42 Types of Lizards Found in New Mexico! (ID Guide)

What kinds of lizards can you find in New Mexico?”

common lizards in New Mexico

I was amazed by the number of lizards in the United States – well over 150 species! Some species live only in a small area, and some are widespread over hundreds of miles.

Today, you’ll learn about 42 different kinds of lizards in New Mexico.

#1. Six-Lined Racerunner

  • Aspidoscelis sexlineata

types of lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.25 to 3.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • “Dark fields,” or broad stripes in between lighter stripes on whiptails, are brown to black.
  • 6-8 light stripes vary in color from white or yellow to gray-blue.
  • In males, coloring is much brighter, with greens on the back and light turquoise on the belly.

The Six-Lined Racerunner is one of the fastest lizards in New Mexico!

They thrive in varied habitats, including grassland, rocky terrain, wooded areas, and even floodplains. So, you have a good chance of seeing one as long as you’re within their range!

Six-Lined Racerunners are insectivores, and their primary food source is termites. However, they also eat beetles, ants, and spiders, so these small whiptails can be handy to have around if you have a pest problem.

The Six-Lined Racerunner lives up to its name, clocking speeds at up to 18 miles per hour! They have no problem outmaneuvering predators and curious humans!

YouTube video

#2. Western Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis tigris

species of lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Body coloring is gray-brown to yellowish, with dark bars or spots that form a web-like pattern.
  • Skin folds are present on the neck, making the throat appear wrinkled.
  • Rust-colored patches are often present on the sides of the belly.

You can find Western Whiptail Lizards in northwestern New Mexico in sandy, rocky, or firmly packed soil.

Their habitat preferences range from open forest to arid scrubland. Western Whiptails eat other lizards, scorpions, spiders, termites, and beetles. As you can see, this lizard is anything but picky!

Their physical characteristics and habitats are so varied that there are sixteen distinct subspecies! As you can see in the map above, five of the subspecies are present throughout the Southwest.

#3. Plateau Striped Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis velox

common whiptail lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • 6 or 7 light stripes run down the back, with dark stripes in-between, ranging from black to dark brown.
  • The tail is bright, royal blue in young lizards, and fades to light blue in adults.
  • The belly is pale, buff, or white, with a light-blue mark on the chin or throat sometimes present.

In northern New Mexico, you can typically spot Plateau Striped Whiptails in mountain forests of pine, juniper, oak, and fir trees.

They eat insects like termites, beetles, and grasshoppers, as well as spiders.

The Plateau Striped Whiptail Lizard’s most interesting feature is how it reproduces: the species is all-female!

Nesting adults lay unfertilized eggs, which grow and hatch as genetic clones of the mother. This lizard wins the award for self-sufficiency!

#4. Little Striped Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis inornata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • 6 to 8 stripes range in color from pale yellow to white, and dark fields are brownish-green to black.
  • The tail is bluish-purple near the tip, with the coloring brighter in males.
  • Blue coloring on the belly is darker toward the tail, fading to light blue or white near the throat.

The Little Striped Whiptail Lizard prefers prairie grassland but is also found in shrubby desert areas in New Mexico.

It eats insects and their larvae, and also spiders – including tarantulas! This species may be one of the smallest whiptail lizards in New Mexico, but it’s brave when it comes to dinnertime!

Because of overgrazing and human development of its habitat, the Little Striped Whiptail population is in decline throughout its range.

#5. Common Spotted Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis gularis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.25 to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • The coloring of the body is greenish, sometimes brown. There are 7 or 8 light stripes on the back.
  • In the dark stripes, white to yellow-brown spots are present.
  • The tail is brown, sometimes with a reddish tint.

Common Spotted Whiptails in southwestern New Mexico are prevalent in prairie grassland and riverbank habitats.

They eat insects like termites, grasshoppers, and moths, as well as spiders.

These whiptail lizards have one of the longest tails in their family! Its tail is often more than three times the length of its body.

Your chances of finding a Common Spotted Whiptail are good because they are not very skittish. You may also know this species by its other common name, the Texas Spotted Whiptail.

YouTube video

#6. Desert Grassland Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis uniparens

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.75 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • The coloring of the dark stripes is black to brown, sometimes with a green cast.
  • 6 or 7 light stripes run down the back.
  • The tail color varies from olive-green to blue-green.

The Desert Grassland Whiptail’s preferred habitat is lowland desert and mesquite grassland.

Occasionally they travel into mountain areas and can be found in evergreen forests.

