Critter Corner - Collared Lizard
(Crotaphytus collaris collaris)

DID YOU KNOW:

When startled, Collared lizards are able to run upright on their hind legs!  They look like miniature T-rexes, using their long tail to stay balanced.  Of the 11 species of lizards found in Missouri, collared lizards are the largest.

EATING HABITS:

The collared lizard enjoys live foods like grasshoppers, crickets and worms.  They are aggressive eaters and will feast on  smaller  lizards as well.   Collared lizards have a unique way of waving their tails just before they grab prey

THE YOUNG:

From the middle of May to early June, courtship takes place.  The colorful male will walk around the female bobbing his head up and down.  Later Mom lizard will  lay between 2 to 21 leathery eggs in a hole dug under a large rock.  Upon hatching, the baby lizards are entirely on their own.

HABITAT (HOME):

Collared lizards live in endangered habitats called glades.  A glade is a rocky, hillside area  with shallow  soil  and very few trees.  Wildflowers and prickly pear cactus  are important glade plants. The rocks become very warm in the hot sun and collared lizards love to sun-bathe.  Rocky Point Glade in Swope Park is a fine Collared Lizard habitat.

DEFENSIVE HABITS:

Collared lizards can be dinner for hawks and some species of snakes.  The lizards will stay very still if they feel threatened, and if a predator gets too close they will quickly run away.   If caught they will squirm, scratch and bite to escape.  

UNUSUAL FACTS:

  • Unlike other lizards, a Collared lizard’s tail  does not  break off if grabbed. 

  • A nickname for the Collared lizard is the mountain boomer, even though they are unable to make sounds. 

 To learn more about collared lizards

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(Photo Credits: Portrait of Collared Lizard on rock, US Geological Survey; All other photos, Missouri Department of Conservation)