Order: Squamata
Lacertilia: (Lizards)

The following taxonomic list will link you to the individual species.

Characteristics that distinguish Idaho Lacertilia from the group Serpentes are the presence of four limbs (there are some lizards species elsewhere that lack limbs), visible ear openings, and movable eyelids. These three characters alone should allow you to readily recognize Idaho lacertilians.

Family: Anguidae

The family Anguidae is comprised of 15 genera and around 102 species (Pough et al. 1998).  They are mainly distributed in separated regions of North, Central and South America, and portions of Africa and Asia (Goin and Goin 1971, Pough et al. 1998).  Several species of lizards in this family have reduced or absent limbs and both oviparousClick word for definition and viviparousClick word for definition reproductive modes are present, sometimes within the same genus.  In fact, the Idaho representative, Elgaria coerulea (Northern Alligator Lizard) is viviparous giving live birth, while the Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) is oviparous.

Family: Crotaphytidae

The family Crotaphytidae is comprised of 2 genera and 12 species, and they are found in North and Central America (Pough et al. 1998).  The lizards in this family are moderately sized and occupy mesic or arid regions.  An interesting characteristic is that the lizards in this family include other vertebrates in their diet.  In Idaho, both the Longnose Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) and the Mojave Black-collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores) eat other lizards.

Family: Phrynosomatidae

The family Phrynosomatidae is comprised of 10 genera and about 125 species that range from North America (southern Canada) to Panama (Pough et al. 1998).  In Idaho, the species of phrynosomatids that occurs the farthest north is the Short-horned Lizard (Phryonsoma douglassii).  This is the most diverse family of Idaho lizards and includes a second species of horned lizard, the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) as well as three other species, the Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus), the Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), and the Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana). 
Phrynosoma douglassii
(Short-horned Lizard)
Phrynosoma platyrhinos
(Desert Horned Lizard)
Sceloporus graciosus
(Sagebrush Lizard)
Sceloporus occidentalis
(Western Fence Lizard)
Uta stansburiana
(Side-blotched Lizard)

Family: Scincidae

The family Scincidae is a diverse and cosmopolitan family consisting of approximately 100 genera and about 1090 species (Pough et al. 1998).  Skinks in general are characterized by smooth cycloid scalesClick word for definition, a well developed secondary palate, osteodermsClick word for definition (bony elements in the skin) that are comprised of many small bones, and limb reduction in several species.The only representative of this family in Idaho is the Western Skink (Eumeces skiltonianus).
Eumeces skiltonianus
(Western Skink)

Family: Teiidae

The family Teiidae is comprised of 40 genera (including both macro and microteiids, which are sometimes considered separate families) and around 245 species (again for both macro and microteiids) that range from North, Central, and South America (Pough et al. 1998).  The Western Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tigris) is the only species of the family Teiidae.  Lizards in this family are found in a wide range of habitats and have a wide range of body forms.  All Teiids have forked snake-like tongues, and several different species have parthenogenicClick word for definition reproduction (Pough et al. 1998).


Author: John Cossel Jr.© 1997
Design and Optimization by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Adaptation for DAI by Stephen Burton, and Mike Legler ©1999.
Original images provided by Charles R. Peterson and John Cossel Jr.©1998.