Interestingly, overgrazing is causing the Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard’s range to expand, rather than threatening its habitat. You might think the opposite, but the loss of plant life creates more desert, where this lizard is right at home!

#7. Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis sonorae

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • The coloring of the dark fields (larger stripes) is brown or black, sometimes reddish, with light tan spots.
  • The back has 6 light lines, and some of the spots may overlap the lines.
  • The tail is dull orange, gradually turning to olive-brown at the tip.

Look for Sonoran Spotted Whiptails in southwestern New Mexico in desert scrubland and oak woodland habitats. They eat termites, beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders.

Natural predators of this whiptail lizard are in for a surprise when they try to catch one.

This lizard can “drop” its tail if caught, leaving the predator holding a much smaller meal than it planned! The lizard’s tail then regenerates, but this takes so much energy that this defense is often a last resort.

#8. Gila Spotted Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis flagellicauda
YouTube video

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 3.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Dark fields are coffee brown, with golden-yellow spots.
  • 6 light stripes on the back are usually greenish or gold near the neck and white on the body.
  • The tail is light olive green, and the belly is unmarked white or pale cream.

You can find the Gila Spotted Whiptail in southwestern New Mexico in juniper and oak woodlands, along the sides of streams, and in desert grasslands. Their diet is primarily termites and ants.

Gila Spotted Whiptail Lizards have a fascinating talent – they can clone themselves!

In a process called parthenogenesis, members of this all-female species lay unfertilized eggs. When the eggs hatch, the young lizards are genetically identical to their mother!

#9. Common Checkered Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis tesselata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 4.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • The upper body is cream or pale yellow, with bold, black markings in the shape of a checkerboard pattern.
  • 6 or more pale stripes are visible on the back.
  • The belly is off-white with few markings, and the tail is usually brownish, with the checkerboard pattern continuing.

Common Checkered Whiptails live in New Mexico in flatlands, canyon slopes, and bluffs. Typically, they can be found around creosote brush or trees like willows, pinion, juniper, and cottonwoods.

Common Checkered Whiptails eat insects, spiders, and centipedes, providing pest control for their habitats!

The origin of this lizard species is an interesting one. Even though it’s an all-female species, most scientists agree it’s actually the result of two whiptail species interbreeding!

#10. Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis exsanguis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 4 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • 6 light stripes run down the back from head to tail.
  • Dark fields are brown or reddish-brown, with light yellow spots.
  • Toward the base of the tail and on the hind legs, the spots may be brighter yellow.

The Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail is at home in canyon bottoms throughout oak and pine forests. However, it sometimes ranges into desert grasslands and scrublands.

Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail Lizards eat insects, spiders, and even scorpions! The easiest way for you to identify this species is by its location since its appearance can vary depending on where it lives.

Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptails are fast and skittish and will run into rodent burrows at the first sign of a threat. So, you’ll have to be quick to catch a glance!

#11. Marbled Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis marmorata

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Up to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent, with a total length is 8 to 12 inches.
  • The coloring is uniform brown or brownish gray.
  • Light stripes or bars sometimes break the dark fields into a marbled or checked pattern.
  • The belly is light cream or pale yellow with black flecks.

You are likely to find Marbled Whiptail Lizards in southern New Mexico in desert flats or other sandy, open areas.

They eat insects, including termites, beetles, and ants.

If you come across a Marbled Whiptail, the tail coloring is one way to identify whether it’s an adult or a juvenile. Hatchlings and younger individuals have a bright blue tail, which is easy to spot.

The two subspecies of the Marbled Whiptail, the Eastern and Western varieties, are similar in size but have different markings. Eastern Marbled Whiptails are often striped, while Western Marbled Whiptails show more of a barred, checkerboard pattern.

#12. New Mexico Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis neomexicana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • 6 or 7 light lines extend from the neck to the tail. The middle line is forked toward the neck.
  • The coloring of the dark fields is often dark brown to black.
  • The tail, chin, and sometimes feet are greenish-blue.

Look for New Mexico Whiptail Lizards in New Mexico in areas with loose, sandy soil and scattered yucca or mesquite trees.

They eat grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and spiders.

Like many other species of whiptails, this species is all female. However, they’re unique because even though they don’t actually mate, they still perform mating rituals with other female lizards! This is thought to be necessary to stimulate ovulation in New Mexico Whiptails.

