Yellow-Spotted Lizard Facts

​There's a lizard mentioned in the book "Holes" by Louis Sachar that is called the yellow-spotted lizard. In the book, that lizard is aggressive and venomous; however, that's not the case in reality. Reptiles make great pets and can even show a lot of personality. The correct name for the lizard on which the "Holes" lizard is based is the yellow-spotted tropical night lizard​. Sometimes, it's called the yellow-spotted night lizard, but its ​scientific name ​is ​Lepidophyma flavimaculatum.

Cloud forest in Costa Rica
Yellow Spotted Lizard Facts
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We learn from AnimalSake that yellow-spotted tropical night lizards are not actually venomous and are not harmful to humans​, although they do have sharp teeth that can cause injury. Despite not being venomous,​ it's not recommended that these be kept as pets unless you're a reptile expert. The problem is that these lizards are not ​easy to find in the wild and little is known about how to care for these animals in captivity. Since they do not generally make their way into pet stores, most novice reptile handlers will never see them for sale.

Spotted lizard pet

AnimalSake also suggests that since any of these lizards that are for sale in the pet trade were captured from the wild, there's a high likelihood that they have parasites. This would make them a challenge to keep healthy for someone who is not an expert reptile handler.

If you're thinking of trying to keep one of these lizards as a pet based on how cool they looked in the movie "Holes," keep in mind that those lizards were actually bearded dragons. The American Humane Association, which verifies that animals are not harmed in movies, explains that bearded dragons were painted using nontoxic children's finger paint to make them brighter. They even used computer-generated images to create some of the action scenes. So, while yellow-spotted lizards aren't pet material, bearded dragons certainly are.

Characteristics and traits

According to AnimalSake, ​the yellow-spotted lizard ​can grow up to 5 inches. Their body color can be brown to dark black, and their name comes from yellow spots that appear along the top and sides of their body. Their bodies are scaly, with the​ tail​ scales form​ing a whorl pattern, creating alternative bands of yellow and black/brown/gray on the tail.​

As their name suggests, the yellow-spotted night lizard is part of a family of lizards that is believed to be nocturnal, or at least crepuscular. Crepuscular means they are active at dusk.

Normal habitat​

According to Encyclopedia of Life, the lizard lives in the wild in tropical areas, from central Mexico through the south of Central America to Panama. This lizard is secretive and seems to like to hide in damp areas, under leaves, and in rotting logs. Reference.com says these hard-to-spot lizards like what is known as microhabitats, meaning they may stay in one very small area for their entire life.

Feeding habits

​Reference.com says these lizards eat mostly insects: Anything that can fit in his mouth and gets close enough is fair game. This could be ants, centipedes, flies, scorpions, or spiders. He will hunt when he needs to hunt, but primarily he waits for prey to come near.

Reproduction facts

Although their population is not widespread because they have such a small territory, this does not affect their ability to reproduce. For the most part, these lizards do not lay eggs, although they have the ability to do so. Instead, they give birth to live young. Female yellow-spotted lizards reproduce through a process called parthenogenesis.

Encyclopaedia Brittanica explains that parthenogenesis is offspring that develop from specialized reproductive cells that don't need sperm to become fertilized. In some populations of spotted lizards where there are males, primarily in the north of their range, they do reproduce sexually. However, other populations reproduce through parthenogenesis. In cases of parthenogenesis, the young are hatched from eggs, while offspring that arise from sexual mating with males are born from eggs.