37 Different Types of Lizards in Arizona

Types of Lizards In Arizona
Photo by LOURDES CASTRO

Arizonans pride themselves on their state’s unique environment. So it’s no surprise that Arizona has its impressive array of reptiles and amphibians, including lizards.

Lizards are one of the most popular reptile pets in the world, as they are relatively easy to take care of and come in many vibrant colors and patterns. 

However, not all lizards are ideal pet choices, and some have specific needs that may not fit into your family’s lifestyle or budget.

Here are some of the various types of lizards in Arizona.

1. Sonoran Fence Lizard

The Sonoran Fence Lizard has lost its ability to extend its tongue. But it has a firm grip on its hind legs, so it can hang from fences or branches for long periods.

Its black coloration allows them to blend in with the bark on trees as well as any fences that may be nearby. It’s one of the various types of lizards in Arizona.

2. Long-Tailed Brush Lizard

There are so many types of lizards in Arizona, and one you may not have heard of is the long-tailed brush lizard. This particular species can be found among branches on trees at higher elevations, and they sometimes stay away from leaves because they are more fragile than branches.

However, these long-tailed brush lizards, along with all other native types of lizards in Arizona, are protected under state law. This law prohibits collecting or harming any type of native lizard without obtaining a permit first. 

3. Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizard

This lizard gets its name from the fringe on its toes. They can be found as far north as Los Angeles, south as Baja California, and down into Arizona. The edges on their toes also help them to climb trees. 

They are primarily insectivores, but they will eat other small animals when they have to. They will stand on their hind legs with their tail extended when frightened or threatened. 

And make a noise that sounds like a bird; this sound warns predators that it’s armed with poison to defend itself if necessary. One of the various types of lizards in Arizona. 

4. Common Lesser Earless Lizard

Lesser earless lizards are one of the most common types of lizards in Arizona. They have a grayish brown coloration on their backs and sides with many dark spots. This lizard’s belly is generally a lighter cream or yellow color, typically 2-3 inches long.

The lesser earless lizard has five toes per foot and resides mainly outside. But it can also be found under rocks, boards, or debris.

5. Desert Night Lizard

Various types of lizards are found throughout the United States and can also be found in the southwest desert. One type is the Desert Night Lizard, which can only be found in southern Arizona. The night lizard has a brownish-gray coloring on its back with stripes that run down to its tail.

While the underside is usually a shade of pink or tan, it’s easy to confuse this lizard with other desert animals at first glance due to its distinctive markings and colors. This particular species can grow up to 9 inches long from head to tail when it reaches adulthood.

6. Madrean Alligator Lizard

The first type of lizard is the Madrean Alligator Lizard. This lizard is typically found between the woodlands and desert areas, and the largest population of this type of lizard lives around Tucson, AZ. 

But they can also be found to the west, up through much of Southern California, Utah, and over to New Mexico. This species has a grayish-brown body with darker bands running down its back and tail.

Black dots on its skin give it a leopard-like appearance, and a brown stripe runs down both sides.

7. Elegant Earless Lizard

Native to the southwestern United States, the elegant earless lizard is a small animal that ranges from 8 to 11 inches long.

It has smooth skin and an average lifespan of three years. This lizard is typically found on rocks or another ground cover, hunting for small insects.

The elegant earless lizard can change color from green to brown and become darker or lighter depending on its surroundings.

This particular type of lizard in Arizona does not have ears or eyelids, hence its name. If this type of lizard feels threatened, it will turn red and white with raised bumps along its body.

Before launching, a series of short tail flicks with venom are present at the end, allowing it to defend itself against predators.

8. Western Banded Gecko

Arizona is a land inhabited by some of the world’s most beautiful animals. The sun and moon rise as one, bringing light to every path they cross together. And while the state has its fair share of desert creatures, those aren’t the only critters that call it home.

However, plenty of lizards enjoy the heat and inhabit this sprawling landscape, too! They are one of the common types of lizards in Arizona.

9. Little Striped Whiptail

One of the types of lizards in Arizona is the Little Striped Whiptail. These little lizards have small, round bodies and are usually dark brown to black with various red, pink, or yellow stripes.

And they are minimal, the size of your thumb, so they effortlessly sneak around rocks or brush to escape predators. The Little Striped Whiptail’s diet consists primarily of insects like ants, termites, and even other small lizards.