#13. Gray Checkered Whiptail

  • Aspidoscelis dixoni

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is grayish toward the head and orange-brown toward the tail.
  • Rows of dark square spots line the back, giving this lizard its characteristic “gray checkered” appearance.
  • Orange-brown coloring on the back usually extends to the tail.

This species is one of the most challenging species of whiptails to find in New Mexico.

They prefer sandy or gravelly soil and are seldom found in developed areas or on popular trails. In addition, their range is so small that they’ve only been located in two counties in the US!

They are also fast, alert, and wary of danger, darting around and pausing for only moments to capture an insect or look around. If you find one and are quick enough to take a photo, consider yourself a first-rate herpetologist (or very lucky)!

#14. Common Sagebrush Lizard

  • Sceloporus graciosus

common lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.9 to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is gray or brown with a light stripe on each side, a black bar at the shoulder, and blue patches on the belly.
  • Unusually long, almost spidery back claws.

This species is one of the few spiny lizards in New Mexico.

Common Sagebrush Lizards are typically found in sagebrush fields, as their name suggests, but you can also find them in grasslands and among dunes. They are most active during daylight hours.

Common Sagebrush Lizard Range Map:

These spiny lizards eat a wide variety of insects and even scorpions! They hibernate during winter when temperatures drop, and food becomes scarce.

The easiest way to tell if you’ve found a Common Sagebrush Lizard is to look at its belly. The brilliant blue spots on its throat and abdomen are a dead giveaway!

#15. Desert Spiny Lizard

  • Sceloporus magister

types of lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3.25 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is straw, yellowish, or light brown on the back, and the sides are usually rust-colored.
  • In males, the throat has a blueish-green patch. In females, the head and neck are sometimes orange.

This species is the most aggressive spiny lizard in New Mexico!

They often bite when handled, so beware if you come across one in the wild.

Desert Spiny Lizards eat insects and larvae and even other lizards! Though they live in the desert, as their name suggests, they’re comfortable in many habitats, from riverbeds to yucca grassland and mesquite woodland.

Desert Spiny Lizard Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

Desert Spiny Lizards find shelter from the intense heat under logs, rocks, and in rodent burrows. You may be lucky enough to spot one coming out of a burrow to bask during the early morning or hunting during the early evening!

YouTube video

#16. Prairie Lizard

  • Sceloporus consobrinus

species of lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3.5 to 7.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is light reddish-brown with a light brown stripe down the spine.
  • Orange or red coloring on the lips and chin is sometimes present.

Look for Prairie Lizards in eastern New Mexico in habitats with lots of places to perch, including open forests, tall grass fields, or even dunes. Their diet is made up of insects and spiders they can easily subdue.

Prairie Lizard Range Map:

These spiny lizards are one of the best climbers in their family! In New Mexico, Prairie Lizards spend most of their time off the ground perched in trees, on fences, and even on sunflowers.

In addition to climbing, Prairie Lizards can run so fast that they’re hard to catch. If you see one, you’ll probably have more luck observing from a distance than trying to get up close!

YouTube video

#17. Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard

  • Sceloporus slevini

species of spiny lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring includes shades of brown with an orange stripe on either side of the body.
  • Males have blue patches on the belly.

Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizards live primarily in southwestern New Mexico in mountain areas above 6,000 ft. and prefer sunny, open woods. Their primary food source is insects including, wasps and beetles.

Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard Range Map:

It’s more common to hear a Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard in New Mexico than to see one.

They are small and fast, prone to hiding, and move quickly from their hiding spots. If you hear a rustling noise at your feet, it could be a Slevin’s Bunchgrass Lizard scurrying away!

#18. Striped Plateau Lizard

  • Sceloporus virgatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.75 to 3 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is brownish with a pronounced striped pattern: two orange or light brown stripes on each side of the body, outlined in darker brown.
  • A small blue patch can be seen on either side of the throat in both males and females.

The Striped Plateau Lizard lives in mountainous terrain with oak and coniferous trees. The species is abundant near streams with sandy or rocky bottoms.

Striped Plateau Lizard Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

An unusual feature of the female Striped Plateau Lizard is that their blue patches turn orange during the breeding season.

Larger and brighter orange spots signal to male Striped Plateau Lizards that a female is a good selection for mating. And if you see a Striped Plateau Lizard with orange spots instead of blue, look out for babies!

#19. Mountain Spiny Lizard

  • Sceloporus jarrovi

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.75 to 4.25 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • The coloring of the scales is black with blue-green or pinkish middles, forming a mesh pattern on the back.
  • A black collar around the neck forms a thick band between the head and body.

