Collared Lizard

Part of the Lizards and Snakes: Alive! exhibition.

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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

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.

A reticulate collared lizard on a rock. It has a brownish body with some light and dark specs and several reddish-colored bands running from one of her sides to the other, across her back.
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.




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