Gambelia wislizenii
(Longnose Leopard Lizard)

Key Characteristics

Large size (head and body)

Dark spots or blotches on light ground color
(forming two rows of spots on tail)

Dark streaks or lines on throat

Granular scales

Rounded tail

General Description:
Longnose Leopard Lizards have large muscular heads and bodies.  They have granular scales with a light cream or tan ground color dorsally, and this is marked by a pattern of brown or black spots.  The dark spots form two rows, which become more apparent on the long rounded tail.  The tail can be more than twice the lizard's body length (Nussbaum et al. 1983).  The coloration of Longnose Leopard Lizards can vary dramatically depending on the time of day (or their temperature).  When cool, they appear very dark, and the dark spots are less prominent while light transverse lines become much more apparent (Storm and Leonard 1995).  The ventral surface has a light coloration of white or cream that contrasts with the dark lines on the throat.  The inside lining of the mouth and throat are black and when threatened, these lizards will readily reveal this by gaping their mouth and attempting to bite.

Longnose Leopard Lizards, along with Mojave Black-collared Lizards, are the largest lizards found in Idaho, as well the entire Northwest.  Female Longnose Leopard Lizards are larger than males, with snout vent lengths of around 116 mm (4.6 in.) and total lengths of 331 mm (13 in.), (Storm and Leonard 1995).  Like Mojave Black-collared Lizards, Longnose Leopard Lizards utilize their size and agility to include smaller lizards and other vertebrates in their diet.  However, they do not eat other lizards exclusively.  Based on the stomach contents of 21 lizards from southeastern Oregon, orthopterans (crickets and grasshoppers) may make up nearly half of their diet (Nussbaum et al. 1983).

Determining the sex of individual Longnose Leopard Lizards during the breeding season is relatively easy, due to the vivid salmon to orange color present on the neck and body and tail of females.  These lizards mate in the spring, laying 4 to 7 eggs in June, which hatch in August or September (Storm and Leonard 1995).   The neonatesClick word for definition resemble the adults except that the light colored transverse lines are much more visible and they may have a reddish-rust color between the lines (Storm and Leonard 1995).

Longnose Leopard Lizards inhabit arid regions of the Northwest (Nussbaum et al. 1983).  The soil is generally sandy, but may be other types (e.g. gravel or loess) as long as numerous rodent burrows are available (Behler and King 1979, Nussbaum et al. 1983).   These lizards utilize burrows frequently and if the soil is suitable, they are capable of digging their own burrows.  The surrounding vegetation is usually sparse and consists of desert shrubs and patchy clumps of grass (Storm and Leonard 1995).  These lizards run after their prey (Stebbins 1985) and consequently thick vegetation is an impediment.

Idaho Distribution:
In Idaho the Longnose Leopard Lizard can be found in suitable habitat across much of southern portion of the state. 
From Idaho and Oregon, south to southern Baja California and north-central Mexico.

Eats insects, spiders, lizards, small rodents, and some plant material.

Ground-dwelling, but sometimes climbs into bushes. Home range varies; Nevada study identified range as less than 2˝ ha, and population density as 5/ha. HibernatesClick word for definition/aestivatesClick word for definition. Uses burrows of pocket mice and kangaroo rats. Inactive in underground burrows in cold weather. First active in early April in southeastern Arizona; in some areas, active in summer months only. One of the few lizards with a voice.

In Idaho, lays clutch of 3-4 eggs in June or July. Eggs hatch in 5-7 wk; individuals become sexually mature in first or second year. Idaho study found years with spring rains led to greater insect prey availability and consequent higher rate of reproduction.



Unprotected nongame species

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Important State References:
Parker, W.S. and E.R. Pianka. 1976. Ecological observations on the leopard lizard (Crotaphytus wislizeni) in different parts of its range. Herpetologica 32:95-114.

Species description, key characteristics and original work by John Cossel Jr. © 1997
Species ecological information from Groves et al. ©1997.
Original images provided by Charles R. Peterson, and John Cossel Jr.© 1998
Design and Optimization by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
DAI layout by Stephen Burton, and Mike Legler © 1999.