madrean alligator lizard   13 comments

Posted at 11:20 am in Arizona,reptiles

I’m working on another post about our autumn travels, but just had to share some photos of a lizard that put in an appearance in the garden last evening. I was walking around in the lane with the two dogs when my gaze fell upon a sinuous, ornately banded tail. At first glance I thought it might be one of the many species of snakes here in southeast Arizona, but closer inspection revealed it to be a lizard which held its small forelegs close to its body. The body had rows of rectangular scales. The head had a longish snout with pretty markings, and quiet, bird-like eyes. I went indoors to get my camera and returned to find it still frozen in the same spot. I shot a few photos, then came in to look for an I.D. in A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona (Brennan & Holycross) – and yes, as you might guess, I have built up a useful collection of field guides pertaining to the flora and fauna of the southwest. Flipping through the pages, I soon identified this creature as a Madrean Alligator Lizard (Elgaria kingii nobilis). Apparently, they are fairly common in this region and often found in forested canyons such as the one where I’m living. Their diet consists of insects, spiders and scorpions. With any luck, this little fellow will dine well on scorpions. As some of you may remember, last year around this time, I was stung by a scorpion, so any creature that puts a dent in the scorpion population is a friend of mine. If you are interested in getting a closer look at this lizard, click here to see a larger photo in which I laid an iris leaf alongside the lizard to provide some scale. Okay, there will probably be a Utah-related post coming up sometime very soon.

Written by bev wigney on December 12th, 2010