Lizard Canary


The lizard canary, one of the oldest canary breeds, was first developed in the 1700s. This type of canary is named for its beautiful markings: black crescent-shaped spots running down its back and breast that resemble the scales of a lizard. The lizard canary almost became extinct in the early 1900s due to the ravages of both World Wars and disease epidemics. The lizard canary Association of Great Britain started a breeding program to save the species. The lizard canary occurs in four colors: gold lizard, silver lizard, blue lizard and red lizard.

Lizard canaries are popular, good-natured birds that tend to breed easily. Their characteristic scale patterning, called spangling, is the most important aspect when showing these birds. The lizard canary also has a yellow “cap” of color on its head. They are a type canary, meaning they are bred for their physical appearance rather than their color or song.

Behavior / Health Concerns

The lizard canary does well in either cages or aviaries. They are on the timid side and should not be housed together with parakeets, lovebirds or other hookbills that tend to be more aggressive. They like to bathe daily and should be given water to do so. Their environment should not be wet, cool or drafty, and if they are given space to sunbathe, they should also have a shaded area. Keep perches clean to avoid any foot problems.

Expert Advice

“The lizard canary is believed to have been selectively bred by the French, then later introduced into London. The non-frosted version is called gold while the frosted version is called silver. They can be clear capped, broken capped or have no cap at all, but overly capped or variegation is considered a fault when showing.”

— Mandy Currie, Singing Wings Aviary

Breed Details

Scientific Name:
Native Region:
5.5 inches
Life Expectancy:
Up to 10 years
Noise Level:
Talk / Trick Ability:
Canaries are typically kept for their singing ability as well as their antics