When living or visiting Arizona, there are 55 lizards you can come across. Having some understanding of the different lizards can help you identify them quickly. No more guessing what the lizard is in your yard.
Continue reading to find out more about the lizards of Arizona.
Are There Poisonous Lizards In Arizona?
There is one poisonous lizard you may come across in Arizona, the Gila Monster. This lizard will generally not bite unless it is handled.
They are large lizards with short legs.
They bite using their teeth, they do not have fangs, the venom then enters through the bite.
The Gila Monster will hold onto their victim, whether it's you, your child, or your pet, which makes them very difficult to remove.
The jaws are strong and can cause an injury, which will cause severe swelling.
Symptoms of a Gila Monster bite:
- Burning pain or throbbing in the bite area
- Swelling that gets worse
- Teeth that are stuck in the wound once the lizard is removed
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breathing problems
If you, a family member, or a pet has been bitten by a Gila Monster, seek urgent medical treatment.
More information about the Gila monster in Arizona here.
Common Lizards In Arizona
Below are 20 common lizards you can see in Arizona. The list is based on the number of observations people reported on iNaturalist.
Further below I've also added a list of all lizards in Arizona.
1. Ornate Tree Lizard
These tree lizards grow up to 2.3 inches (5.9cm) from snout to vent.
Males have turquoise on their bellies, though their base color can be varied with nine color types being documented to date.
The ornate tree lizard populations in Arizona tend to have two types of colors. The first is an orange throat patch with blue center, while the second has a solid orange dewlap.
It has been noted that the males with orange and blue dewlaps are more aggressive and very territorial.
2. Common Side-Blotched Lizard
Common side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) live in dry regions with three morphs that use a different method to secure a mate. The morphs compete until one morph has the final advantage.
Males can grow up to 2.4 inches (6cm) from snout to vent, with females being slightly smaller.
Some males have blue on their tails and backs with yellow or orange sides, while others have no pattern at all. Females have stripes down their backs.
Both sexes have a blotch on their sides, behind the front limbs.
3. Desert Spiny Lizard
Desert spiny lizards (Sceloporus magister) are common in Arizona.
The adults have blue patches on their dewlap and belly with green or blue on their sides and tails. Juveniles and females have dark spots on their backs and tummies. Both sexes have triangular spots of brown or yellow on their shoulders.
Adults grow up to 5.6 inches. They tend to get darker in winter to absorb more heat and lighter in summer to deflect the radiation on the sun.
These lizards can be found in the southwestern parts of Arizona.
They prefer woodlands and can be found in low valleys, tree branches, woodpiles, rock piles, and on plains.
4. Yarrow's Spiny Lizard
Yarrow's spiny lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii) prefers forests and rocky areas.
They grow up to 4.1 inches (10.5cm) from snout to vent with a cross pattern on their bodies.
They range in color from green and blue to pink and copper with dark gray on the top of their heads. Males can be distinguished with their blue belly and throat.
5. Zebra-tailed Lizard
The zebra-tailed lizard (Callisaurus draconoides) prefers open deserts where the soil is hard with limited vegetation and rocks.
They grow up to 4 inches (10.2cm) from snout to vent.
They are a light brown to gray color with dark gray spots which span down their backs, along with black cross bands on their tails.
They have a white underside to their tails with black crossbars, while males have black blotches on their sides, which extend the blue on their tummies.
These are very alert lizards and remain active even on the hottest of days. When threatened, they run with their tails raised over their backs, to expose their stripes. They will wage their tails to distract their predators.
6. Greater Short-horned Lizard
The greater short-horned lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi) are flat bodies with short spines that crown their heads. They have short legs and a snub nose, growing to around 6 inches (15cm) in total length, males are smaller than females.
These are what you would call “sit and wait” predators. They feed mostly on ants, with some grasshoppers and beetles from time to time. They are often found sitting near a nest or trail.
They are active in the evening and burrow at night to stay out of sight of any predators.
When provoked, they build blood pressure up behind their eyes, which allows them to squirt blood from the eye to attack their predator.
7. Plateau Fence Lizard
The plateau fence lizard (Sceloporus tristichus) has spiny scales on the upper side of their bodies with varied coloration ranging from green to brown and gray with dark brown cross bands on both sides. They have a metallic blue patch on either side of their belly and throat.
Males have brighter blue patches than females.
Males are smaller than the females with average sizes around 2.9 inches (7.5cm) from snout to vent.
They prefer living in rocky areas, such as canyon walls, hillsides, and fallen tree trunks.
8. Western Whiptail
This lizard (Aspidoscelis tigris) is common in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico with stable populations.
