Story and photos by Kevin S. Abel
Galapagos Lava Lizards (Microlophus albemariensis) are the most abundant reptile on the Galapagos Islands. Lava Lizards have attitude and like most of the Galapagos animals, they have a relative lack of fear of humans and can be observed quite closely.
There are 7 different species of Lava Lizard on the Galapagos Islands.
The distribution of these lizards and their variations in shape, color and behavior show the phenomenon of adaptive radiation so typical of the inhabitants of this archipelago.
A common feature in lizards is to change color if they are threatened or if there is a temperature change.
Lava Lizards play an important part in controlling over-populated insect populations such as the Painted Locust. They are predators of invertebrates and will eat each other, but generally eat plants, particularly during dry spells.
Lava lizard males are especially territorial, staking out a prominent spot on top of a boulder and bobbing their heads up and down to indicate ownership. This push-up behavior becomes pronounced during breeding, which peaks in the warm season.