Here is an appropriately faded Old West-y snap shot of a neighbor of ours, taken with my cell phone. Can you spot the non-avian subject? It’s a Desert Iguana, posing with dignity as if for a Victorian formal portrait, lurking in the heat of the day under a creosote bush a block from our house.
<< Desert iguana under creosote (photo A.Shock). Click once to enlarge.
These lizards are both camera-shy and fast, and this was the best shot I could get: right after clicking it, the liz shot off across the broiling pavement back to the other side of the road and disappeared.
Desert iguanas (Dipsosaurus dorsalis: “thirsty lizard” with a “notable back”) are fairly large lizards — this one was twelve inches from nose to tail-tip — closely associated with creosote bushes, which provide them with food, shelter, and shade. I’m always thrilled when I see one in our ‘hood, which is only a couple of times a year. Unlike our other local lizards who eat other creatures and shun the heat of the day by retreating to shelter and burrows, these pale pinkish, blunt-nosed lizards are primarily vegetarian thermophiles who are most frequently seen active and out in the heat of the day in the very hottest part of the summer. This one was basking on the edge of our black-asphalt street, swishing its long tail slowly back and forth before it fled the camerazza (me). Click here for an earlier Three Star Owl post on our neighborhood iguanas, here for more species info, and here for still more info and great photos. If you’re too blasé to click the second link, you will miss reading about this species’ interesting natural history, including why it eats the fecal pellets of other iguanas, and what its thigh glands secrete. Really, you need to know, so go ahead and click.