Some other names for this species:
Zebratail Lizard, Gridiron-tailed Lizard
Subspecies I've seen:
Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard
June 21, 1998
Lost Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, California
Zebra-tailed lizards are the fastest lizards in the desert. They have an odd habit of curling their tail over their back, thus revealing the striping, and then waving it slowly from side to side. The most widely accepted theory is that this lulls their predators like a hypnotist's watch, which prevents them from reacting quickly when the zebra-tailed lizard suddently zips away.
Schoenherr points out that the zebra-tailed lizard is one of the few species where the female (shown here, identifiable by the lack of side stripes) displays breeding colors.
May 29, 1999
Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California
The sandy washes of Red Rock Canyon State Park were filled with zebra-tailed lizards racing to and fro. This is an adult female with a regenerated tail. She's keeping her toes and tail off the hot hot ground.
August 1, 1999
Coachella Valley Preserve, Riverside County, California
I discovered on this morning that even in the hottest part of the summer, the desert lizards don't awake until the sun has been out for awhile. The whiptails
awoke first, around 7:00 a.m., followed by the side-blotched lizards
around 7:45 and these zebra-tailed lizards around 9:00.
April 23, 2000
Afton Canyon Preserve, San Bernardino County, California
Here's another youngster keeping its toes from getting too hot.
June 23, 2012
Stirrup Tank, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, California
This zebra-tailed lizard didn't mind a summer heatwave. With daytime temperatures in the low 100's, most of the desert wildlife (even most of the lizards) were avoiding the direct sunlight. But not this fellow, who was standing warily in the middle of a dirt road.
Callisaurus draconoides ventralis
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard
April 10, 1999
near Signal Hill Trail, Saguaro National Park West, Pima County, Arizona
These little speed demons were zipping all around the washes and other open areas on the desert floor. Most of them were young, like these two, but we did see a few adults. Note how their color blends almost perfectly with the gravel and sand they hang out on.
May 28, 2001
Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima County, Arizona
As usual, zebra-tailed lizards were plentiful in the desert. Most of them raced off long before I could get a close-up shot, but the second one pictured here was unusually unafraid.
April 14, 2005
Cave Creek Recreation Area, Maricopa County, Arizona
This adult zebra-tailed lizard is giving me the evil eye as I point my camera in its direction.
May 3, 2009
Coyote Howls Campground, Why, Pima County, Arizona
As we walked our dogs in the morning around the immense Coyote Howls campground, the local lizards began to come out for their morning basks. First there were the usual batch of Side-blotched Lizards
and the similarly small Ornate Tree Lizards
. Next came the slightly larger Zebra-tailed Lizards, and a little later still, the one, the mighty, Super Spiny Lizard