Friday, June 21, 2013

A Very Orange-backed San Diego Alligator Lizard

On a walk a few days ago, we discovered an alligator lizard relaxing in the shade near Engineers Road. Due to its geographical location, it would have to be the subspecies of the Southern Alligator Lizard, Elgaria multicarinata webbii (the San Diego Alligator Lizard).

I have never seen one with such brilliant orange on its back as this individual! But after doing a bit of searching on-line, the orange-backed types are not too rare, apparently. Just a genetic variant, although I wonder if it could be environmental (something to do with diet)?

Alligator lizards are masters of the "Intense Stare"!

ALMOST a full view of the orange-backed individual.

For comparison with the lizard above, here is one with a "normal" back coloration (and a MASSIVE appetite!) from near our patio in August of 2010.

Another alligator lizard from our property, which apparently had a dramatic encounter with a predator, from April 2010.


  1. I have to say that the lizard is really pretty. Good find. Good shot.

  2. Those are pretty! Here all lizards are displaying mating colors right now. Nothing like that I gather? About the missing tail, ask your black cat?

  3. Thanks Linda! You should have these critters up your way also.

    Now, by the way, it's tempting to blame Jinx for the missing tail, Margarethe, but this shot was before Jinx arrived at our place (so she's innocent at least in this case!).
    Yes, I sense there's an interesting biological reason for the red back, but haven't figured it out with on-line researching yet. We need a herp expert to weigh in.

  4. Interesting. These lizards are everywhere in San Diego County and very heavy populations within city environments. As a head Landscaper in El Cajon California, I ran across them all the time. BTW, you may enjoy this web page. I have seen variations in colour all the time but never gave it no mind until I read your post here. Try this link, you'll get a kicked out of it and very information. Take note of one Lizard's fiestiness against a Crow. - Elgaria multicarinata webbii - San Diego Alligator Lizard


  5. The one with the crow IS priceless! These lizards have attitude! I do remember seeing them pretty regularly in Rancho Bernardo, when we lived down there. And their bite is very unpleasant -- they simply do not like to let go.