Granite Night Lizard

Granite Night Lizard


It is found from the southern California counties of Riverside, San Diego and Imperial and into northern Baja California


This lizard is found in desert and semi arid regions with rocky canyons and hillsides covered with chaparral, coastal sage scrub, creosote scrub at elevations of 400 to 7,500 feet. It prefers large boulders and outcrops with exfoliated granite and is found in the shadier parts of canyons or near water. It tends to avoid the hotter south-facing slopes.


This is a small to medium-sized lizard that lacks eyelids and has enlarged plates on the dorsal surface of its head and transverse rows of enlarged scales on its belly. The eyes are covered by a large, transparent scale ("spectacle" or brille) similar to that in snakes and many geckos.

It is patterned to match the rock in the areas in which in lives. In fact, this lizard comes in two forms, one with a granite-like pattern that lives among granite outcrops and one with a subdued sandstone coloration that lives in sandstone. This lizard is capable of quickly changing from light to dark phase.

Granite Night Lizard

Mostly nocturnal, it is wary and secretive. It hides in crevices, under rock flakes and slabs, rarely going out except at night when it can be seen crawling on the face of boulders and sometimes on buildings. It is most active spring through fall although it can be active on warm winter days.


Mates in late spring; 1-2 young are born alive in September. Gestation period is usually 90 days. In years when environmental conditions are unfavorable they may not reproduce at all.

Interesting Facts:

This lizard can quickly change coloration from light to dark for camouflage purposes.


Although common throughout much of its range, this lizard is protected from collection. This is due to the fragility of its habitat. When flakes are torn off of rock outcrops by humans searching for this lizard or other reptiles, the habitat is damaged beyond repair. No direct conservation measures are currently needed for this species as a whole.

Granite Night Lizard
Class: reptiles
Order: Squamata
Family: Xantusidae
Genus: Xantusia
Species: henshawi
Length: Range from 1- 5 inches in length.
Average Lifespan: unknown
Wild Diet: This lizard preys upon small invertebrates, including spiders, scorpions, ants, bees, moths, beetles and centipedes. It may also consume small amounts of plant material. In addition, it also eats its shed skin and the females often eat the fetal membranes and ingest the amniotic fluid.
Predators: Other lizards, snakes and birds
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

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