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2- Cophosaurus


The greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus) 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus) is a species of earless lizard endemic to the southwestern United States.

Cophosaurus texanus

greater earless lizard

Conservation status:




Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification







Troschel, 1852

Species:C. texanus

Binomial name :

Cophosaurus texanus
Troschel, 1852

References  : 


- Jump up^ "Cophosaurus texanus (Greater Earless Lizard)". Retrieved 2012-01-26.

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Greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)


Animal education


Care Articles :


1- Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus):


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by Jay Sharp

“Mad dogs and Englishmen,” said British playwright Noel Coward in his famous ditty of 1932, “go out in the midday sun.” So, too, he might have added, does the greater earless lizard, which seems to relish the midday sun of mid-summer in the rocky, sandy desert terrain of the northern Chihuahuan and northeastern Sonoran Deserts.


Distinctive Features


-Size: About three to seven inches long from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail; males larger than females.

-Body and Tail: Streamlined shape with a somewhat flattened belly and tail; covered with small granular-like scales.

-Head and Neck: Wedge-shaped with no external ear openings (thus the common name); relatively large eyes; two throat folds.

-Legs: Comparatively thin; forelegs shorter than hind legs; long toes and claws.

-Colors: Head and shoulders, grayish to brownish, like its rocky habitat; upper mid-section, yellow to orange rows; upper hind quarters, yellow to green; legs, dark bands; tail, dark bands across top and heavy dark bars across the underside.

-Distinctive markings: Two heavy black stripes just ahead of hind legs (males); black stripe on the back of each thigh (females and juveniles); pink throat and flanks (pregnant females).

 Habitat :


The greater earless lizard seems to prefer the middle to higher open desert elevations, especially in rocky mountain foothills that support communities of mesquite, creosote, acacia, cacti and ocotillo plants. It makes frequent appearances along pathways through gravels and sand, and it may take up a watch atop large cobbles. The larger, more mature greater earless lizard may stake out choice habitat, often holding its ground to bask in the sun even as hikers pass nearby.

Greater earless lizard at the edge of a desert hiking path.

Diet :


The greater earless lizard preys primarily on the arthropods, including butterflies, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, stinging insects (wasps, bees and ants) and spiders. It may eat the adults or the larvae, with the mature, larger lizard taking the larger prey, and the younger, smaller lizard, the smaller prey.


Life Cycle :


In the spring, the lizard begins mating. Every few weeks through the summer, the female lays several eggs in a sand matrix, depositing - then promptly abandoning - her clutch. Within about seven weeks, the young hatch, emerging as 2-inch-long copies of the adults. Immediately, they must fend for themselves, with no parental support. The greater earless lizard reaches sexual maturity at about one year and, with good fortune, lives one to two years. According to Mexico’s Instituto de Ecología, Acta Zoological Mexicana, the lizard reproduces more successfully in years with above-average rainfall because it can capitalize on increased prey.

 Greater earless lizard perched on a rock, in its favorite habitat.

Behavior :


Emerging in the spring from hibernation, the greater earless lizard promptly becomes one of the most energetic daylight actors of all the wildlife in its range. It opens its day with a vigorous pursuit of insects. It may wave its black-barred tail when preparing to begin or end a dash from rock to rock. It raises its tail, curling it over its back, when scampering. It raises and wags its tail if approached by a predator, a roadrunner, for example, sending notification that it will be caught only after a significant investment of energy in the pursuit. It signals its claim to territory by lateral body compression, head bobbing and pushups.


Temperature Control :


As Guy Murchie pointed out in his book The Seven Mysteries of Life, the lizard has a well-honed ability to regulate its body temperature, keeping it very close to its daytime average of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time. Needing to raise its temperature, it turns its body broadside to the sun to receive extra rays. Needing merely to maintain its temperature, it aligns its body with the sun to receive reduced rays. Needing to lower its temperature, it takes refuge in shade, or it climbs a branch above the hot ground surface. To escape the coolness of the desert night, it burrows under a warm blanket of sand, capitalizing on its lack of external ear openings to keep grit out of its ear canals.


Interesting Facts :


-The greater earless lizard has a higher average “activity temperature” (101.5 degrees Fahrenheit) than most lizards (typically, 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit), which helps explain its love for the desert sun.

-The greater earless lizard may save its life by sacrificing its wagging and distracting barred tail to a pursuing predator. The tail, which breaks off easily, will regenerate, although probably shorter in length and more faded in color.

-Males develop especially bright colors, primarily blue, green and yellow, in the spring and early summer. Females develop bright colors, typically pink or orange, during pregnancy.

-The lesser earless lizard, a close relative, occurs from the northern Chihuahuan and northeastern Sonoran Deserts northeastward into the Great Plains. Smaller than the greater earless lizard, it bears several distinguishing rows of blotches along its back, from the neck to the tail. Usually, it is less active during the mid-day heat.

-The zebra-tailed lizard, which looks similar to the greater earless lizard, occurs from northern Mexico across the Southwest into the southern Great Basin. Approximately the same size as the greater earless lizard, it bears distinguishing black bars just behind the front legs and distinctive (zebra-like) black rings around its tail.

-The greater earless lizard belongs to the Squamata order of reptiles, which has 6000 species including some that measure about 1/2 inch in length and others, some 30 feet in length.


2- GREATER EARLESS LIZARD  Cophosaurus texanus

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DESCRIPTION: A medium-sized (up to 89 mm or 3.5" from snout to vent), gray or tan lizard with long, slender limbs and a flattened tail. The underside of the tail is marked with distinct black crossbands on a bright white background. The upper surfaces of the body are marked with tan, yellow, or peach spots surrounded by off-white or cream speckles. The groin, lower back, and forelimbs are often tinted yellow on males. The back of the thigh is marked with a dark horizontal line. There are two dark bars on each side of the belly that extend up onto the sides just in front of the hind limbs. On males these bars are surrounded by light blue patches on the belly. On females bars are faint or lacking. During breeding season females develop a pink throat patch and a peach or orange tint on the sides and flanks. The body scales are small and

granular. As its common name implies, this lizard lacks external ear openings. This characteristic, coupled with the posterior position of its side bars distinguish the Greater Earless Lizard from the similar looking Zebra-tailed Lizard.  


DISTRIBUTION: This lizard is found across sub-Mogollon Rim central Arizona and throughout much of the southeastern portion of the state at elevations ranging from about 900’ to 5,000'. 


HABITAT: The Greater Earless Lizard inhabits Arizona Upland Sonoran Desertscrub, Semidesert Grassland, Interior Chaparral, and Great Basin Conifer Woodland communities. It is usually encountered above the flats on relatively open, gravelly slopes and along sandy drainages within mountainous terrain.


BEHAVIOR: This diurnal lizard is often encountered basking in the mid-morning sun. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall. When approached by a predator it often curls and wags its tail over the back exposing the black and white stripes. This may be to let the predator know that it has been spotted by the lizard. If the predator knows it has been spotted it might not invest the energy required to chase this speedy lizard. When fleeing this lizard often runs with its tail curled over the back. This may serve to divert the predator’s attention to the tail (which can be regenerated). Both males and females are territorial and exhibit head bobbing, push-ups, and lateral compression of the body when approached by an outsider.  


DIET: The Greater Earless Lizard feeds on a variety of insects including grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, caterpillars, beetles, and ants. It also eats a variety of spiders.


REPRODUCTION: This lizard mates in spring and lays one or more clutches of eggs in spring and summer. Clutch size ranges from 2 to 9 eggs. Hatchlings begin to emerge in July.


Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA

Videos :  

Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)  

 Out and About – Greater Earless Lizard

Bonus - Greater Earless Lizard & Its Prey

Showing Bleached Earless Lizard (aka Izzy) tank and feeding!

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