Eastern Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris)
This is the largest lizard species found in Arkansas. Predominant colors are gray, light brown, and green. The front limbs, sides, and chin may be awash with yellow. Reddish to yellowish crossbands may be present, especially on younger individuals. Numerous white dots speckle the body and tail. Two dark neck bands create a "collar". The head is large and bulky. The tail is very long. Hind limbs are significantly longer than front limbs. Scales are granular.
Adult males are more brightly colored than females. Males are awash in green with bright yellow on the chin while females are more dull. Juveniles look similar to adult females, but with more predominant red crossbands.
With a good look, this species is unlikely to be confused with any other, but while racing along it might be mistaken for a Prairie Racerunner. This species has a large head and is banded, while the Prairie Racerunner has a narrow, pointed head and is striped.
This species is also known as a Mountain Boomer, perhaps because early settlers mistook the sound of wind blowing through canyons. Like most lizards, it is voiceless.
This species is only found in areas of exposed rock, such as open, rocky glades. Older, abandoned rock quarries provide suitable habitat as well.
This species is most often observed on a rocky perch (often atop a boulder that is taller than the surrounding rocks), where it will bask and can keep an eye out for potential predators and prey. It is a lizard that is very alert and leery.
Breeding occurs in the spring with females laying eggs in the summer. Hatching occurs in summer to early fall.
The primary prey for this species is insects and spiders, but they will overpower other smaller vertebrates, such as small lizards, snakes, and rodents. In captivity, they will eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables as well.
When prey is spotted from a lookout perch, a Collared Lizard will chase after its meal. This species has strong, powerful jaws and typically has no problem making short work of lesser-sized food items.
This species is highly alert and very leery. They are extremely agile in their rocky terrains, leaping from rock to rock with ease. When pursued, they are very fast! At top speed, they run only on their hind limbs. If captured or cornered, a trapped specimen will gape its mouth and can deliver a strong bite.
This species is considered rare by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and has been identified as a species of greatest conservation need by the Wildlife Conservation Strategy group. The biggest concern for this species is habitat degradation. Fire suppression has allowed the slow encroachment of trees (especially cedars) into this species' open, rocky habitat and controlled burns are a likely conservation measure. Other concerns include overzealous collection of specimens for the pet trade.