The Crotaphytidae, or collared lizards, are a family[1][2][3] of desert-dwelling reptiles native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Alternatively they are recognized as a subfamily, Crotaphytinae. They are very fast-moving animals, with long limbs and tails, and are carnivorous, feeding mainly on insects and smaller lizards.

Crotaphytus collaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Clade: Pleurodonta
Family: Crotaphytidae
H.M. Smith & Brodie, 1982


The two genera contain 12 species.

Technical characters

  • Femoral pores present
  • Interparietal scale small (distinctly smaller than ear opening)
  • Never have an enlarged middorsal scale row or fringe
  • Never have a divided rostral scale
  • No bony spines or projecting ridges on their heads
  • No scales projecting over their ears, and no scales forming a prominent fringe on sides of toes as in Phrynosomatidae


Genus Gambelia Baird, 1859[4][5] (leopard lizards)

Genus Crotaphytus Holbrook, 1842[4][6] (collared lizards)

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in different genus.


  1. Townsend, Ted M.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Sites, Jack W. Jr; Kuczynski, Caitlin A.; Wiens, John J.; Reeder, Tod W. (2011). "Phylogeny of iguanian lizards inferred from 29 nuclear loci, and a comparison of concatenated and species-tree approaches for an ancient, rapid radiation". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61 (2): 363–380. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.07.008. PMID 21787873.
  2. Wiens, John T.; Hutter, Carl R.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Townsend, Ted M.; Sites, Jack W. Jr.; Reeder, Tod W. (2012). "Resolving the phylogeny of lizards and snakes (Squamata) with extensive sampling of genes and species". Biology Letters. 8 (6): 1043–1046. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0703. PMC 3497141. PMID 22993238.
  3. Pyron, R. Alexander; Burbrink, Frank T.; Wiens, John J. (2013). "A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 13: 93. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-93. PMC 3682911. PMID 23627680.
  4. Dahms Tierleben.
  5. Genus Gambelia at The Reptile Database
  6. Genus Crotaphytus at The Reptile Database

Further reading

  • Frost DR, Etheridge RE (1989). A Phylogenetic Analysis and Taxonomy of Iguanian Lizards (Reptilia: Squamata) Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 81: 1-62. (Family Crotaphytidae, p. 36).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Subfamily Crotaphytinae, p. 106).