Teacher Resource

Sonoran Desert Lizard Behavior List

Most of the lizards found in the Sonoran Desert have a a variety of behaviors that they use to communicate. Some of the behaviors of Sonoran Desert lizards listed below may be used within a species in the act of courtship (generally males courting females).

Some of the behaviors that are listed can occur bewteen different types of lizard species. For example, an aggressive display usually occurs between males of the same or different species, and is a social behavior that lizards use to communicate. In some species aggressive female to female interaction occurs as well.

An inventory of a species social behavior may include:

Social Behavior Description

an open-mouth display


movement briefly and rapidly toward another animal


Rapid pursuit of another lizard


Using the mouth to grasp another animal (used in aggression and during mating)


puff up body or throat

Arch (back)

raise the back vertically, often accompanied by a sucking in of the sides of the body; both of these make the animal appear larger than they truly are


up and down bobbing of the head


up and down bobbing of the body (can be with all four legs or front legs only)


extend a gular flap (piece of skin under the throat) downwards

Shudder or shuddering nod

several nods of head or slight bobs of the entire body

Tail raise

female raises base of or entire tail, generally indicates receptiveness to mating

Return to the Life as a Lizard Unit Home Page

Learning Information

About This Page
Collection: Arizona Partners in Reptile and Amphibian Conservation, AZ PARC http://www.reptilesofaz.com/ Primary Author: Craig Ivanyi, Herpetology Curator of the Sonoran Desert Museum and AZ PARC Education Working Group Coordinator. Additional Authors and AZ PARC Education Working Group Members: Cori Dolan, Lisa Schwartz, Kat Wilson, Cristina Jones, Dave Prival, Dennis Caldwell and Taylor Edwards. Special thanks to the teachers who piloted the lessons and gave invaluable feedback: Kristen Trejos, Angela Bonine and Karen Bradley.

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lisa Schwartz at

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