There are 25 lizards that you may observe in Nevada. Maybe you’ve seen a lizard in your yard and worried if it is poisonous. Perhaps you are interested in observing different lizards when on a hike and wondering what they are.
Continue reading to gather more detailed information on the 25 lizards in Nevada.
Are There Venomous Lizards In Nevada?
Seven venomous reptiles reside in Nevada and are potentially dangerous to humans.
The Gila Monster is the only venomous lizard, the rest are all rattlesnakes.
The Gila Monster is a stocky and large lizard that can grow up to a foot or more in length. They have a black snout and a pattern of orange or red with pink and black bands. They have bumpy skin and a round, fat, and short tail.
Their venom is considered moderately toxic, which can be lethal to humans. Bites are painful, but there have been no reports of fatalities as a result.
These lizards are protected and cannot be captured or killed without the required permit.
Lizards In Nevada
The 25 lizards you can observe in Nevada includes:
1. Common Side-blotched Lizard
Common side-blotched lizard
Scientific name: Uta stansburiana.
Common name: common side-blotched lizard.
The common side-blotched lizard is a small lizard with males growing to 2.4 inches (6cm) from snout to vent with females being smaller.
Some males will have blue flecks on their tails and backs with yellow or orange on their sides, some are patterned.
Females have a stripe down their back and sides, which are dull in comparison to the males.
Both sexes have a patch on their sides.
Distribution of common side-blotched lizards
2. Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western fence lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus occidentalis.
Common name: western fence lizard.
The Western fence lizard can grow up to 8.9cm from snout to vent and a total length of 21cm including the tail.
They are brown to black; some have green coloration with black stripes on their backs and bright blue tummies. The sides of the limbs are yellow and they have a blue patch on their throat.
Females and juveniles don’t have the color, or it is very faded.
These lizards are mostly found in California but can be observed in Nevada where they enjoy a host of habitats from sagebrush and woodland to forests, farmland, and grasslands.
They avoid desert areas and are often found close to a permanent water source.
3. Desert Horned Lizard
Desert horned lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma platyrhinos.
Common name: desert horned lizard.
The desert horned lizard has large pointed scales, which helps identify them apart from the other horned lizards. They have a flat and broad body.
Considered medium-sized lizards, they grow to around 3.75 inches (9.5cm).
They have a row of enlarged scales on the throat and varying colors, which helps them blend into the sandy terrain where they prefer to live. Their horns are wide at the base.
4. Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard
Yellow-backed spiny lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus uniformis.
Common name: Yellow-backed spiny lizard.
The yellow-backed spiny lizard is a large lizard that can grow up to 5.5 inches from snout to vent, excluding the tail. The tail is longer than the body.
They are robust lizards in brown or tan with blue markings on their bellies and throats.
Females have pale throats and no blue on their bellies. Females also have an orange or red head during the breeding season.
These lizards prefer living in desert flats, low mountain slopes, woods, and semiarid plains in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah.
They are an ambush predator and are active foragers.
They are burrowers and will spend the hottest part of the day in their burrow, coming out to bask on rocks and hard surfaces the rest of the day.
They hibernate in winter, re-emerging at the start of spring.
5. Western Whiptail
Scientific name: Aspidoscelis tigris.
Common name: Western whiptail.
The Western whiptail is a long slender-bodied lizard with large scales on the belly and small grainy scales on the back.
They have light stripes and a pink to orange throat.
They grow to around 12 inches in total length, which includes the tail. The tail is longer than the body.
They prefer the hotter and drier regions with limited foliage, living in woodlands or the desert where they burrow to escape the midday heat.
6. Long-nosed Leopard Lizard
Long-nosed leopard lizard
Scientific name: Gambelia wislizenii.
Common name: Long-nosed leopard lizard.
The long-nosed leopard lizard is white, cream, or gray with brown or dark gray spots on the head and body. Some have dark bars on their backs and tails.
ales and females have varying appearances with females growing to 5.8 inches (15cm) and males growing to 4.8 inches (12cm).
Both are able to change color with dark phases hiding any spots, but the lighter crossbars become more visible. In light phase, the opposite occurs.
