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Gambelia is a genus of lizards, commonly known as leopard lizards, within the family Crotaphytidae. Leopard lizards are indigenous to arid environments of southwestern North America.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (8043739603) (cropped).jpg
Gambelia wislizenii,
long-nosed leopard lizard
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Crotaphytidae
Genus: Gambelia
Baird, 1859[1]

Species in the genus Gambelia superficially resemble those of the genus Crotaphytus. However, one difference between the genera Gambelia and Crotaphytus is that leopard lizards have fracture planes in their tails, allowing the tails to break off when grasped by predators.[citation needed]



The generic name, Gambelia, is in honor of American naturalist William Gambel.[2]


Three species are recognized.[3]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Gambelia copeii (Yarrow, 1882) Cope's leopard lizard Baja California and adjacent southern California.
  Gambelia sila (Stejneger, 1890) blunt-nosed leopard lizard southern California.
  Gambelia wislizenii (Baird & Girard, 1852) long-nosed leopard lizard United States from Oregon to Idaho in the north, south to northern Mexico in Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila, and Zacatecas and Casa Grande, Arizona.

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Gambelia.


  1. ^ "Gambelia ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Genus Gambelia, p. 97).
  3. ^ "Gambelia ". The Reptile Database.

Further readingEdit

  • Baird SF (1859). United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Under the Order of Lieu. Col. W.H. Emory, Major First Cavalry, and United States Commissioner. [Volume 2, Part 2]. Reptiles of the Boundary, with Notes by the Naturalists of the Survey. Washington, District of Columbia: Department of the Interior. 35 pp. + Plates I-XLI. (Gambelia, new genus, p. 7).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Genus Gambelia, p. 108).