Zebra-tailed Lizard

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Reptiles are beginning to show up as spring progresses and the weather warms.  Being cold-blooded, reptiles are dormant throughout much of our winter and I tend to forget just how ubiquitous they are.  However, once the weather warms, they are everywhere.  So far, I’ve seen only lizards and one road-kill king snake.  That will change.  I fully expect to see my first rattlesnake in the next couple of weeks.

Here’s an image of one of our common lizard species.  This is a Zebra-tailed Lizard, probably a male.

Zebra Tails  are relatively small lizards, reaching a length of about five inches exclusive of tail.  They are normally quite timid and have a tendency to run when approached.  One characteristic of this species is that when it runs it usually arches its tail over its head.  My guess is that this is an evolved trait that is designed to throw off predators.  As with many lizards its tail is easily detachable.  A hungry coyote, bobcat, or hawk might lunge for the tail inasmuch as it is the lizard’s most visible part, made even more so by the bright black and white stripes. If a predator grabs the tail, it comes free, and the predator is left with the tail as the lizard escapes.  To make things even more confusing for the predator, the detached tail will convulse reflexively for a few seconds after coming off the lizard.

The lizard has the ability to regenerate its tail, but the regrown tails are never quite as long or shapely as are the originals.  I see a lot of lizards with stunted tails, suggesting that the detachable tail comes in quite handy for these animals.

Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L macro lens+1.4x telextender, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT speedlite and stabilized by monopod, ISO 160, f13 @ 1/160.

One response to “Zebra-tailed Lizard”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Interesting commentary regarding the detachable tail!

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