A baby lizard climbs out of her egg, buried beneath the sands of the tropical rain forest. She used a special tooth to break out of the hard shell of her egg. Now she must explore her surroundings.
Little Lizard is a green iguana lizard, but her sharp claws and the scales along her back make her look a lot like a tiny dragon. In the rain forest, the sunlight filters through the leafy treetops and bounces off her green skin. She shines like a jewel.
Other lizards crawl around in the sand. They are Little Lizard’s brothers and sisters. Soon the forest floor is covered with baby lizards. They all want to explore their new world.
A curious toucan sits on a branch high above the ground. It watches the lizards crawl across the sand, looking for food. Baby lizards are not raised by a mother or father lizard. Young lizards are born knowing what they have to do to survive in the rain forest. Knowing how to survive without being told is called instinct.
Little Lizard is still small enough to fit in a human hand. She could grow up to be six feet long when she’s older, though! Little Lizard is dazzled by all of the interesting sounds of the rain forest. She hears the water falling, and she hears the birds calling to each other through the forest.
Little Lizard flicks her long tongue and bobs her head. Lizards have amazing tongues! They use their tongues to zap their food, clean their eyes, smell, and even scare away enemies. In front of Little Lizard, an army of ants carries leaves across the sandy floor of the forest.
Now Little Lizard is hungry. She leads a group of lizards across a trail of leaves. A quick movement catches her eye. Gulp! Little Lizard extends her long tongue and snaps up her first meal: a tasty termite. She eats a few more termites before moving on.
The lizards climb up a big tree near the river. The green leaves hide them well.
Some lizards are called chameleons. This means that their skin changes colors to match their surroundings. Then they stay hidden from enemies. Little Lizard is not a chameleon. Her skin is always green to match the green leaves of the rainforest. A dark shadow passes over the lizards’ hiding spot on the mangrove tree. It is a hawk on the hunt. The hawk flies over the branch that Little Lizard is resting on.
She naturally knows just what she has to do. Her claws let go of the tree branch. Little Lizard is falling! She hits the water with a splash. Little Lizard’s tail comes in handy. It helps her balance as she walks, swims, or runs. Some lizards use their tails to escape from enemies. The tail breaks off at a special point and keeps twitching as the lizard gets away. Don’t worry! Soon the lizard will grow a new tail.
Little Lizard is a very good swimmer. She paddles toward a water lily and climbs on the leaf. Her long legs carry her from lily pad to lily pad. She reaches the shore and keeps on running. Little Lizard hops over to a fallen tree trunk. All the other lizards are gone. Little Lizard seems to be alone now, but she is safe.
Little Lizard is surrounded by more strange animals. But she knows that these animals won’t hurt her. She jumps onto a tree branch hanging over the water.
Suddenly, Little Lizard discovers she is not alone, and not at all safe. The tree trunk under her starts to roll! Little Lizard sees that the tree trunk is really a tapir, a forest animal that looks like a pig with a long snout. She leaps onto a nearby tree and escapes from danger.
The tapir moves on to a better resting place, too, as Little Lizard scampers quickly across the branch. Little Lizard needs to find more food. She jumps from tree to tree looking for insects and a safe place to rest.
Little Lizard is safe at last! But wait. She is not the only lizard in this tree. Another lizard rests on a higher branch. But he is full-grown, four feet long, and he’s not about to share his hideout. The adult lizard swings his long tail. Clearly, the young lizard is not welcome in this tree! Little Lizard jumps out of the tree. Little Lizard is back on the ground again. This is not where she wants to be! Iguanas like to be high in the trees, where they can warm themselves in the sun.
Little Lizard looks up, searching for her special place. She looks right into the eyes of a jaguar! The jaguar growls loudly at her. Then Little Lizard is off and running again.
This jaguar probably wouldn’t hurt Little Lizard. But she doesn’t want to take any chances. Again, she searches for something to eat and a safe place to rest. Little Lizard finally finds a safe place. This bush has plenty of delicious fruit for her to eat. It looks like Little Lizard will be just fine after all.