Northern Alligator Lizard

October 27, 2015
Heidi Rockney and Karen Wu
Northern alligator lizard on stone

Northern Alligator Lizard.
Photo: Rory Telemeco

Name: Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea)
Order: Lizard (Squamata)
Family: Alligator Lizards (Anguidae)

What they look like

  • Northern alligator lizards are small to medium-sized rough-scaled lizards with short limbs and a long tail.
  • Their body is around 4 inches long and their tail adds an additional 6 inches.
  • Their back is brown with numerous dark blotches or bands. Their underside is light gray with dark shadows around the edges of each scale.

Where they live

  • View a map of where they live.
  • Northern alligator lizards can be found in northern Idaho, western Montana, and along the Pacific coast of southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern and central California.
  • Tend to live in grassy, bushy, or rocky openings within forested areas.
  • Can also tolerate areas of low to moderate development, including in rock retaining walls, woody debris, rock piles, and near the bases of newly emerging buildings.

What they eat

  • Feed on crickets, spiders, mealworms, moths, snails, small lizards, and baby mice.


  • During the summer, females give birth to live young.


  • Even though large-scale habitat destruction may threaten northern alligator lizards, they are considered “least concern” due to their ability to tolerate some forms of habitat destruction, large distribution, and numerous large stable populations.
  • View their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Distribution Map

Map of Northern Alligator Lizard distribution in Washington state. Learn more on the NatureMapping Foundation website.

Explore more of the Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington or check out All About Amphibians.

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