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Navy helps night lizards see light of day

San Clemente night lizards (aka Xantusia riversiana) are 4 times the length of their cousins in the California desert seen here.
San Clemente night lizards (aka Xantusia riversiana) are 4 times the length of their cousins in the California desert seen here.
US Geological Survey

Thanks to efforts by the US Navy and the National Park Service, there are now more than 21 million night lizards living on San Clemente Island, CA, despite the fact that it is also the site hosts the only “ship-to-shore bombardment training range in the nation.”

“The incredibly high numbers of lizards here shows that the unique island animals, once the endangered species list, can thrive alongside high-tempo Naval operations through protective management,” exclaimed Naval Base Coronado commanding officer Christopher Sund.

Located approximately 75 miles northwest of San Diego, the 57 square mile volcanic island’s natural flora and fauna have been rebounding since the services removed pigs, goats and rabbits, which had virtually “grazed the plants into oblivion” in the 1990’s.

Recognized by its motley green scales and bright stripes, the San Clemente night lizards (aka Xantusia riversiana) are 4 times the length of their cousins in the California desert at 8 inches long, and bear live young (rather than lay eggs) the same as mammals do.