Page 50 - 2018 MAY/JUNE Outdoor Oklahoma
P. 50

Watchable Wildlife
    Eastern Collared Lizard
    By Laura Eckart, Information and Education Intern

                    O K L A H O M A’ S
            Watchable Wildlife

                                easterN Colla red liza rd

                           by lau r a eCk a rt, i N form atioN aN d eduCatioN i N terN

            Oklahoma’s official lizard, the eastern collared lizard   Mountain boomers are often spotted sunning on rocks
          (Crotaphytus collaris collaris) was given its name because of  and boulders. When approached, however, they are quick to
          the dark rings showing around its neck. To most Oklaho-  retreat to the safety of a crevice, burrow or hole. If they feel
          mans, this lizard is commonly known by its nickname, the  threatened while in the open, they can run very fast to escape.
          mountain boomer.                                   As they gain momentum running, they will rise with the
            These brightly colored lizards usually measure between  body held upright and will start running on their hind legs.
          8 and 14 inches long and are easily identifiable by their col-  Their stride can reach up to three times their body length.
          ors and markings. The female is                                         These lizards are highly territorial
          generally yellow or tan with faint                                      and will chase away other lizards
                                          To most Oklahomans,
          little spots covering its body, while                                   that threaten their domain. When
                                         this lizard is commonly
          the male is much brighter than                                          captured, they are quite feisty and
          the female and tends to have more                                       have very powerful jaws that can
          green and yellow coloring with  known by its nickname,                  deliver a substantial bite.

          vivid lightly colored spots around                                        Eastern  collard  lizards  are
                                          the mountain boomer.
          its body. Both lizards wear a dark                                      cold-blooded and spend the
          colored “collar” around their neck.                                     winter months in burrows, com-
          Another key characteristic is the lizard’s large head and nar-  monly under large rocks or boulders.
          row neck along with a rounded tail.                  Mid-May through early June is the mountain boomers’
            Eastern collared lizards can be found throughout the  mating season. Males display their brightly colored necks
          southwestern United States and northern Mexico. As this  and bodies, and prance around the females. About 20 days
          lizard is voiceless, its nickname “mountain boomer” was  after breeding, the female will lay from two to 21 cream-col-
          mistakenly given to the species. It is believed settlers who  ored, leathery eggs that are just over a half-inch wide. The
          were passing through saw them sunning themselves on  eggs will be laid in a burrow under a large rock. The eggs
          rocks while hearing the barking of frogs around them.  hatch two to three months later. Young lizards have the dark
          Since they are voiceless, eastern collared lizards com-  markings around the neck, but they differ from the adults by
          municate with body language. Males will use postures  having yellowish crossbars and a length of only 3 to 4 inches.
          such as head bobbing and pushups to defend territories or  However, the young lizards will start eating vigorously and
          impress females.                                   will grow incredibly fast, doubling or tripling in size before
            As a diurnal species, the eastern collared lizard is most  colder weather comes in October. Collared lizards can live
          active in warm and sunny conditions. They are active from  from five to eight years.
          April through September, though younger lizards can remain   Eastern collared lizards eat various insects including
          active through October. Most of their time is spent on rocks  grasshoppers and beetles, spiders, small snakes, and other
          or in clusters of rocks. Medium to large rocks offer the liz-  lizards. These lizards must be constantly aware of large
          ard a place to sun itself, look for prey below, and observe its  snakes, hawks and other carnivorous animals that prey
          territory for any intruders.                       on them.

          48                                                                                   WATCHABLE WILDLIFE
   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52