Tuesday, July 7, 2015


tucson.com (aka Arizona Daily Star) recently ran a series of lizard photos; several were mislabeled. Let's take a look at two that are easy to misidentify: Greater Earless vs. Zebra-tailed. Both species are about the same size and shape, and both wag their tails to distract predators. Using a few tips and tricks, you can tell them apart.

Photo by Ned Harris 6/26/2015

Click on the photo for a larger view. Note the two bars near the back leg. Note also the lack of black bands on the tail. This is a Greater Earless. (Obvious bars near the groin mean male.) Bars at all near the groin - think: G for groin, G for Greater Earless. (More photos at the link.)

Photo by Gene Spesard 6/13/2015

Click on this photo, too. Note the dark bars are NOT by the back leg. They are by the front leg (armpit). A for Armpit means A Zebra-tailed : -) Note also that the dark bands on the tail go all the way around. (Look, too, at the photos on the linked page.)

Photo by Ned Harris 6/26/2015

In the lizard world, females and juveniles are generally more subtle in terms of colors and markings. Nevertheless, you can tell that the lizard above is a Zebra-tailed because 1) the bars, though subtle, are closer to the front legs than the back; and 2) the dark bands are clearly on the top of the tail. (They'll also be clear underneath, but the top is the tell.) Click on the photo for a larger view.

Photo by Ned Harris 6/26/2015

Again, this one is subtle. Look for the bars. Which leg are they closest to? Yes, G for Groin. You've got a Greater Earless here. (If that weren't enough, note the lack of dark bands on the top of the tail.)

Of course, I'm occasionally in need of a correction (or two). I'm always happy to learn something new. And here's the latest from this Jackrabbit post (I corrected the post as well.) Vivian writes:

I think these may be Antelope Jackrabbits. I know they are similar, but the Black-Tailed have black on the tips of their ears, and usually have black coming up from their tails a little. I could be wrong, but I walk daily in Saguaro Park East, and these are my favorite things to look for. I see many more Antelope than Black-Tailed, but always love to see both.
And I received a similar info from Jean. Thank you both!

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