AZ Reptiles

Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)
The chuckwalla is a shy, chubby lizard covered with extra baggy skin.

When something scares him, he will wedge himself into a rock crevice and blow up like a balloon, filling up his flabby skin and making it almost impossible for a predator to get him out.

By inflating his lungs to capacity and doubling his body size, the chuckwalla literally gets stuck in the hole – a perfect defense mechanism against the hawks, coyotes, bobcats and other predators who like to eat chuckwallas for lunch.

Even without ballooning, the chuckwalla is the second biggest lizard in the United States – only the Gila Monster grows bigger.

The chuckwalla moves very slowly, and can weigh up to 3 pounds. The head and legs are dark gray or black. The males can have red on the body and orange or yellow around the tail. The females have brown contrasting the dark legs and head. They may have faint red spots, or yellow and gray bands. The colors on both the male and female turn brighter toward the end of their bodies. The young have dark skin with bright yellow bands around their bodies and tails. The bands fade as they grow.

Common Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus)
5-6 3/16″ (12.7-15.75 cm). A spiny lizard. Granular scales do not overlap on rear of thigh. Grayish-green to brown; some darker spots and crossbars. Faint light dorsolateral stripes. Sides reddish-orange behind forelegs. Males have light-blue mottling (not patches) on throat and darker blue belly patches. Females have pinkish orange on sides and neck.

Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
A tortoise is a high-domed turtle, with elephant-shaped, or “columnar,” legs. It is more terrestrial than the turtle is, going to water only to drink or bathe. Tortoises do not have bodies designed for swimming.

Watch out, you do not want to approach a desert tortoise too closely; when frightened, they may release their bladder and lose this vital water supply.

The maximum age of the desert tortoise is typically eighty years, but they may live to reach one hundred years old.

Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum)
One of only two types of poisonous lizards, Gila monsters are pink with yellow and black shading. There are 4 – 5 dark bands on the tail. The stout body has a large, blunt head with a powerful lower jaw, an unusually thick tail, short legs and strong claws. There are venom glands in the lower jaw.

Mexican Gartersnake (Thamnophis eques)
Mexican garter snakes have 3 bold stripes and are easily confused with the black-necked and checkered garter snakes that are found throughout their range. All 3 species can be identified by noting which scale rows the lateral stripe falls across in the anterior portion of the body. Mexican garter snake�s lateral stripe occurs on scale rows 3 & 4,

Plateau Striped Whiptail (Cnemidophorus velox)
8-10 3/4″ (20.3-27.3 cm). Slender; 6 or 7 light stripes separated by dark-brown or black bands without spots. Back scales small, granular. Throat white or blue-white; chin blue-green. Belly uniform white or pale blue-green. 8 lengthwise rows of large, smooth rectangular belly scales. Tail light blue; bright blue in juveniles.

Regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare)
The Regal Horned lizard is characterized by one row of lateral abdominal fringe scales upon a wide, flattened, toad-like body. The tail is short and broad at the base. Four large occipital horns at the base of the head continuous with six temporal horns, form a large crown of ten sharp, pointed horns along the base of the head. Another distinguishing characteristic of the horned lizard is that the ventral portion of its body is composed of rows of keeled scales. The squat form, head armor, and dragon-like appearance has given rise to the name “hornytoad”, “horned toad”, and “horned lizard”, which is the nickname commonly used for this particular genus. The Horned lizard is typically soft desert gray along the back and head. It is composed of pastel shades of tan, brown, red, and yellow. The underparts are pale, yellowish gray. Color change occurs within minutes, changing from light to dark or vice versa depending on the environment. Phrynosoma solare are on average about 5 inches in length (Seymour and Royo 1999).

Sonoran Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus clarkii clarkii)

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
Arizona’s largest rattlesnake. Peppered gray brown diamond like blotches on the back. Smaller diamonds on the sides. The background color is gray or brown, sometimes with a pink or orange cast especially toward the tail. The tail has broad alternating white and black rings. The eye stripe crosses the lip in front of the corner of the mouth.


Endangered Reptiles of Arizona

Mexican Gartersnake (Thamnophis eques)
Mexican garter snakes have 3 bold stripes and are easily confused with the black-necked and checkered garter snakes that are found throughout their range. All 3 species can be identified by noting which scale rows the lateral stripe falls across in the anterior portion of the body. Mexican garter snakes lateral stripe occurs on scale rows 3 & 4,

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