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Reptiles of Washington

Common side-blotched lizard
(Uta stansburiana)


What they look like

  • Side-blotched lizards are small lizards that can be up to 5 inches long.
  • Can be distinguished from other small lizards by a dark blue-gray to black blotch just behind each of their front limbs.
  • Their back is light gray or tan and, although there are a wide variety of markings, most have both light and dark spots. Their underside is light cream, white, or pale gray.
  • Males are more brightly colored than females and oftentimes have bright blue speckling on their tail, back, and top of their back limbs and also, especially visible during the breeding season, orange, blue, or yellow throats.

Where they live

  • Side-blotched lizards can be found from Washington south to the tip of Baja California and northern Mexico, and east to western Colorado and Texas.
  • Tend to live in sandy or rocky areas of semi-arid regions that have desert shrubs or pinyon-juniper trees.

What they eat

  • Side-blotched lizards feed on beetles, ants, termites, grasshoppers, flies, spiders, and scorpions. Adult males may also feed on the young of their own species.


  • In spring and summer, females lay and bury a few clutches of eggs in sandy soil.
  • Each clutch has around 2 to 5 eggs, which begin to hatch in June.

Cool Biology Facts

  • Male side-blotched lizards compete for mates using a strategy that resembles “rock-paper-scissors”. Males have orange, yellow, or blue throats. When competing for a female, orange beats blue, blue beats yellow, and yellow beats orange. This is due to different body sizes, strengths of the bond to the female, and abilities to resemble females/trick other males into believing they are female. 


Distribution Map


There are no known major threats to side-blotched lizards and they are considered “least concern” due to their large distribution and large numerous stable populations.