Greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus)

The greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus) is a species of earless lizard endemic to the southwestern United States. It is called “greater” because it grows larger than the earless lizards of the genus Holbrookia, to which it is closely related. While C. texanus is the only species within its genus, it does have two subspecies.

Geographic range

It is found in the United States in the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona; and in Mexico in the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosí.

Description

Greater earless lizards grow from 3-7 inches in length. They are characterized by the lack of external ear openings, which is presumably to prevent sand from entering their body while they dig. They are normally an overall tan or grey color, reflecting the color of the sand and rocks in their native habitat for camouflage, with black, brown or white spotting. Males often develop bright blue and green colorations, while females tend to be duller in color, except when gravid when they turn a bright orange color. Many have a distinctive pair of curved black bars just before the hind legs.

Behavior

All earless lizards are diurnal, basking lizards. In the early morning they forage for insects, and then spend several hours basking in the sun, until it becomes too hot, around 111°F (44°C) at the surface, when they retreat to a burrow or rock crevice. They are oviparous.

Habitat

Habitat: Greater Earless Lizards are found in higher opened desert elevations. It can be seen frequently along pathways of gravel and sand. Greater Earless Lizards live in loose gravel like rocky areas with scattered or moderate vegetative cover, mainly cactus and trees that are found in desert areas.

Diet

Greater Earless Lizards prey on arthropods, such as butterflies, moths, beetles, grasshoppers, bees, ants and spiders. It eats both the adult and the larvae. They have specific ways of eating, larger lizards eat the larger prey and smaller or younger lizards take the smaller prey.

Similarities and Fun Fact

The Greater Earless Lizard comes from the family of reptiles having many similarities to other reptiles.The Greater Earless lizard is unique in its own way, because this particular lizard is rare and grows larger than regular lizard.This being said the Greater Earless lizard is very similar to the iguana. The Greater Earless lizard can live in extreme heats up to 111 degrees which is helpful to them because they hunt for insect in the morning when the heat is really high giving them the capacity to capture their prey much faster and easier than in the afternoon when there isn’t much light and heat

Subspecies

  • Southwestern earless lizard, C. t. scitulus (Peters, 1951)
  • Texas earless lizard, C. t. texanus Troschel, 1850

 

 

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Photograph is available under a Creative Commons License from Patrick Alexander.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.