Today is World Lizard Day! The Southwest is famous for its high diversity of lizards and is a hot bed of herpetological research. If you’ve been outside at all during the summer in the Sky Islands, there is a high chance you will come across at least one lizard.
Our Border Wildlife Study cameras capture photos of lizards but at a much lower rate than mammals or birds. Its not because there are no lizards out there, but it’s because of their body temperature and their preferred habitat.
The Browning wildlife cameras we use for the study use a combination of heat and motion to trigger the camera. However, cold blooded lizards won’t set off the camera because they are the same temperature as the surrounding air! All the lizard images we get on our cameras are captured based on their motion alone. This is good because often the only way you can see a lizard on camera is when they move, their camouflage is that good!
Play spot the difference!
While hiking, you will most commonly find lizards near rocks, trees, and debris as they bask in the sun while still being close to shelter place to hide from predators. While a few of our cameras might point at a lizard’s favorite log, many of our cameras are placed facing clearings and wide-open grasslands and often miss lizard activity happening around it.
A variety of lizards captured by our Border Wildlife Cameras.
However, as the images above show we do see lots of lizards living at the border. Many of the lizards captured on our cameras are in the Sceloporus genus that contain the large spiny and fence lizards. But there are plenty more that we haven’t identified yet. Due to the nature of wildlife cameras, the image is low resolution, it is often hard to get a down to species level. However, if you are a lizard ID wizard, please reach out to Sky Island Alliance if you recognize these lizards! Your identifications will help increase our knowledge of the diversity of the threatened borderlands region.
Check out these resources to learn more about all the lizards that are found in the Sky Islands:
Saguaro National Park’s Lizards
Tucson Herpetological Society: Lizards