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Mojave River Valley Museum
Family: Crotaphytidae Order: Squamata Class: Reptilia
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
The collared lizard is widely distributed throughout the arid and semiarid
regions of the Mojave, Sonoran, and Southeastern Great Basin deserts. It is generally
restricted to areas with rocky substrates, slopes, gullies, washes, canyons, and sometimes
rock piles, although occasionally can be found up to a mile from extensive rocky habitat
(McGuire 1996). It is most common in
desert succulent shrub,
desert scrub, and
habitats. The collared lizard is active in the spring and summer and to a lesser
extent in the early fall. Southern populations are active earlier than northern populations,
and remain active later in the year. It probably exhibits considerable variation in habits over
its range (Johnson et al. 1948, Stebbins 1985, Fitch 1956, Legler and Fitch 1957, Yedlin and
Ferguson 1973, Sanborn and Loomis 1979).
California Department of Fish and Game. California Interagency Wildlife Task Group. 2005. California Wildlife Habitat Relationships version 8.1 personal computer program. Sacramento, California.
Mojave Collared Lizard
Size: 2.75-4.57 in (6.9-11.6 cm)
Distinguishing characters: A large-bodied species with a broad head, short snout, granular scales, and two distinct black collar markings; collar markings separated at dorsal midline by no more than 12 pale scales; tan to olive colored; light lines and spots and yellowish to orangish crossbands on body.
Juveniles: Similar to adults, more distinct banding.
Dimorphism: Male has enlarged postanal scales, blue-grey throat and large dark blotches on flanks.
Similar species: Crotaphytus vestigium: Black collars separated by more than 12 light scales. Gambelia copei, Gambelia wislizenii: Lack black collars.
Very uncommon. Powerful runner; bipedal. Adults can inflict painful bite. Prefers rocky areas, particularly washes.
Collared lizards like to bask in the sun on boulders looking for prey. They are carnivores who aside from eating other lizards and insects will occasionally eat small amounts of flowers and leaves.
They have an extremely long tail which will break away easily in order to escape predators. They are very fast, running on their two hind legs to reach top speeds.
Black collared lizards can be found in rocky, sparsely vegetated canyons and washes.