Alligator Lizards (Family Anguidae)
Southern Alligator Lizard,Elgaria multicarinata(Blainville, 1835). (Plates 10.1 and 10.2, Map 10.1) 8–16 in (20–40 cm); brown to gray dorsal background color; narrow light brown bands, about one scale wide, across top of back, turning darker on sides; white fleck at end of each scale in dark brown bands on side; distinct fold with granular scales between side and belly; up to two-thirds of total length may be tail. Habitat: In the White-Inyo mountains region this species seems to be restricted to the vicinity of permanent water. Southern Alligator Lizards are active during the day and early evening, but they are seldom seen because they are secretive and spend much of their time in leaf litter. Remarks: The subspecies of Southern Alligator Lizard occurring in this area is the San Diego Alligator Lizard (E. m. webbii ), which is known from a single locality in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine (see Map 10.1). It is a wide-ranging species in California west of the Sierra Nevada that enters the area from the south and extends north along the east side of the Sierra Nevada. The five localities (four outside of our area) in Inyo County are all west of the Owens River. The only species that could be confused with this lizard is the Panamint Alligator Lizard (E. panamintina ), which has body bands three to four scales wide rather than one scale wide. Although the two species have not yet been found together, it is possible that they coexist in the Owens Valley. Range: Owens Valley west of the Owens River and canyons draining the east slope of the Sierra Nevada at least between Olancha, Inyo County, and Grant Lake, Mono County. References: Fitch (1935), Fitch (1938), Good (1988a), Good (1988b), Stebbins (1985).
Localities: California, Inyo Co.: 1,730 m, Division Creek, 13 mi NNW Independence (W of area); 6,000 ft, 5 mi W and 1.25 mi S Independence (W of area); 4,400 ft, 2.75 mi NW Lone Pine, Alabama Hills; 5,700 ft, south fork of Oak Creek, 5.0 mi W Independence (W of area); 5,200 ft, Walker Creek, 4 mi SW Olancha (S of area).
Panamint Alligator Lizard,Elgaria panamintina(Stebbins, 1958). (Plates 10.3 and 10.4, Map 10.2) 7–14 in (17.5–35 cm); gray dorsal background with light to dark-brown bands three to four scales wide, circling the top and sides; white flecks on sides behind each band; ventral coloration cream with gray flecks; banded tail longer than body. Habitat: This lizard is most common in rocky canyons in the vicinity of springs and streams. Panamint Alligator Lizards are not commonly encountered because they spend much of their time in rock piles or brush. They can sometimes be seen during the late afternoon and early evening basking in the open. Remarks: This species was first discovered in 1954 in Surprise Canyon, Panamint Mountains. It has since been found in the Argus, Nelson, Inyo, and southern White mountains. Panamint Alligator Lizards at French Spring in the Inyo Mountains occur less than
10 mi (16 km) east of the Alabama Hills, where Southern Alligator Lizards (E. multicarinata ) live (see Maps 10.1 and 10.2). Although it is geographically close to the Southern Alligator Lizard, its nearest relative is the Madrean Alligator Lizard (E. kingii ), which occurs 300 mi (480 km) to the southeast, in Arizona. At one time a single species of alligator lizard ranged from Arizona to the White-Inyo mountains region. The formation of the Great Basin Desert and the drying of the Mojave Desert separated this population, leaving the Panamint Alligator Lizard isolated. Since its discovery, fewer than 30 specimens have been deposited in the collections of major museums. This species is now protected by state law and should not be collected. Range: Panamint, eastern Argus, Nelson, Inyo, and western White mountains below 7,500 ft (2,290 m); site record for the western slopes of the White Mountains above Hammil Valley; may occur more widely (see ? on Map 10.2). References: Banta (1962), Good (1988a), Good (1988b), Stebbins (1958).
Localities: California, Inyo Co.: 1 mi E Batchelder Spring, Westgard Pass (LACM); 1.5 mi NE; 9.8 mi NE Big Pine; 6,650 ft, 10.1 mi NE; Daisy Canyon, Saline Valley (CAS); 6,000 ft, French Spring, Inyo Mtns.; 4,850 ft (CAS, LACM), 5,000 ft (CAS), 5,030 ft (CAS), 5,100 ft (CAS), Grapevine Canyon, Nelson Mtns.; 6,800 ft, Marble Canyon, White Mtns.; Silver Creek Canyon, White Mtns.