Idaho may be known for its breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities, but did you know that it is also home to a diverse range of lizards? With a total of 11 different types, these reptiles add a touch of intrigue and fascination to the state. From the Western Whiptail, with its unique physical characteristics and adaptable habitats, to the elusive Western Skink that prefers a life hidden under rocks, each lizard brings its own charm. The Common Sagebrush Lizard, the Western Fence Lizard, and the Greater Short-Horned Lizard are just a few more examples of these fascinating creatures that call Idaho their home. Whether you’re an avid herpetologist or simply curious about the world around you, exploring the world of lizards in Idaho is sure to be an adventure you won’t forget.
The Western Whiptail is a common lizard found in southern Idaho. It is known for its varied physical characteristics and can be found in a variety of habitats. This species of lizard is characterized by its long slim body and slender tail. It has a pointed snout and long legs, which make it well adapted for fast movements and quick escapes.
Habitat plays a major role in the distribution of Western Whiptails. They are commonly found in a variety of habitats including grasslands, shrublands, and desert areas. They are often seen basking on rocks or logs to absorb sunlight and regulate their body temperature. They are also known to burrow in loose soil or dig shallow nests to lay their eggs.
Common Sagebrush Lizard
The Common Sagebrush Lizard is the most widespread spiny lizard in Idaho. As the name suggests, it is commonly found in sagebrush fields, which provide them with ample cover and food sources. These lizards are known for their spiky scales along their backs, giving them a unique appearance.
These lizards are well-adapted to survive in arid environments and are often found in open areas with sparse vegetation. They are agile climbers and can often be seen basking on rocks or other elevated surfaces. They have a diet consisting of small insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.
Western Fence Lizard
The Western Fence Lizard is the most commonly seen lizard in Idaho. It is found in various ecosystems except for the desert. These lizards are known for their ability to blend into their surroundings due to their gray or brown coloration. They have pointed scales on their backs and a distinct blue coloration on their throats.
These lizards are often found perched on logs, rocks, or fences, hence their name. They are active during the day and spend their time foraging for insects and other small invertebrates. They are also known to defend their territory from other males by performing push-up displays and head-bobbing.
The Western Skink is a secretive lizard that spends most of its time under rocks or in burrows. It is characterized by its shiny scales and long, cylindrical body. These lizards have small limbs and a long tail, which they use for balance and agility.
These lizards are commonly found in rocky habitats, such as talus slopes and rock outcrops. They are excellent climbers and can often be seen basking on rocks during the day. They are also known to hibernate during the colder months, using burrows or crevices for shelter.
Greater Short-Horned Lizard
The Greater Short-Horned Lizard can be found in southeastern Idaho. These lizards are unique in that they give birth to live young, instead of laying eggs. They are characterized by their short, spikey horns on their heads and their flattened body shape.
These lizards are found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands and sagebrush areas. They have a diet consisting mainly of ants and other small insects. To defend themselves from predators, Greater Short-Horned Lizards can inflate their bodies, making them appear larger and more intimidating.
Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard
The Pygmy Short-Horned Lizard is known for its tolerance of colder temperatures and its ability to live in mountainous regions. These lizards have short, spikey horns on their heads and a compact body shape. They are perfectly adapted for their high elevation habitats.
These lizards are commonly found in alpine meadows and subalpine forests. They have a diet consisting mainly of small insects and invertebrates. They are also known to hibernate during the winter months, finding shelter under rocks or in burrows to escape the cold temperatures.
Desert Horned Lizard
The Desert Horned Lizard is a unique species of lizard found in southwestern Idaho. It has a strong preference for arid desert regions, where it can be found basking on rocks or sandy soils. These lizards are characterized by their spiky appearance and their ability to change color to blend in with their surroundings.
Mating behavior in Desert Horned Lizards is quite fascinating. The males perform elaborate mating dances to attract females. They bob their heads, puff up their bodies, and display their vibrant coloration. Once a male and female pair up, they will mate, and the female will lay her eggs in sandy soil or loose gravel.
Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard
The Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard is known for its varied diet and predatory behavior. It has a long, slender body and a pointed snout, which it uses to catch fast-moving prey. These lizards are excellent hunters and can often be seen chasing down insects, small reptiles, and rodents.
These lizards inhabit a range of habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, and desert areas. They are often found in areas with loose soil or sandy substrates, which they dig into to create burrows. Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, and rely on their excellent vision and quick reflexes to spot and capture their prey.
Common Side-Blotched Lizard
The Common Side-Blotched Lizard is known for its habitat versatility and its unique male morphs. This species of lizard can be found in a wide range of habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and shrublands. They are often seen perched on rocks or logs, soaking up the sun’s rays.
What sets the Common Side-Blotched Lizard apart from other species is its male morphs. There are three distinct male morphs, each with a different mating strategy. The orange-throated morphs are aggressive and guard multiple females. The blue-throated morphs are more dominant and guard larger territories. Lastly, the yellow-throated morphs are less aggressive and tend to sneak mating opportunities.
Northern Alligator Lizard
The Northern Alligator Lizard is incredibly varied in appearance and has different subspecies. These lizards can vary in color and pattern, ranging from green to brown, with some individuals having distinct striping or spots. This adaptability allows them to blend into their surroundings and avoid predators.
These lizards are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands. They are often seen climbing trees or basking on branches. Northern Alligator Lizards have a diverse diet consisting of insects, small vertebrates, and even other lizards. They are also known to swim and are capable of diving and remaining underwater for extended periods.