10. Plateau Striped Whiptail

The Plateau Striped Whiptail is a striped lizard with yellow scales on its head and back. They can be found from the plateau areas in central Arizona into New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

The Plateau Striped Whiptail is about 4 to 6 inches long with brown-to-green coloration and blue spots.

Also, these lizards have a clear dewlap that extends when disturbed or stressed. This species of whiptail lizard feeds on small invertebrates, eggs, plants, and vertebrates.

11. Gila Spotted Whiptail

Among the types of lizards in Arizona, Gila spotted whiptails are by far the most adorable. Bright red and yellow scales dot their short bodies that end with a tiny, pointed tail. They primarily feed on crickets and other invertebrates. 

But they will occasionally take down an unsuspecting grasshopper or a slow-moving rodent if they’re lucky. Females lay clutches of up to fifteen eggs yearly around August or September, and the clutch size is smaller during wet years when food is more plentiful for nesting females. 

It’s larger during dry years when food sources are more scarce for both females and their offspring after hatching. These lizards rarely exceed four inches from nose to tail tip.

12. Greater Earless Lizard

The Greater Earless Lizards can be found all over the southwest but are most common in dry or sandy areas. They are usually seen sunning themselves on rocks or logs during the day. And often burrow under stones to escape the heat or freezing temperatures at night.

These lizards eat insects, spiders, worms, and snails to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. Like many reptiles and amphibians, these lizards will shed their skin as they grow more extensive, and they will also lay eggs underground that hatch after a couple of months.

13. Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

Sonoran Spotted whiptails are a small species of lizards. They get their name from the black spots seen all over their body, each with its bold outline. These tiny lizards only reach about 7 inches long, but they’re speedy and agile.

Also, they have an orange-brown color, which makes them one of the most noticeable species among this group.

This lizard has toe pads, and its tail will twist around objects to get more traction when running up walls or across ceilings. One of the various types of lizards in Arizona.

14. Desert Grassland Whiptail

The Desert Grassland Whiptail may be perfect if you love exploring the landscape and finding your adventure.

These lizards are native to areas with sandy soil. So they make their homes in spots below-surface rocks, loose sand piles, and shallow ground burrows.

They are speedy and can often be spotted with their tail sticking out before they hide again. You may have seen these little guys on a hot day; they’re experts at hiding from the sun under cool surfaces.

However, while they might seem cool, they are also one of Arizona’s most threatened types of lizards because their living environment is restricted to such a small area.

15. Western Whiptail

Western Whiptail is one of the types of lizards in Arizona. It’s often mistaken for rattlesnakes due to their slender and snake-like appearance. This lizard is part of the Teiidae family.

Western whiptails are semi-nocturnal and can be seen darting back and forth during the evening and night. As early morning approaches, you’ll find them tucked into tight crevices or wedged under debris, only to reemerge hours later when the sun sets.

16. Gilbert’s Skink

A wide variety of lizards inhabit the state, but two-thirds are native to Arizona. The Gilbert’s Skink is among these and can be found on warm rocks and wood piles. They may also reside in brushy areas, sandy washes, or lower slopes near creeks.

Their colors range from light brown with dark blotches to bright green with lighter defects. But their appearance varies with geographic location. Males can grow up to 17 inches long and females around 11 inches long.

In most cases, they reach sexual maturity between 6-12 months old and have an average lifespan between 2-3 years if they stay healthy.

However, some have been known to live up to 10 years if they avoid predators like raptors and other giant snakes.

17. Texas Horned Lizard

As the Texas Horned Lizard spends most of its time underground, they are rarely seen by humans. They use their rough, dry skin as camouflage from predators and provide insulation from the desert heat.

The Horned Lizard is often found near scrubby vegetation and rocks, where it can retreat to escape any danger lurking nearby.

Also, the Horned Lizard uses speed and great agility to avoid becoming lunch for an animal looking for a quick meal. Jumping quickly into its hole or scurrying away just in time! They are one of the uncommon types of lizards in Arizona.

18. Common Sagebrush Lizard

The common sagebrush lizard is the most common type of lizard in Arizona, the southwest region of the United States. The male is typically more significant than the female and can grow up to four inches long. At the same time, females are typically only two inches long.

They are brown with large scales on their backs that form a pattern. These lizards live up to twenty years and reproduce once every other year, with eggs deposited either one or two days after mating.

Though they have been spotted as far north as Canada, it has not been confirmed that they reproduce there. Generally, these lizards are vegetarians and prey on insects or smaller animals.

19. Desert Spiny Lizard

When it comes to the types of lizards in Arizona, the desert spiny lizard is one of the most widespread and commonly seen reptiles.

