Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini) Arizona
Cochise County, AZ

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini) Arizona
Plain form. Cochise Co., AZ
Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini) Arizona
Santa Cruz Co., AZ
Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini) Arizona
Santa Cruz Co., AZ

 SLEVIN’S BUNCHGRASS LIZARD  Sceloporus slevini  

DESCRIPTION: A small (up to 68 mm or 2.7″ from snout to vent), tan, gray-brown, or yellow-brown lizard with a broad, gray mid-dorsal stripe and a light stripe on each upper side. The lower sides are often tinted with orange. Some individuals are boldly patterned and others are relatively plain. Boldly patterned animals have dark, crescent-shaped body blotches, crisp-edged stripes on the back, and a dark patch with a light blue center on each shoulder. The back edge of each body blotch is often trimmed with a thin, light line. Plain individuals are generally gray-brown, lack blotches, and have only faint, soft-edged stripes. Males often have two blue bars on the belly. The scales are pointed, keeled, and overlap like shingles. The scale rows on the sides of the body are horizontal (spines point straight back). All other Sceloporus in Arizona have diagonal scale rows on the sides of the body (spines point up and back).

DISTRIBUTION: This lizard is found in several of the “sky island” mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona and in the valleys of eastern Santa Cruz County. It ranges in elevation from about 4,300′ in the valleys to over 9,000′ on the peaks.

HABITAT: Mountain populations inhabit Madrean Evergreen Woodland, Petran Montane Conifer Forest, and Petran Subalpine Conifer Forest communities. In the valleys of eastern Santa Cruz County it is found in Plains Grassland. It is usually encountered in open, sunny areas with abundant bunch grass.

Primarily diurnal. Can be active at any time of year on sunny and warm days. It is often seen scurrying around on the ground between clumps of grass. It also climbs up into tufts. When threatened it often seeks shelter in the inner tangles of the grass.

DIET: Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard eats a variety of insects including true bugs, ants, beetles, wasps, and grasshoppers. It also eats spiders. 

REPRODUCTION: This lizard mates in April and lays a clutch of up to 13 eggs in June, July, or August. Hatchlings emerge in August and September.

REMARKS: Heavy grazing has been linked to severe declines in populations of this lizard. In southeastern Arizona grasslands it was found to be common in ungrazed areas but was virtually absent from adjacent grazed parcels.

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

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.

Slevin's Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini) Arizona Range Map


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