If you think about the reptiles that live around our homes and neighborhoods, you probably think of snakes and maybe turtles. But did you know we have lizards living in Will County?
Yes, we do have lizards, but only a very few species. In fact, only seven lizard species live in all of Illinois. Of those, only two are known to live in Will County. One of these is the six-lined racerunner. These lizards live in the sandy soils in the southern part of the county.
Six-lined racerunners do, in fact, have six lines running down their bodies. The lines are usually light in color, and they run from the back of their necks to the end of their tails.
Read on to learn more about these lizards.
Six-lined racerunners are most active in the morning, when they hunt for food. Later in the day, they spend their time basking in the sun. At night and when the weather is bad, they typically burrow into the ground.
They have long tails, and they can use them to escape from potential predators. If a predator catches them by the tail, they can break it off to escape. Without their tails, the lizards aren't as fast.
Six-lined racerunners have thin bodies, and most of their body length comes from their tails. They can be between 6 inches and 10 inches long, but their tails account for about 70% of their total length.
They are mostly dark in color, ranging from black to dark brown or green. Their stripes stand out because they are much lighter in color, usually yellow, yellowish-green or white.
Young racerunners are only about an inch long when they hatch, and they have blue tails and bright green stripes. As adults, males have a blue throat during mating season.
Like all reptiles, these racerunners have scales, but they aren’t shiny in appearance. Instead, they appear to have velvet-like skin.
Six-lined racerunners mainly eat insects along with arthropods and mollusks. Common foods include ants, beetle larva and spiders. Adults eat a lot of grasshoppers, and the young lizards prefer cicadas.
These lizards use their tongues to find food, flicking them over and over to find potential prey through chemical signals they receive.
The racerunners mostly live in open areas like savannas, prairies, fields and open woodlands. In Illinois, they live in areas along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers as well as in the far southeastern counties of the state. In Will County, we typically see racerunners in the sandy soil preserves in the southern part of the county, including Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve.
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