Several weeks ago I was visiting a cactus garden on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. As I walked along the trail I took advantage of the deepest, coolest pools of shade provided by the mature mesquite tree canopies overhead. In one such spot, I stopped to catch my breath, have a drink of water and listen.
My eye was caught by the distinct sound of rustling nearby. At the base of a boulder, a lizard took shape out of the desert landscape. I watched fascinated as she frantically scratched around in the dust. Suddenly a larger, darker version appeared somewhere near my feet in a distinctly defensive posture, making me uncomfortably aware of my bare ankles. (Have I told you we have poisonous snakes here?) They were both approximately 8 – 9 inches long, with a wide midsection, flat head, and a fat tail. I snapped several photos and moved on up the trail, delighted by the encounter and wondering what the heck I’d run into.
I had met a pair of female Chuckwallas, one of many lizard varieties native to Arizona. They will be appearing with more detail in my drawing E-Tutorial, How to Draw the American Southwest, Animals & Cacti of the Arizona-Sonoran Desert. Here’s a sneak peak!