A male Zebra-Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides ) is a great example of a reptiles
A male Zebra-Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides ), a classic example of the reptile

Reptiles are frequently the first animal one will encounter while travelling across the desert southwest. They are also some of the most misunderstood animals on the planet, Perhaps, it is their cold blooded nature. It could be decades of western movies, demonizing the rattlesnake and the dreaded sidewinder. Their appearance to the lost dinosaur and forked tongues which can “taste” the air could not help appearances much.

Whatever the reason, the misunderstood reptiles are a welcome and exciting resident of the out of doors. Lizards offer a dash of excitement, their colorful bodies streaking between bushes. The spectacular snakes convey ominous warnings, but are not the dangerous fangs of death made famous in the western. The solitary tortoise is the example of enduring the harsh desert climates of California and Arizona.

These animals are known to be ectothermic, or cold blooded, which means they have an inability to internally regulate their metabolism or body temperature. Reptiles are frequently seen on warm on rock or pavement to help maintain their core temperature. This practice costs thousands of individuals their lives each year by being hit by automobile.

Reptiles have scales which offer protection from the envirronment and may offer a colorful or camouflaged display. They reproduce by burying a clutch of eggs each spring

Juvenile Speckled Rattle Snake found in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada - Photo by James L Rathbun

Speckled Rattlesnake ( Crotalus mitchellii )

The Speckled Rattlesnake is fairly common pit viper found in southern California, southern Nevada, western Arizona and south-western Utah and down the Pacific coast into…
Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)

Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos)

Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), also known as the "horny toad", is a common North American reptile and found throughout…
A male Zebra-Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides )

Zebra Tailed Lizard ( Callisaurus draconoides )

The Zebra-Tailed Lizard is a medium sized lizard which features a long black and white striped tail and commonly found in California, Arizona and Nevada.…
Western Fence Lizard - Photo by James L Rathbun

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis )

The Western Fence Lizard ( Sceloporus occidentalis ) is perhaps one of the most common lizards in the desert southwest and is also known as…
California Desert Tortoise emerging from a hiding place...

Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

One of  the more unique and quite frankly cool animals found in the Mojave Desert is the Desert Tortoise ( Gopherus agassizii ).  My family…