Females develop red or orange spots with bars on their sides when gravid, males develop a rusty or pink-colored throat and chest during the breeding season.
They prefer semiarid areas which include sagebrush, bunch grass, and low plants. They like sand and rocks where they can bask in the sun. They are often observed on small rocks next to the roadside basking in the sun.
They are active throughout the day, where they are active hunters.
They have a freezing behavior as a defense mechanism, flattening their body and remaining motionless until the threat is gone.
7. Zebra-tailed Lizard
Scientific name: Callisaurus draconoides.
Common name: Zebra-tailed lizard.
Zebra-tailed lizards can be observed in the open desert where there is hard-packed soil, scattered rocks, and vegetation.
They grow to around four inches (10.2cm) from snout to vent with a sandy brown color that helps them blend into their surroundings.
They often have spots on their backs and crossbands on the tail. Males have black patches on their sides, which turn to blue on their bellies. Females, on the other hand, don’t have any blue and their bars are faint or missing.
These are very alert lizards that are very active. They run fast with tails over their backs when threatened, which exposes the stripes under their tail.
They burrow in sandy soils at night.
Distribution of zebra-tailed lizards
8. Common Chuckwalla
Scientific name: Sauromalus ater.
Common name: common chuckwalla.
The common chuckwalla is a flat bodies lizard with a round belly and blunt-tipped tail. It is also a large size and can grow to a total length of 20 inches, and a weight of two pounds.
Males have a black head, shoulder, and pelvic region with a tan body with brown speckles.
Females are brown with dark red scattered spots. Juveniles have four or five bands over their bodies, which fade as they age. Some females may retain the juvenile banding.
They are completely harmless to humans and tend to run from a threat, where they flee between rocks.
Distribution of Sauromalus ater
9. Desert Collared Lizard
Desert collared lizard
Scientific name: Crotaphytus bicinctores.
Common name: Desert collared lizard, Great Basin collared lizard, Mojave black-collared lizard.
The desert collared lizard is also known as the Great Basin collared lizard and is endemic to the western United States.
Males are brown to orange with red or pink on their undersides, females tend to be blacker or brown in color.
Their tail is triangular in shape, rather than a round shape. They have broad heads and large hind legs with black bands on the neck.
Males have a dark-colored throat with adults growing to 4.5 inches (11.4cm) from snout to vent. Their tails are double the length of their bodies.
They prefer arid desert regions and can be observed in rocky regions, desert scrub, and desert wash habitats.
Distribution of desert collared lizards
10. Common Sagebrush Lizard
Common sagebrush lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus graciosus.
Common name: Common sagebrush lizard.
The common sagebrush lizard belongs to the spiny lizard family and can be found at high altitudes in the western US. They are very similar in appearance to the Western fence lizard, but they are smaller with finer scales.
They tend to be tan or gray in color with a tan or gray stripe that runs down the middle of their backs, along with two light stripes, one on either side.
They can grow up to 3.5 inches (8.9cm) from snout to vent.
Males have blue on their belly and throat, while females have yellow or white on their belly. Males are known to develop orange coloration during the breeding season.
They are often observed in shrublands, forests, and woodlands. They bask on rocky outcrops and logs, spending their time on the ground.
They will climb in order to escape predators. Their first line of defense is to flee and they are easily frightened. They are also known to play dead.
11. Desert Iguana
Scientific name: Dipsosaurus dorsalis.
Common name: desert iguana.
This is a medium-sized lizard growing to 16 inches (41cm) in total length, including the tail.
They are gray to tan in color with a light brown pattern, which can be seen on their sides and back.
They have a row of enlarged dorsal scales on their backs and stripes on their tails.
Their tails are at least one and a half times the length of the body with a pale belly and pinkish sides during mating season.
They prefer sandy desert scrubland and can be found on rocky stream beds, forests, and scrub. They can withstand very high temperatures and can be observed out and about when all other lizards have retreated to get away from the heat.
They will run away and burrow if they feel threatened.
