Crotaphytus collaris
(Say 1823)

krō-tă-phī-tŭs — kŏl-lăr-ĭs

Adult Collared Lizard from Russell County. © Aaerion Penguinatus.
Adult Eastern Collared Lizard from Kansas. Image © Suzanne L. Collins, CNAH.
Adult Eastern Collared Lizard from Harper County. Image © Travis W. Taggart.

The Eastern Collared Lizard can be distinguished from other Kansas lizards by having a large head, one or usually two dark bands around the neck, small smooth granular scales on the back and belly, ear opening on the sides of its head, and four limbs. The belly is cream to white. The throat is orange to yellow in males. Males are more brightly colored (greens and blues) and grow larger than females. During pregnancy, females (otherwise only shades of tan with brown brown blotches and white flecks dorsally) develop transverse orange bars along the sides of their body.
Adults normally 203- 306 mm (8- 12 inches) in TL; largest specimen from Kansas: male (KU 84623) from Chase County with an SVL of 110 mm and TL of 302 mm (12 inches) collected by Charles J. Cole on 27 August 1963; maximum length throughout range: 14 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Common along rocky areas but may also substitute mammal burrows along canyons in the southwest and south-central portions of the state (first reported by Tihen and Sprague, 1939). In northcentral Kansas, it is found in association with outcrops of the Cretaceous Greenhorn Limestone, Dakota Formation, and Niobrara Chalk (rarely). In south central Kansas is known from outcrops of Quaternary Ogallala, Cretaceous Kiowa Shale and Cheyenne Sandstone, and the various Permian groups. In southeastern Kansas (east of the Flint Hills, and south of the Kansas River) Eastern Collared Lizards have been found in association with outcrops of the Pennsylvanian Wabaunsee Group, Shawnee Group, Douglas Group, Lansing Group, Pleasanton Group, and the western edge of the Cherokee Group.
The specimens from Johnson (KU 189283), Kearney (221495), McPherson (KU 218857), Norton (FHSM 16932), and Stanton (KU 192220) counties are in need of corroboration. Subsequent visits to these sites have failed to yield additional specimens. They may represent individual releases.
Specimens exist for Hamilton County (KU 27746-8) but are only given to county and therefore not plotted. It lends support to the Kearney and Stanton county records, as do specimens from adjacent populations in Colorado (Hammerson 1986,1999).

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
Open icons are questionable records; Click on a marker to view details. Export Google Earth (.kml)
  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 2,111 Total Records 
  • 1,935 Museum Vouchers 
  • 176 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (15); Anderson (102); Barber (83); Barton (2); Bourbon (53); Butler (17); Chase (145); Chautauqua (22); Cherokee (2); Clark (30); Clay (3); Cloud (2); Coffey (19); Comanche (20); Cowley (131); Crawford (60); Dickinson (15); Elk (37); Ellis (170); Ellsworth (22); Ford (2); Geary (31); Greenwood (90); Hamilton (3); Harper (30); Johnson (2); Kearney (1); Kiowa (26); Labette (22); Lincoln (22); Linn (5); Lyon (21); Marion (32); Marshall (4); McPherson (1); Meade (59); Mitchell (17); Montgomery (50); Morris (3); Neosho (8); Ness (1); Norton (1); Osborne (1); Ottawa (7); Pottawatomie (34); Riley (168); Rush (18); Russell (234); Saline (3); Seward (3); Shawnee (3); Stanton (1); Sumner (1); Trego (3); Unknown (32); Wabaunsee (162); Washington (3); Wilson (45); Woodson (3);

Natural History:
Collared Lizards like rocky areas and are territorial. They will perch on their rock looking for any movement. If it’s a predator, they scurry into their burrow under the rock. If it’s prey, they will run it down and eat it. They consume anything moving that fits in their mouths including invertebrates, small mammals, and other reptiles.
Courtship and mating take place in the spring following emergence from their winter dormancy and depending on her body size, the female will lay 1-13 round, leathery-shelled white eggs in burrows or tunnels under rocks during May and June. During a warm spring, it is not uncommon for a female to lay two clutches of eggs up to one month apart. While incubating, the nest is vigorously defended by the female. The eggs hatch approximately ten weeks later in August and September. The 3-4 inch young resemble miniature adults and begin fending for themselves immediately.

Occurrence Activity:
White dates indicate there is at least a single recorded occurrence on that date. The darker blue a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.
First reported in Kansas by Hallowell (1856). The earliest existing specimen is from 1879 (MCZ 5937).
Eastern Collared Lizards can be difficult to capture. During cool weather, they can regularly be found snuggled up under rocks in a relatively torpid state where they are slow to move, and thus easy to pick up. However, during warm weather or sunny days, you’ll often need help; one person to lift a rock and the other to see which nearby rock it darted under. This process is repeated over and over (and typically involves lifting the same rocks several times) until one of you makes a successful lunge and pins the lizard against the ground. At this point, the collectors are either thankful for the leather gloves they’re wearing, or wishing that they would have thought ahead and put them on back at the car. The Eastern Collared Lizard is non-venomous and its teeth are actually quite small and of little consequence in its bite. The discomfort comes from the force of the bite; evolved to crush grasshoppers but effective at pinching unprotected fingers as well. Once controlled in hand, they can easily and safely be carried by grasping them around their body just behind the head. The lizard can then be placed temporarily in a pillow case or other cloth bag for further examination or released.
Burt (1935) reported on a young collared lizard that was found under a rock in a prairie ledge near Altoona, Kansas, and in trying to escape it jumped into a large spider web from which it was unable to free itself without help.
Charles E. Burt (Burt and Hoyle 1935) chased a large Collared Lizard down a steep hill in Elk County, Kansas, on 22 April 1933, it dived into a pool of muddy water, where it hid in complete submergence beneath a small flat rock in an attempt to escape detection and capture

