Zebratailed lizard

Callisaurus draconoides

SUBFAMILY

Phrynosomatinae

TAXONOMY

Callisaurus draconoides Blainville, 1835, northern Baja California. Nine subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Gridiron-tailed lizard, northern zebra-tailed lizard, western zebra-tailed lizard, eastern zebra-tailed lizard, Nevada zebratail, Mojave zebratail; German: Zebraschwanzleguan; Spanish: Lagartija cachora, perrita.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Zebra-tailed lizards are speckled, light gray to brown lizards with particularly long forelimbs and a flat, broadly banded tail. The dark tail bands continue on to the light-colored ventral tail, where they are particularly noticeable. Males typically are distinctly blue on the belly, and display a pink throat fan during breeding season. Adults reach about 10 in (25.4 cm) in total length, with the tail about one and a half times as long as the body.

DISTRIBUTION

These lizards occur in the southwestern United States, northwestern to west-central Mexico.

HABITAT

The zebra-tailed lizard prefers a sand or gravel substrate in desert canyon washes, scrubby plains, and other areas that are dry for much of the year.

BEHAVIOR

This wary species is noted for its swiftness. When threatened by a predator, the zebra-tailed lizard will arch its tail over its back and wave the particularly conspicuous ventral banding at the pursuer. As the predator's attention is drawn to that location, the lizard speeds off to cover in a dizzying pattern of stops, starts, and sharp turns.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This mainly diurnal lizard will consume tender spring vegetation, but mostly feeds on insects and spiders. A sit-and-wait hunter, it may suddenly leap at prey, sometimes jumping a foot or more to secure its meal.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Male zebra-tailed lizards flare the throat fan during the breeding season. During the summer, females typically lay two to six eggs per clutch, and a female may have up to five clutches in one year.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

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