Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Breck Bartholomew
Photo Copyright Breck Bartholomew

The desert iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis, is found in the southwestern United States and in most of Baja California. In Utah, this lizard occurs only in the extreme southwestern corner of the state. Desert iguanas are tolerant of extremely high temperatures, remaining active in hot weather, although they may seek shelter in rodent burrows. The preferred habitat of the desert iguana in Utah is creosote bush desert.

Females lay a clutch of three to eight eggs during the summer. This species is primarily a plant eater, feeding preferentially on the creosote bush, but is also known to eat insects, carrion, and its own fecal material. Desert iguanas are pale gray with brown patches or bars on their sides. They have long tails, and a row of raised (keeled) scales running down the ridge of their backs.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Stebbins, R. C. 1985. A field guide to western reptiles and amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 336 pp.