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Lizard Habitat by Gillian and Rebecca

We live in the California mountains, and we're surrounded by animals! We've seen lizards, coyotes, snakes, all kinds of things. Gillian is even a master at catching lizards barehanded! We noticed that when we're out looking for critters, we find them all over the place in some areas, and hardly find any in others. Our question: Why are there so many lizards in certain areas, and not in others?

What did we do?
We marked off a big rectangle in two different areas where we hunt for lizards. One was a sunny, rocky spot, and one was more shaded with trees and grass. As many days as we could in a month, we went out looking for lizards in both areas. We made notes about the air temperature in each place, and counted the number and types of lizards we saw. We also wrote down if we saw other animals besides lizards.

What did we find out?
Almost every day we went out, we found at least ten lizards in the sunny, rocky spot. We get lots of sun here, and the lizards seem to love it. We know that lizards are cold-blooded animals, so they must like to be in the sunny areas to stay warm. In the shady and grassy areas we didn't usually see more than two or three lizards on any day. Maybe more were there, but they were hidden too well in the grass! We did see snakes and coyotes in this area, which made us think that the lizards stayed away so they wouldn't get eaten.

What can you do?
  • Spend some time looking at the fish in an aquarium, either at home, or at a pet shop or even the zoo. If the aquarium has several kinds of fish, watch where they hang out. Some might be bottom dwellers, others might stay near the surface, and some might hide in plants. Write down what you see.
  • Your local zoo is a great place to look at animal habitats. Next time you visit, pay attention to the exhibit as well as the animal. Pick a specific feature to observe, such as water. What can you learn about the importance of water for different creatures?
  • An animal's habitat has to provide food and shelter. At the zoo, look at some of the exhibits to see how animals gets their food and shelter. Compare two very different animals, such as a giraffe and a snake. Are their habitats as different as they are?
  • Use this reptile investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
More on habitats and niches.

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
What animal's fingerprints are virtually identical to human's?

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