Tuesday 21 May
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard description
The endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) is a relatively large lizard with a long, rounded body and well developed limbs (3). It is similar in appearance to the long-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia wislizenii), but has a shorter, snubbed snout and a more triangular head shape (4).
The colour of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard may vary with the surroundings, but it is generally light-grey to yellow, with pale cream coloured-rings around its body and small dark brown spots in between these (4) (5). This species is unusual in that the male and female do not display permanent colour differences, but rather develop these during the breeding season (6). The male develops a salmon pink colour over the head and body, while the female develops rusty-red markings along the sides of the head and body (6).
- Male total length: up to 35.7 cm (2)
- Female total length: up to 33.4 cm (2)
- Male weight: up to 60 g (2)
- Female weight: up to 47g (2)
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard biology
The elusive blunt-nosed leopard lizard is diurnal, emerging from the refuge of a small mammal burrow in the morning to bask in the sun (5) (7). Each lizard will use several burrows, and will even construct a simple, shallow burrow of its own where mammals are scarce (5) (7).
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is an agile predator, being able to leap up to 60 centimetres in order to catch prey in mid-air (7). It is generally opportunistic, stalking and feeding on prey that is both abundant and easily-caught. Its diet typically consists of insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, bees, wasps and ants (7) (8). It is also known to feed on lizards, including young of its own species, as well as plant matter (8).
The adult blunt-nosed leopard lizard emerges from a period of dormancy, known as brumation, in early April. Reproductive activity begins within the month and can continue up until the end of June (5) (7). The male will defend a territory and mate with any receptive females within it. The female will lay a clutch of eggs in a chamber of a burrow, and can produce between one and six eggs at any one time (2). The number of eggs produced is thought to be related to body size (7). The female usually lays one clutch per year, but this can increase when environmental conditions are favourable (2).
The young blunt-nosed leopard lizards hatch after about two months, from early July until late August, and remain active until October or early November (2) (7). They then enter a period of dormancy in an underground burrow until the following spring (5). The blunt-nosed leopard lizard has been known to live for up to almost five years, but a lifespan of around two years is more normal (2).Top
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard range
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is endemic to California in the United States, where it occurs only in the San Joaquin Valley and nearby area (1). It is found at elevations ranging from 30 to 730 metres (3).Top
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard habitat
This species usually inhabits semi-arid areas including grasslands and alkali flats (1) (4). The blunt-nosed leopard lizard also prefers sparse vegetation and areas with an abundance of rodent burrows in which to shelter. The soil in the habitat can be sandy, gravelly or loamy (a fertile soil mix of sand and clay) (1) (4).
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is unable to survive on lands that have undergone cultivation, and repopulation of these affected areas is thought to take at least 10 years (1).Top
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard status
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard threats
The major threat to this species is the disturbance and destruction of its habitat for purposes such as cultivation and urbanisation (1) (5). Construction of facilities and dumping of waste related to gas and natural oil extraction has led directly to blunt-nosed leopard lizard mortalities (5).
The use of pesticides on agricultural land may also impact on populations both directly and indirectly, through the removal of this species insect prey (5). The use of off-road vehicles is also thought to have a detrimental effect on the habitat of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, an it is also known to have been directly killed by vehicles on roads (1) (2) (5).Top
Blunt-nosed leopard lizard conservation
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is protected by law in the United States and is currently covered by the conservation efforts of the Endangered Species Recovery Program, which aims to research and produce recoverey programmes for endangered species in the San Joaquin Valley (9). Efforts so far have included large-scale habitat and population surveys in order to better understand this elusive species (5). Future recommendations include determining appropriate habitat management and protecting additional habitat (5).
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is also known to occur in some protected areas, such as the Pixley Wildlife Refuge (4).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the blunt-nosed leopard lizard and its conservation:
CaliforniaHerps - Blunt-nosed leopard lizard:
Endangered Species Recovery Program - Blunt-nosedleopard lizard:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Having a pH greater than 7.0. Soil is regarded as alkaline if it has a pH between 8.0 and 10.0. Alkaline soils are usually rich in calcium ions.
- Active during the day.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area
- A winter survival strategy in which the animal passes the winter in a resting state. This period of inactivity is characterised by specific biological and biochemical changes including lowered blood pressure and respiration rate. In reptiles, this is also known as brumation.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
- Germano, D.J. and Williams, D.F. (2005) Population ecology of blunt-nosed leopard lizards in high elevation foothill habitat. Journal of Herpetology, 39(1): 1-18.
CaliforniaHerps - Gambelia sila (August, 2011)
- Stebbins, R.C. (2003) A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (1998) Recovery Plan for Upland Species of the San Joaquin Valley, California. Portland, USA. Available at:
- Germano, D.J. and Williams, D.F. (2007) Ontogenetic and seasonal changes in coloration of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila). The Southwestern Naturalist, 52(1): 46-53.
- Montanucci, R.R. (1965) Observations on the San Joaquin leopard lizard, Crotaphytus wislizenii silus Stejneger. Herpetologica, 21: 270-283.
- Germano, D.J., Smith, P.T. and Tabor, S.P. (2007) Food habits of the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila). The Southwestern Naturalist, 52(2): 318-323.
California State University: San Joaquin Valley Endangered Species Recovery Program (August, 2011)
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.