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La Gomera Giant Lizard

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

A La Gomera Giant Lizard is looking directly at you. Find the original here.

 

Status: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

Population: 90 wild individuals and 44 individuals raised in captivity (2004), 134 individuals, INCREASING

 

Brief Description

Within the Canary Islands near Spain, the once thought to be extinct La Gomera Giant Lizard, Gallotia bravoana, lives on less than one hectare (<0.01 sq km or <0.004 sq mi) of the island of La Gomera. Once roaming the entire island, this species is now restricted to dry cliffs with scattered vegetation in the shrubland areas. The La Gomera Giant Lizards are diurnal animals that spend most of their days from mid-mornings to afternoons foraging and basking in the sunlight. Although sub-adults may consume some insect larvae, the species is generally considered herbivorous.

They possess a blackish-brown back covered with black, smooth and abnormal scales. Also, two lines of small blue spots run along the side with their underbellies appearing ivory white. They can weigh up to half a kilogram (1.1 lbs) and vary in length from 29.5 to 49 cm (11.6 to 19 in) with a snout vent length from 13.5 to 19 cm (5.3 to 7.5 in). Males have larger heads and white throats, but the back of females’ legs are browner. In contrast, juveniles retain a mix of brownish-shades and variation of blue lines on their backs with green tones on their underbellies.

The largest threat to the La Gomera Giant Lizard remains predation by the feral cats and some feral rats. Due to their slow walking, feral cats can easily prey and consume on them, and feral rats endanger the species by eating their eggs. Additionally, hunting and overgrazing by domestic animals helped contribute to a decline within the species. To counter such trends, the IUCN recommends educating local people, conducting more surveys, and regulating the cat population within proximity to their site. Currently, a captive breeding program is aiding in recuperating and increasing the population, but this alone will not be enough to save this species.


Written by — Edward Keenan

 

Fun Facts

  1. To attract females, males inflate their throats and bob their heads up and down

  2. The females lay clutches annually of 3-7 eggs

  3. Less than 50 members are adults and most populations are severely fragmented, classifying them critically endangered

  4. In June of 1999, the lizards were documented and declared to be still extant as scientists labelled them extinct due to the lack of sightings

 

How to Help

Visit the Canary Islands and explore them, Island of La Gomera, to see the beauty and the special species like the La Gomera Giant Lizard which should be preserved.

Research about the LIFE projects that are currently working on a recovery plan for the La Gomera Giant Lizards and contact them to show your support.

 

Learn More!

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5 Comments


Hello Mr. Keenan


I am so sorry to bother you again. So for my project I am suppose to write an email to you and get a response. If you are ok with that I will just copy and paste what I just sent and if you could, you could just copy and paste your response for my email. It would help me so much so I could get a good grade on my response from my expert.


Thank you, Jackson

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Thank you

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Dear, Dr. Keenan


My name is Jackson and I am an 8th grader at Kentucky Country Day School. I am in the middle of a project on endangered species. The animal I have chosen to work on is the La Gomera giant lizard. I have 5 weeks to learn about the species and figure out almost everything about it. I also have to figure out how politics and culture in the country it lives in, affects it. At the end of the 5 weeks, I'm going to give a huge presentation on my species and try to convince people that they are worth saving. If you would like to, all of the project information is here: www.kcd.org/esp. As I was doin…

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Edward Keenan
Edward Keenan
Mar 03, 2021
Replying to

Hi Jackson,

I hope you're having a good day and thanks for contacting us!

To answer your questions,

  1. Since the population is very small, there isn't much data past 2009 for their population size. Often, these obscure species are not as heavily monitored as larger species and won't have many reports on them. I would recommend using scholarly articles and resources/citations provided by different websites, including wikipedia, to find more relevant data on population size. It should be ok to use data from a decade ago given the lack of research on La Gomera Giant Lizards.

  2. According to one of the resources (linked below), some members are held in captivity and are monitored. For the species in the wild, there…


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