In southwestern New Mexico, the Mountain Spiny Lizard lives in rocky canyons and hillsides. It is an agile climber but prefers rock bluffs and boulders over trees. They mostly eat insects and spiders.

Mountain Spiny Lizard Range Map:

Mountain Spiny Lizards are one of the few lizard species that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. They give birth to between 2 and 14 offspring every year, in May or June.

YouTube video

#20. Clark’s Spiny Lizard

  • Sceloporus clarkii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.75 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is gray to blue-green, with black or gray bands on the arms.
  • The scales on the back are long and pointed, ending in sharp spines.

Your best bet for spotting Clark’s Spiny Lizards in New Mexico is in the trees.

Even then, you’re most likely to hear one instead of seeing one because even though they are a relatively large species, they are very shy!

Clark’s Spiny Lizard Range Map:

In fact, it usually takes two people to get a photo of a Clark’s Spiny Lizard. One person to distract the lizard while the other quietly sneaks up on it from behind.

They’ll often run around trees or rocks as a defensive strategy, keeping to the opposite side of a threat. If you’re lucky enough to see this behavior in the wild, it may remind you of a squirrel being chased!

#21. Dunes Sagebrush Lizard

  • Sceloporus arenicolus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2 to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is light yellowish brown with no pattern except for two grayish lines on the back.
  • Blue patches on the throat and belly are much less pronounced than other spiny lizards.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard has the most specific habitat of any spiny lizard in New Mexico.

It only lives in a small area of dunes created by shinnery oak trees. It uses the sand and the root systems of the trees to create burrows to hide in and escape uncomfortable temperatures.

Dunes Sagebrush Lizard Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

When out of their borrows, Dunes Sagebrush Lizards spend their time basking in “blowouts,” which are crater-like holes in the sand.

The small range of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is threatened by cattle grazing and oil industry development, which causes damage to shinnery oak trees and the introduction of invasive species.

#22. Crevice Spiny Lizard

  • Sceloporus poinsettii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is yellowish with a thick black collar bordered with white and thick, dusky bands down the back.
  • Scales are pointed and keeled (raised in the center), giving this species a particularly spiky look.

As their name suggests, Crevice Spiny Lizards live in rocky areas with plenty of cracks and crevices.

Crevice Spiny Lizard Range Map:

They are very timid, so you would be very lucky to see one of these spiny lizards in the wild! They are so nervous and skittish, they have been known to climb straight up a rock face to escape a threat!

Crevice Spiny Lizards also find their food- mainly insects and spiders- in the cracks of their rocky habitat.

Females have the interesting ability to carry their eggs until they hatch, instead of laying them in a nest! There aren’t many places in its habitat suitable for burying eggs, so this adaptation is truly necessary!

#23. Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard

  • Sceloporus bimaculosus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 5 to 5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is pale gray to brown or straw. Dark lines run from the corners of the eyes down the back.
  • Males have two long blue-green patches on the sides that females lack.

The Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard prefers a semi-arid desert habitat and usually lives near thickets, rock formations, or old buildings.

Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard Range Map:Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS

The Twin-Spotted Spiny Lizard is one of the largest spiny lizards in New Mexico!

Even for a lizard, it has a strikingly long tail. It can be up to twice as long as the lizard’s body and ends in a sharp point.

#24. Great Plains Skink

  • Plestiodon obsoletus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are up to 13 inches long.
  • Coloring ranges from light gray or olive to tan with darker brown markings.
  • The tail and feet are usually pale yellow or orange, and the belly is often marked with salmon.
  • Young individuals are black with an iridescent blue tail and gold spots on the head.

Great Plains Skinks in New Mexico are frequently found in prairie grassland with open, low-growing plants. However, they occasionally also live in woodland or semi-arid desert areas.

Great Plains Skinks are very aggressive if threatened!

They hide under rocks, shrubs, or logs but are likely to bite if they are disturbed or handled. So, if you happen to find one, observe with caution!

In addition, they’re aggressive hunters and will eat insects, snails, spiders, and even other lizards.

#25. Many-Lined Skink

  • Plestiodon multivirgatus
By Joefarah – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are up to 7.5 inches long.
  • The tail is much longer than the body compared to other skinks: roughly 1 to 1.5 times as long.
  • Light and dark stripes run the length of the body.
  • During the breeding season, many males develop orange or red lips.

