Island Night Lizard Makes a Comeback

Do they only come out at night? We don’t know, but we do know there are more of the scurrying reptiles on three of California’s Channel Islands. About 21 million…and counting.

Yesterday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the island night lizard – protected since 1977 – has successfully recovered and has taken the four-inch lizard off the Endangered Species Act.

Back in the 70s, the lizards’ habitat were being trampled by nonnative goats and rooting pigs. Now, with both goats and pigs off the islands, these babies have been busy multiplying and multiplying. The USFWS estimates there are approximately 21.3 million lizards on San Clemente Island, 15,300 on San Nicolas Island and17,600 on Santa Barbara Island which includes a small 4 acre-islet to the southwest called Sutli Island

The omnivorous lizard – about 4 inches in length – gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs. It’s also a slow grower and often lives more than 30 years. And studies show that the island night lizard is most active during the middle of the day. We’d like to talk to the guy who named this fellow…

Photo: Charles Drost / National Park Service