CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Long-nosed Leopard Lizard - Gambelia wislizenii

(Baird and Girard, 1852)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Range Map
Range in California: Red
Light blue: Hybrids with G. sila



observation link



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Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
  Adult, Imperial County  
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult, Imperial County Adult, Inyo County Adult, Inyo County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
  Adult, Lassen County   Adult, Modoc County
© 2005 William Flaxington
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Subadult, Inyo County Adult, Kern County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult, Inyo County Adult, Inyo County Adult, Kern County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult from Lassen County southeast of Honey Lake. © Debbie Frost Adult, Mojave Desert. Kern County Adult, Inyo County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard comp Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, approx. 6,500 ft. Kennedy Meadows in Tulare County
© Nancy Herron
Adult male, San Bernardino County
© Benjamin Smith
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
Leopard Lizards, genus Gambelia, have granular scales on the body.
       
Juveniles
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Juvenile, Washoe County, Nevada Juvenile, Kern County
© Brad Alexander
Juvenile, Kern County
     
Adult Long-nosed Leopard Lizards From Outside California
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Adult, Washoe County, Nevada Adult, Washoe County, Nevada Adult, Washoe County, Nevada Adult, Washoe County, Nevada
       
Breeding Adults
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizards Long-nosed Leopard Lizards
Gravid female, San Bernardino County
© Brad Alexander
Adult male and female mating, June,
Kern County © Brad Alexander
Male (left) Female (right)
Inyo County © Patrick Briggs
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Female, Inyo County
© Patrick Briggs
Gravid adult female, San Bernardino County © Benjamin Smith Gravid adult female, Washoe County Nevada
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard    
Adult female with breeding color,
Inyo County
   
     
Habitat
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Inyo County Habitat, Inyo County Habitat, Kern County Habitat, Great Basin desert,
4,000 ft., Lassen County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat
Adult in habitat, Inyo County Habitat, San Bernardino County Dunes habitat during spring wildflower bloom, Imperial County Habitat, Inyo County
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Habitat great basin rattlesnake habitat    
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, Surprise Valley, Modoc County    
       
Short Videos
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Stalking a leopard lizard from the lizard's-eye-view. A leopard lizard slowly wriggles its long tail as if using it as a lure. Or maybe it's a nervous behavior. A large adult leopard lizard is noosed around the waist then released where it was found in some low sand dunes in Imperial County. A sub-adult leopard lizard lets the camera get close on a road in the morning in Inyo County.
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
One morning I saw a dozen leopard lizards basking on asphalt roads in Inyo County. These are a few of them. Leopard lizards in the Nevada desert. An adult leopard lizard runs across a road in Lassen County. A tiny juvenile leopard lizard is caught with a noose. As it is being photographed, a large Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard runs up and grabs it, dragging it and the noose away, until I scare it off. The baby lizard is put back on its basking rock until it revives enough to run under a bush.
     
Description
 
Size
3.25 - 5.75 inches long from snout to vent (8.2 - 14.6 cm).
Males are a bit smaller than females.

Appearance
A large fast-moving lizard with a large head, a rounded body, well-developed limbs, granular scales, and a long rounded tail, which can be more than twice the body length.
Color and Pattern
Has light and dark color phases:
In the light phase, the ground color is gray, brown, or yellowish with many dark markings.
In the dark phase, the color is mostly brown with light spots and light crossbars.

The underside is pale, with gray markings on the throat.
Male / Female Differences
Females develop reddish orange spots and bars on the sides and underneath the tail during the breeding season.
These colors develop shortly before ovulation and persist until eggs are layed.

Males do not develop reddish pigmentation during the breeding season.
Young
Juveniles have more highly contrasted markings than adults, often with rusty coloring on the back or bright red spots.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
A fast diurnal ambush predator that typically lies in wait in the dappled shadows under a bush where the lizard's dark and light markings help it to avoid the attention of its prey. 
Typically active from March to October, with a shorter activity period at colder higher-elevation locations.
Hides under rocks, surface objects and in burrows.
Defense
When threatened sometimes hisses and squeals.
Its strong jaws are capable of delivering a painful bite.
Diet and Feeding
Omnivorous: Eats invertebrates, including crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillers, bees, and spiders, along with small rodents, small snakes, lizards, leaves, berries, and flowers. Eat lizards near its own size, and of its own species.
Breeding
Eggs are laid from March to July. Females develop reddish coloring during the breeding season.

Geographical Range
In California, this species ranges throughout the deserts, from the eastern base of the Peninsular and the northern edge of the Transverse mountains,into the Great Basin desert east of the Sierra Nevada and along the extreme northeastern border with Nevada.

Beyond California it ranges widely in extreme northeastern Baja California, southeast Oregon, southern Idaho, most of Nevada, western, southern, and part southeastern Utah, much of western and southern Arizona, parts of New Mexico, and West Texas, and along the western coast of Sonora Mexico, and along northcentral Mexico south of Texas.

According to Stebbins (2003) an old record shows that this species was once present at Gavilan Peak near Riverside, which is on the coastal side of the transverse and peninsular ranges, and a good distance from  desert localities.

Elevational Range
From below sea level near the Salton Sea to approx. 6,500 ft. at Kennedy Meadows, Tulare County.

Habitat
Arid and semiarid plains with sagebrush, creosote, grass, and other low scattered vegetation.
Prefers flat areas with open space for running, avoiding densely vegetated areas.

Notes on Taxonomy
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.)

Before they were synonymized in 1996, ( McGuire (1996 Bulletin of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History 32: iv + 143 pp.) several subspecies of Gambelia wislizenii were once recognized.

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

wislizenii Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Baird and Girard, 1852)
Original Description
(Baird and Girard, 1852) - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 67, p. 69

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Gambelia - honors Gambel, William
wislizenii
- honors Wislizenius, F.A.

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

Alternate Names
Formerly, as many as 5 subspecies of Gambelia wislizenii were recognized, 3 in our area:
G. w. wislizenii - Large-spotted Leopard Lizard; G. w. copei - Cope's Leopard Lizard; G. w. maculosus - Lahontan Basin Leopard Lizard.

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

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.

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.

Brown et. al. Reptiles of Washington and Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society,1995.

Nussbaum, R. A., E. D. Brodie Jr., and R. M. Storm. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Pacific Northwest. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho, 1983.

St. John, Alan D. Reptiles of the Northwest: Alaska to California; Rockies to the Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, 2002.

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


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
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

 

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