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Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard - Uma scoparia

Cope, 1894
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Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard range map
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Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard
  Adult male, San Bernardino County  
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard
Adult male, San Bernardino County Closed eye showing fringed eyelids Adult male, San Bernardino County
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard
Captive adult, Arizona. Adult, San Bernardino County
© Brad Alexander
Adult, San Bernardino County
© Jeremiah Easter
Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard
Black blotches on the back do not merge - there are no broken lengthwise lines Dark lines on the lower throat form crescent-shaped markings Underside has a black mark
on the lower sides
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard tracks
Fringes on toes of rear foot The Fringe-toed Lizards, genus Uma, have soft and smooth skin with granular scales.

Footprints left by the lizard shown above in the top row as it quickly ran away.
Habitat
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat
Habitat, low, wind-blown sandy wash, San Bernardino County
Habitat, low dunes,
San Bernardino County
Distant view of wind-blown sand dunes habitat, San Bernardino County
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat
Habitat, massive sand dunes,
San Bernardino County
Close-up of part of the dunes shown to the left, San Bernardino County
Habitat, massive sand dunes,
San Bernardino County
Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Habitat Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard sign  
Habitat, San Bernardino County

Sign, San Bernardino County  
Short Videos
Fringe-toed Lizard Fringe-toed Lizard  
Watch a 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 this llizard run quickly over the sand to escape. It almost escaped the camera...  
Description

Size
2 3/4 to 4 1/5 inches long from snout to vent (7 - 11.4 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 or grayish, with a contrasting pattern of black blotches and eye-like spots.
Black blotches on back do not form broken lengthwise lines, unlike on other species of fringe-toed lizards in California.
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 a black mark on the lower sides.
Dark crescent-shaped lines on the throat differentiate this from otherspecies of fringe-toed lizards in California.
Males have two enlarged postanal scales, distinct femoral pores, a hemipenal bulge at the base of the tail, and a greenish wash on the belly with pink on the sides of the body during the breeding season.
Females have a more pronounced pink coloring on the sides during the breeding season.

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 the fall, and emerges in late winter. Young lizards may go under later and emerge earlier or even remain active all year.

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
Clutches of 1 - 5 eggs are laid from May to July.
Range
Inhabits areas of fine windblown sand in the Mohave Desert from the southern end of Death Valley south to the Colorado River around Blythe, and into extreme western Arizona.
From about 300 ft. to 3,000 ft. (90 - 910 m). (Stebbins 2003)
Habitat
Sparsely-vegetated arid areas with fine wind-blown sand, including dunes, flats with sandy hummocks formed around the bases of vegetation, washes, and the banks of rivers. 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.

A 2000 DNA study suggested that U. scoparia may consist of two distinct species. CNAH
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Highly vulnerable to off-road vehicle activity and the establishment of windbreaks that affect how windblown sand is deposited. (Stebbins 2003)

Protected from take with a sport fishing license in 2013.

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


scoparia Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard Cope, 1894
Original Description
Uma scoparia - Cope, 1894 - Amer. Nat., Vol. 28, p. 435

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
scoparia
- Latin -twigs and -aria - having

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

Alternate Names
Former names:
Crescent Uma
Mojave Sand Lizard

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

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.

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.


There are no significant conservation concerns for this animal in California.

Organization
Status Listing
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife DFG:SSC California Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management BLM:S Sensitive
USDA Forest Service None

 

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