Who’s that small creep scurrying across the rocks and why is he looking at me as he runs away?
Ah, lizards: nature’s little creeps, running around the wilderness so quickly, you’d swear they just robbed a tiny convenience store. Many of these little guys truly look like if cartoon characters were your actual nightmares while also looking…very cute, actually? Fact: Lizards are generally disorienting, specifically for this reason. From the lizard that looks like a hell-spawned leaf to the lizard that swims through the water looking like a pleasant torpedo, here are the strangest, goofiest, and most oddly endearing lizards from around the world.
Marine iguanas reside solely in the Galapagos Islands. These iguanas have been deemed ugly and generally horrible looking by most people with eyes, however, if you look a little closer you will see that…that’s actually true. But, looks can be deceiving because these scary dinosaur-looking creatures are actually very gentle. That’s right: they’re sweet boys. Plus, the marine iguana possesses the disorienting yet highly impressive quality of looking like a stoic sculpture of a dinosaur that swims by looking like a pleasant floating torpedo.
I’m not going to play around here: seeing a frilled lizard run is probably one of the funnier things that being alive on planet earth has to offer, if not, dare I say, the funniest. Specifically, in the instance of being startled by a predator, this lizard turns into a full clown and sprouts a Shakespearean frilled collar, opens its mouth and begins running while flailing its little arms. Frankly, if I were a predator who had been considering eating the frilled lizard, it would take precisely one second of him doing this for me to be like, “Haha, whoa! What are you doing there?” It certainly wouldn’t scare me, per se, but it would make me go, “I think I’ll eat something else because this guy is weirding me out!” So, mission accomplished, I suppose.
Armadillo Girdled Lizard
If you are looking for a lizard that looks like a half-alien half-weapon, look no further than the armadillo girdled lizard. A desert dweller that was once a lizard one could own as a pet, it is no longer sold due to its endangered state. Most amazingly, this little guy turns into a circle when he is in danger by (and I am serious) attaching his mouth to his tail and forming a spherical shape followed by just…rolling. He just turns into a rolling circle. I’m honestly jealous.
This chameleon has the face of an inquisitive librarian, the head of a triceratops, and the body of a curved rock with legs. It is also the largest known chameleon in the world. The females can lay up to 50 eggs (!!) that can take up to two full years to hatch (!!!). What kind of lizard babies are these? To answer this question: extremely independent ones. Upon hatching, the babies immediately become independent. One more fact about this oddball: it barely ever moves except to eat and mate.
Please welcome the flying gecko, a lizard that honestly looks like it should’ve been created as a sea animal. This thing absolutely looks like a fish, and also? A leaf. The flying gecko resides in Asia, mostly in Singapore, Indonesia, India, and southern areas of Thailand. They live in trees and get their name due to the fact that they hop, or “fly,” from branch to branch, usually in times of danger.
Looking like a rope with a thin smile, chesterfield skinks are quite the little sneaks, in that they are very rare and not often spotted—in fact, at one point, seven whole years went by without anyone seeing one. Adding to their rarity, they only live on the west coast of New Zealand in an area that spans only around two acres and they were only discovered in 1994.
That’s right, the hidden dragon is not only half of a movie title. (That movie title being, of course, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). This guy is a master of camouflage, and blends into a ground of brown rocks better than probably any species on the planet, which is probably due to the fact that it, itself, looks like a little rock. The hidden dragon lives in the Kimberley region of Australia and sometimes goes years without being spotted by lizard enthusiasts.
You might not believe this, but this iguana looks exactly like a rhinoceros. That’s right—the name is in fact not lying. They’re big for a lizard (some are over four feet) but small for a rhinoceros and their face comes complete with a little horn upon their nose and a smile as long as it is thin. Aside from looking generally like a rock, they are brown, gray, or green in color and have a strong, flat tail. They are also precious—the species is classified as “vulnerable” in the wild, and most of its original habitats have been lost since the 1950s due to forest clearing. Luckily, they are now a protected species.
Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko
If you can’t look like a leaf, at least you can look like the devil, and this little lizard possesses the best of both worlds because he can do both. That’s right, you really can have it all—one look at the satanic leaf-tailed gecko and you know it’s true, as he looks like both a leaf and literally Satan. This little devil (I’m not sorry) lives only in Madagascar, and his tail looks so much like a leaf that it appears to have pieces missing, like a leaf might. As expected, they only roam around at night, like most ghouls.
Seeming like the rival of the aforementioned satanic leaf-tailed gecko, the basilisk is also known as the “Jesus Christ lizard” for its ability to run across water for way too long of a time without sinking into it, due to its flattened feet. And it gets better—sometimes they do this using only two of their feet, making it seem like they are a tiny little man. What’s their secret? Well, their little feet have flaps between the toes creating both more surface as well as a sort of air pocket situation that gives them more buoyancy. And bam: that’s how you walk on water. They are native to Central America, southern Mexico, and northern South America.