Zebra-tailed Lizard

Callisaurus draconoides

Callisaurus draconoides, Zebra-tailed Lizard, photo © Michael Plagens

Photo of Zebra-tailed Lizard on 12 Sept. 2009. Observed in Rainbow Valley below the Estrella Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA.

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When hiking along a sandy road or desert wash these fast moving lizards zip back and forth across the trail ahead. Stopping briefly to waver their tail with its contrasting black and white bands. It seems to say "I see you. I am very fast. Don't even bother trying to catch me!" Binoculars are helpful for the naturalist wanting to get a closer look. This species differs from the Greater Earless Lizard in that the dark lateral chevrons are just posterior of the front legs. Zebra-tails have an ear slit - a trait lacking in the earless lizards.

Predators of mostly insects and other invertibrates. They tunnel into loose sand for nesting and to escape temperature extremes. Found in the Sonoran Desert mostly at the lower elevations on creosote flats and on broad, open washes. This lizard is distributed through the Mojave and Lower Colorado Deserts as well where there are several recognized subspecies. Active during even hot weather. The lizard shown at left was carefully aligned with a shadow cast by a cholla cactus thus avoiding direct solar heating.

Phrynosomatidae -- N. A. Spiny Lizard Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009