Collared Lizard main content.

Collared Lizard

Part of the Lizards and Snakes: Alive! exhibition.

Collared Lizard
Collared Lizard
© AMNH / Denis Finnin

This lizard leaps from rock to rock, powered by hind legs three times the length of those in front.

Legs

This Collared Lizard is fast! It's been clocked at 26 kilometers (about 16 miles) per hour in short bursts--about as fast as a human in full sprint. It often runs on its hind legs.

Markings

Many Collared Lizards have a distinctive stripe around their throats, and the rest of their skin is usually quite colorful--from bright blue to green to fawn brown.

Throat

Very territorial, Collared Lizards stand high on their legs and inflate their throats when they spy a stranger. Making themselves look bigger is one way lizards communicate dominance.

Mouth

The Collared Lizard is a strong predator that will eat other lizards, so it has sharp teeth and powerful jaws for crushing its food.

Tongue

Collared Lizards and their relatives have short, thick, sticky tongues that they use mostly for capturing prey.

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Eastern Collared Lizard
© Jack Goldfarb, Texas Tech University

Squamates "taste" the air with their tongues. They pick up odor molecules from the air and bring them to a sense organ--called the vomeronasal organ--inside the roof of the mouth.

Meet the Family

The roughly 10 species of Collared and Leopard Lizards--Crotaphytidae--are medium-sized, territorial hunters that live in dry places. In shape and lifestyle they likely resemble the earliest squamates. Modern Collared Lizards look a lot like eighty-million-year-old fossil lizards from Mongolia.

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Reticulate Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus reticulatus)
© Bradford D. Hollingsworth/San Diego Natural History Museum

Reticulate Collared Lizard

Crotaphytus reticulatus

The red bars signal that this is a brooding female. Such color change is one way lizards communicate information.

 

 

 

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Dickerson's Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus dickersonae)
© Bradford D. Hollingsworth/San Diego Natural History Museum

Dickerson's Collared Lizard

Crotaphytus dickersonae

This animal is known from the coastal hills of Sonora (northwest Mexico) along the east coast of the Gulf of California.

Fast Facts

Name: Collared Lizard; Crotaphytus collaris
Size: 20-35 centimeters (8-14 inches)
Range: Central and western United States, northern Mexico
Diet: Insects, lizards, plants