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Zebra Tailed Lizard

September 24, 2012

By Matt Marine

The zebra tailed lizard is one of my favorite lizards native to Arizona. I love seeing them while I'm out hiking. They always seem friendly, lively and quick. I like the way their tales curl and they swing them back and forth as if trying to put you in some sort of trance.

The pictures on this page were taken of a baby zebra tailed lizard on my concrete driveway at my house. He was only about an inch and a half long and was super cute. He definitely had an attitude. Spunky, yet friendly. When I was trying to take his picture he would zip to and fro and most of the pictures I took (that you don't see) were just of the tip of his tail as he raced out of the picture.

At one point, I laid down on the concrete and was very still. I waited to see if he would come any closer. Eventually, he did. He was about 12 inches from my camera. Perfect. I went to snap a picture ... and my camera's battery was dead! Bummer.

These pictures will just have to do (until next time). You can click on each to bring up a full-sized image.

This lizard is a medium sized lizard, getting up to about 4 inches long as adults.

They are usually yellow to tan in color with gray or brown spots that run along each side of the spine.

They also have horizontal stripes along the back of each thigh. Males can have yellow or blue patches on the belly. A peach spot often marks the throat area. But the most distinctive feature of the zebra tailed lizard, is of course, it's zebra colored tail.

Horizontal dark colored bands, opposite the white background make the tail look akin to a zebra. They will often wag their tails to show off these stripes when they feel threatened.

Some say this is to let a potential predictor know that they have been spotted by the lizard and not to bother attempting to catch it. I believe it is more like a fake lure. A distraction. Meant to hypnotize and mislead a potential threat.

It's like, "Look over here, see my tail. Go after the tail, not me." If the predictor goes after the tail, it will break off, allowing the lizard to escape, then it's regenerated.
The zebra tailed lizard's inhabit the deserts in southern, central and western Arizona. It is tolerant of the desert heat and you will see these lizards out and about in the middle of the day during summer months. It likes to live in soft, sandy soil with open spaces. It is a very quick lizard with fast bursts of speed. They can even run on just their hind legs for short distances.

Mating occurs in the spring and clutches of up to 15 eggs are hatched during the summer months. They eat a wide variety of small insects including grasshoppers, spiders, ants and beetles.

They may be seen standing on two feet during hot summer days or switching between two sets of feet. They also burrow in the soft sand at night and be found in the shade of a cactus or bush during the day.

If you're lucky enough (don't need to be too lucky since they are fairly common) to see one of these guys. Stop and enjoy the sight.

For more information, visit:
Reptiles of Arizona
Wikipedia

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