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The Curly-Tailed Lizards are a group of lizards commonly found across the Caribbean, of the family Leiocephalidae. They can be found living in a wide variety of habitats, including coastal regions, pine lands, rocky areas, areas laden with shrubbery, and even within well developed or populated areas. Curly-Tailed Lizards are ground dwelling lizards and, like all lizards, are cold-blooded. They bask in the sun on rocks during the day to absorb heat and stimulate their metabolism, and burrow themselves at night to conserve heat.
There are 28 species of the Curly-Tailed Lizard, and range from 4 to 14 inches in total length. They vary in colour, from brown to green to grey, and will also have different characteristic markings. Full grown male Curly-Tailed Lizards are typically larger than the females. Some female species will display a wider variety of colour, particularly when gravid. In accordance with their name, the Curly-Tailed Lizards will curl their tails in a variety of situations.
Tail curling behavior is thought to be a courtship display in males to attract a mate, a display between males to mark or defend their territory, or a response to a threatening situation. It is hypothesized that Curly-Tailed Lizards may curl their tails in response to a threat in order to lure the predator toward their tail instead of their head. As the tail in most lizards may be detached and regrown, it is thought to be an adequate defense response. They may also curl their tails simply when stationary or running.
The Curly-Tailed Lizards diet is omnivorous. They eat insects, small flowers, seeds, fruit, and crustaceans. In some areas Curly-Tailed Lizards are quite tame and will eat handouts from humans. In addition, they have occasionally been known eat smaller lizards. As the Curly-Tailed Lizard is extremely common across the Caribbean, most of the 28 species are relatively unstudied.
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