Western Chuckwalla

Order:  Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder:  Lacertilia (=Sauria) (lizards)
Family:  Iguanidae (iguanid lizards)
Subfamily:  Iguaninae (iguana-like lizards)
Genus:  Sauromalus (chuckwallas)
Also Known As:  chuckawalla

Scientific Name:  Sauromalus obesus obesus Baird, 1858

Habitat:  Rocky areas with numerous hiding spots.

Sauros="lizard," homalos="flat," obesus="fat/swollen"

Length: Over 16 inches total. Also called:  Sauromalus ater
Food:  Herbivorous. Chuckwalla Range

All pictures are from Mouse's Tank, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, on 07 April 2000 between 9:45 and 10:15 a.m. PDT.

Next to the Gila Monster, Chuckwallas are the largest native lizard in the United States. They bask in front of their hiding spots in the morning until they're warm enough to forage for food. Although they appear large and slow, they can move surprisingly fast, retreating to crevices in the rock where they wedge themselves by inflating their bodies. Chuckwalla
It's hard to see in the picture, but this is all you'll see of the chuckwalla once it wedges itself into a crevice. The blurred object is my friend's hand as he recoils from a surprising tail-whip by the chuckwalla. Native Americans used to eat chuckwallas, and would remove them from their hideouts by puncturing their lungs with a stick, thus deflating the lizard and enabling its retrieval. I chose to just let the chuck come out when he was ready. Chuckwalla in Crevice
This next picture is of a younger chuckwalla which initially wedged itself into a shallow crevice.  Once we took a couple minutes of video, the lizard immediately ran straight down the side of a vertical cliff to safety. The picture is of the chuckwalla running down the cliff. Chuckwalla Escaping