Collared Lizards

Crotaphytus bicinctores


The Great Basin Collared Lizard has two conspicuous black collars on the neck interrupted by a white band. The anterior collar goes all the way around the neck. In males, the throat is slate grey to bluish with a black patch in the center. The males have alternating crossbands of grey and pink or orange and a pale dorsal stripe on the tail. Females are duller than the male, greyish brown in color and they lack the tail stripe. Gravid (pregnant) females have orange spots along the sides and immature males often show the orange coloration to avoid conflicts with mature males. Young of both sexes have bright crossbanding with no throat color. A large adult measures about 13 inches overall.

Another species which inhabits the Southern California Colorado Desert is the Baja California Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus vestigium) which comes closest to the Great Basin in Whitewater Pass. However, neither species crosses the Whitewater River and the Baja Collared inhabits the peninsular ranges from the San Jacinto Mountains South into Baja California.



The Great Basin Desert from SE Oregon and SW Idaho southward through Nevada and Utah, the Mojave Desert of Nevada, Arizona and California, and the Sonoran Desert of Western Arizona and SE Caliifornia mainly north of the Gila River. 


Rocky, hilly terrain and washes and canyons with large rocks used for protection and lookout sites.


Collared Lizards are members of the large family Iguanidae and the Subfamily Crotaphytinae which, besides the Collared Lizards, only includes the Leopard Lizards. The family is characterized by small body scales and long, strong hind limbs. The tail does not detach easily and does not grow back as in other lizards of this family. They are one of the few lizards in the desert which are able to run on the two hind legs only. This is known as bipedal locomotion. They are frequently seen on rocks and boulders but are very wary and difficult to catch.  From these rocks, they keep a lookout for their favorite prey which is other lizards. They also eat a large variety of invertebrates.

Life Cycle

Great Basin Collared Lizards mate in May or June and the female lays from 3 to 7 eggs in summer in sandy soils, in burrows or under rocks. There is no parental care after the female lays.


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