I found my first examples of this fine reptile while visiting Zion National Park in Utah, but have also gone on to find them in Nevada as well. This reptile tends to be found at mid to high altitudes in the western United States.
True to its name, the Sagebrush Lizard is commonly observed in shrublands; it can be encountered on open, flat, grassy plains and plateaus, wooded foothills, rocky canyons and on steep forested slopes. Though they will bask on logs and rocky outcrops, I’ve seen a fair number of them on the ground.
It usually has a total length of about 6 inches and is gray-brown to orange-brown with pointed, keeled scales and four rows of dark, irregular shaped blotches. A broad, gray mid-dorsal stripe extends from the neck onto the base of the tail.
This sometimes colorful creature feeds on a variety of insects including ants, beetles, termites, flies, caterpillars, true bugs and grasshoppers. It also eats a variety of spiders and scorpions.
Adult males have blue patches on each side of the belly and their throat is mottled or streaked with blue. Adult females have only a pale blue coloration on their bellies, but may develop red or orange colors when gravid (carrying eggs).
During the breeding season males do “push-ups” on elevated perches to display their bright blue side patches to warn off other males.
This is a fun reptile to see while hiking. It’s many different “looks” in addition to its interesting behaviors that make for enjoyable encounters.