Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tree Lizard

The tree lizard, also known as the ornate tree lizard, is found in extreme eastern California (from about Corn Springs on), all of Arizona, much of Utah (eastern and part of southwestern), western Colorado, large portions of New Mexico (other than eastern) and portions of Texas and northern Mexico. Some researchers recognize subspecies (six in the U.S.) and many do not. They are brown, tan, gray, rusty or nearly black with dark blotches or irregular narrow crossbars on the upper surfaces. The coloring usually matches the surrounding environment. The tree lizard, below, was found in Estes Canyon, in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona. It has amazing camoflauge.

This tree lizard was also found in Estes Canyon and is much darker.

Another tree lizard found in Estes Canyon.

The tree lizard, below, was caught by Andrew near Havasu Creek in Havasupai, northern Arizona. It is much prettier with tan and very distinctive cross bars. They have two bands of enlarged scales down the middle of the back, with a band of smaller scales between them. The picture below does not have a good enough resolution to show them.

They often have a rusty area at the base of the tail, as this one does (the one caught at Havasupai), and a fold of skin on each side of the body.

Another picture of the same lizard.

Males have a blue, green, orange or yellow throat patch and blue or blue-green patches on the sides of the belly. Females have a white belly and a white, orange or yellow throat. The belly of the Havasupai tree lizard reveals it to be a male.

They are particularly attracted to river courses (those above were all found near a creek or in a wash) and spend as much time on rocks as they do on trees. They are small, 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 inches, with a long, slender tail.

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