Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Arizona
Female. Yuma County, AZ

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Arizona
Male. Mohave Co., AZ
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Arizona

 LONG-NOSED LEOPARD LIZARD  Gambelia wislizenii  

DESCRIPTION: A large (up to 140 mm or 5.5″ from snout to vent) lizard with a large, elongated head and a long, rounded tail. This lizard is capable of changing its coloration and pattern. At times it is light tan to golden yellow with dark brown spots on the back, tail, and hind limbs. The same individual can become dark gray-brown with thin, light, lace-like lines across the back, tail, and hind limbs. When exhibiting light coloration the lace-like lines melt into the light background color and the dark spots stand out. When exhibiting dark coloration the dark spots melt into the background and the light lines stand out. Both lines and spots are visible when the lizard is between the two coloration/pattern extremes. The scales are small and granular. Gravid females have bright orange or red markings on the neck, sides of body, and underside of tail.

DISTRIBUTION: This lizard is distributed across nearly all of southern and western Arizona. It is also found in desertscrub communities on the northeastern plateau region. In our state it occurs at elevations ranging from near sea level along the Colorado River to about 6,000′.

HABITAT: Found in all four of Arizona’s desertscrub communities and Semidesert Grassland. Primarily an inhabitant of relatively flat, shrubby plains, valleys, and gently sloping bajadas with plenty of open space in which to run.

BEHAVIOR: It is usually encountered during the day in the partial shade of low shrubs and bushes. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall. At top speeds it lifts the forelimbs off the ground and runs on its hind limbs. It does not hesitate to bite when captured and it can easily draw blood with its powerful jaws. It may also hiss or squeak when captured. Unlike many of our lizards it can not cast off and regenerate its tail.

DIET: This aggressive predator uses its powerful jaws to capture grasshoppers, beetles, moths, bees, wasps, caterpillars, other insects, lizards (including other Long-nosed Leopard Lizards), snakes, and small mammals. It occasionally eats some plant material including leaves and berries.

REPRODUCTION: The Long-nosed Leopard Lizard mates in spring and lays a clutch of up to 11 eggs in spring or summer. Hatchlings begin to emerge in August.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Arizona Range Map


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