Many-Lined Skinks in New Mexico prefer areas with water or moist soil.

They live in various habitats, from mountain areas to vacant lots and even city dumps! Their primary food source is ant larvae and other insects.

Young Many-Lined Skinks have bright blue tails. A uniquely colored tail is a defensive strategy that helps attract predators away from the skink’s body! If a predator tries to bite or grab the skink, it can drop its tail and escape!

There are two subspecies of this skink.

  • Northern Many-Lined Skink (P.m. multivirgatus) generally has more well-defined stripes and is almost always gray and black.
  • Variable Skink (P.m. epipleurotus) comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The subspecies’ ranges don’t overlap, and some scientists consider them two separate species!

#26. Mountain Skink

  • Plestiodon callicephalus

common skinks in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are up to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring in adults is olive to tan, with a muddy blue tail.
  • The young of this species have a bright blue tail and much more defined lines.
  • Adults have a white or light orange Y-shaped mark on the head.

Mountain Skinks are found in southwestern New Mexico in pine and oak forests in mountain regions. They eat beetles, flies, cockroaches, and spiders.

You can easily tell the difference between Mountain Skinks and other species because this skink keeps its blue tail into adulthood most of the time! Usually, the color is not as bright.

Mountain Skinks in New Mexico can give birth to live young!

But weirdly, they can lay eggs too. It just depends on their specific habitat and other conditions. When they do lay eggs, the female skink will tend to them until they hatch.

#27. Texas Horned Lizard

  • Phrynosoma cornutum

types of horned lizards in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring can vary from yellow to reddish or gray-brown, with a light stripe on the back.
  • In addition to the two long central horns, two rows of spiky scales, called fringe scales, line the sides of the body.

The Texas Horned Lizard is best known for shooting blood from its eyes to defend against predators!

These reptiles are even able to aim the foul-tasting blood directly into the predator’s mouth! Talk about biting off more than you can chew!

YouTube video

Texas Horned Lizards are found in New Mexico in open, sandy land without much plant life. Some cactus or mesquite may be present, but their habitat is mostly rocky with loose soil or sand to burrow in and lay eggs. They can lay clutches of up to 50 eggs at a time!

Texas Horned Lizard Range Map:

Almost the entire diet of the Texas Horned Lizard is made up of ants. However, they do occasionally eat beetles and grasshoppers.

These gorgeous lizards also make popular pets and unfortunately, many have been released outside of their normal range. Natural populations are threatened because of habitat loss, the introduction of fire ants, and pesticide use.

#28. Greater Short-Horned Lizard

  • Phrynosoma hernandesi

species of horned lizards in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.75 to 4.75 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is beige, tan, or reddish, speckled with white. There are large brown blotches on the neck and sides.
  • Horns are short and stubby, located on the back of the head and each side.

Greater Short-Horned Lizards prefer to live in New Mexico in shortgrass prairies and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Their habitat is generally semi-arid, with long dry spells and infrequent but heavy rain.

Greater Short-Horned Lizard Range Map:

Ants are a primary food source for Greater Short-Horned Lizards, but they have a varied diet. They also eat grasshoppers, beetles, wasps, caterpillars, spiders, and even snails!

This species is one of only two types of horned lizards in New Mexico that gives birth to live young!

And you may not believe this, but they can produce up to 48 babies in one birth!

YouTube video

#29. Round-Tailed Horned Lizard

  • Phrynosoma modestum

common horned lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring ranges from ash white, gray, or light brown to reddish.
  • Body shape is very rounded and toad-like, with a slim, round tail.

Round-Tailed Horned Lizards in New Mexico prefer to live in areas with rocky soil, where they camouflage among pebbles and gravel. Trees in their habitat include cedar, mesquite, and ponderosa pine.

Round-Tailed Horned Lizard Range Map:

Though ants are Round-Tailed Horned Lizards’ main food source, they also eat termites, caterpillars, and beetles. Predators of the species include coyotes and birds of prey.

Round-Tailed Horned Lizards can match their coloring with the soil of their habitat!

That is why individuals can be all different shades and colors.

Its most common defensive strategy is to freeze and blend in with the rocks around it! This horned lizard even has a humped back and bumpy skin that helps with this defense.

YouTube video

#30. Regal Horned Lizard

  • Phrynosoma solare

species of horned lizards in New Mexico

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3 to 4.75 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is light gray, beige, or reddish with a dusky band on either side of the body.
  • A single row of fringe scales lines the sides, and the horns are connected at the base of the head.

