CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Baja California Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus vestigium

Smith and Tanner, 1972
Click on a picture for a larger view



Baja California Collared Lizard California Habitat
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality Range Map






observation link





Baja California Collared Lizard
Adult female, San Diego County
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard
Adult male, San Diego County © Gary Nafis
Captive specimen courtesy of Will Wells
Adult male, San Diego County
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard
Adult female, San Diego County
© Gary Nafis Captive specimen courtesy of Will Wells
Adult female, San Diego County
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard
Adult female, San Diego County © Gary Nafis 
Captive specimen courtesy of Gerold Merker
Adult, San Diego County
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard
Juvenile male, San Diego County © Gary Nafis
Captive specimen courtesy of Gerold Merker
Adult, San Diego County © Huck Triggs
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, San Diego County
© Will Wells
Adult, Imperial County
© Rob Schell
Collared lizards have
mostly granular scales.
     
Juveniles
Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard Baja California Collared Lizard
Recently-hatched juvenile,
San Diego County
Recently-hatched juvenile,
San Diego County
Juvenile, Imperial County
© Stuart Young
     
Habitat
Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County
Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County
rocksBaja California Collared Lizard Habitat Baja California Collared Lizard Habitat  
Habitat, Imperial County
Habitat, Imperial County  
     
Short Video
  Baja California Collared Lizard  
A Baja California Collared Lizard sits on a rock above a palm oasis.
 
Description
 
Size
Adults grow up to 5 inches in length from snout to vent (12.7 cm)

Appearance
A large lizard with a broad-head, a narrow-neck with a pair of black bands, large rear legs, and a long thick tail.
Often described as looking like a small "dinosaur".
The tail is flattened slightly vertically.
Color and Pattern
Brown or dark gray above, with thin white irregular crossbars and alternating crossbars consisting of white spots.
Two black bands on the neck with a white band inbetween them create the "collar" for which this lizard is named.
The rear band has a wide gap on top of the back and is sometimes missing completely.
The underside is mostly white.
Male / Female Differences
Males have two black patches on the underside near the groin and a dark throat. Females with light throat.
The front black band coloring on the throat continues onto the underside of the throat on males, covering the throat and much of the chin.
The throats and chins of females lack this dark coloring.
Males also have a broader head than females
Female coloring is lighter and duller than male's except when breeding, when they develop orange-red bars on the head and body.
The tail has a light stripe on top on males, which is absent on females.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Active in daytime.
Very tolerant of heat.
Hibernates under rocks during cold temperatures in winter.
Often seen basking conspicuously on top of rocks.
May become bipedal when running quickly; raising up to run only on only the hind legs.
Territoriality
Males become aggressive and very territorial in the breeding season.
They are more approachable at this time, as they tend to stand their ground on top of a rock, often raising up on their legs, bobbing up and down, and extending a blue and black throat dewlap in a threat display (which may also be attractive to females).
Defense
When handled, this lizard is capable of biting very hard, and drawing blood with its strong jaws.
Diet and Feeding
Eats insects, spiders, small lizards, leaves and flowers.
Breeding
Lays eggs during summer, which hatch late July - August.

Habitat
Arid, rocky desert hills and canyons with sparse vegetation. Prefers hillsides with moderately sized rocks.

Geographical Range
Inhabits the desert side of the Peninsular Ranges west of the Imperial Valley from south of San Gorgonio Pass on the north side of Mt. San Jacinto, south into Baja California Sur where it ranges as far south as just west of Loreto.
Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Found up to about 4,000 ft. (1,094 m.)

Notes on Taxonomy

Formerly known as the Baja California Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus insularis vestigium , a subspecies of Crotaphytus insularis, the Desert Collared Lizard, before the species was split into C. bicinctores - the Great Basin Collared Lizard and C. vestigium.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Crotaphytus vestigium - Baja California Collared Lizard (Stebbins 2003)
Cnemidophorus insularis vestigium - Baja California Collared Lizard (Stebbins 1985)
Cnemidophorus collaris baileyi - Western Collared Lizard (Smith 1946)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Crotaphytidae Collared and Leopard Lizards Smith & Brodie, 1982
Genus Crotaphytus Collared Lizards Holbrook, 1842
Species

vestigium Baja black-collared Lizard Smith and Tanner, 1972
Original Description
Smith and Tanner, 1972 - Great Basin Nat., Vol. 32, p. 29

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Crotaphytus - Greek - krotaphos side or temple of the head - refers to the presence of small polygonal plates on the whole surface of the head.
vestigium
- Latin - footstep or trace

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Related or Similar California Lizards
C. bicinctores - Great Basin Collared Lizard
Gambelia wislizenii - Long-nosed Leopard Lizard

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Grismer, L. Lee. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. The University of California Press, 2002.

McPeak, Ron H. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California. Sea Challengers, 2000.
Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, editors. Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946.

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the 2017 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


This animal is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.


Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


 

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