Life in the Desert – All About Chuckwallas

 

Chuckwallas pic

Chuckwallas
Image: desertusa.com

Josh Ruffell’s lifelong fascination with animals led to his current vocation as an animal trainer in Hollywood. One of Josh Ruffell’s assignments involved chuckwalla lizards for the movie Failure to Launch.

Native to the western U.S., western Mexico, and islands in the Gulf of Mexico, chuckwallas have thick bodies and tails, displaying a variety of color variations. Adults on average can reach lengths of approximately 12-15 inches. Generally shy, they are harmless to humans.

Sleeping in underground burrows, chuckwallas prefer rocks and crevices as hiding places. They emerge during the day to forage and retreat during the hottest hours to stay cool and avoid predators. Throughout the day, chuckwallas like to bask on rocks in order to maintain optimal body temperature.

Their eating habits include fruit, a variety of vegetation and the occasional insect. Chuckwallas camouflage well and their relatively small size enables them to generally stay hidden from predators such as coyotes, snakes, hawks, and kestrels.

Male chuckwallas mate with several females in their territory, usually early in spring. The average gestation period is 35 days; females lay between 5 and 16 eggs which hatch in 70-90 days. They can potentially live upward of 20 years in the wild.

Chuckwallas are truly a unique lizard species that can be very rewarding to work with in captivity.

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