If you spot a Regal Horned Lizard in New Mexico, you will instantly know how it got its name!

The row of horns on its head meet at the base, so it looks exactly like it’s wearing a crown! Honestly, I see a Disney movie in their future!

Regal Horned Lizard Range Map:

In addition, the Regal Horned Lizard is the largest horned lizard in New Mexico! Its wide, long body and very long horns make it one of the most intimidating lizards as well. Its appearance seems to clearly say, “Stay away from me!”

Like its ferocious appearance isn’t enough, it can also shoot blood from its eyelids into a potential predator’s mouth. This is NOT a lizard you want to mess with!

YouTube video

#31. Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard

  • Gambelia wislizenii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Up to17 inches long, including the tail.
  • This species is large, with a round body and tail, and a large head.
  • Coloring is gray, pink, brown, or yellowish-brown with dark spots.
  • Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards have two color phases:
    • Dark phase – coloring is nearly as dark as the spots on its back, hiding them from view.
    • Light phase – coloring is as above with spots clearly defined.

Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards live in dry climates with little vegetation. They prefer rocky outcroppings for basking and avoid dense grass or shrubs because it limits their running ability.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

This lizard is quick!

It runs on its back legs in a short burst to escape predators and to ambush prey. One report even says the Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard can reach Mach-1 or the speed of sound – but this could be a bit of an exaggeration. 🙂

Long-Nosed Leopard Lizards are ambush predators by nature. But, they’re also omnivorous and have one of the most varied diets of all the lizards in New Mexico! Their diet includes soft leaves, blossoms, berries, insects of all kinds, spiders, lizards, small rodents, and even juvenile snakes!

#32. Common Side-Blotched Lizard

  • Uta stansburiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.5 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring is brownish, occasionally blue-gray, with a blue to black blotch on either side of the chest.
  • In the light color phase, this species often has white speckles dotting its back.

Common Side-Blotched Lizards are comfortable in many different habitats. Look for them in sandy, rocky, or hardpan soil with grass, shrubs, and trees. They are abundant in their range and easy to find by concentrating on the ground where they spend most of their time.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

There are three separate morphs of the male Side-Blotched Lizard, and interestingly, this plays a huge role in the mating habits of this species.

They employ a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanism with one morph being dominant over the second (like paper over rock) but not over the third (like scissors cutting paper). The result of this unique mechanism is a “rotation” of the most common morph each breeding season! The three morphs are listed below:

  • Orange-throated males are the largest and most dominant morph and often breed with harems of females in a single season. They outmaneuver and intimidate blue-throated males, but are often outwitted by yellow-throated males that mimic females.
  • Blue-throated males are intermediate in size and generally only breed with one female during a mating season. Therefore, they’re less likely to be fooled by a yellow-throated male but often are “beat out” for mating by orange-throated males.
  • Yellow-throated males mimic female Side-blotched Lizards when confronted with other male morphs. In this way, they often escape the aggression of orange-throated males but can’t easily “steal” a female from a blue-throated male.

#33. Ornate Tree Lizard

  • Urosaurus ornatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.25 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Coloring ranges from dark brown and black to tan or gray.
  • Dusky crossbands or blotches are common.
  • In males, the throat is orange, yellow, green, or pale blue, and there are blue patches on the belly. The throat is white, orange, or yellow in females, and the belly is white or tan.

Ornate Tree Lizards prefer to live near riverbanks in desert and foothill regions.

Despite its name, this species spends most of its time perched on rocks. In fact, you can even find them in treeless areas in their range! However, occasionally they will climb trees if they are startled or searching for food.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Ornate Tree Lizards are very well adapted to developed land, and their numbers are steady even in highly populated areas. This is a bit surprising, considering they have one of the shortest lifespans of all the lizards in New Mexico! They rarely live longer than three years.

#34. Eastern Collared Lizard

  • Crotaphytus collaris

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 two 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 New Mexico in desert shrubland, open juniper-pinon forest, and grassland. They prefer areas with rocks for basking, open space for running, and lots of sunlight.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

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’ll 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’re 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

#35. Common Lesser Earless Lizard

  • Holbrookia maculata

types of earless lizards in the united states

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Up to 2.75 inches long from snout to vent, and 4 to 5.25 inches total.
  • Tan to brown with pale stripes along the back.
  • Males have pairs of black bars behind the arms, which females typically lack.
  • Gravid (pregnant) females develop pink, yellow, or orange coloring on their backs.

