CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Cope's Leopard Lizard - Gambelia copeii

(Yarrow, 1882)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Cope's Leopard Lizard California Range Map
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality Range Map



observation link





Cope's Leopard Lizard
Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard
Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard
Adult female showing orange breeding colors, San Diego County © Gary Nafis Specimen courtesy of Robert Applegate
Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard
Adult males, San Diego County © Stuart Young
Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard Cope's Leopard Lizard
  Adult, San Diego County © Rob Schell  
  leopard lizard skin  
  Leopard Lizards, genus Gambelia, have granular scales on the body.  
     
Habitat
Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County
Habitat, San Diego County
Habitat, San Diego County
Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County
Habitat, San Diego County
Habitat, San Diego County
   
Description
 
Size
Up to 5 inches (126 mm)in length from snout to vent.

Appearance
A large lizard with a big triangular head, wider than the neck, which contains folds on the sides.
The nose is elongated slightly.
Color and Pattern
Color is dark gray to light or dark brown, overlaid with large paired dark spots separated by cream colored bars. The dark spots connect on the tail to become dark crossbands separated by cream bars. The ground color lightens considerably as the lizard's body temperature increases.

Females develop red or orange coloring when gravid.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Diurnal, emerging in the morning to bask.
Sometimes found basking on rocks and road berms.
Defense
Besides running away, sometimes flattens the body to rely on cryptic coloring to hide from a predator.
Diet and Feeding
Eats lizards and arthropods, which are caught by ambush, or sitting and waiting for the prey to pass by closely.
Breeding
Breeds from April to July. Eggs are probably laid in the Summer.

Habitat
In California, inhabits coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and oak woodland.
Prefers flat areas with open space for running, avoiding densely vegetated areas.

Geographical Range
Gambelia copei is a Baja California species, ranging throughout most of Baja California, and coming into California only in the extreme southwest part of the state around Cameron Corners, Campo, and the Potrero Grade.

Full Species Range Map
Notes on Taxonomy
Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

At one time considered a subspecies of Gambelia wislizenii.

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Crotaphytidae Collared and Leopard Lizards Smith & Brodie, 1982
Genus Gambelia Leopard Lizards Baird 1859 “1858”
Species

copei Cope's Leopard Lizard (Yarrow, 1882)
Original Description
Gambelia wislizenii copeii - (Yarrow, 1882) - Proc. U.S. Natl. Mus., Vol. 5, p. 441

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Gambelia - honors Gambel, William
copei
- honors Cope, Edward Drinker

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

Related or Similar California Lizards
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard - Gambelia wislizenii
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard - Gambelia sila

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

San Diego Natural History Museum


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.

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.

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.

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.



Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G5 Secure—Common; widespread and abundant.
NatureServe State Ranking S1S2 Critically Imperiled - Imperiled
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife SSC Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN LC Least Concern

 

Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -