Common Sonoran Desert Reptiles

Western Banded Gecko
Coleonyx variegatus

Nocturnal lizard with irregular, alternating dark and light bands. More info

Gila Monster
Heloderma suspectum

The compact, colorful and raised scales give the skin a beaded look. Broad flat head. More info

Collared Lizard
Crotaphytus collaris

Brightly marked lizard with large head alert posture. A pair of dark rings around the neck. More info

Western Whiptail
Cnemidophorus tigris

Most common whiptail in the lower deserts. Longitudinal yellow and dark gray stripes. More info

Desert Spiny Lizard
Sceloporus magister

Large spiny lizard with incomplete black ring around neck. Males often show blue on throat. More info

Medeteranian Gecko
Coleonyx variegatus

Nocturnal lizard generally confined to human dwellings. Introduced. Climbs vertical walls. More info

Greater Earless Lizard
Cophosaurus texanus

Long banded tail. A pair of lateral dark chevrons just in front of the hind legs. More info

Lesser Earless Lizard
Holbrookia maculata

Two dark, bluish spots are located on the flanks about mid way between the rear and front legs. More info

Desert Iguana
Dipsosaurus dorsalis

Large lizard partial to sandy areas. More info

Common Chuckwalla
Sauromalus obesus

Rarely moves far from deep rock crevices where it can wedge into and hide. More info

Ornate Tree Lizard
Urosaurus ornatus

Very long tail appears rough due to keeled scales. More info

Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Urosaurus graciosus

The tail is twice the length of the rest of the body. More info

Side-blotched Lizard
Uta stansburiana

At cooler times of the year, most likely lizard to see. Dark side-blotch. More info

Desert Horned Lizard
Phrynosoma platyrhinos

Compact and somewhat flattened. Very well camouflaged. Distinct collar. More info

Red-eared Slider
Trachemys scripta

Non-native species found in mostly urban ponds maturing from pet trade releases. More info

Desert Tortoise
Gopherus agassizi

Iconic desert turtle spends hot and cold times resting insides its burrow. More info

Lyre Snake
Trimorphodon biscutatus

Nocturnally active and infrequently seen. Small and rather slender. More info

Western Diamondback
Crotalus atrox

Loud rattle warns of a large snake with black and white banded tail. More info

Mojave Rattlesnake
Crotalus scutulatus

Often with a greenish cast. Normally the white bands in the tail are wider than the black bands. More info

Speckled Rattlesnake
Crotalus mitchellii

Long slender snake with gray and white stripes along length. More info

Tiger Rattlesnake
Crotalus tigris

A small head and large rattle distinguish this banded rattler. More info

Black-necked Garter Snake
Thamnophis cyrtopsis

Pale stripes along length of this riparian habitat snake. More info

Sonoran Whipsnake
Masticophis biliniatus

Long slender snake with gray and white stripes along length. More info

Gopher Snake
Pituophis catenifer

Among the largest of Sonoran Desert snakes. More info

Ring-necked Snake
Diadophis punctatus

Medium-sized with ashy gray back and brighter color belly. Pale ring at neck. More info

Ground Snake
Sonora semiannulata

Very small and largely subterranean. Variable pattern, for example a red-brown stripe down center of back, bordered by gray. Others have bold bands as well. More info

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


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created January 2016,
updated 13 Nov. 2016.