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Chinese crocodile lizard

Shinisaurus crocodilurus

Chinese crocodile lizard at Paignton Zoo
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Reptiles
Order: Squamata
Family: Shinisauridae

Chinese crocodile lizards are semi-aquatic reptiles that spend their time alone in slow-moving streams and freshwater pools. They are native to select provinces southern China and northern Vietnam.

The lizard’s primary source of food is invertebrates, like insects, snails and tadpoles.

Interesting facts!

  • Chinese crocodile lizards are not, in fact, crocodiles. They get their name from their powerful tail, which is scaly like that of a crocodile!
  • Young of this species are precocial, which means that they are capable of feeding and caring for themselves from the moment they are born. Their parents do not raise them.
  • Males of the species are usually larger and more colourful than females, with the colours becoming more vivid during the breeding season.


Chinese crocodile lizards are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. They are under threat mainly because of human activity from deforestation and harvesting.