Common Lesser Earless Lizards are found in New Mexico in tallgrass prairie with sandy soil.

They are highly camouflaged and almost impossible to see on the ground unless they’re moving.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

If you do spot a Common Lesser Earless Lizard, you might notice that it doesn’t have ear openings like other lizards! This is an adaptation that allows it to spend most of its life burrowed under the loose soil of its habitat.

There are up to NINE distinct subspecies of the Lesser Earless Lizard! However, there’s some disagreement in the scientific community about whether all subspecies deserve a separate name. They’re all very similar in looks, and more research is needed.

#36. Western Banded Gecko

  • Coleonyx variegatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2 to 3 inches long.
  • The eyelids are movable, and the pupils are vertical.
  • Coloring is pink to pale yellow with brown bands on the back and tail. The belly is white to off-white.
  • When handled or disturbed, this species makes a small squeaking noise.

Western Banded Geckos in southwestern New Mexico have adapted to an arid climate.

By being nocturnal and spending much of their time underground, they can withstand their habitat’s lack of rain and intense heat.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

You’re likely to find Western Banded Geckos around rocks or debris, which they use for cover when they are above ground. They eat insects and spiders.

Like many of their relatives, Western Banded Geckos are excellent at climbing and can scale vertical rocks and walls!

There are four subspecies of the Western Banded Gecko in New Mexico. They are all so similar in coloring and pattern that it’s hard to distinguish them by appearance. The four subspecies are:

Desert Banded Gecko (C.v. variegatus)

Tuscon Banded Gecko (C.v. bogerti)

San Diego Banded Gecko (C.v. abbotti)

Utah Banded Gecko (C.v. utahensis)

#37. Texas Banded Gecko

  • Coleonyx brevis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.
  • Coloring is yellowish-tan with dark, wide bands crossing the body and tail.
  • The scales are granular, giving the surface of the skin a sandpaper-like appearance.

Texas Banded Geckos are common in desert grassland and open woodland with plenty of rocks. You’re likely to find them near hillsides and canyons and even on roadways at night. Though they’re good climbers, this species is mostly terrestrial and climbs rocks only to find shelter.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Compared to the size of its body, the female Texas Banded Gecko lays enormous eggs! They are often much wider than the gecko’s body. As you can imagine, the clutch size is tiny; usually, only one or two eggs!

Despite the small reproductive numbers of this species, they are abundant in their range.

#38. Mediterranean House Gecko

  • Hemidactylus turcicus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 1.5 to 2.5 inches long.
  • The pupils are vertical, and the eyes are large and round with immovable eyelids.
  • This species has two color phases for camouflage.
    • Pale phase: the coloring is light pink to pale yellow or white with brown or gray blotches.
    • Dark phase: the coloring darkens to gray or brown, obscuring the blotches on the back.

You might be surprised to find out that this abundant and widespread gecko is not native to New Mexico! The Mediterranean House Gecko was introduced to New Mexico via imported plants carrying their egg clutches. They’re adaptable to so many environments that their population quickly outpaced any of our native geckos!

Mediterranean House Geckos are nocturnal, but this won’t stop you from being able to find them. They’re considered an “urbanized” species, which means they’re just as happy to live inside your house as they are in the wild!

Virginia Herpetological Society

They eat insects attracted to lights and are commonly found on walls, ceilings, and window screens in homes. Outside, look for them in rock crevices or cracked tree trunks.

In addition to being comfortable around humans, Mediterranean House Geckos in New Mexico are a vocal species. The mating call of males is a series of clicks, and they frequently make a squeaking noise if threatened.

Even though Mediterranean House Geckos aren’t native to New Mexico, they’re so well-recognized that they belong on any list of geckos in our area.

#39. Zebra-Tailed Lizard

  • Callisaurus draconides

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 2.5 to 4 inches long from snout to vent (length does not include the tail).
  • Zebra-Tailed Lizards are distinctly patterned, with white dots on the back and black and white stripes on the sides and tail.
  • Coloring is mainly black and white with a yellow-orange wash along the sides of the body.
  • This species has very long arms and legs, which help it run at top speed.

Zebra-Tailed Lizards prefer the hard-packed, open ground of desert washes, hardpan, and rock surfaces. They often live where plants are scarce and like open areas with plenty of room to run.

