Numerous types of lizards make their home in Arizona. These lizards are a vital part of the ecosystems they inhabit, because they often pollinate flowers within the area, function as both predators and prey, and help maintain balance in the delicate desert like environment. Though more than 25 kinds of lizards can be found in Arizona, there are five lizards that are the most common.
The Gila monster is a large lizard native to the southwest region of the state. Gila monsters are vibrantly colored with black bands complemented by bright bands that can be red, orange, yellow and even peach in hue. Known for its dark and forked tongue, the Gila monster is a poisonous lizard that eats small animals such as birds, rats and small lizards. Female Gila monsters reproduce every other year and have between two and 12 offspring at a time.
Desert Spiny Lizard
The desert spiny lizard is a large lizard that can grow to nearly 6 inches in length. This lizard blends into its natural surroundings with its predominantly gray, tan and brown coloration. The desert spiny lizard also often is marked with a long purple or blue patch along its underbelly. This lizard makes in home in the southwest and northeast corners of Arizona and usually resides in lower altitude plains and woodland areas. The desert spiny lizard feasts on many small insects, including spiders, beetles and centipedes.
Regal Horned Lizard
The regal horned lizard is a distinctively shaped lizard with a flat and wide body, a shorter tail and a spiky head. This lizard has a dull coloring that is predominantly tan, brown, rusty and gray. The regal horned lizard finds its home across the more mountainous regions throughout the central portion of the state. This lizard seeks protection from colder temperatures and predators by burying itself under the sand, and it will shoot blood from its eyes when threatened.
Found in the southwestern corner of the state along the Colorado River, the chuckwalla is large lizard that can grow to 9 inches in length. Male chuckwallas are predominantly black, and their female counterparts are gray and brown. Commonly seen around the Grand Canyon, this lizard is known as a rock dweller that will wedge its body between two rocks when threatened. Chuckwallas mate each summer and typically hatch 16 eggs, which they bury for protection.
Western Banded Gecko
This small lizard, which grows to approximately 3 inches long, is best know for its distinctive color patterns. The western banded gecko is predominantly yellow with elaborate brown sports, bands and patterns. This lizard can be found in the western and southern portions of the state known as the sub-Mogollon Rim. The western banded gecko is a nocturnal lizard that feeds on small insects such as termites, spiders and other bugs. To avoid being captured by predators the western banded gecko will sacrifice its tail, which can be regenerated, and will also squeak loudly.