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Uma inornata - Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard

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Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
  Adult male, Riverside County  
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult, Riverside County Adult, Riverside County Adult, Riverside County
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult, Riverside County
© 2003 Bon Terra Consulting
Two adults basking on a dune in the morning, Riverside County Adult, Riverside County
© 2004 William Flaxington
Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard
Black blotches on the back merge to form broken lengthwise lines Pale streaks on the throat are faded or absent at mid-throat Underside is pale and unmarked.
(Fewer than 5 percent of lizards have a small dot or group of dots on the sides)
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizards Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizards
Fringes on toes of rear foot Adult, Riverside County © Patrick Briggs Adult male (top) and adult female (right), Riverside County © Patrick Briggs
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizards Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizards Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Cloacal study of adult male (left) and female (right) © Patrick Briggs Top and bottom of head,, Riverside County © Patrick Briggs Adult male underside, Riverside County
© Patrick Briggs
Great Basin Collared Lizard Fringe-toed Lizard footprints. Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Sign
The Fringe-toed Lizards, genus Uma, have soft and smooth skin with granular scales.

Fringe-toed Lizard footprints. Sign at Coachella Preserve,
Riverside County

Habitat
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat
Habitat, wind-blown sand dunes, Riverside County Habitat, wind-blown sand dunes, Riverside County Habitat, wind-blown sand dunes, Riverside County
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard sign  
Habitat, wind-blown sand dunes, Riverside County This Nature Conservancy preserve was formerly named the Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Preserve. Large sand dunes can be seen in the distance.

 
Short Videos of Other Species of Fringe-toed Lizards
Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard
Watch a Mojave Fringe-toed lizard bury itself in the sand to hide. This lizard was captive and sluggish and buries itself slowly and incompletely. In the wild a lizard runs quickly then dissapears in a flash as it dives into the sand.



Watch a Mojave Fringe-toed llizard run quickly over the sand to escape. It almost escaped the camera... A Colorado Desert Fringe-toed lizard runs slowly, then very quickly over the hot sand.
Description

Size
2 3/4 - 4 7/8 inches long from snout to vent (7 - 12.4 cm). (Stebbins 2003) The tail is about the same length as the body.
Appearance

A medium-sized, flat-bodied, smooth-skinned lizard that inhabits areas of loose sand.
Color is white, with a contrasting pattern of broken black lengthwise lines and round, eye-like spots.
The color and pattern create a successful camouflage which allows a lizard to blend into its sandy habitat.

The underside is pale with black bars on the underside of the tail, and there are pale streaks on the throat that are faded or absent at mid-throat.
Fewer than 5 percent of lizards have a small dot or group of dots on the sides of the belly. Most have no markings at all.
Males have enlarged post-anal scales. During the breeding season males develop a pinkish wash on the sides of the belly, and under the tail, and reddish colors around the eyes.
Gravid females develop bright orange coloring on the sides of their flanks, face and the upper part of their tail.

Comparison of the three species of Fringe-toed Lizards found in California.

Behavior and Natural History
Diurnal. Adapted to living in areas with fine windblown sand. A fringe of scales on the sides of the toes help this lizard run quickly over fine sand, preventing them from sinking, similar to the effect of wearing snowshoes. Scales are granular and very small, which helps a lizard bury itself quickly in fine sand. A countersunk lower jaw, eyelids that overlap, flaps over the ears, and nostrils and nasal passages which work like valves, all prevent sand from getting into a lizard's orifices and lungs.

Takes cover in the sand to avoid extreme temperatures. Commonly sleeps in the sand under a bush at night. The parietal eye, an eye-like structure on top of the head, is thought to help this lizard monitor the amount of solar radiation it receives to help it avoid too much or too little heat. On waking in the morning, a lizard often basks with just the head above the sand until its body temperature warms sufficiently to allow it to unbury the entire body and continue basking or begin activity.

Goes underground in the sand or in a burrow in November, and emerges in February. Young lizards may go under later and emerge earlier.

When scared, this lizard will run very quickly on its hind legs to the opposite side of a bush or a small sand hill, and run into a burrow or dive into the sand. Sometimes they will stop and freeze underneath a bush.
Diet
Eats primarily small invertebrates such as ants, beetles, and grasshoppers, along with occasional blossoms, leaves, and seeds. The consumption of plant material may inadvertently occur when a lizard is eating insects. Adults will also eat lizard hatchlings.
Reproduction
Breeding takes place from March through May. Clutches of 2 - 4 eggs are laid from April to September. Young emerge from June to early October.
Range
Endemic to California. Restricted to sandy areas in the Coachella Valley of Riverside County from near sea level to 1,600 ft. (490 m).
Habitat
Sparsely-vegetated arid areas with fine wind-blown sand, including dunes, washes, and flats with sandy hummocks formed around the bases of vegetation. Needs fine, loose sand for burrowing.
Taxonomic Notes
Tre´panier and Murphy (2001) determined that 5 species of Uma inhabit the U.S.: Uma scoparia, Uma inornata, Uma notata, Uma rufopunctata, and an unnamed species from the Mohawk Dunes in Arizona.
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Protected by the state. Approximately 75 - 90 percent of its habitat has been destroyed due to urban and agricultural development, off-road vehicle use, windbreaks, exotic vegetation, and other disruptions to the formation of the wind-blown sand drifts this lizard requires. Several preserves and refuges have been created to protect much of the remaining habitat.

Taxonomy
Family Phrynosomatidae Zebra-tailed, Earless, Fringe-toed, Spiny, Tree, Side-blotched, and Horned Lizards Fitzinger, 1843
Genus Uma Fringe-toed Lizards Baird, 1859 “1858”
Species


inornata Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard Cope, 1895
Original Description
Uma notata inornata - Cope, 1895 - Amer. Nat., Vol. 29, p. 93

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Uma - Yuma Native American group - possibly referring to its location in AZ
inornata
- Latin - not marked (probably referring to the lack of strong marking on the underside of the male, when compared to other Uma species.)

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

Alternate Names
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard

Former names:
Coachella Uma
Coachella Sand Lizard

Related or Similar California Lizards
U. notata - Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard
U. scoparia - Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard
C. d. rhodostictus - Western Zebra-tailed Lizard

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.

Thelander, Carl G., editor in chief. Life on the Edge - A Guide to California's Endangered Natural Resources - Wildlife. Berkeley: Bio Systems Books, 1994.

The Coachella Valley Fringe-Toed Lizard (Uma inornata): Genetic Diversity and Phylogenetic Relationships of an Endangered Species Tanya L. Tre´panier and Robert W. Murphy
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Vol. 18, No. 3, March, pp. 327–334, 2001

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) FT - 9/25/80 Threatened
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) SE - 10/2/80 Endangered
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None

 

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