Can Lizards Survive in the Cold

When the temperature drops, many animals hibernate, migrate, or adapt to survive the cold. But what about lizards? Can they survive in the cold? The answer is yes, but it depends on the species and the severity of the cold.

Some lizards can withstand cold temperatures, while others cannot.

There are lizards that can freeze when the temperature drops below 30-50 degrees and come back to life when the temperature rises again.

Other lizards become immobile during extreme cold but can survive this temperature.

However, some lizards may die because they are injured in the fall when they plummet from trees or other high places due to the cold.

When a lizard gets cold, various important functions begin shutting down, and this can be quite dangerous for their health. Movement is the first thing that you will notice.

Your lizard will seem less responsive and much more lethargic, likely just sitting still for longer periods than usual.

So, it is essential to know how to keep your pet lizard warm and healthy during the colder months, especially if you live in a region with harsh winters.

Lizards, being cold-blooded creatures, need to find ways to survive in cold temperatures, especially during winter months.

How do Lizards Survive in Cold

They use a variety of survival strategies such as brumation and hibernation.


Brumation is a state of dormancy that some lizards enter to cope with cold temperatures. It is similar to hibernation, but it is specific to reptiles. During brumation, lizards slow down almost all of their bodily processes, allowing them to survive the winter months when food is scarce and temperatures are too low for them to be active 1.

While brumating, lizards:

  • Decrease their metabolic rate
  • Experience a lowered heart rate
  • Enter a sleep-like state

To survive the winter, they will often hide underground, enter a hole in a tree, or even bury themselves under leaves2. Brumation is an essential survival strategy for lizards during cold months.


Some species of lizards go into a state of hibernation during the winter months. Similar to brumation, hibernation is a state of dormancy that allows them to conserve energy and avoid freezing temperatures 3. In contrast to brumation, hibernation is not specific to reptiles but is also observed in other animals like mammals.

While hibernating, lizards:

  • Don’t eat or drink
  • Don’t defecate or urinate
  • Breathe very slowly

Hibernation is another important survival strategy for lizards to endure cold temperatures and limited resources during the winter.

What Lizards Can Live in the Cold?

There are various lizard species that can survive in cold temperatures. However, their ability to tolerate low temperatures depends on the individual species and the severity of the cold. Let’s explore some lizards with higher cold tolerance.

The anolis lizards serve as an example of lizards adapting to cold climates. Research indicates that these lizards may evolve specific traits that enable them to withstand extreme, colder temperatures.

Some lizard species can even survive by entering a state of dormancy when the temperature drops below a certain threshold. Some lizards can freeze and come back to life when temperatures go back up. This ability, though rare, is quite fascinating and can prove to be beneficial in harsh environments.

However, it is important to remember that not all lizards can cope with freezing temperatures. The long-term survival of cold-climate lizards may be under threat, as rapid extinctions could occur within the next 60 years due to climate change and other factors.

In summary, while some lizards can survive in the cold, the extent to which they are able to tolerate low temperatures depends on their species, adaptations, and the severity of the cold. While it’s fascinating to witness the adaptability of these unique creatures, the overall survival of cold-climate lizards may face increasing challenges in the future.

Factors that Affect Lizard’s Cold Tolerance


Different species of lizards have different cold tolerance levels. For example, some species of lizards, such as the Common Wall Lizard, are able to survive in temperatures as low as 10°F (-12°C). Other species, such as the Green Anole, are not able to tolerate temperatures below 40°F (4°C). It is important to note that even within a species, there may be individual variation in cold tolerance.


Age can also play a role in a lizard’s cold tolerance. Younger lizards may be more susceptible to cold temperatures than adults. This is because younger lizards have a smaller body mass and may not have fully developed the physiological mechanisms necessary to regulate their body temperature.


Larger lizards generally have a greater ability to tolerate colder temperatures than smaller lizards. This is because larger lizards have a greater body mass, which allows them to retain heat for longer periods of time. Conversely, smaller lizards have a higher surface area to volume ratio, which means they lose heat more quickly.


In some species of lizards, males and females may have different cold tolerance levels. For example, male lizards may be able to tolerate colder temperatures than females because they have a larger body size and therefore a greater ability to retain heat.


The habitat in which a lizard lives can also affect its cold tolerance. Lizards that live in colder climates, such as mountainous regions, may have a greater ability to tolerate cold temperatures than lizards that live in warmer climates.

