Field Guide to Reptiles
of Southern California
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Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma inornata)
The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard is an uncommon, protected species, limited to sand dunes in the Coachella Valley, Riverside Co. It is associated with sparse desert scrub, alkali scrub, and desert wash habitats, and may be common locally (Pough 1973, England and Nelson 1977, California Dept. Fish and Game 1983).
Fringe-toed lizards usually hide from enemies by burrowing in the sand ("sand swimming"), within 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) of the surface. They are usually buried on the lee side of dunes to prevent excavation by winds (Cowles 1941, Stebbins 1944). Rodent burrows and the bases of shrubs are also used for cover (Stebbins 1944) and thermoregulation (Pough 1970).
Mating and egg-laying occur throughout the spring and summer (Behler and King 1979). Clutch size ranges from 2 to 4. Recently hatched young have been observed in early October (Stebbins 1954).
Active during the daytime. Seasonally active from mid-spring to mid-fall.
Diet and Foraging
Fringe-toed lizards are primarily insectivorous and their diet includes ants, beetles, grasshoppers, sand-dwelling cockroaches, hemipterans, spiders, antlion larvae, and caterpillars. Other California fringe-toed lizards eat flower buds, stems leaves and seeds of plants as well (Miller and Stebbins 1964, Kaufmann 1982), but this may not be true for the Coachella Valley fringed-toed lizard. Kaufmann (1982) found differences in the diets of adult male and female Mojave fringe-toed lizards during the breeding season. Males primarily fed on ants and plant material in the mornings, whereas females and juveniles ate ants and other insects throughout the day.
No data available.
Lizards escape predation by running bipedally at high speed and plunging into sand (Stebbins 1944, 1966). Predators include roadrunners, badgers, loggerhead shrikes, American kestrels, and coyotes. Snakes that prey on fringe-toed lizards include sidewinders, glossy snakes, and coachwhips (Stebbins 1944, Norris 1958, Funk 1965).
Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred Knopf, New York. 743pp.
California Dept. Fish and Game. 1983. At the crossroads. A report on the status of California's endangered and rare fish and wildlife. Addenda to 5th Biennial report of 1980. Sacramento. 20pp.
Carpenter, C. C. 1963. Patterns of social behavior in three forms of the fringe-toed lizards (Uma-Iguanidae). Copeia 1963:406-412.
Cowles, R. B. 1941. Observations on the winter activities of desert reptiles. Ecology 22:125-140.
England, A. S., and S. G. Nelson. 1977. Status of the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata). Calif. Dept. Fish and Game, Inland Fish. Adm. Rep. No. 77-1. 29pp.
Funk, R. S. 1965. Food of Crotalus cerastes laterorepens in Yuma County, Arizona. Herpetologica 21:15-17.
Heifetz, W. 1941. A review of the lizards of the genus Uma. Copeia 1941:99-111.
Kaufmann, J. S. 1982. Patterns of habitat resource utilization in a population of Uma scoparia, the Mojave fringe-toed lizard. M. S. Thesis, Univ. Illinois, Chicago. 78pp.
Mayhew, W. W. 1964. Photoperiodic responses in three species of the lizard genus Uma. Herpetologica 20:95-113.
Mayhew, W. W. 1965. Reproduction in the sand-dwelling lizard Uma inornata. Herpetologica 21:39-55.
Mayhew, W. W. 1966. Adaptations of the amphibian, Scaphiopus couchii to desert conditions. Am. Midl. Nat. 74:95-109.
Mayhew, W. W. 1967. Comparative reproduction in three species of the genus Uma. Pages 45-61 in W. W. Milstead, ed. Lizard Ecology: A Symposium. Univ. Missouri Press, Columbia. 300pp.
Mayhew, W. W. 1968. The biology of desert amphibians and reptiles. Pages 195-356 in G. W. Brown, Jr., ed. Desert Biology, Vol. 1. Academic Press, New York. 638pp.
Miller, A. H., and R. C. Stebbins. 1964. The lives of desert animals in Joshua Tree National Monument. Univ. California Press, Berkeley. 452pp.
Norris, K. S. 1958. The evolution and systematics of the iguanid genus Uma and its relation to the evolution of other North American desert reptiles. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull. 114:151-326.
Pough, F. H. 1970. The burrowing ecology of the sand lizards, Uma notata. Copeia 1970:145-157.
Pough, F. H. 1973. Uma inornata. Cat. Am. Amphibians and Reptiles 126.1-126.2.
Stebbins, R. C. 1944. Field notes on a lizard, the mountain swift, with special reference to territorial behavior. Ecology 25:233-245.
Stebbins, R. C. 1954. Amphibians and reptiles of western North America. McGraw-Hill, New York. 536pp.
Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. 2nd ed., revised. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 336pp.
Information gathered from California DFG - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group