Credit: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The Zebra-Tailed Lizard curls its tail over its back and dashes forward at incredible speeds when it runs!

YouTube video

This gives predators a brief look at the bold markings on the underside of its tail. Then, when the lizard stops running, it hides the pattern to confuse its predator. What a crafty way to avoid becoming lunch!

#40. Greater Earless Lizard

  • Cophosaurus texanus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Up to 3.5 inches long from snout to vent, and 6 to 7 inches total.
  • The tail is long and flat, and the body is slim.
  • Coloring is generally matched to the soil color of its habitat, which is gray-brown to slate.

Greater Earless Lizards in New Mexico avoid extreme elevations both above and below sea level.

You are likely to find them in middle elevations, which is where cactus, mesquite trees, and creosote brush grow.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

They eat grasshoppers, caterpillars, wasps, and other insects. Greater Earless Lizards are athletic runners and sometimes curl their tails over their bodies when they are moving quickly!

There are two subspecies:

  • Chihuahuan Earless Lizard (C.t. scitulus) Males of this subspecies can be extremely colorful, with pinkish-orange on the upper back and yellowish-green to blue on the lower back. This coloring appears rainbow-like on some individuals!
  • Texas Earless Lizard (C.t. texanus) Less colorful than their bright cousins. They generally match the soil of their surroundings.

#41. Madrean Alligator Lizard

  • Elgaria kingii

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 3-5.5 inches long from snout to vent. (Length does not include the tail)
  • Coloring is pale gray, beige, or brown with wavy crossbars.
  • Eyes are orange or pink.
  • Black and white spots line the upper jaw.

Madrean Alligator Lizards in New Mexico prefer mountain habitats with nearby streams. They eat a variety of insects and scorpions.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

If caught, the Madrean Alligator Lizard can easily drop its tail.

So please don’t handle or try to catch one in the wild, as you may put it in danger.

It is better to observe these shy, skittish creatures from a distance. One other reason to keep your distance is their main defense mechanism. If threatened, they’ll defecate and then writhe around to smear feces on a predator!

The Madrean Alligator Lizard has one subspecies. The Arizona Alligator Lizard, E.k. nobillis, is found in the same general range and has many of the same characteristics.

#42. Gila Monster

  • Heloderma suspectum

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 9 to 14 inches long.
  • This species is large and heavy, with a short, thick tail.
  • Coloring is black mottled with pink, orange, and yellow. The pattern of mottling often looks like beadwork.
  • The scales on the back of the Gila Monster are rounded and beadlike. Scales on the belly are flat and square.

The Gila Monster is the ONLY venomous lizard in New Mexico!

It’s recognizable by its thick body and tail, and rounded nose. Gila Monsters prefer rocky desert habitats with sparse brush or succulent plant life. Look for them near intermittent streams and farm irrigation systems, which they use as a water source.

Gila Monsters are venomous, but they rely more on their powerful crushing jaws to subdue their prey. They eat small mammals, birds and their eggs, lizards, insects, and carrion. While they primarily stay on the ground, Gila Monsters will climb rocks or trees searching for food like small birds in nests.

If you find a Gila Monster, observe this dangerous reptile from a safe distance!

Though it isn’t fatal, the Gila Monster’s Bite is excruciating. They have small, razor-sharp teeth that dig into the skin and inject their venom. Unfortunately, there’s no anti-venom or treatment for the effects of the bite. People who’ve been bitten by a Gila Monster describe the pain as hot lava coursing through their veins!

The effects can last for hours or days, depending on how much venom someone is exposed to.

YouTube video

There are two subspecies of this fascinating lizard, but only one lives in New Mexico: the Reticulate Gila Monster, H.s. suspectum. The other subspecies is the Banded Gila Monster, H.s. cinctum.

As their names suggest, they’re easily identifiable by the type of pattern on their back. Banded Gila Monsters with a striped pattern of crossbars are less common but have a greater range. Fishnet-patterned Reticulate Gila Monsters are more prevalent but limited in range.

Do you need additional help identifying lizards?

Try this field guide!

Which of these lizards have you seen in New Mexico?

Leave a comment below!

Also, if you enjoy this article, make sure to check out these other guides!

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One Comment

  1. I live in Santa Rosa, NM. In 2016 I was out for a walk and saw what I am pretty certain was a legless lizard. Maybe two feet long. Pale yellow with pink, and a checker pattern. Looked like a Wegmans burrowing lizard in form and check pattern. What did I see? It was beautiful!