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That's Not a Plastic Lizard in the Toy Store Parking Lot



Northern Alligator Lizards are relatively common in Western Washington, but they are seldom seen due to their excellent camouflage and secretive habits. Their brown, mottled coloration allows them to blend so well with the leaf litter and woody debris in which they live that they become almost invisible to human eyes. They blend slightly less well with pavement though, so when an alligator lizard recently wandered onto the blacktop at a Toys-R-Us in Lynnwood, it wasn’t long before a concerned citizen snatched her up and brought her to PAWS.


Although no injuries were found during the alligator lizard’s intake exam, she did have a condition that likely slowed her down and made her easier to capture. To be more specific, she appeared to be pregnant. Unlike most reptiles female Northern Alligator Lizards retain their eggs inside their bodies until they hatch. They then give birth to their young. Judging from the size of her abdomen this individual was likely going to deliver her babies within a day or two. We decided it would be best to get her back to her wild home before that happened.


There was a large, wooded greenbelt very close to the parking lot in which the alligator lizard was found, and that's where I released her. Her mottled skin blended perfectly with the leaf litter, and she allowed me a few moments to appreciate her natural camouflage before she darted forward and disappeared into a hole at the base of a cedar stump. I hoped it would provide her safe shelter as she welcomed the next generation of alligator lizards into the world.

- Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist



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