Distribution of desert iguanas
12. Western Banded Gecko
Western banded gecko
Scientific name: Coleonyx variegatus.
Common name: Western banded gecko.
The Western banded gecko can grow up to 6 inches (15cm) including the tail.
They have a sandy-colored body with darker crossbands. They have a silky look about them.
They live in a range of habitats, including sagebrush deserts and creosote brush.
13. Mediterranean House Gecko
Mediterranean house gecko
Scientific name: Hemidactylus turcicus.
Common name: Mediterranean house gecko, Turkish gecko, moon lizard.
The Mediterranean house gecko is a common gecko found in the United States with moderate body and limbs, rounded snout, and cylindrical and depressed tale.
They are light brown to gray in color, that often look completely translucent with some spotting.
They can be observed on their own or in small groups of up to five. They are often observed on outdoor walls close to lights, where they search for prey.
14. Ornate Tree Lizard
Ornate tree lizard
Scientific name: Urosaurus ornatus.
Common name: Ornate tree lizard.
Ornate tree lizards grow to 2.3 inches (5.9cm) from snout to bent.
Males have turquoise patches on their bellies, which the females lack.
Males tend to be a variety of colors often with a blue spot in the center of a large orange patch on the dewlap or a solid orange dewlap.
Orange blue males tend to be more aggressive and territorial.
15. Greater Short-horned Lizard
Greater short-horned lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma hernandesi.
Common name: Greater short-horned lizard, mountain short-horned lizard.
Greater short-horned lizards are also known as mountain short-horned lizards and are endemic to western North America. They are often referred to as horned toads, but they are lizards. They are often mistaken for the pygmy short-horned lizard.
The greater short-horned lizards are now considered an endangered and distinct species as the pygmy short-horned lizard occupies the habitats.
The greater short-horned lizards are larger than the pygmy growing up to 5 inches (12.7cm) from snout to vent with a flat body and short spines on the head.
They have short legs and a snub nose.
They are yellow, red/brown, or gray in color with large dark spots on their backs. Their colors intensify when they are aggressive or feel threatened.
Females are larger than males.
They are not very active and are what is known as a sit-and-wait predator easing mostly ants, grasshoppers, and beetles.
They camouflage themselves to avoid any predators. They are known to squirt blood from their eyes when being attacked. They rarely squirt the blood at humans.
16. Desert Night Lizard
Desert night lizard
Scientific name: Xantusia vigilis.
Common name: desert night lizard.
This lizard can grow to around 2.75 inches (7cm) snout to vent. Their tails are more or less the same length as their bodies.
They are yellow/brown, olive, or gray in color and are very active during the daytime, changing color as evening approaches.
They are excellent climbers and are very secretive, preferring arid and semi-arid areas.
17. Gila Monster
Scientific name: Heloderma suspectum.
Common name: Gila monster.
The Gila Monster, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, is the only venomous lizard in Nevada.
They can grow to more than a foot in length as adults and are large and stocky in appearance.
They have a black snout and a delineated pattern of orange and red with black and pink bands. They have a beaded skin appearance with a fat, short, and round tail.
The good news is that you will very rarely observe or encounter this lizard, as it spends most of its time underground. They are sometimes active at night after rains but are primarily active during the day.
If threatened, they will rise up on their back legs, lifting their heads, hissing, and opening their mouths. After which they may lunge and snap to try and scare away any threats.
The venom is considered moderately toxic and could potentially kill a human. Their bites have been reported as exceptionally painful, but there are no deaths as a result.
They are protected species and cannot be killed or captured without the relevant permit.
18. Western Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon skiltonianus.
Common name: Western skink.
The western skink is a smoothly scaled lizard with small limbs, growing to around 8.25 inches including their tails.
They love the sun and spend most of the day basking.
If you capture one, it will bite before fleeing. These lizards are very secretive, yet are a common species found in Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, along with Arizona, Missouri, and Montana.
They are observed in a host of habitats where they prefer moist environments, though they can be seen on dry hillsides. They often live in grasslands, juniper sage woodlands, and open pine forests where there is moist soil.
These slinks have a black to brown band down the side of the head that goes beyond the hind legs. Juveniles have bright blue tails, that fade as they age.
