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Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Lizards Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)

General Description: Ornate Tree Lizards (Urosaurus ornatus) are small, brown lizards with small scales and a dark ladder-like pattern on a light back. Males have blue or blue-green belly patches. The rusty tail base, blue-green underside, and orange on the throat and dewlap are good indicators.

Around Las Vegas, look for Tree Lizards river drainages along the Colorado River or head out to the Grand Canyon where they are fairly common.

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Typical habitat (Arches National Park, Utah)

Taxonomy: Phrynosomatid Lizard Family (Phrynosomatidae).

Technical Description: Body size to 2.25 in; tail length to 3.25 in. Dorsal color brown to dark gray with darker crossbars. Two rows of enlarged scales down the middle of the back with a band of small scales between the larger scales. Base of tail with rusty color. A fold of skin along the side of the body. Adult males have orange or blue throat and blue or blue-green belly patches. Adult females may have orange or yellow throat, but not the colorful belly patches.

Diet: Insects and other arthropods.

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Blue-green belly and orange dewlap

Habitat: Found widely, but infrequently from the low desert to the pine-spruce forest, primarily in areas with trees or large rocks and along water courses. In Nevada, found only in the Upper Sonoran Life Zone along the Colorado River. Spends most of its time in the trees or on large rocks.

Range: Arizona, southern Utah, southern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, west Texas, northern Mexico. In California and Nevada, only found along the Colorado River. Look for tree lizards at Goldstrike Hot Springs, Arizona Hot Springs, and in Boy Scout Canyon.

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Brown with crossbars (Arches National Park, Utah)

Breeding: Lays 1-6 clutches of up to 12 eggs from March to August.

Similar Species: These lizards superficially resemble Western Fence Lizards, but these have small, smooth scales and the general color is brown rather than gray.

Comments:

Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Male tree lizard has an orange throat patch
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Big male tree lizard in breeding condition (note bright colors)
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Big male notices a female come into his territory and puffs up to shows off his fancy colors.
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
She comes in and he displays his belly color. She seems to like what she sees.
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Discouraging her from running off, he bites and holds her tail
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
It looks like we are going to have little tree lizards before too long
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Pale, red tree lizard on red sandstone in southern UT
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Pale, red tree lizard on red sandstone in southern UT
Ornate Tree Lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)
Gray-brown Tree Lizard with dark crossbars (Arches NP, UT)
more to come ...

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120910

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