These whiptails live in numerous habitats including shrublands, deserts, and anywhere with sparse vegetation. They are often seen in open dry forests and woodlands, where they burrow to escape the heat.
This whiptail has a slender body with grainy scales and large rectangular scales on its tummy. The upper side has light stripes, while the dewlap is pink or orange in adults.
They reach a total length (including the tail) of up to 12 inches (30cm) with a snout to vent length of four inches (10cm).
When newly hatched, they are orange to yellow in color with black to brown stripes or spots.
9. Clark's Spiny Lizard
Clark's spiny lizard (Sceloporus clarkii) is a medium to large reptile that grows up to 5.25 inches (12.8cm) in length from snout to vent.
They have pointed scales with a gray, blue, or tan base with a purple stripe that goes down their back with single yellow scales on the sides.
They have a dark band around their necks with males showcasing a blue dewlap and tummy.
Females have red to orange heads during mating season.
These lizards prefer semi-arid and arid regions, along with mountain slopes. They are often found in rocks and sometimes even in trees, they can be found under boulders.
10. Gila Monster
The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) is the only poisonous lizard you will come across in Arizona.
It is a slow-moving lizard that can grow up to two feet (60cm) in length.
While it is venomous, it's not fast, therefore it is not a real threat to humans and it is a protected species in the state of Arizona.
Their head, back, and tail scales have pearl-shaped bones.
Adults are black with yellow to pink coloration. Males have large triangular heads when comprising them to females.
These lizards prefer the succulent desert, woodlands, and scrublands. They are often found hiding in burrows or under rocks. They need water and are often seek soaking in puddles after the rains.
Their venom is considered as toxic of the Western diamondback rattlesnake with symptoms ranging from agonizing pain to weakness and edema.
A bite is usually not fatal to a healthy human. If bitten, ensure you seek immediate medical treatment.
11. Greater Earless Lizard
These earless lizards (Cophosaurus texanus) can grow up to seven inches (18cm) in length with males being bigger than the female.
Males have two black stripes in front of their hind legs, while females have a black stripe behind each thigh.
They have two throat folds and large eyes.
While their ears do not have an external opening, they can hear.
These lizards are active in the day, hibernate in winter, and will wag their tails to distract predators if approached, along with push-ups, head bobbing, and body compression.
They have an interesting defense mechanism with an opening on the top of the head, called a blood sinus, which gains excellent heat during the day. The blood can be channeled to the eyes when predators approach, enabling them to spray blood on the predator, therefore allowing them to escape.
12. Western Banded Gecko
The Western banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) can grow up to six inches (15cm) in total length. They have a sandy-colored body with dark cross bands and tiny scales. They have movable eyelids.
They live in a variety of habitats including deserts, woodlands, and long grass.
They are nocturnal, which means they are active at night, yet they are very secretive as they hunt for small spiders and insects.
If captured it will break its tail.
They are also known to pull their tail up over their bodies, making them look like a scorpion to distract predators.
13. Regal Horned Lizard
This is a flat, small lizard that can fit on the palm of your hind.
It has spikes around its entire body with its regal horn being the main defense, along with squirting blood out of its eyes.
Adults can grow up to four inches (11cm) from snout to vent.
They are yellow/brown or gray in color with red blotches on the body.
They are slow and therefore use their camouflage to get away from predators.
These lizards are common in southeastern Arizona, especially along the central mountainous region. They prefer gently sloping to level terrain with sparse vegetation. They are found in hot and dry climates.
14. Sonoran Spotted Whiptail
The Sonoran spotted whiptail (Aspidoscelis sonorae) is a medium-sized lizard that grows up to 3.5 inches from snout to vent and up to 12 inches in total length.
They have a pointed spout and thin body that is black to brown in coloration with six yellow stripes.
These lizards can be found in grasslands, woodlands, desert shrubs, and more.
15. Common Chuckwalla
This is a large lizard with a flat body and rounded tummy and blunt-tipped tail.
They can grow up to 20 inches in total length and weigh up to 9kg.
They have small scales that cover the body with larger scales that are responsible for the protection of its ear openings.
Adult males tend to have black on their head, pelvic region, and shoulders, with a light tan mid-body with brown speckles.
Adult females are brown with dark red spots, while juveniles have four to five broad bands on their bodies with three to four bands on their tails, which fade as they age.
They hide from any potential predators, running between a rock crevice, inflating their lungs to hold themselves in place.
These ground-dwelling lizards will spend most of their morning soaking up the sun.
16. Mediterranean House Gecko
This gecko is a house gecko common to Mediterranean areas, which has now spread throughout the world.
