What is autotomy?
Some lizards, when alarmed or startled, can drop off their entire tail, or part of it.
This is called autotomy.
It is quite common and it does not cause any pain.
The part that comes off, wriggles away for a few minutes as if it is a small lizard. The wriggling is intentional and is caused by muscle contractions (squeezing).
It is a trick, so that lizards can escape and hide. Predators chase the wriggling part and not the lizard.
A new tail grows back, but it is sometimes a different color to the first tail. If a tail is broken off accidentally, another tail grows back.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM