Long-nosed Leopard Lizard, Gambelia wislizenii
Leopard Lizard eating another lizard

Leopard Lizard eating another lizard
(photo by Thom Hulen, SDNM July 12, 2012)

The Long-nosed Leopard Lizard’s color can vary from white, cream, or gray with uneven brown or dark gray spots along its body and head. Occasionally there are dark bars across the back and tail.

There is sexual dimorphism in this species.  Females are larger, nearly 6 inches length (nose to base of tail), and the males measure about 5 inches (nose to base of tail). Distinct color variations are exhibited throughout the year. Breeding females develop reddish orange spots and bars on their sides and underneath the tail.  Males develop a reddish color on the throat, chest, and sometimes the body,

Distribution and Habitat

Long-nosed Leopard Lizards occupy deserts and grasslands throughout the Western United States and much of Northern Mexico from sea level to around 6000 feet. In the Sonoran Desert National Monument creosote bush and bursage plant communities with open space for running provides the best habitat for this lizard.

Behavior and Reproduction

Long-nosed Lizards are diurnal and are ambush predators. They eat lizards (including their own species), insects and occasionally small mammals.

Their coloration and pattern is ideal camouflage for hiding under desert shrubs where the do most of their hunting.

The breeding season runs from May to June with a single clutch laid in June or July. The eggs hatch in the late months of July and August during the summer rainy season. Young arise in August, when adult activity is winding down. It is believed the timing of the juvenile emergence coincides with the termination of adult activity may have evolved  to prevent  cannibalism.

Threats

Agricultural, residential and energy development are threats to this species. Many areas considered suitable for these activities are located in flat creosote bursage communities that many people consider wastelands. In addition fragmentation of habitat by roads and utility corridors affects this species and as well as many others.

Legal Status

Refer to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to learn about regulations applicable to this species.

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