Online Field Guide to The Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona

Arizona Night Lizard (Xantusia arizonae) Arizona
Arizona Night Lizard. Yavapai County, AZ

Arizona Night Lizard (Xantusia arizonae) Arizona
Yavapai Co., AZ

 ARIZONA NIGHT LIZARD  Xantusia arizonae  

DESCRIPTION: A small (up to 60 mm or 2.4″ from snout to vent) lizard with soft skin and a broad, somewhat flattened head. Markings usually consist of dark blotches or spots on a yellow to light olive background but some specimens are marked with numerous fine speckles. The scales on the upper surface of the body are small and granular and a fold of skin runs along each lower side. The scales of the belly and tail are larger and rectangular. The scales on top of the head are large, smooth, and plate-like. The eyes are lidless and the pupils are vertically elliptical.

DISTRIBUTION: This Arizona endemic is found in a small chain of ranges in western Yavapai County at elevations ranging from about 760 m (2,500′) to about 1,500 m (5,000′).

HABITAT: This inhabitant of rugged, rocky slopes and boulder fields within desertscrub and Interior Chaparral communities is primarily a crevice-dweller but it occasionally seeks shelter in and under plant debris such as dead yucca and prickly pear.

The majority of this lizard’s life is spent within the shelter of rock crevices. It thermoregulates by basking near the sun-warmed edge of the crevice and under sun-warmed rocks and it rarely ventures away from shelter during daylight hours.

DIET: The Arizona Night Lizard feeds on ants, flies, beetles, a variety of other insects, and spiders.  

REPRODUCTION: Live bearing. Mating presumably takes place in spring. One or two young are born in late August or early September.

By Thomas C. Brennan

Bezy, R.L., 2005. The Night Lizards (Xantusia) of Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist. 18(2) 14-19.

Sinclair, E.A., R.L. Bezy, K. Bolles, J.L. Camarillo, R., K.A. Krandall, and J.W. Sites, Jr. 2004. Testing Species Boundaries in an Ancient Species Complex with Deep Phylogeographic History: Genus Xantusia (Squamata: Xantusiidae) American Naturalist. 164(3).

Arizona Night Lizard (Xantusia arizonae) Arizona Range Map



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