In The Desert
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Let's start off with the only venomous lizard in the desert. The Gila Monster. These slow, cumbersome creatures are protected in the desert. You can not reposition, or handle a Gila Monster. They are pretty and do have different color patterns.
Photo Courtesy of Martin Feldner
Here's the big shot -- the Chuckwalla lizard. At home in the desert with few resources and no water, they sustain a meager life style and even do very well here. Notice the bright colors on the mating male Chuckwalla. Sometimes you can get fairly close to them, as we did here.
Here is one proud lizard in the desert. This is the Iguana lizard and is by far our favorite. They always look so bold and proud. They are a good looking lizard. They are also one of the few lizards that can tolerate temps up to 110 degrees. Other lizards will seek shade or a hole or go under rocks to get out of the heat.
This is a Great Basin Collared Lizard. And he is one of the prettiest lizards you'll find in the desert. All the collared lizards have very pretty markings. He also has a very long tail, a healthy set of teeth and strong jaw muscles. Don't try to handle them, unless you know what you're doing!
Here's a close-up of the same lizard. You can see the mite pockets on his body near the front and rear legs; red spots. Mites live there and don't really bother the lizards. Also notice the long rear toes on this lizard. They also have long claws. Enlarge this image for more detail.
This is also a Great Basin Collared lizard, only this one is a female. She has a similar appearance to the male above with the exception of the red bars on her body. Really pretty colorful markings on her back. Enlarge this to see the difference.
This is another Collared lizard; the Sonoran Collared lizard. There are quite a few different variations of Collared Lizard species and different colorations also. The enlargement will give you a better view of the bands around his neck.
This is a Spiny lizard and like the name suggests he is covered with scales that have sharp points and are spiny. Doesn't he have a pretty red eye? These lizards have strong jaws also and you don't want to get bitten by one. These lizards seem to have a high level of intelligence for what the size of their brain would indicate.
The Leopard lizard is another one you want to be careful around. These guys have teeth and very strong jaws. They also have these markings shown here. Very distinctive color pattern for a lizard in the desert. Also very fast. Look at the enlargement to see the thicker claws.
Here's a female Leopard lizard. Notice how the females of some groups of lizards have these colorful stripes on their mid-section? Both of these lizards were photographed in the desert West of Yuma, Arizona on the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range. Enlargement shows the pretty red bands around the body.
Continue -- Page 2
Lizards are facinating creatures if you spend some time with them. Most are friendly, but some will bite! Use caution when trying to handle them.
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If you live in the desert you may find yourself becoming a friend of a Spiny Lizard, as Joan has here. Coming around everyday to get a snack. Joan said she noticed that the Spiny changed to different colors on certain days.
Video courtesy of
Joan Dedmon - Tuscon, Az.
Video Courtesy of Joan Dedmon,
A short video showing how you're most likely to come across a Gila Monster in the desert. These are large lizards which should not be disturbed in their natural habitat. Viewing at a distance, as shown here, will not stress the animal.
Sonoran Collared Lizard
Because of our many encounters with some of these lizards we've expanded this part of the site to include more enlargements and in some instances to include a whole page dedicated to a specific species of lizard. We've spent many days over a period of several years or more studying these really unique reptiles found in the desert. Some are not often seen, for example, we have yet to see a Gila Monster in the wild. Others have helped in this endevour however, so we could present information and photos of them here for your enjoyment. All that have helped were given credit here.