Where do lizards go in the winter?

The typical hibernation den for a lizard would consist of an abandoned animal burrow. Like snakes, they are ectothermic (cold-blooded), and typically seek out these underground burrows as an energy-efficient way of retaining body heat through the long cold winters.

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This behavior is not limited to Michigan’s state reptile, the Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). Lizards and snakes of all types use these animal burrows for winter hibernation elsewhere in the country as well.

The alternative option for a lizard during the winter is certain death! This is because our local herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) rely on forest habitats that depend on warmth generated by sunlight reaching into woodland areas that we typically associate with warm summer days. These forests warm up quickly in the spring when leaves and flowers appear overpowering the tasks of winter, but forest temperatures cool off rapidly once plants lose their green color and sunlight diminishes.

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