3 Collared Lizards Found in Arizona! (ID Guide)

How many COLLARED lizards are there in Arizona?”


common collared lizards in Arizona


Collared Lizards are aptly named. They have thick, dark bands around their necks that look like a pet collar!


These long, colorfully patterned lizards are some of the most fascinating creatures in our area! 


Today, you’ll learn the 3 kinds of collared lizards in Arizona.


#1. Eastern Collared Lizard

  • Crotaphytus collaris

types of collared lizards in Arizona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3-4.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • This lizard has a large, broad head and chunky body with a round tail.
  • There are 2 dark collars on the neck, a thinner one near the head and a thicker one near the body.
  • Coloring is variable; greenish-blue, olive, brown, or yellow are all common. Females are generally darker and less colorful.


Eastern Collared Lizards can be found in Arizona in desert shrubland, open juniper-pinon forest, and grassland. They prefer areas with rocks for basking, open space for running, and lots of sunlight.

USGS – United States Geological Survey

The Eastern Collared Lizard is wildly territorial!


Adult males will not live in the same area, and if they’re placed in the same enclosure, they will fight to the death. You might see them displaying dominance by standing on their hind legs, inflating their throat, and weaving from side to side.


Eastern Collared Lizards aren’t just aggressive toward one another – they are also powerful predators! Their sharp teeth and strong jaws make catching a meal easy. They have been known to eat large insects, reptiles, and even other Collared Lizards!

YouTube video


#2. Great Basin Collared Lizard

  • Crotaphytus bicinctores

species of collared lizards in Arizona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3.5-4.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is brown to grayish with small white dots and dashes all over the back.
  • Two dark collar markings edged in white appear on the neck.
  • Males often have crossbands in pink and orange, a bluish-gray throat, and black patches on the neck. Females lack these markings.


Look for Great Basin Collared Lizards in the Unites States in desert habitats with little plant life.


You can find them near rocky outcroppings, which they use for basking to warm themselves and as a shelter to hide from predators.

Here’s an interesting fact: Younger males sometimes pretend to be pregnant to avoid fighting with an older, stronger adversary!


Female Great Basin Collared Lizards develop bright orange markings when nesting, and male juveniles sometimes develop similar markings as a defensive strategy. What a creative way to stay out of trouble!


#3. Sonoran Collared Lizard

  • Crotaphytus nebrius

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Up to 4.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is yellowish to tan with round, white spots.
  • The tail is rounded with no striping.
  • The belly is burnt orange in breeding males; otherwise, it is pale gray-brown.


The Sonoran Collared Lizard is ONLY found in Arizona!


It is at home in diverse habitats within the desert. You can find this lizard in any desert area with rocky outcroppings, including sandy areas, dense brush or scrubland, mountain regions, and grasslands.

USGS – United States Geological Survey


The easiest way to spot a Sonoran Collared lizard is to drive through their habitat slowly in the early morning or late afternoon.


They use these hours for basking in the sun on tall rocks and avoiding the midday heat by retreating into rock crevices.


Do you need additional help identifying collared lizards?

Try this field guide!

Which of these collared lizards have you seen before in Arizona?


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