Arizona Game and FIsh Department - Managing Today for Wildlife Tomorrow: Arizona Game and Fish Department

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Arizona's Reptiles

Twin-spotted RattlesnakeMexican GartersnakeOrnate Box Turtle

Desert TortoiseGila MonsterDesert Horned Lizard

Arizona's Reptile Diversity

Arizona supports a tremendous diversity of wildlife, including 107 species of native reptiles, all of which are considered nongame species. Reptiles can be found nearly everywhere in Arizona, occupying all 13 of the state’s vegetative communities. Arizona’s amazing reptile diversity is composed of six turtle species, 49 lizard species, and 52 species of snakes. Among the snakes are 13 species of rattlesnakes, which is just over one-third of the world’s rattlesnakes, and more than can be found in any other U.S. state. Eleven of the reptile species, such as twin-spotted rattlesnakes, Mexican garter snakes, and ornate box turtles, are protected in the state and are illegal to collect from the wild.

In addition to the native reptiles, six nonnative species have, through the actions of humans, become established in the state. Some of these nonnative species, such as pond sliders and Mediterranean house geckos, are such a common sight and have been here for so long that many people think that they are native to Arizona.

Because all reptiles use their environment to actively regulate their body temperature, few are active throughout the winter months. Some species, such as the Gila monster or desert tortoise, may spend up to 95 percent of their lives underground. Other species, like the desert horned lizard, blend in very well with their environment. Both of these adaptations make many species difficult to find even when you are looking for them.


Below you will find reptile abstracts containing the following information:

  • Taxonomy
  • Biology
  • Distribution
  • Population Trends
  • Management Status (as available)
  • Illustrations

NOTE: Some of the following files are PDF's and require the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. For text-only, use Adobe Access.

NOTE: Distribution maps are based on occurrences in the HDMS database and are not meant to be complete or predicted range maps. Each species has specific criteria that must be met before being entered into the database. Therefore, the resulting maps reflect only the occurrences that meet the species specific criteria.
Nongame Reptile Species Accounts
  • Aspidoscelis neomexicanus
    New Mexico Whiptail
    [PDF, 50kb]
  • Aspidoscelis pai
    Pai Striped Whiptail
    [PDF, 46kb]
  • Chionactis occipitalis annulata
    Colorado Desert Shovel-nosed Snake
    [PDF, 63kb]
  • Coleonyx variegatus bogerti
    Tucson Banded Gecko
    [PDF, 58kb]
  • Coleonyx variegatus utahensis
    Desert Banded Gecko
    [PDF, 64kb]
  • Coleonyx variegatus variegatus
    Utah Banded Gecko
    [PDF, 71kb]
  • Crotalus oreganus concolor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    [PDF, 70kb]
  • Elaphe emoryi
    Great Plains Rat Snake
    [PDF, 61kb]
  • Microides euryxanthes
    Sonoran Coralsnake
    [PDF, 46kb]
  • Sceloporus graciosus graciosus
    Northern Sagebrush Lizard
    [PDF, 37kb]
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  Did You Know?
A hunting license is required to capture many of Arizona’s reptile species, and a fishing license is required to capture many of Arizona’s amphibian species (combination hunting/fishing licenses are available).  Protected species are not allowed to be collected even with a license.  Click here for information on purchasing a license. To find about Arizona's amphibian and reptile hunting regulations, click here.

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