Chuckwalla

Chuckwalla

Scientific Name: Sauromalus obesus
Classification: Reptile - lizard
Size: Snout to vent length = 14 - 20 cm. Total length = about 42 cm
Life Span: Approximately 15 years 

 

Description:

Loose folds of skin are seen on the sides and neck of the large, dark, and somewhat flattened body. The tail is broad at the base with a blunt tip. Males are generally light gray with possible orange, yellow or red hues, depending on the locality, with a blackish chest, head, and limbs and a light yellow tail. Also, the males have femoral pores on the inner thigh, which release secretions to mark areas. The tails of juvenile chuckwallas are banded with black and yellow. Females tend to be less showy in coloration than males and retain the banding of young chuckwallas.

 

Habitat:

Chuckwallas live in rocky areas within the great basin, mohave, and sonoran deserts.

 

Range:

Chuckwallas can be found in southern nevada, western arizona, southeastern california, southern utah, and northwestern mexico.

 

Natural History:

The chuckwalla is a diurnal lizard. It can often be seen sun bathing on rocks, especially in the morning. Rock crevices provide shelter and shade. Hibernation occurs during cold months, and aestivation, inactivity during the summer, occurs in times of extreme heat.

 

Food Habits:

Chuckwallas are herbivores. They browse on a wide variety of leaves, flowers, buds, and fruit. Insects are also eaten occasionally.

 

Breeding:

Mating occurs in may to june and 5 to 16 eggs are laid underground about a month later. Males reach breeding age at approximately two years of age, while females take about five years. A female may breed only once every other year.

 

Status:

Currently unprotected in nevada. This species is being considered for a change of status to “species of concern” in nevada.

 

Reason for Status:

Habitat loss and considerable collection pressure for the pet trade threaten this species.

 

Management & conservation:

More research is needed on population sizes and trends.

 

Fun Facts:

When a chuckwalla feels threatened, it will wedge itself into a rock crevice and inflate itself by sucking in air. This helps prevent it from being easily removed by a predator.