1857 Hallowell, Edward. Note on the collection of reptiles from the neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences by Dr. A. Heerman. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():306-310
1857 Hallowell, Edward. Notice of a collection of reptiles from Kansas and Nebraska presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences, by Doctor Hammond, U. S. A. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 8():238-253
1859 Hallowell, Edward. Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean Vol. X, Part IV, No. 1, Washington, D. C. 1-27pp.
1884 Garman, Samuel. The North American reptiles and batrachians. Bulletin of the Essex Institute 16():1-46
1897 Hurter, Julius. A contribution to the herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 7(19):499-503
1900 Cope, Edward D. The crocodilians, lizards and snakes of North America. Pages 153-1270 in Report of the U. S. National Museum for the Year Ending June 30, 1898 , Washington, D. C. pp.
1911 Hurter, Julius. Herpetology of Missouri. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 20(5):59-274
1920 Taylor, Edward H. The Lizards of Kansas with Notes on Habits. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 117pp.
1928 Burt, Charles E. Insect food of Kansas lizards with notes on feeding habits. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 1(3):50-68
1928 Burt, Charles E. Some distributional and ecological records of Kansas reptiles. Transactions of the Academy of Science St. Louis 26():186-208
1928 Burt, Charles E. The synonomy [sic], variation, and distribution of the collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris (Say). Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan (196):1-19
1929 Burt, Charles E. The sexual dimorphism of the Collared Lizard, Crotaphytus collaris. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters 10():417-421
1929 Burt, Charles E. and May Danheim Burt. A collection of amphibians and reptiles from the Mississippi valley, with field observations. American Museum Novitates (381):1-14
1933 Stejneger, Leonhard and Thomas Barbour. A Checklist of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. 3rd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,Massachusetts. pp.
1934 Brennan, Lawrence A. A check list of the amphibians and reptiles of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():189-191
1934 Burt, Charles E. and W. L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1935 Brennan, Lawrence A. Notes on the Distribution of Amphibia and Reptilia of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 114pp.
1935 Burt, Charles E. Further records of the ecology and distribution of amphibians and reptiles in the middle west. American Midland Naturalist 16(3):311-366
1935 Burt, Charles E. and William L. Hoyle. Additional records of the reptiles of the central prairie region of the United States Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 37():193-216
1937 Brennan, Lawrence A. A study of the habitat of reptiles and amphibians of Ellis County, Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 40():341-347
1939 Tihen, Joseph A. and James M. Sprague Amphibians, reptiles, and mammals of the Meade County State Park Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 42():499-512
1940 Taylor, Edward H. Palatal sesamoid bones and palatal teeth in Cnemidophorus, with notes on these teeth in other saurian genera. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 53():119-124
1944 Marr, John C. Notes on amphibians and reptiles from the central United States. American Midland Naturalist 32(2):478-490
1951 Fitch, Henry S. and Wilmer W. Tanner. Remarks concerning the systematics of the collared lizard, Crotaphytus collaris, with a description of a new subspecies. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 54(4):548-559
1956 Fitch, Henry S. An ecological study of the Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) University of Kansas Publications Museum of Natural History 8(3):213-274
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1962 Gish, Charles D. The Herpetofauna of Ellis County, Kansas. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 34pp.
1970 Webb, Robert G. Reptiles of Oklahoma. Stovall Museum, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 370pp.
1973 Knight, James L., Eugene D. Fleharty, and Jerry D. Johnson. Noteworthy records of distribution and habits of some Kansas herptiles. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 75(3):273-275
1980 Clarke, Robert F. Herptiles and fishes of the western Arkansas River in Kansas. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 55pp.
1986 Olson, R. Earl, Bertram Marx, and Robert Rome. Descriptive dentition morphology of lizards of middle and North America, I: Scincidae, Teiidae, and Helodermatidae. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 22(3):97-123
1987 Olson, R. Earl, Bertram Marx, and Robert Rome. Descriptive dentition morphology of lizards of middle and north America II: Iguanidae Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 23(1):12-34
1989 Collins, Joseph T. New records of amphibians and reptiles in Kansas for 1988. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (75):15-18
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1996 McGuire, Jimmy A. Phylogenetic systematics of crotaphytid lizards (Reptilia: Iguania: Crotaphytidae). Bulletin of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History 32():iv + 1-143
1996 Miller, Larry L. Many amphibian and reptile species identified during KHS 1996 fall field trip to Wabaunsee County. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (106):2-3
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Biogeographic analysis of the reptiles (Squamata) in Ellis County, Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (121):7-16
2000 Taggart, Travis W. KHS spring field trip sets record for attendance. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (120):5-5
2002 Mielke, E. Geographic distribution: Crotaphytus collaris. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):14
2002 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2002 fall field Trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):11-13
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Tiny T. rex: Collared Lizards in Kansas. Kansas Wildlife and Parks (October):15-20
2007 Blevins, Emilie Influence of landscape context on patterns of occupancy, abundance, and gene flow among Collared Lizards in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Thesis. Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. 90pp.
2008 Taggart, Travis W. KHS 2008 spring field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (25):2-3
2010 Taggart, Travis W. Report on the KHS Fall Field Trip to Norton County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (36):8-10
2012 Meshaka, Walter E., Jr., Stanley E. Trauth, Katherine M. Talbott, and Curtis J. Schmidt Reproductive Characteristics and Sexual Maturation of the Eastern Collared Lizard, Crotaphytus collaris (Say, 1823), at the Northern Edge of its Geographic Range Collinsorum 1(2/3):9-14
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
Account Last Updated:
11/19/2018 2:45:26 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University