The common chuckwalla will take shelter in small holes and crevices to escape predators; they can even inflate their bodies with air in order to wedge themselves tightly into their hiding place.
  • Size

    6.4 inches (16.3 cm)
  • Diet

    Vegetation and occasionally insects
  • Range

    Western United States and northwestern Mexico
  • Habitat

    Rocky desert habitats with moderate vegetation

Physical Characteristics

  • Broad-bodied lizard with loose skin folds along its sides.
  • The tail is about half the length of the body and thick at the base, tapering to a thin tip.
  • Coloration may vary depending on geography, weather and temperament.
    • The Head is brown, grey or dark yellow in color.
    • The body has generally neutral coloration to camouflage with desert environments.
    • Females and young are lighter in color than males.
  • Males are slightly larger in size and heavier than females, typically with a broader head.
  • Average length of 6.4 inches (16.2 cm).

Animal Fact

Common chuckwallas stay hydrated from the moisture in the plants they consume.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists primarily of desert vegetation including bushes, leaves and fruit; occasionally consumes insects.
  • Obtains hydration from the moisture in plants consumed.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the western United States and northwestern Mexico.
    • United States: occurs in Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and parts of Colorado.
    • Mexico: occurs throughout Sonora, Mexico and Baja, California.
  • Found in rocky desert habitats with moderate vegetation, including rocky outcrops, hillsides and lava flows.
    • May take shelter in crevices for brumation (hibernation for cold-blooded animals) during the winter.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Reproduction occurs in years with sufficient rainfall and ample food supply.
  • Breeding season takes place from April to August.
  • Typically produces 5-16 young in breeding years.
  • Females deposit eggs in an underground crevice or burrow with a dry bottom; they will protect eggs during incubation, but there is no parental care after hatching.
  • The gestation period is typically 35 days.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Threats to this species include habitat degradation in some parts of its range.

Additional Information

  • Solitary species.
  • Predators include coyotes, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels and rattlesnakes.
  • Takes shelter in small holes and crevices to escape predators. May inflate its body with air in order to wedge itself tightly into its hiding place.
  • Diurnal – will emerge from shelter during the day to feed and bask in the sun, but generally remains close to burrow.
  • In order to stay cool, chuckwallas will seek out shade or change body position in relation to the sun.


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