These types of lizards in Arizona have granular skin covered with various small bony protrusions known as tubercles. Desert spiny lizards are often brightly colored and can be red, brown, green, or yellow.

And they can grow up to 15 inches long and enjoy hunting for insects like ants and beetles. These types may live between five to seven years on average.

However, some can make it up to fifteen years if they are well cared for. The desert spiny lizard’s coloration becomes more pronounced during mating season and when they feel threatened.

20. Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard

One common lizard in Arizona is the Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard, also known as the Long-toed Racerunner. This lizard can be identified by its long toes and slender body, and it lives in areas with a higher elevation.

However, unlike most lizards, it likes to walk around on all fours. And not just hop like most do when running away from predators. As a result, this lizard usually doesn’t have excellent eyesight and relies on other senses for survival.

The gray skin allows them to camouflage into their surroundings. Making it hard for birds or other types of predators to spot them. It’s one of the most common types of lizards in Arizona. 

21. Striped Plateau Lizard

The Striped Plateau Lizard (Arizona Black-headed Plateau Lizard) is an insectivore that lives near open, rocky areas. They are typically seen at ground level and never climb trees, and they are often found sunning themselves on rocks or logs in full sunlight.

They have a lifespan of about 3 years but reproduce only once every year, during the months from April to July. Striped Plateau Lizards prey primarily on ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other insects.

22. Mountain Spiny Lizard

Unlike other lizards, the Mountain Spiny Lizard is typically found higher up on the mountain. They are an olive-brown color with red markings on their head, and they also have a rounded, thick tail with black and white bands.

These lizards will run for cover rather than defend themselves by biting their attackers when threatened. Or shooting blood from their eyes like some other lizard species.

This behavior is called reflex bleeding and allows them to scare away predators without becoming food.

These lizards also have venom glands that make minor wounds on their victim’s skin, which can cause intense pain to the area where it was bitten.

23. Clark’s Spiny Lizard

There are so many types of lizards in Arizona, but none are more iconic than Clark’s Spiny Lizard. These are usually found on the rocky outcroppings in the valleys and canyons that populate most regions of this state.

These lizards will come to the ground from their perch once temperatures cool and insects become scarce these summer afternoons.

And much like other lizard species, Clark’s Spiny Lizard spends most of its time basking or sunning itself for warmth. And also protection from predators like birds or mammals.

When it comes down to it, this species is territorial and aggressive, attacking anything it deems a threat. However, its territory rarely spans past 100 yards, making interactions with humans rare. They are one of the types of lizards in Arizona that are rare.

24. Great Plains Skink

One type of lizard that lives in the Southwest US is the Great Plains Skink. It gets its name from its long thin body and broad, muscular tail. These lizards love hot, dry areas like deserts and scrublands.

They are not affected by extreme heat as much as some other species, which gives them an advantage when living in their habitat. Since they are cold-blooded creatures, they need a lot of suns to stay warm.

They can get so warm that they might jump or scurry away if you try to touch them! It’s important to remember that not all desert lizards have big tongues; it depends on the lizard species.

25. Western Skink

The Western Skink is a lizard you might be able to find out and about at dusk. They spend most of their time burrowed beneath the ground. But they might quickly appear at night, hurrying to grab some insects or other arthropods.

Most of the time, they’re just shy. If you see one or many, don’t disturb them as they are fast. And can camouflage themselves almost effortlessly into their surroundings.

26. Mountain Skink

One of the most common lizards in Arizona is the Mountain Skink. Mountain Skinks have brown or grayish bodies and typically have dark brown, black, or yellow bands. They are often found on rocks, sunning themselves to warm up when it’s cool outside.

Their diet includes crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, beetles, flies, etc. And even sometimes small reptiles like geckos!

27. Greater Short-Horned Lizard

The Greater Short-Horned Lizard is a medium-sized lizard. The lizards are brown with dark patches on their backs, sides, and legs. These animals live among sagebrush, prickly pear cactus, and juniper bushes.

While they can often be found hunting insects and small rodents like mice or rats on the ground, they can also spend time climbing trees.

28. Desert Horned Lizard

The desert horned lizard is a giant, insect-eating lizard that lives in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico.

It ranges from southern Nevada and California to western Texas, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Zacatecas. Desert horned lizards are tan or gray with dark brown or black round spots on their backs.

The dark areas between these spots may look light when the lizard moves among light-colored sand. But they are light-reflecting scales that shine brightly when you catch them in a beam of sunlight.

