Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Alan D. St. John
Photo Copyright Alan D. St. John

The ornate tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus, ranges from southwestern Wyoming to central Mexico. In Utah, it occurs in the eastern and southern portions of state. This species can be found in habitats ranging from deserts to the lower edges of the spruce-fir zone; areas along river and stream courses are preferred. The ornate tree lizard is a climbing lizard, often found on trees, fence posts, and buildings. During periods of cold weather, this lizard occupies burrows, crevices, or hollow tree stumps and becomes inactive.

The number and size of egg clutches varies with geographic location; females lay one to six clutches of two to thirteen eggs each year. Similar to other species of small lizards, the ornate tree lizard eats insects and spiders. The coloration of the ornate tree lizard ranges from dark brown or black to light tan or gray. Colorful patches on the belly and throat, which vary between the sexes, are often present.


  • 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.