Lookin’ for Lizards

Locating snakes, we find, is more difficult than spotting lizards.  Over a period of a couple weeks, we’ve seen three rattlesnakes, two patchnose snakes, a coachwhip, and a gopher snake.  On just one two-hour hike, however, we observed seven different species of lizards.

With lizards now emerging from hibernation, we’ve begun hiking the trail with them as our focus.  Camouflage makes noticing lizards challenging, but once we became attuned to their habits, habitats, and general silhouettes, we’ve located many individuals from each species.


While finding camouflaged lizards becomes easier with practice, not to mention with a good pair of binoculars, most lizards catch our attention by scampering out of our way.  Because they are  difficult to detect concealed within their environment, we nearly step on them before they react to our presence.

The chuckwalla is difficult to locate even after clicking on the picture to enlarge it:

This zebra-tail lizard blends in well with its surroundings:


Besides looking for movement, we also scan tops of rock outcroppings for bumps that could be lizard heads peeking over the edge.

This collared lizard exposed only his head:

A chuckwalla exposed more of its body:

The head of this common side-blotched lizard is the most difficult to spot:

Occasionally we are fortunate enough to spot a lizard before it becomes aware of us, and we can observe its behavior.  Recently, we sat watching a zebra-tail lizard thermoregulating in afternoon sun, unconcerned by our presence.  Close by, a young desert iguana, obviously warmed enough, lay in the shade of a narrow pole.  Each left periodically to hunt – the desert iguana picking up fallen palo verdo flowers, the zebra tail lizard attacking insects.

This zebra-tail lizard holds his toes up off the hot concrete:

A young desert iguana takes cover in the shade of a narrow pole:

He then runs off to grab a mouth-full of palo verde flower:


Sometimes lizards are right out in the open for our viewing pleasure.

Tiger whiptail lizards are constantly on the move, making them difficult to photograph.  However, they are easily observed as they search for bugs:


The desert spiny lizard posed nicely:

Side-blotched lizards are seen all year long:


Female collared lizard eyes us, but appears tolerant:

The only long-nosed leopard lizard we’ve spotted posed on an ancient paint can:

Most lizards run away to hide as we approach.  But occasionally we find them, if only just their tail sticking out from a rock crevice.

This chuckwalla scrambled into a crevice to hide from us:

This chuckwalla has gone in for the night, but doesn’t realize her tail is exposed:


For us, behavior is the key to understanding an animal, and we take great pleasure in observing all wildlife on Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.


Female Chuckwalla


Male chuckwalla


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