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Fringe-toed lizard facts for kids

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Fringe-toed lizard
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard.JPG
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, Uma inornata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Genus: Uma
Baird, 1859

Fringe-toed lizards are lizards of the genus Uma in the family Phrynosomatidae, native to deserts of North America. They are adapted for life in sandy deserts with fringe-like scales on their hind toes hence their common name.


Lizards of the genus Uma have a brown and tan coloration that helps them to blend in with the sand. The dorsal surface has a velvety texture with intricate markings. In addition, they also have prominent elongated scales which form a fringe on the sides of their hind toes. These fringes aid with traction and speed, and help the lizard avoid sinking into loose, sandy dunes.

Fringe-toed lizards also possess upper jaws which overlap the lower ones, preventing the intrusion of sand particles, and nostrils that can be closed at will. Flaps also close against the ear openings when moving through sand, and the upper and lower eyelids have interlocking scales that prevent sand from getting into the eyes.

Geographic range

Fringe-toed lizards range throughout southeast California and southwest Arizona, and extend into northwest Sonora and northeast Baja California.


Lizards of the genus Uma are found in low desert areas having fine, loose sand.


Fringe-toed lizards primarily eat insects, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Flower buds, stems, leaves and seeds of plants are also eaten.


Lizards of the genus Uma bury themselves underground in the winter. They sleep in their burrows, and use their burrows for protection from predators and extreme temperatures.


  • Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, Uma inornata Cope, 1895
  • Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard, Uma notata Baird, 1858
  • Mohawk Dunes fringe-toed lizard, Uma thurmanae Derycke, Gottscho, Mulcahy, & De Queiroz, 2020
  • Mojave fringe-toed lizard, Uma scoparia Cope, 1894
  • Yuman Desert fringe-toed lizard, Uma cowlesi Heifetz, 1941
  • Mexican fringe-toed lizard, Uma paraphygas K.L. Williams, Chrapliwy & H.M. Smith, 1959
  • Coahuila fringe-toed lizard, Uma exsul Schmidt & Bogert, 1947
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