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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Great Basin Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus bicinctores

Smith and Tanner, 1972
Click on a picture for a larger view



Great Basin Collared Lizard California Range Map
Range in California: Red



observation link





Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Inyo County Adult male defensive display,
Inyo County
Adult male, Inyo County Adult male, Inyo County
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Inyo County Adult, Inyo County Juvenile, San Bernardino County
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult female, Inyo County Adult male, San Bernardino County
© Guntram Deichsel
Adult male, Antelope Valley,
Los Angeles County © Todd Battey
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, Inyo County
© 2005 Jeremiah Easter
Adult male, Inyo county Adult female, Inyo county Juvenile, Inyo county
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult Male, Inyo County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult Male, Imperial County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult female with breeding coloration, 6,000 ft., Inyo County. © Ceal Klingler Juvenile, San Bernardino County
© Filip Tkaczyk
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Collared Lizards in lava rock habitat tend to have dark coloring to match the dark rocks, as you can see on this adult from San Bernardino County. © Filip Tkaczyk Adult, San Bernardino County
© Jeff Ahrens
Adult, Lassen County © Debra Frost
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Mono County © Keith Condon Adult, Mono County © Keith Condon Adult male, Inyo County Adult male, Inyo County
Great Basin Collared Lizard xGreat Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard  
Breeding colors on gravid adult female, Inyo County Adult Male cloacal region, showing femoral pores, Imperial County
© Patrick Briggs
Collared lizards have
mostly granular scales.
 
       
Great Basin Collared Lizards From Outside California
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Washoe County, Nevada
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Washoe County, Nevada Adult male, Washoe County, Nevada
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult male, Washoe County, Nevada Juvenile, Washoe County, Nevada Adult male, Washoe County, Nevada
     
Feeding
collared lizard eating mouse collared lizard eating mouse    
A large male eating a small rodent on a cool day in March in Washoe County, Nevada.  © Richard Lingo    
     
Habitat
Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Inyo County Habitat, Inyo County Habitat, San Bernardino County Habitat, Inyo County
Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat Variable Groundsnake Habitat Great Basin Collared Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Inyo Mountains, Inyo County Habitat, San Bernardino County Habitat, Westgard Pass,
Inyo County
Lizard in habitat, Inyo County
       
Short Videos
Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard Great Basin Collared Lizard and human herp nerd
Great Basin Collared Lizard
On a sunny day with an air temperature of 91 degrees and rock temperatures so hot I couldn't lean my hand on them for support, a collared lizard lets me and the camera get so close to it that I can reach out and touch it on the back. This confuses the lizard but he doesn't run off until after I do it a second time. No need to use a noose when you can get this close. A big male collared lizard lets me follow him around closely from rock to rock. A posing collared lizard gets photobombed by a guy in a silly hat then runs away in disgust. I don't blame him. Two juvenile Great Basin Collared Lizards in the Mohave Desert.
       
Description
 
Size
2.5 - 4 3/8 inches long (8.6 - 11.2 cm) excluding tail. The tail is often twice the length of the body.

Appearance
A large lizard with a broad-head, a narrow-neck with a pair of black bands, large rear legs, and a long thick tail.
Often described as looking like a small "dinosaur".
The tail is flattened slightly vertically, with brown spots on the sides.
Color and Pattern
Color above is brown to olive with many small white spots and dashes and brown or reddish-orange crossbands.
Two black bands on the neck with a white band between them create the "collar" for which this lizard is named.
Often the black bands are edged with two more light bands.
The underside is mostly white.
Male / Female Differences
Brown or reddish-orange crossbands are more pronounced on males.
The black throat band coloring continues onto the underside of the throat on males, covering the throat and much of the chin.
Males have a broader head than females
Males have two black patches on the underside near the groin.
A light stripe on top of the tail is usually present on males, and absent on females.

Females are not as brightly-colored as males, except when breeding when they develop reddish-orange bars and spots on the neck and body.
The throats and chins of females lack dark coloring.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Active in daytime.
Very tolerant of heat.
Often seen basking conspicuously on top of small rocks, but not a great climber, avoiding very large boulders and cliffs.
Forages for food on the ground, usually near rock piles.
May become bipedal when running quickly; raising up to run only on the hind legs.
Territoriality
Males become aggressive and very territorial in the breeding season.
They are more approachable at this time, as they tend to stand their ground on top of a rock, often raising up on their legs, bobbing up and down, and extending a blue and black throat dewlap in a threat display (which may also be attractive to females).
Defense
Retreats into a hole or burrow when threatened.
When handled, this lizard is capable of biting very hard, and drawing blood with its strong jaws.
Diet and Feeding
Eats insects, spiders, small lizards, including horned lizards, small snakes, leaves and flowers.

Occasionally eats large lizards: A Great Basin Collared Lizard was found to have consumed a juvenile Chuckwalla (Herpetological Review 38(4), 2007.)
Breeding
Breeds in the spring, lays eggs in the summer.

Geographical Range
In California, found in the Great Basin desert in the far northeast and east of the Sierras, throughout the Mojave Desert west to near the Grapevine, and in the Sonoran Desert north and east of the Imperial Valley.
Also recorded in Kernville in the southern Sierras and at scattered locations just south of the desert in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, including  the "North fork of Lytle Creek, San Antonio Canyon, headwaters of E. Fork of San Gabriel River, San Antonio Wash near where N. Fork of San Antonio R. enters main wash." (Stebbins 2003) the headwaters

Beyond California the species ranges north through most of Nevada to southeast Oregon, southern Idaho, through western Utah and northern and western Arizona. Isolated populations occur in eastern Idaho and Utah.

Full Species Range Map
Habitat
Prefers arid rocky hilly deserts with sparse vegetation, but sometimes found in areas with few rocks.

Notes on Taxonomy
Formerly known as Great Basin Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus insularis bicinctores, a subspecies of Crotaphytus insularis, the Desert Collared Lizard, before the species was split into C. bicinctores and C. vestigium - Baja California Black-collared Lizard.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Crotaphytus bicinctores - Great Basin Collared Lizard (Stebbins 2003)
Cnemidophorus insularis bicinctores - Great Basin Collared Lizard (Stebbins 1985)
Cnemidophorus collaris baileyi - Western Collared Lizard (Smith 1946)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Crotaphytidae Collared and Leopard Lizards Smith & Brodie, 1982
Genus Crotaphytus Collared Lizards Holbrook, 1842
Species

bicinctores Great Basin Collared Lizard Smith and Tanner, 1972
Original Description
Smith and Tanner, 1972 - Great Basin Nat., Vol. 32, p. 27

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Crotaphytus - Greek - krotaphos side or temple of the head - refers to the presence of small polygonal plates on the whole surface of the head.
bicinctores
- Latin - bi two and cinctus banded or girdled - refers to the presence of two black bands on neck and shoulder region.

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

Related or Similar California Lizards
Crotaphytus vestigium - Baja California Black-Collared Lizard
Gambelia wislizenii - Long-nosed Leopard 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.

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.

Brennan, Thomas C., and Andrew T. Holycross. Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department, 2006.


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
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
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
IUCN


 

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