Valley of Fire State Park Lizards
Valley of Fire has several different lizard species including: common chuckwalla, desert iguana, whiptail lizard, horny toad, and side-blotched lizard. The Rainbow Vista area at Rainbow Vista is a great place to spot lizards; you just need to look around. In the spring, the lizards start coming out of winter hibernation to warm up and to eat.
The common chuckwalla is one of 5 species of chuckwallas and is found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and into Mexico. This is the second largest lizard that dwells in the desert (Gila Monsters are larger) and can grown up to 18 inches in length.
Chuckwallas eat leaves, fruit, flowers, and insects. Chuckwallas like rocky terrain and can hide in tight rock spaces, inflating themselves with air to protect from enemies.
The desert iguana is a medium-sized lizard that grows up to 16 inches in length. It has a tail that is approximately 1-½ times longer than it’s body. The desert iguana is able to withstand very high temperatures. It lives in burrows in the sand and mates in early spring. Desert iguana hatchlings are born in September.
Another lizard that resides in Valley of Fire State Park is the whiptail lizard. There are approximately 230 species of whiptails. Some species are all female and their eggs require no fertilization. The offspring are the genetic duplicates of their mother.
Horned lizards (horny toads) are a little less commonly spotted in Valley of Fire. They are easily identified by the horns on their heads. There are about 15 species of horned lizards in North America. Horned lizards are “sit and wait” predators, waiting patiently for a meal (such as ants) to stroll past.
The side-blotched lizard is a very common Valley of Fire State Park lizard. They grow about 6 inches in length and reproduce prolifically. Snakes, birds, and larger lizards prey on the side-blotched lizard. Inch-long offspring can be spotted throughout the park from summer through September.