They are small in size, reaching up to 5.9 inches (15cm) with large eyes without eyelids and tan skin with black spots.
They often do have stripes on their tails. They have translucent tummies. They have a rounded snout, concave forehead, and ear openings with a moderate-sized body and limbs.
They have a cylindrical, but depressed tail that tapers at the end.
Often, they are translucent with only their spots visible, while others appear darker.
They seek darkness when fleeing from predators.
17. Eastern Collared Lizard
This lizard is easily identified by its two black bands around the neck.
Adults have green scales combined with yellow, blue, brown, and olive scales. Females are dull in color. Both males and females have large heads and white tummies.
These lizards are able to run on their back legs and have a large stride, which is more than three times the length of their bodies.
They do not break their tails as easily as other lizards and in the event, they do have to break their tails, it will not regrow.
The Eastern collard lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) lives in a host of habitats from grasslands and desert shrubs to sagebrush. They do prefer rocky areas.
18. Arizona Alligator Lizard
The Arizona alligator lizard (Elgaria kingii) is a large 5.5 inch lizard with a long body and small limbs, with a long and thick tail.
They have stiff armored scales. They are tan to gray in color with a red or chocolate cross band with dark edges.
You find these lizards in foothills, on mountain slopes, and in low valleys.
They are active during the day and are often seen looking for prey in leaf litter and in rock piles.
19. Desert Grassland Whiptail
The desert grassland whiptail grows to only 5.25 inches (13cm) in length. They are slim with a thin tail that is considerably longer than the body.
They have six yellow lines that run down their body, the body is brown or olive in color that fades to blue or gray on the tail. Juveniles have bright blue tails, which fade as they age.
These lizards can be found in the desert areas of southern to central Arizona. They prefer low valleys, slight slopes, and grasslands.
20. Desert Iguana
The desert iguana grows up to sixteen inches (41cm) in total length and is gray to tan in color with light brown patterns on their sides and backs.
Their tails are one and a half times longer than the body.
These lizards prefer dry and sandy habitats but are often found on rocky streambeds.
They can withstand high temperatures and can be seen, even when other lizards have gone into hiding to escape the head.
They do burrow if threatened, with the burrow being dug under bushes.
List Of Lizards In Arizona
Anguidae(Glass lizards and Alligator Lizards)
- Madrean Alligator Lizard (Elgaria kingii)
Crotaphytidae (Collard and Leopard Lizards)
- Great Basin Collard Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores)
- Eastern Collard Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
- Sonoran Collard Lizard (Crotaphytus nebrius)
- Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii)
Eublepharidae (Terrestrial Geckos)
- Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)
- Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)
Helodermatidae (Gila Monster and Beaded Lizards)
- Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum)
Iguanidae (Iguanas and Relatives)
- Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides)
- Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)
- Desert Iguana (Dipsosaursus dorsalis)
- Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)
- Spiny-tailed IguanaNon-native (Ctenosaura hybrids)
Phrynosomatidae (Horned Lizards, Spiny Lizards, and Relatives)
- Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata)
- Elegant Earless Lizard (Holbrookia elegans)
- Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)
- Goode’s Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma goodei)
- Greater Shorthorn Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi)
- Flat-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii)
- Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum)
- Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)
- Regal Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma solare)
- Twin-spotted Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus bimaculosus)
- Clark’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus clarkii)
- Southwestern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi)
- Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus)
- Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii)
- Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister)
- Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini)
- Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus)
- Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
- Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus)
- Yuman Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma rufopunctata)
- Mohave Fringe-toed lizard (Uma scoparia)
- Long-tailed Brush Lizard (Urosaurus graciosus)
- Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
- Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)
- Mountain Skink (Plestiodon callicephalus)
- Gilbert’s Skink (Plestiodon gilbert)
- Many-lined Skink (Plestiodon multivirgatus )
- Western Skink (Plestiodon obsoletus)
- Western Skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus)
Teiidae (Whiptails, Tegus, and Relatives)
- Arizona Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis arizonae)
- Canyon Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis burti)
- Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail(Aspidoscelis exsanguis)
- Gila Spotted Whiptail(Aspidoscelis flagellicauda)
- New Mexico Whiptail(Aspidoscelis neomexicana)
- Pai Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis pai)
- Tiger Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris)
- Desert Grassland Whiptail (Aspidoscelis uniparens)
- Plateau Striped Whiptail (Aspidoscelis velox)
- Red-backed Whiptail(Aspidoscelis xanthonota)
Xantusidae (Night Lizards)
- Arizona Night Lizard (Xantusia arizonae)
- Bezy’s Night Lizard (Xantusia bezyi)
- Desert Night Lizard (Xantusia vigilis)