Collared Lizard


The collared lizard is common in the Southwest and isn't dangerous. — photo courtesy of Hanna Kirton

The collared lizard is common in the Southwest and isn't dangerous. — photo courtesy of Hanna Kirton

This critter, seen by Hanna Kirton in her new house in Coolidge, Arizona, is most likely a collared lizard (Crotaphytus).

These lizards are so named for the characteristic two black bands on their neck. Although this lizard's collar is somewhat concealed by the turned head, its fleshy tail, long toes and the large head are also characteristic of the species. The adult male can measure up to 10 inches long. Individual scales may be tan, green or brown. The adult males are usually bright green or turqoise. The female is smaller and may be only slightly green.

Unliked the Gila monster, which is the only poisonous lizard in Arizona, the collared lizard poses no threat.

"It is not poisonous and creates no danger," says Rick Gibson, cooperative extension agent for Pinal County. "It feeds mainly on insects and is considered a beneficial animal, although if threatened they have been known to bite."

The collared lizard can run upright on its powerful hind legs. It usually shows little fear of humans.

The lizard shown here had found its way into Hanna's home, which was then under construction. "The workers let it out, I hope," she writes.

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