This formidable reptile tucks its head down when attacked by an animal with teeth and claws. So it can’t be grasped with its large front legs firmly against its body.

29. Goode’s Horned Lizard

Arizona’s most well-known type of lizard is the Goode’s Horned Lizard. This tiny lizard has pointed, triangular scales on its head and a row of long spines running from its head to its back. The horns are located between the animal’s eyes, at the top of their head.

And they live near sandy areas with rock outcroppings and abundant vegetation to hide among. Generally, solitary animals stay mostly still during the day and emerge to forage for food at night, on cool mornings, or evenings.

30. Round-Tailed Horned Lizard

Belonging to the Iguanidae family, the round-tailed lizard is also an American desert-horned lizard. It has a distinct scaly look that people tend to compare to a Chameleon. It can grow up to 3.5 inches in length and typically sports bright colors.

This type of lizard is often found between 2,700 and 6,000 feet in elevation. They enjoy rocky areas with plenty of shrubs for shelter and flat surfaces for basking during the day.

31. Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard

Arizona has some unique creatures, and the Horned Lizard is no exception. This reptile enjoys sitting on logs or rocks, especially in the shade, where it will catch insects on its tongue. It will also eat small mammals, lizards, and bird eggs if available.

Horned Lizards use their hind feet to monitor the area around them. And when they feel threatened, they hiss or expand the loose skin on their neck to appear more prominent.

32. Regal Horned Lizard

With a name like a regal horned lizard, it is not surprising that this type of lizard can be found only in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

They are large, generally between six and nine inches long, with a short, stocky tail. Their color ranges from brown to orange to yellowish green. 

Also, they have smooth dorsal surfaces with rough patches running down their back. The horns on their head may be brown or black, making them stand out from the rest of the group, hence the regal name. The horned lizards have a nasty bite, so try not to pick one up unless you know what you are doing!

33. Common Side-Blotched Lizard

You may not realize it, but Arizona is home to over 85 species of lizards, and this list doesn’t even include iguanas! From the Santa Cruz whiptail to the Yucca Mountain fence lizard, we have you covered with the most common types of lizards you can find here in AZ. 

34. Southern alligator lizard

The southern alligator lizard gets its name from its large gular scutes (flaps of skin on each side near the jaw.), Which gives it a passing resemblance to an alligator.

This species lives mostly near water, though males usually stay slightly more inland than females so they can guard their territory against intruders.

35. Ornate Tree Lizard

Arizona is a state full of different types of wildlife. We have many mammals and reptiles, such as bunnies, coyotes, snakes, salamanders, and lizards. Lizards are commonly found throughout the Southwest region, including Mexico and Colorado.

They come in all shapes and sizes with many unique features. Arizona’s local species can be separated into five distinct groups: Ornate American Geckos, Horned Dragons or Great Basin Collared Lizards, Southern Alligator Lizards,s or Eyelash Viper Amphibians.

Depending on the coloration (dark green to brown), Spiny Broad-Backed Skinks or Crinkled Ribbed Wall Lizards for coloration (light green to tan), Rough Green Snake or Short Whiptail if their skin contains scales.

36. Eastern Collared Lizard

One of the types of lizards in Arizona is the Eastern Collared Lizard. A pattern distinguishes this species encircles its neck, hence the name Eastern Collared Lizard. These lizards are typically dark brown or gray with light green, cream, or red stripes.

Another way to tell them apart from other species is by looking at their underside; it’s black and white. They have grown up to 8 inches long, excluding their tail. This species’ tails vary in size and can be about 2-4 inches long on average.

37. Great Basin Collared Lizard

Most commonly found throughout the southwest, their large, flared head distinguishes them. Feeling threatened, the Great Basin Collared Lizard raises its neck. And flares out a bright orange or yellow collar to scare away predators.

Meanwhile, if this fails, it will tuck its head and tail beneath its body and remain motionless, waiting for the predator to leave.

The Great Basin Collared Lizard is sexually dimorphic: males are more significant than females and have more blue on their bodies than orange or yellow.

Males also have brown spots on the sides of their bellies that create a lighter line down their middle when seen from above.

Conclusion

Arizona is the ideal place to find some of the world’s most unique and diverse species of lizards, but some are more unique than others.

With distinct types of lizards you can find around the state, you’ll want to learn more about each one so you can get out there and start spotting them in their natural habitat! Here are the types of lizards in Arizona.

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