Common Lesser Earless Lizard Holbrookia maculata - Special Concern

Family: Phrynosomatidae

General Description: This is a medium-sized lizard ranging from 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in total length. Dorsal patterning consists of mottled tan and light brown marks diffused with darker blotching. The ventral side is white and lacks patterning except for the two dark bands which are present along the lateral sides just posterior to the forearms. The tail is relatively short compared to that of other lizards and is often as long as the body. Reproductive males often have enlarged postanal glands and blue coloration surrounding the two black bars; reproductive females often develop orange coloration along the throat and head. Diagnostic characters for this species distinguishing it from other South Dakota lizards include: 1) the absence of external ear openings and 2) two black diagonal bars on each side posterior to the forearms.

Behavior: This is an active, diurnal lizard and an active predator. Diet consists of a variety of insects and spiders. During the heat of the day, this species seeks shelter in the shade of vegetation or in rodent burrows. They may also bury themselves in sandy, loose soils to avoid predators such as snakes, birds, and mammals as well as to thermoregulate.

Reproduction: Sexual maturity is reached around 1 year of age and reproduction occurs in the spring. Females lay 1 or 2 clutches of 3 to 10 eggs in the summer.

Habitat: This species prefers habitats with sparse vegetation and sandy or gravel soils.

Species Range: This species is found from south-central South Dakota to Texas and central Mexico and west into Arizona.

South Dakota Range: This species is only found in south-central South Dakota where the Sandhills extend into South Dakota.

South Dakota Status: This species is listed on the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program. Any sightings of this species should be reported to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (report observation).

Account written by Drew R. Davis and Abraham J. Kanz

Distribution Map
Distribution map of Common Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata)

County level distribution of this species in South Dakota. Map generated from data collected from voucher specimens and photographic records. See About for additional information.

Common Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata)
Common Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata)