Desert Night Lizard
Black Rock Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino County, California—May 17, 2001
These tiny lizards are theoretically plentiful under the bark of fallen Joshua Trees and other yuccas, but I'd looked for them on a variety of occasions over the past few years without seeing one. Eventually I caught a brief glimpse of one that had been under a rock, but it dashed off without stopping to pose. Finally, on this trip my luck changed and I saw many of them under many fallen Joshua Tree branches, though this is the only one I got a decent picture of.
These "night lizards" are misleadingly named. People used to think they were nocturnal, because they have big eyes and are very rarely seen during the day (or at night either, for that matter). Then people discovered that they're active during the day, but they're active in the dark areas under logs and occasionally rocks, hence the big eyes.
Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California—September 15, 2003
I saw several more of these elusive little guys under downed Joshua Tree branches in the late afternoon on a warm September day.
Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California—September 8, 2006
Another day in the Mojave desert, another night lizard under a fallen Joshua Tree branch. It might *look* like it's on a rock, but that's an optical illusion.
Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California—April 16, 2009
We took a long spring trip this year, and as we often do we spent the first night at Red Rock Canyon State Park as we headed out to the southern deserts. And as usual, it was easy to find night lizards under the fallen Joshua Trees.
Inyokern, Kern County, California—May 30, 2021
I hadn't seen any Desert Night Lizards in over a decade, so when I saw a hillside covered with a healthy stand of Joshua Trees, and many of those Joshua Trees had dried, downed branches, I knew I needed to stop and take a look. It didn't take long to turn up this little cutie.
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- Miller, A. H., Stebbins, R. C. 1973. The Lives of Desert Animals in Joshua Tree National Monument
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- Smith, H. M., Brodie, E. D. Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition
- Stoops, E. D., Wright, A. 1997. Snakes and other Reptiles of the Southwest, 4th Edition