Side-blotched Lizard

Common Name: Side-blotched Lizard
Scientific Name: Uta stansburiana
Size (length) English & Metric: 4-6 3/8" (10.0-16.2 cm)
Habitat: Rocky, sandy, dry areas with some vegetation; Under 9000'
Diet: Insects, scorpions, and spiders
Predators: Other lizards, birds
Three images of the Side-blotched Lizard, Male (top photo), Female (bottom left), and Juvenile (bottom right)
Side-blotched Lizards


General Biology:
This lizard is small and brown with dark blotches on the chest behind the forelegs. There may be blotches, spots, speckles, or stripes on the back. There are small scales on the back, external ear openings, and a skin fold across the throat. This species is similar to another common Bryce Canyon lizard, the Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis, which is bigger, usually darker in color, and has spiny scales. The Side-blotched Lizard ranges from central Washington through southern California and western Texas and is one of the most prevalent lizards in the dry and semiarid West.

The Side-blotched Lizard is mainly terrestrial but sometimes basks in the sun by climbing up on rocks, dead logs or standing snags. They quickly warm in the sun and then proceed to hunt and feed. Because other lizards and birds are a threat to them, they stay close to their burrows and crevices. Side-blotched Lizards are one of the few lizard species that are also active in the winter. Being so small, it's easy for them to warm up quickly, allowing them to be active on sunny winter days. Female Side-blotched lizards lay up to 3 clutches of eggs (up to 12 each) between March and August.

The side-blotched lizard has high mortality and reproductive capability. As little as 10% survive their first year of life. However, because so many are born each year, the species population is very stable. Their chief ecological contribution is their voracious appetite for insects.

image depicting the habitat range of the Side-blotched Lizard in North America
Habitat Range of the Side-blotched Lizard


When and where to see at Bryce:
Side-blotched Lizards are most active in the spring, summer, and fall. This species is common throughout the park at elevations below 9,000 ft. They usually go unnoticed as just another little lizard. They are most common below the rim on dry slopes with sparse vegetation.

Further Reading:
Behler, John L., 1988: National Audubon Society Pocket Guide: Familiar Reptiles & Amphibians of North America, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, pg. 140.

Behler, John L. and F. Wayne King, 1979: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, pg. 537.

Stebbins, Robert C., 1985: Peterson Field Guides: Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, pg. 135.

DesertUSA Side-blotched Lizard Web Page

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O Box 640201
Bryce , UT 84764


435 834-5322
Phones are answered and messages returned as soon as possible as staffing allows.

Contact Us

Stay Connected