Callisaurus draconoides Zebra-tailed Lizard
Some other names for this species:
Zebratail Lizard, Gridiron-tailed Lizard
Subspecies I've seen:
C. d. rhodostictus
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard
C. d. ventralis
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard
Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus Western Zebra-tailed Lizard
Lost Palms Oasis Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, CaliforniaJune 21, 1998
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
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.

Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, CaliforniaMay 29, 1999
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
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.
Coachella Valley Preserve, Riverside County, CaliforniaAugust 1, 1999
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
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.
Afton Canyon Preserve, San Bernardino County, CaliforniaApril 23, 2000
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
Here's another youngster keeping its toes from getting too hot.
Stirrup Tank, Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, CaliforniaJune 23, 2012
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
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.
Mohawk Dunes, Yuma County, ArizonaMay 19, 2015
Western Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides rhodostictus)
As I was driving back down the dirt road from whence I had come, after a successful quest for both Goode's Horned Lizards and Yuman Desert Fringe-toed Lizards, this tiny lizard's movement caught my eye. I managed to get this one crappy photo from the car before it took off at a crazy speed as any self-respecting zebra-tailed lizard is wont to do. I was surprised to see only this one zebra-tail in the two drives I took out to this area, since they are typically quite common where they are present.
Callisaurus draconoides ventralis Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard
near Signal Hill Trail, Saguaro National Park West, Pima County, ArizonaApril 10, 1999
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis) Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
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.
Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima County, ArizonaMay 28, 2001
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis) Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
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.
Cave Creek Recreation Area, Maricopa County, ArizonaApril 14, 2005
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
This adult zebra-tailed lizard is giving me the evil eye as I point my camera in its direction.
Coyote Howls Campground, Why, Pima County, ArizonaMay 3, 2009
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
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.
near Ajo, Pima County, ArizonaAugust 14, 2013
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
That squint means "you might think you can catch me, but you are *so* wrong".
Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima County, ArizonaAugust 2, 2014
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
I was out looking for toads and snakes about an hour after dark when a light-colored blotch caught my eye just as I passed it. "Hmm, was that a lizard?", thought I to myself. I assumed it must be a banded gecko, since that was the only nocturnal lizard found in the area. I backed up to get a second look, and was surprised to see this zebra-tailed lizard run across to the edge of the road. "What is it doing out so late?", thought I to myself. (Thigmothermy, perhaps.)
Alamo Canyon, Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima County, ArizonaAugust 3, 2014
Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis) Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis) Eastern Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides ventralis)
Ah, the pleasures of the early morning sun on your back!
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