Oklahoma State Reptile
Collared Lizard (common name)
Crotaphytus collaris (scientific name)
A sturdy-looking, vibrantly colored North American lizard, the collared lizard lives in the central and west-central United States and parts of northeastern Mexico. It prefers wide-open spaces with little shade and is active during the day, preferring to bask at high temperatures of up to 110°F (43°C). Rather docile and agreeable to human interaction, particularly when born in captivity, these reptiles have long been kept as pets. The scientific name is Greek: κρόταφος (Krotaphos) means "temple," as in the upper side of the head, and φυτόν (phyton) means "creature." It’s a reference to the lizard’s bite, which is strong for its size. The collared lizard became Oklahoma’s state reptile in 1969.
ALSO KNOWN AS
Mountain boomer, yellowhead collared lizard
The male collared lizard has a large yellow to brown head and two black stripes on its neck and shoulders that give it its common name. The rest of its body is blue-green. The female has a brownish back, similar to the head in color. Both have a pattern of light-colored dots and reddish stripes all over their backs and darker mottling on their tails, which account for more than two thirds of the length of their bodies. A female also develops pink-orange dots during breeding season. The collared lizard has small, smooth scales that cover its solid body, head, and long back legs.
Up to 10 years; average of five to eight years in the wild.
Rocky areas and areas with firm soil—including canyons, slopes, gullies, ledges, and mesas—with or without sparse plant life, particularly greasewood, juniper, pinyon, rabbitbrush, and sagebrush.
Range: Central to western United States, northern Mexico.
Conservation: This lizard has no national conservation status, but populations in individual states are fragmented and diminishing, so the collared lizard is protected in some areas. Loss of habitat is the biggest problem. These lizards make good pets, and in some places too many are taken from their natural habitat, decreasing their numbers in the wild.
The collared lizard spends its day using its strong legs to jump from rock to rock, basking on boulders, or hiding in burrows or crevices. It can run quickly, and will run for cover at the slightest hint of a threat. The male is very territorial and also hisses if threatened. Males are even more competitive during mating season, and sometimes fight to the death for the chance to mate.
A female digs a burrow for her eggs, which she lays in late spring or early summer. In warmer areas, it’s possible for a female to lay two to three clutches in a single season. A nest can range from three to 13 eggs. A collared lizard hatchling is fully formed and independent, and usually emerges at the end of summer. It is usually mature by the time it’s five months old. A collared lizard hibernates in cold weather, usually in a burrow.
Top land speed recorded: 16 mph (26 kph).
Insects, spiders, small mammals or lizards, and rarely plants.
Breeding interval: Annual
Hatching period: August
Average nest size: 5–9 eggs
Size at birth: 2.5 in (6 cm) long
Click to enlarge an image
Raw Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press