Zebra-tailed Lizard

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(Redirected from Callisaurus)
Callisaurus
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ZebraTailed-Lizard-640px.jpg
Zebra-tailed Lizard in Death Valley National Park


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Squamata
Family:Phrynosomatidae
Genus:Callisaurus
Species

See text

Zebra-tailed lizards are lizards of the genus Callisaurus in the reptile order Sauamata. These lizards live in open desert with fairly hard-packed soil, scattered vegitation and/or scattered rocks, typically desert flats, washes and plains. They range from 2.5 to 4 in (60 to 100 mm) in length.

These lizards are gray to sandy brown, usually with series of paired dark gray spots down the back, becoming black bands on the tail. The underside of tail is white with black bands. Males have a pair of black blotches on the side, extending to blue patches on the belly. Females have no blue patches and have either faint or absent black bars.

They are diurnal and alert. They rise early and are active in all but the hottest weather. During the hottest times of day, lizards may stand alternately on two legs, switching to the opposite two as needed in a kind of dance. When threatened they will run swiftly with their toes curled up and tails raised over their backs exposing the stripes. They can even run soley on their back legs for short distances. In areas of creosote scrub this lizard seems to reach highest densities, around 4.8 to 6.0 individuals per acre (600 to 800 m² per lizard). This lizard burrows into fine sand for retreat at night and usually seeks day shelter in the shade of bushes.

In summer, 2 to 8 eggs are typically laid, hatching anywhere from July to November. However, more than 1 clutch can be laid during a season. Eggs are laid, presumably, in friable, sandy soil. Being a prey species for many animals, including birds, other lizards, and mammals, they have a fairly high reproductive potential.

It feeds on a variety of prey from insects, such as moths, ants and bees, as well as spiders and other smaller lizards. Its diet occasionally includes vegitation, such as spring buds and flowers.

The zebra-tailed lizard is common and widely distributed throughout the southwestern United States, ranging from the Mojave and Colorado deserts north into the southern Great Basin.

Genus Callisaurus

There are numerous subspecies, listed below.

  • Bogert's Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides bogerti
  • Short-footed Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides brevipes
  • Carmen Island Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides carmenensis
  • Viscaino Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides crinitus
  • Common Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides draconoides
  • Sonoran Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides inusitanus
  • Nevada Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides myurus
  • Mojave Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus
  • Angel Island Zebra-tailed Lizard, Callisaurus draconoides splendidus

References

  • National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Knopf, Chanticleer Press Ed edition, (1979). ISBN 0394508246
  • Halliday, Tim and O'Shea, Mark; Smithsonian Handbooks: Reptiles and Amphibians. Dorling Kindersley Publishing (2002). ISBN 0789493934
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