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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard - Gambelia sila

(Stejneger, 1890)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Historical Range in California: Red



observation link



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Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult male in dark phase, San Luis Obispo County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult male, San Luis Obispo County Adult, San Luis Obispo County Adult female, light phase, showing breeding coloring, San Luis Obispo County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult, San Luis Obispo County
Adult, San Luis Obispo County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult at the mouth of its burrow,
San Luis Obispo County.
Juvenile, San Luis Obispo County Adult, Fresno County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizards Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Male during the breeding season, Tulare County. © Don Roberson
(Don's web page has more pictures of Blunt-nosed Leopard lizards and their Tulare County habitat.)
Adult male (left) and adult female (right) showing the striking salmon lateral and ventral region of a male in very hot temperatures during breeding season. Kings County © Patrick Briggs
Adult, Tulare County © Patrick Briggs
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult male, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult female, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult male, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Juvenile, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult, Fresno County. © Chad Lane Adult, Fresno County. © Chad Lane
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Hatchling, San Benito County © Jon Hirt Adult head, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard comp Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard
Gambelia Nose Comparisons

Top - Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard -
Gambelia sila
(Adult, Kings County)

Bottom - Long-nosed Leopard Lizard -
Gambelia wislizenii
(Adult, Inyo County)

© Patrick Briggs

As you would expect from their common names, the Long-nosed Leopard Lizard has a longer nose than the Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard.
Cloacal views of Gambelia sila

Top - Female

Bottom - Male

© Patrick Briggs

Notice the hemipenis pocket and the enlarged femeral pores on the male, and the orange breeding coloring on the female.
Backs and skin of Gambelia sila

Left - Male

Right - Female

Both are adults from Kings County.

© Patrick Briggs
  Great Basin Collared Lizard  
  Leopard Lizards, genus Gambelia, have granular scales on the body.

 
Habitat
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Kings County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
Habitat, Fresno County Habitat, Tulare County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County Habitat, San Luis Obispo County
Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat  
Habitat, Kings County © Patrick Briggs

Habitat, San Luis Obispo County  
Short Video
  Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard  
  A large adult lizard rests at the mouth of its burrow then runs off into its sparsely-vegetated habitat.

 
Description

Size
3 - 5 inches SVL (7.5 - 12.5 cm.)
Appearance
A large lizard with a broad triangular-shaped head, a truncated snout (compared to the Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard) a rounded body, well-developed limbs, granular scales, and a long rounded tail that is longer than the body.

Color is grayish to brown, with cream-colored crossbands and large dark spots. The ground color lightens considerably as the lizard's body temperature increases. The underside is pale, with gray markings on the throat.

Juveniles have more highly contrasted markings than adults, often with rusty coloring on the back or bright red spots, and yellow on the thighs and under the tail.

Females develop reddish orange spots and bars on the sides and underneath the tail when gravid.
Males develop pink or rusty wash on the throat, chest, and sometimes the body, during the breeding season.
Behavior
Diurnal, emerging to bask in the morning. Uses mammal dens and burrows for cover and shelter. The number of available burrows will determine the size of this lizard's population in an area.
Diet
Eats insects and other arthropods, and lizards.
Reproduction
Breeds frtom May to June. Eggs are laid in June and July, and hatch in July and August.
Range
Endemic to California. Inhabits the San Joaquin Valley and nearby valleys and foothills, from extreme northwest Santa Barbara County and western Kern County north to southern Merced County.
From 100 - 2,400 ft. (30 - 730 m).
Habitat
Semiarid grasslands, alkali flats, and washes. Prefers flat areas with open space for running, avoiding densely vegetated areas.
Taxonomic Notes
There is evidence that at one time G. sila hybridized with G. wislizenii in the upper Cuyama drainage in Ventura Co, but there is no evidence that there is any current contact between the two species, or if they can hybridize now. Much of the hybrid zone habitat has been degraded, and it appears that these hybrids have been eliminated. (Stebbins 2003.)
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Endangered. No longer present throughout most of its former range as the habitat has been significantly altered by farming, urban development, overgrazing, oil wells, mining, reservoirs, and off-road vehicle use. This habitat alteration continues.

At the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge, managed cattle grazing has been used to reduce dense growths of non-native grasses, which improves the habitat for the Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard and other threatened species.

Taxonomy
Family Crotaphytidae Collared and Leopard Lizards Smith & Brodie, 1982
Genus Gambelia Leopard Lizards Baird 1859 “1858”
Species


sila Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard (Stejneger, 1890)
Original Description
Gambelia sila - (Stejneger, 1890) - N. Amer. Fauna, No. 3, p. 105

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Gambelia - honors Gambel, William
sila
- Latin silus - snub nosed - refers to the blunt nose of species compared to Gambelia wislizenii

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

Alternate Names
Formerly Gambelia silus

Related or Similar California Lizards
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard - Gambelia wislizenii
Cope's Leopard Lizard - Gambelia copeii

More Information and References

Natureserve Explorer

California Dept. of Fish and Game

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.



Conservation Status

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



Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) FE 3/11/67 Endangered
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) SE - 6/27/71 Endangered
California Department of Fish and Wildlife DFG:FP Fully Protected
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None

 

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