2 meters and 15 kilograms.

The striped monitor lizard lives in southeast Asia, meeting in China, India and on the territory of some island states of the Pacific Ocean. Semi-aquatic animal, found on the banks of rivers, canals and even on beaches. Swims well, is able to dive, holding his breath for 20-30 minutes (however, he does not really 'like' this business).

On the banks of the striped monitor lizard digs very deep holes – going into the ground at a distance of up to 10 meters. He also rests there. Also able to climb trees, but not too high. A predator, but not specialized, is able to feed on anything it catches. Differs in intelligence – often uses different strategies for hunting. For example, it can hit the water with its tail, throwing fish onto the shore.

Interestingly, in Sri Lanka, striped monitors are considered very useful in the household. Here they live in rice fields and catch freshwater crabs, undermining thickets of cereals.

The striped monitor lizard got its name because of its characteristic color. Its body is covered with dark scales. The light 'rosettes' located on it are folded into strips. In young monitor lizards, the pattern on the body is brighter and more contrasting than in old ones.

The striped monitor lizard can be kept in captivity. However, observations show that it is very dangerous for humans. For example, once a striped monitor lizard attacked and killed a baby. Also, representatives of the species rushed at zoo keepers and police officers.

It is interesting that among the Asian tribes the striped monitor lizard was a ritual animal. The lizards were caught and used in the preparation of the poison 'carabatel'. While the substance was being 'cooked', the tied monitor lizards lying around the fire were beaten. The irritated lizards hissed, thereby fanning the fire, and the natives collected their saliva and added them to the carabiner.

2nd place: Giant monitor lizard (up to 250 cm)

Rating: 4.9

Giant monitor lizard

The giant monitor lizard is the largest of Australia's lizards. It is completely different from the rest of the family, since it has a narrow, elongated body and a long neck. Therefore, it is quite 'light'. Individuals that have reached a length of 1.3 meters have a mass of only 2 kilograms.

However, adult lizards can grow up to 2.5 meters in length. In this case, they 'get fat' up to 20 kilograms (maximum recorded weight). Painted in a dirty brown, classic for monitor lizards, but the head, belly and lower part of the neck are covered with black and white 'rosettes'. The older the lizard, the less contrasting the pattern becomes.

Giant monitor lizards are one of the least studied members of the family. They live in regions that are inaccessible to humans, arid deserts, and therefore scientists have reached them only relatively recently. For example, in 2005, researchers at the University of Melbourne discovered that giant monitor lizards can be poisonous. The toxins contained in the saliva of the lizards are rather weak, but they have some muscle relaxation and anticoagulant properties.

The giant monitor lizard is one of the fastest lizards on planet Earth. He is able to run at speeds up to 40 kilometers per hour. At the same time, the lizard is also able to climb on its hind legs. Often, standing up and leaning on its tail, a giant monitor lizard looks around the surrounding desert.

The giant monitor lizard is the top predator – that is, it catches everyone it can catch, but no one hunts it. For humans, a lizard is theoretically dangerous, but so far not a single case of an unprovoked attack has been described. But when defending, he wields powerful jaws, and strong paws, and a long tail. With one blow of this, a lizard, like a whip, is capable of knocking a person down.

1st place: Komodo dragon (up to 300 cm)

Rating: 5.0

Komodo dragon

The Komodo dragon, also known as the 'Komodo dragon' or 'ground crocodile', is the largest lizard on planet Earth. It can grow up to 3 meters in length! Fortunately, he lives only on Komodo Island, so you won't be able to meet the animal on the street.

The Komodo monitor lizard holds the lead in the ranking of not so much the largest, but also the heaviest lizards on planet Earth. Adult animals weigh over 130 kilograms.

The animal is colored dark brown. The skin is covered with dense, small scales, reinforced with small osteoderms – tiny growths. About half the body length of the monitor lizard falls on the tail. Paws are long and powerful. Komodo monitor lizards are agile, flexible and fast enough – they can accelerate to 20 kilometers per hour. This is less than that of other members of the family, but still faster than a person.

Moreover, the Komodo monitor lizard is the highest predator. Thanks to its good sense of smell, it is able to smell prey (large or small mammals) at a distance of up to 9 kilometers. However, if there were no goats or buffaloes nearby, the Komodo dragon is able to dine on carrion, turtles, pythons, and even relatives. He has an aggressive disposition, often conflicts with other monitor lizards, but he tends to wait for prey, and not chase after it.

Komodo monitor lizard is dangerous for humans. There have been several reported cases of unprovoked attacks, including fatal ones. Komodo monitor lizards are known to dig fresh graves and eat corpses. For humans, powerful jaws of a reptile are also dangerous – even young animals are able to tear off muscles, not to mention old ones. The poison is dangerous, but not fatal.

In addition, the Komodo dragon can smell blood at a distance of up to 5 kilometers. Therefore, the huntsmen do not recommend tourists to go to parks where 'ground crocodiles' live if they have fresh wounds or scratches (and also 'critical days' are coming).

Currently, the Komodo monitor lizard, being a vulnerable species and endemic to Komodo Island, is a threatened species. Hunting for them is prohibited.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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