Crotaphytus bicinctores — Great Basin Collared Lizard
Some other names for this species:
Black-collared Lizard, Desert Collared Lizard, Mojave Collared Lizard
Collared lizards spend a lot of time basking on large granite rocks looking for something to chase down and devour. This one's tail is not quite complete, so it may have narrowly escaped being chased down and devoured itself.
On this warm cloudless morning, the boulders of 49 Palms Oasis Trail were crawling with chuckwallas and collared lizards. The collared lizards in the first two pictures are adopting a posture common to several of those we saw. One could imagine that they are stretching as high as possible for the most encompassing view, or trying to call attention to themselves to impress the opposite sex, but I believe they're just keeping their toes off the rock to prevent overheating.
The last one pictured here has very bright red bands across its body, signifying that it is a she and that she is in the breeding season. She does look pretty pudgy there, doesn't she?
This young collared lizard was, like most collared lizards I've seen, perched on a boulder, surveying its kingdom for both prey and predator. It thought I was the latter, and so hunkered down into its "you can't see me because I'm flat against this rock" position, which might work against hawks or something but didn't work so well against me.
- William Wells has a site with many great photos of collared lizards (among other species).
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Sanborn, S. R. 1994. The Lizard-Watching Guide
- Schoenherr, A. A. 1992. A Natural History of California
- Smith, H. M., Brodie, E. D. Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition