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1- Urosaurus ornatus :

Urosaurus ornatus, commonly known as the ornate tree lizard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Urosaurus ornatus, commonly known as the ornate tree lizard, is a species of lizard native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The species, which formerly was commonly called simply the "tree lizard", has been used to study physiological changes during the fight-or-flight response as related to stress and aggressive competition.[3][4] Also, its life history and costs of reproduction have been documented in field populations in New Mexico and Arizona.[5][6] Finally, it has been fairly well studied because it has interesting variation in throat color in males (within a population) that can correlate with different reproductive strategies,[7][8]

Urosaurus ornatus

Conservation status :




Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification :








Species:U. ornatus

Binomial name :

Urosaurus ornatus
(Baird & Girard, 1852)

Synonyms[2] :

  • Uta ornataBaird & Girard, 1852

  • Urosaurus ornatus— Mittleman, 1942

Diet :


The ornate tree lizard feeds on mostly insects and their larvae.


Reproduction :


A group consisting of one male and one or more females typically inhabit an area containing one or more large trees, shrubs, or boulders. The male copulates with each female and the female retain eggs about two weeks after mating. In many parts of its range, females may lay more than one clutch of eggs a year.


Territoriality is an important part of reproduction for many males in this species. Males often defend territories by aggressively excluding other males. This aggression can, in part, be enhanced with higher levels of the steroid hormones testosterone and progesterone.[9] Females have home ranges but do not defend territories. When the number of females on a male's territory is experimentally reduced by removing the females, the male is more likely to abandon his territory.[10]


Females also can vary in throat coloration, although this is not as well-studied. When gravid with eggs, females tend to be orange or red.[11]Recent experiments also suggest females have association, and perhaps mating preferences for different male types, and that this female preference varies with the throat color of the female herself, and with the colors of the two males that she was presented.[12]


Appearance and throat color variation :


As adults, all males have paired turquoise patches of skin on the abdomen; females lack this abdominal coloration.[13] Male ornate tree lizards are found in a variety of colors.[14][7] While not all populations contain more than one or two colors, 9 color types have been documented within U. ornatus. A population documented in Verde River, Arizona, has two types of coloration patterns among male tree lizards that account for 45% of all males. The first is characterized by a blue spot in the center of a larger orange patch on the throat fan ("dewlap"). The second has a solid orange throat fan ("dewlap"). The orange-blue males are more aggressive and defend territories that can include up to four females.[15] The orange males have longer, leaner body types and are much less aggressive. Orange males can be nomadic during dry years, and during rainy years tend to occupy small territories.[16]


Some, such as Stanford professor and biologist Joan Roughgarden, have suggested multiple male genders in this species. Among differently colored male tree lizards, there are different hormonal profiles. On the day a male tree lizard hatches, researchers think that high blood levels of progesterone and then later, as a juvenile, higher testosterone levels will cause him to develop into an orange-blue type; low progesterone and later lower testosterone levels, as a juvenile, may lead the male to develop into an orange type.[17] During dry weather conditions, orange-type males' corticosterone levels increase, which causes testosterone to decrease, leading them to be more likely to leave their territory and become nomadic. Orange-blue males do not have this hormonal response to the weather, and remain in their territories regardless of climatic conditions.[16]

Subspecies :


Ten subspecies are recognized as being valid, including the nominotypical subspecies.[2]


  • U. o. ornatus (Baird & Girard, 1852) – Texas tree lizard

  • U. o. caeruleus (H.M. Smith, 1935)

  • U. o. chiricahuae (Mittleman, 1941)

  • U. o. lateralis (Boulenger, 1883)

  • U. o. levis (Stejneger, 1890) – smooth tree lizard

  • U. o. linearis (Baird, 1859) – lined tree lizard

  • U. o. schmidti (Mittleman, 1940) – Big Bend tree lizard

  • U. o. schottii (Baird, 1858) – Schott's tree lizard

  • U. o. symmetricus (Baird, 1858) – Colorado River tree lizard

  • U. o. wrighti (Schmidt, 1921) – northern tree lizard

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Urosaurus.

Etymologies :


The subspecific name, schmidti, is in honor of American herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt.[18]

The subspecific name, schottii, is in honor of German-American naturalist Arthur Carl Victor Schott.[18]

The subspecific name, wrighti, is in honor of American herpetologist Albert Hazen Wright.[18]

Geographic range :


United States: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming,[19] Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Mexico: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Coahuila.

For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

Video : 

Information on Ornate Tree Lizards 

Care Articles :


ORNATE TREE LIZARD  Urosaurus ornatus

 courtesy to :

By Thomas C. Brennan



DESCRIPTION: A small (up to 59 mm or 2.3" from snout to vent), slim, gray, gray-brown, or tan lizard with an ornate pattern of thin, dark lines on top of the head. Body markings are variable but usually consist of black or dark gray-brown, irregularly shaped blotches. Some specimens have lengthwise striations and some are plain. On the back are two parallel, lengthwise strips of enlarged, keeled scales separated at the mid-dorsum by a strip of small granular scales. The remainder of the dorsal scales are small and granular. The scales on the tail and limbs are enlarged and keeled. The scales on the belly are smooth and flat. A fold of skin runs along each lower side of the body. Males have two large, blue patches on the belly and a blue, blue-green, green, yellow, or orange throat. In females belly patches are lacking and the throat is yellow, yellow-green, or orange. Its twin strips of enlarged, keeled scales on the back and its shorter tail distinguish this lizard from the similar Long-tailed Brush Lizard. 


DISTRIBUTION: This is one of our most common and widespread lizards. In Arizona it is absent only from the highest peaks and some of the hot, dry, southwestern dune fields. It is found at elevations ranging from near sea level along the Colorado River to about 9,000'. 


HABITAT: It is found in most of the state's biotic communities ranging from Lower Colorado River Sonoran Desertscrub to the lower reaches of Petran Subalpine Conifer Forest. It is usually encountered in areas with plenty of features on which to climb such as wooded riparian corridors and boulder-strewn slopes. 


BEHAVIOR: This diurnal lizard is an excellent climber and it is commonly seen basking and foraging on urban walls, fences, and building exteriors. In natural settings it climbs and basks on logs, boulders, and trees. It hibernates during the cold months of late fall and early winter. Males are highly territorial. The territorial display includes "push-ups" and extending the brightly colored throat. 


DIET: A variety of insects including aphids, beetles, flies, ants, bees, wasps, termites, moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, and crickets make up the diet of this lizard. It also feeds on a variety of spiders.   


REPRODUCTION: Mating takes place in spring and summer and one or two clutches of eggs are laid in spring and summer. Clutch size ranges from 2 to 16 eggs. 

- Ornate Tree Lizard

courtesy to  :


Scientific Name: Urosaurus ornatus


Family:  Phrynosomatidae


Diagnostic Features: 


  • Single throat fold and two folds along each side of body.

  • Series of enlarged dorsal scales down midline interspersed with small, tiny scales.

  • Two subspecies differentiated by size of enlarged dorsal scales

  • Long, slender tail.



  • Dorsal ground color gray to brown.

  • Dorsal pattern consists of a mottled pattern of dark blotches and crossbars, some of which may be edged in light blue.

  • Yellow or light orange gular.

  • Males with two blue belly patches and blue patch or blue scales on orange throat.



Urosaurus ornatus reaches adult lengths of 10-15 cm (4-6 in), including tail length.


General Distribution: 


In North America, Urosaurus ornatus is found from Utah and Colorado, through the southwestern deserts into northern Mexico and along the Pacific Coast of Mexico.




This diurnal lizard is quick and wary. Urosaurus ornatus is well camouflaged on tree trunks and branches, but will climb higher to avoid being captured. This species forages in the mornings and late afternoons for insects.




Large egg clutches are laid in the spring and summer. Two clutches of eggs (averaging 6 eggs/clutch) can be laid each year.




Urosaurus ornatus is an arboreal lizard, preferring trees, fallen limbs, rocks, and fence posts.


Conservation Status: 


The ornate tree lizard is not a protected species in Texas and can be legally collected with a hunting license.


Texas Distribution: 


In Texas, the two subspecies of Urosaurus ornatus are found in central and west Texas.


Distribution Map: 


Orange counties indicate new county records since previous Herps of Texas update in 1998; all other colored counties reflect known distribution prior to 1998 for species and/or subspecies. Map is based on museum voucher specimens.

Videos :

Herpdude520-Ornate tree lizard set up

Information on Ornate Tree Lizards

Tree Lizard doing push-ups

Ornate Tree Lizard (Male)

Unboxing baby Ornate monitor lizards

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