The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard inhabits sand dune ecosystems of the Coachella Valley in Riverside County, California. It was listed as threatened in 1980, and ongoing threats to the species include habitat loss and alteration from urbanization, agricultural growth, non-native invasive plants and off-highway vehicle activity.
The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard is 6 to 9 inches long.
The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard has a white or sandy-colored belly and back, and light eye-like patterns that form shoulder stripes. It has elongated scales on its hind feet, known as fringes that provide added traction in loose sand. These lizards also have a shovel-shaped head and lower jaw to aid diving into and moving short distances beneath the sand. The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard also has elongated scales that cover its ears to keep sand out, and specialized nostrils that allows it to breathe below the sand without inhaling sand particles.
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards eat plants and arthropods.
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards are mostly inactive during the winter and are most active during warmer months when body temperatures reach near 35 degrees Celsius. They escape the heat by swimming, or burrowing beneath the sand, and they restrict their activities during summer months to the early morning and late afternoon hours.
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