Distribution of Western skinks
19. Keeled Rock Gecko
Keeled rock gecko
Scientific name: Cyrtopodion scabrum.
Common name: rough-tailed gecko, rough bent-toed gecko, rough-tailed bowfoot gecko, common tuberculate ground gecko, keeled gecko.
Keeled rock geckos are endemic to Asia but were introduced into the United States through commercial shipping docks.
20. Gilbert’s Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon gilberti.
Common name: Gilbert’s skink.
This is a heavily-bodied lizard that is medium in size, endemic to the southwestern United States.
They can grow up to 4.5 inches (12cm) in total body length, including their tails.
They are found in a range of habits from grasslands to pine forests. They don’t live in forested areas or heavy brush locations.
This heavy-bodied lizard has small legs and is olive, brown, green, or gray in color. Juveniles tend to have light stripes on their sides and back. Striping fades as they age.
They are very seldom seen in the open. They tend to forage in dense vegetation and leaf litter, where they dig through loose soil.
Range of Gilbert’s skinks
21. Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard
Mojave fringe-toed lizard
Scientific name: Uma scoparia.
Common name: Mojave fringe-toed lizard.
The Mojave fringed toed lizard is a medium-sized lizard which is white or gray in color and is usually observed in sand dunes in the Mojave Desert.
This flat-bodied lizard has smooth skin with its skin color helping it blend into its surroundings. They have dark bands on their tails and patches on the side of the belly. The dark patches on the belly turn pink during the breeding season.
22. Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Long-tailed brush lizard
Scientific name: Urosaurus graciosus.
Common name: long-tailed brush lizard.
Long-tailed brush lizards can be observed in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. They are named after their tails, which are double the length of the bodies.
They are almost observed in shrubs or on a tree.
They are tan or gray in color, which helps them camouflage against branches as they lie in wait for prey to pass.
These are more arboreal lizards, spending most of their time on the tip of branches, rather than digging burrows in the sand.
23. Pygmy Short-horned Lizard
Pygmy short-horned lizard
Scientific name: Phrynosoma douglasii.
Common name: pygmy short-horned lizard.
The pygmy short-horned lizard is often mistaken for the greater short-horned lizard. They have similar body types, which are small and pointed scales that sit around the back and head.
The pygmy short-horned lizard has pushed the greater short-horned lizard close to distinction, taking over their habitats in the northwestern United States.
These lizards grow to around 2.5 inches (6.4cm) from snout to vent with flat bodies and short pines on the head.
They have short legs, snub noses and vary from red and brown to gray and yellow with large spots on their backs.
Their colors intensify when they are threatened.
24. Desert Spiny Lizard
Desert spiny lizard
Scientific name: Sceloporus magister.
Common name: Desert spiny lizard.
The desert spiny lizards have blue and violet patches on their throats and bellies with blue or green on their sides and tails.
Females and juveniles tend to have dark spots on their belly and back without the vivid bright coloration of blue or green.
They can grow up to 5.6 inches in body length.
They darken during winter, which helps them absorb more heat from the sun.
The desert spiny lizard can be observed in the mornings basking in the sun or rocks, though they tend to seek shelter in underground burrows when the sun reaches its daytime peak.
They can be found in a range of habitats from woodlands and grasslands to low valleys and plains.
25. Southern Alligator Lizard
Southern alligator lizard
Scientific name: Elgaria multicarinata.
Common name: Southern alligator lizard.
The southern alligator lizard can grow up to seven inches (18cm) from snout to vent and up to a foot or 30cm with the tail.
They have a thick rounded body, small legs, and a tail that is double the length of the body.
They can drop their tails when attacked, which gives the lizard a chance to escape.
They vary in color from brown and green to gray or yellow with red patches in the middle of their back. They usually have up to thirteen dark crossbands on their sides, back, and tail, complete with adjacent white spots.
They can be observed in a host of habitats, which include open forests, grasslands, suburban and urban areas, along with desert regions. They are often observed when hunting for prey in the morning and evening.
They will bite and defecate if captured.