Look who dropped in again to help me do a little yard work. There's nothing new about seeing a lizard in Grand Junction, except for the fact this was in town, not out in the hills.

I had a run-in with a lizard just like this last year. I wouldn't mention it if it weren't for the fact I live in a very residential part of Grand Junction. The "natural" terrain for my region is concrete sidewalks and blacktop.

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I encountered a similar lizard right about this time last year. After posting a picture to Facebook, people replied with what had already been assumed - this is a collared lizard, very common in this part of Colorado.

According to Wikipedia, the name collared lizard comes from its distinct coloration, including bands of black around the neck and shoulders.

This particular species also answers to the name of:

  • eastern collared lizard
  • Oklahoma collared lizard
  • yellow-headed collared lizard

Wikipedia adds these lizards can range from 8-15 inches in length. They come equipped with powerful jaws. Looking at this lizard, I believe it. Males have a blue/green body with a light brown head, while females have a light brown head and body.

Colared Lizard 2
Waylon Jordan

Looking at the photo you may be thinking two things:

  • How big is this lizard?
  • Are you ever going to get your yard cleaned up?

A conservative guess would put this lizard at about 10 inches including the tail. I believe it to be slightly smaller than the lizard spotted last year. Where the yard is concerned, hey, I'm working on it, okay. Cleaning the yard was precisely what I was doing both times I encountered these lizards.

So, what's the big deal? Granted, there's nothing unusual about seeing a lizard in Western Colorado. This photo, however, was taken in my front yard. I live in an extraordinarily residential neighborhood just outside of Grand Junction city limits. Driveways, lawns, paved streets, and houses so close to one another you could jump from one roof to the next. Wildlife in my neighborhood consists of fluffy dogs and little kids.

I spoke with my brother who lives at the top of Little Park Road. His surroundings are precisely the area where one might expect to see a lizard such as this. According to him, he hasn't seen a collared lizard in years.

Keep your eyes open. These awesome lizards love the dry regions of Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, and obviously, Colorado. If one of these were hanging out at my place, it seems safe to say you could expect to spot one anywhere in town.

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