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Long-tailed Brush Lizard (Urosaurus graciosus)

The range of the aptly-named long-tailed brush lizard just extends into the 100 mile circle. It’s known from western Pima County, extending north to Maricopa County. The bulk of its range lies outside the 100 mile circle in northern Mexico, western Arizona, southeastern California and southern Nevada  

Closely related to the tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus), the Long-tailed Brush Lizard may be distinguished from its congeneric relative by the prominent dark longitudinal markings across the dorsum and its over-sized tail- many times doubling its own body length. Average SVL ranges between 1 7/8-2 1/4 in. (4.7-5.6 cm), with TL measurements between 5 3/4-7 1/4 in. (14.6-18.4 cm). Male venter may have blue or green blotches.

The abundance and habits of this lizard within its small range inside the 100 mile circle are poorly known. It’s thought to be active during most daylight hours from March through October and occurs on the Sonoran Desert in Lower Colorado and Arizona Upland biomes, where contradictory to its name, is most commonly seen in larger desert trees. This mostly arboreal species is most often found in sandy low desert washes associated with acacia (Acacia spp.), paloverde (Cercidium spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), and creosote (Larrea tridentata), where it can frequently be seen resting head down. Morning hours during the spring months find these lizards thermoregulating between shade and sun, usually within the branches of the aforementioned flora.

Urosaurus graciosus appears to have the ability (at some level) to withstand introduced/invasive tree species. In western Arizona it can be found on tamarisk (Tamarisk spp.) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.). Areas of southern California find them on olive trees and palm (Washingtonia spp.).

Currently two subspecies are recognized. In Arizona Urosaurus graciosus shannoni, the Arizona brush lizard, is found.

Crother et al., 2000 designate the standard English name as Arizona Long-tailed Brush Lizard.

By Erik F. Enderson
Originally published in the Sonoran Herpetologist "Herpetofauna of the 100-mile Circle" 15 (08) 2002

Arizona Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Urosaurus graciosus shannoni

photo by
Erik F. Enderson


Arizona Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Urosaurus graciosus shannoni

photo by
Erik F. Enderson


Arizona Long-tailed Brush Lizard
Urosaurus graciosus shannoni

photo by
Cecil Schwalbe





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Revised: 5 October 2003