Chinese crocodile lizard
|Chinese crocodile lizard|
The Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is a semiaquatic lizard found only in cool forests in the Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces of China, and the Quảng Ninh Province in Vietnam. The Chinese crocodile lizard spends much of its time in shallow water or in overhanging branches and vegetation, where it hunts its prey of insects, snails, tadpoles, and worms. Individuals in captivity may be fed baby mice. A rare and little-studied lizard, it is listed in CITES Appendix II, which regulates international trade of specimens. This is the only species in the monotypic genus Shinisaurus.
Shinisaurus, the Chinese crocodile lizard, was once also regarded as a member of Xenosauridae, but most recent studies of the evolutionary relationships of anguimorphs consider Shinisaurus to be more closely related to monitor lizards and helodermatids than to Xenosaurus. Now it belongs to its own family Shinisauridae.
The Chinese crocodile lizard is green colored with reddish neck markings and alternating bands of light and dark marks. Males are more colorful than females, especially during the breeding season. They are 40-46 cm (16-18 in) long. Perhaps its most distinctive features are the rows of enlarged, bony scales down its back and muscular tail, giving the lizard its namesake.
A 2008 study estimated 950 crocodile lizards left in China. Habitat loss is the main threat to the species. Before it became a CITES protected species, it was occasionally imported for the pet trade, which also contributed to its population decline.
- Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus). The Sacramento Zoological Society.
- "Chinese Crocodile Lizard". Retrieved 2013-05-17. CITES Web Gallery.
- Huang, C. M., et al. (2008). Population and conservation strategies for the Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) in China. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 31(2) 63-70.
- Wilson, Don W.; Burnie, David (2001). Animal. London: DK. p. 422. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
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