<< Previous Next >>


Photo Information
Copyright: Manyee Desandies (manyee) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2005-05
Categories: Reptiles
Camera: Canon Powershot S1-IS
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Reptiles - Lizards, Chuckwallas, Agamas & Tegus 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2006-03-06 4:09
Viewed: 6767
Points: 12
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
While walking around the Living Desert Zoo, we came upon this chuckwalla waddling amongst the rocks.

Common Chuckwalla
Sauromalus ater

Sauromalus is derived from Greek sauros, meaning lizard and omalus, homalus, meaning flat, in reference to the chuckwalla's flattened body shape. It lacks a mid-dorsal crest, and when compared to its closest relatives (the other iguanas), the low profile is obvious. The name ater means black. A previous scientific name used for the chuckwalla is Sauromalus obesus.


Size: The stout-bodied chuckwalla is the second largest lizard in the United States, next in size only to the gila monster. A male individual can measure up to 18 inches in total length, while the female is somewhat smaller.

Coloration: The coloration of these lizards is geographically variable and also varies between juveniles and adults, in addition to males and females. In adult males, the head, shoulder, and pelvic regions are melanistic, while the mid-body is light beige or tan and occassionally speckled with brown flecks. The tail is off-white. Adult females are brownish in color with a scattering of dark brown and red spots. Young chuckwallas have four or five broad bands across the body, and three or four on the tail. These bands are usually lost in adulthood. Uniformly small scales cover the body, with larger scales protecting the ear openings.

Range and Habitat

The chuckwalla is distributed throughout the deserts of southern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, western Arizona, Sonora, and Baja California. Its distribution closely mirrors the combined Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.

The chuckwalla's preferred habitat is boulder-covered slopes, at elevations up to 4500 feet, although they are more common at lower elevations. They sun themselves on prominent rocks during warm weather, and it's not unusual to see several chuckwallas at the same time from a single vantage point.

Natural History

In the wild, chuckwallas are shy, and, if approached, will hide in the cracks and crevices of nearby boulders. If the threat persists, they can wedge themselves tightly in the crevice by inflating their lungs which causes their body to press against the rock faces. This makes extraction nearly impossible for a predator.

Chuckwallas are strictly herbivores in the wild. They're particularly fond of yellow flowers, such as those found on the brittle-bush (Encelia farinosa), and, on occasion, will climb into this plant to get to the yellow feast.

Mating occurs between April and July, with a clutch of as many as 16 eggs laid between June and August. The eggs hatch in the late warm season.


wallhalla15, loot, liquidsunshine, livios, cecilia has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To loot: Fill-Flashmanyee 4 03-06 21:34
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

Hello Manyee,
very nice capture with great colours and sharpness/dof. Very good composition. Thank you for posting. Have a great week.

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2006-03-06 6:29]
  • [+]

Hi Manyee
No questions or assignments this time, I promise.
You were fortunate to catch this guy and that he did not dash of. He is very nicely coloured and you managed to display his natural colours. Details are sharp and overall exposure was well done, the only nit might be the slight darkness in front. With a bit of fill-in flash (IMO) you could have removed some of the harsh shade in front of the lizard. But it's always easy to talk when you're not there. Bunch of armchair critics we are, aren't we? (Sorry, I said no questions.)

Hi Manyee,
Good detail, colours and sharpness.
Composition and exposure are good. Good POV and framing.
Thanks for posting, have a great week.

  • Great 
  • livios Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2150 W: 319 N: 4263] (16942)
  • [2006-03-06 21:57]

Manyee, hot colors we have here.

The reptile is great. I even think that one of the greatest things about shooting reptiles are the poses they strike.

Lovely catchlight.

Well caught Manyee, you have certainly caught his attention.

Well, you certainly managed to catch up with him. I admire your patience. It's a nice sharp image even if a little contrasty.

Calibration Check