Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Breck Bartholomew
Photo Copyright Breck Bartholomew

The desert night lizard, Xantusia vigilis, is found in the southwestern United States and in Baja California. In Utah, the desert night lizard occurs only in a few small areas of the southern portion of the state, and it is included on the Utah Sensitive Species List.

The desert night lizard is rarely seen, and was once thought to be rare throughout its range. It was later discovered, however, that this lizard is extremely secretive, spending much of its time hiding under Joshua tree limbs and similar cover.

This species breeds in May and June. Females do not lay eggs, but give birth to live young (usually one to three young) in late summer or early fall. The desert night lizard eats a variety of insects and other small invertebrates.

The desert night lizard is a slim lizard with olive, gray, or brown coloration, and black speckled markings on its back. In addition, individuals often have a light-colored stripe edged with black that runs from eye to shoulder.


  • 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.