Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

Very Rare Lizard

So I get a phonecall today, from an hysterical lady…”There is a lizard in my store!  Can you PLEASE come get it out for me?!”  I asked her what kind of lizard, and of course she had no idea.  So I grabbed a fine-mesh net, and headed over…

There were several customers, mostly curious and a little freaked that a “wild animal” was in the shop.  Mind you…we live in the High Desert.  Lizards and snakes are literally all around us, and calls for snake removals from a house are fairly common.  Needless to say, I wasn’t shocked that a lizard was in the store.

But I was shocked to see this guy…

Panamint Alligator Lizard

This is a Panamint Alligator Lizard, also known as Elgaria panamintina.  They are an increasingly rare lizard that only occurs in a small area of eastern California, in Inyo and Mono counties.  This is only the second one I have ever seen, and the first…I’m still not positive it was a Panamint.  This one…I’m almost positive…

Elgaria panamintina

Now…I’m not a biologist, or a herpetologst, or any kind of ologist to be perfectly honest.  I can’t be 100% certain that this is a Panamint Alligator lizard.  It could also be a Sierra Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea palmeri), but those don’t typically have distinct banding.  This guy also has a distinct, white, rear border against the black bands, which is characteristic of the Panamint.

Regardless, he is a really cool lizard, and I’m stoked to have rescued him!

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11 responses

  1. That’s a great looking lizard, looks like a cross between a skink and dragon we have here in Australia. Nice site and photos.

    June 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    • Thank you so much! I have been to your site, and as such, your words are taken very complimentary. I appreciate you taking the time to look and comment!

      July 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

  2. Great lizard, great rescue, great shots!

    July 1, 2010 at 5:49 am

  3. Nice pictures! The white markings near its front legs to its belly are amazing! Disclaimer: I’m not a herp person, either. However, I’d say it looks like a CA alligator lizard since that’s the one I’m familiar with in my area. CA herps doesn’t show this subspecies as being in your area, but it could have easily hitched a ride on an RV or pallets that would be delivered to a store. Check it out: http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/pages/e.m.multicarinata.html. Love your blog!

    July 1, 2010 at 6:08 am

    • I agree that it resembles some of the patterning characteristics of the California subspecies. My problem is that it also represents some from the Sierra ssp. and some from the Panamint ssp. Being a naturalist and a conservationist, I have done everything I can to positively ID this guy, and it identifies mostly with the panamintina in terms of dorsal and ventral patterning and location. If you have any links to taxonomical identifiers, including labial and dorsal scale counts, I would greatly appreciate it. I have not yet been able to find these scale count identifiers for any California ssp. of Alligator Lizard. They would be tremendously helpful for a positive ID, but without a listing…I can’t know.

      Unfortunately, I have to go by location and color/pattern descriptors for identification, until I can get some more information.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      July 1, 2010 at 7:46 am

  4. I, too, think the online herp sites could be better. I’m not much into participating in forums, but you might get some expert ID help here: http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/

    July 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

  5. The results are in. Seems that this lizard ism in fact, a San Diego Alligator Lizard, not a Panamint. Elgaria multicarinata webii rather than Elgaria panamintina. It pays to have herpetologist friends…

    July 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    • I can understand about the itch. Well, at least I got the species correct. This was fun. Thanks.

      July 2, 2010 at 6:51 pm

  6. you’re right ; it is a very cool lizard! and i think what you do is very cool too!

    July 3, 2010 at 4:07 am

  7. i used to have that lizard

    October 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    • Good thing it isn’t the heavily protected, and very endangered, species that I originally thought it was. Fortunately, this one shown is not a Panamint Alligator Lizard, it is, rather, a San Diego Alligator lizard. Thanks for commenting!

      October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

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