Additionally, lizards that live in areas with a greater temperature variation throughout the day may have a greater ability to tolerate cold temperatures than lizards that live in areas with a more constant temperature.

Overall, a variety of factors can affect a lizard’s cold tolerance, including species, age, size, sex, and habitat. It is important to consider these factors when studying the ability of lizards to survive in cold temperatures.

At What Temperature Do Lizards Die

Lizards are ectotherms, meaning they rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. Due to this, their survival in cold temperatures heavily depends on their ability to find warmth.

The temperature at which lizards may die varies with species.

Some lizards, like the bearded dragon, can handle colder temperatures better than others. In general, the critical temperature for most lizards is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) 1.

During cold weather, lizards may enter a state of torpor, or reduced activity, to conserve energy.

In this state, they will typically seek shelter and remain still, waiting for warmer weather before resuming their normal activities.

It is worth mentioning that even though some species have the ability to survive colder temperatures, their overall health and functionality may be negatively affected during prolonged exposure to cold.

In summary, while the exact temperature at which lizards die varies depending on species and their ability to find warmth, most lizards can experience difficulties when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with the potential to die if exposed to the cold for too long.

Can Baby Lizards Survive in the Cold?

Reptiles are cold-blooded animals that rely on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.

Baby lizards are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures, as they have not yet developed the ability to regulate their body temperature effectively.

Some lizards can survive in temperatures as low as 5.5°C before they become immobile.

However, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause irreversible damage to their organs, leading to death.

During winter, lizards enter a state of dormancy called brumation or hibernation. They seek out warm places like underground burrows, tree holes, or leaf piles to survive the cold temperatures.

Baby lizards may not be able to find suitable shelter on their own, making them more vulnerable to the cold.

It is important to note that the ability of baby lizards to survive in the cold varies depending on the species and their natural habitat.

Some species are better adapted to colder temperatures than others, and some may even hibernate in colder climates.

Therefore, if you come across a baby lizard in the cold, it is best to leave it alone and not disturb it.

If you are concerned about its survival, you can provide a temporary shelter by placing it in a warm, dark, and quiet place until the temperature rises.

However, it is essential to avoid handling the lizard too much, as this can cause stress and harm to the animal.

What Happens if a Lizard Gets Too Cold

When a lizard experiences colder temperatures, it can go into a state of diapause, which is a temporary dormancy period where its metabolism slows down.

This slowing of metabolism often reduces a lizard’s activity levels and can negatively affect its immune system, making it susceptible to secondary infections.

If the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it may lose the ability to move altogether, posing a lethal risk.

Lizards in cold weather try to find warm places to hide. They may burrow under leaves, dig a hole in the soil, or find a hole in a tree trunk.

Moreover, when their body temperatures decrease, they lose muscle control and coordination, causing their heart rate and breathing to slow down.

This state of slowed-down bodily function is called torpor.

If the cold persists and intensifies, the torpor may eventually turn into hibernation, which resembles a deep sleep.

However, if a lizard’s body temperature drops in an area where the temperature is below freezing, it may die.

Additionally, larger lizards are more likely to be killed by falling than smaller ones in these circumstances.

In conclusion, it is crucial for lizards to maintain an adequate temperature to ensure their survival.

When encountering cold temperatures, they will most likely try to find warmth and enter a state of torpor or even hibernation to survive.

However, if the danger of freezing is present, the cold can ultimately become lethal for these fascinating creatures.


Complications from Low Body Temperature in Reptiles | PetMD 


Overall, lizards have adapted to survive in a wide range of temperatures, but their ability to tolerate cold temperatures varies greatly depending on the species.

Some lizards can survive in temperatures as low as 40°F, while others can only tolerate temperatures above 60°F.

When temperatures drop, lizards become less active and seek out warm places to hide, such as burrows, tree trunks, or under leaves.

This allows them to conserve energy and avoid exposure to the cold.

However, if temperatures drop too low, lizards can become lethargic and may even die.

Larger lizards are more susceptible to injury from falls during cold weather, but they can recover if they land in a safe place and temperatures rise above 45°F.

It’s important to note that lizards cannot survive freezing temperatures, as it would cause their bodily fluids to freeze and their muscles to become atrophied.

They need some amount of heat to function, and their internal organs would shut down without it.

Overall, while some lizards have adapted to survive in colder temperatures, it’s important to ensure that they have access to warm places to hide and avoid exposure to extreme cold.

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