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Chinese crocodile lizard

Shinisaurus crocodilurus

IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Shinisauridae

Chinese crocodile lizards have a unique appearance, resembling a small crocodile. They have a long, flattened body covered in rough scales, with a distinct ridge running down their back. They are typically brown or olive-green in colour, helping them blend into their forest habitat.

Interesting facts!

  • Chinese crocodile lizards show sexual dimorphism which is when a species has distinct differences in appearance between males and females. Male Chinese crocodile lizards are larger and are much more colourful than the females. This colour becomes more intense in breeding season to help them find a mate. 
  • This lizard eats both vertebrates and invertebrates and they are a ‘sit and wait predator’ they perch themselves on branches near streams and wait for a prey item to come buy where they will jump at the opportunity! Examples of vertebrate prey include tadpoles, small fish and on occasion frogs and other lizards. Some of their favourite invertebrates include worms, spiders and katydids as well as aquatic shrimps. 


The Chinese crocodile lizard is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Population surveys indicate the species may have declined by more than 80% in the past 40 years, and the remaining populations are highly fragmented.