Common sideblotched lizard

Uta stansburiana

SUBFAMILY Phrynosomatinae

TAXONOMY

Uta stansburiana Baird and Girard, 1852, Salt Lake Valley. Six subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Northern ground uta, western ground uta, western side-blotched lizard, Nevada side-blotched lizard, northern side-blotched lizard, eastern side-blotched lizard, plateau side-blotched lizard, uta, Stansbury's swift, northern brown-shouldered lizard; German: Seitenfleckleguan; Spanish: Ca-chora del suelo, Lagartija de manchas lateralis.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Side-blotched lizards are mostly brown, with five, light-colored, dorsal stripes running from the head at least to the beginning of the tail. These stripes are sometimes indistinct. During breeding season, the males often take on a distinctly bluish hue on the head, tail, top of the back, and sides.

DISTRIBUTION

Side-blotched lizards occur in the western United States, from Washington State south to Baja California and northern Mexico.

HABITAT

The side-blotched lizard is a wide-ranging species that lives in the flat desert, as well as rocky outcrops, hills, and even mountainous regions. It usually prefers sites with some vegetation.

BEHAVIOR

Side-blotched lizards have the unusual habit of grasping their prey in their mouths, then beating it on the ground before consuming it. They are less skittish than many other lizards, but if approached too closely, they will run for a burrow, bush, or other cover.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

These lizards are primarily insectivorous, but they are also known to eat other arthropods, including scorpions.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding in side-blotched lizards begins in early spring, and females commonly lay one to two clutches of three or four eggs each from spring to midsummer. Females in warmer climates sometimes lay up to seven clutches in a single year. Most eggs hatch from June to August. They have unusually speedy development, and the hatchlings reach maturity before the year is out.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These lizards help control the population of insects that are agricultural pests. ♦

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