The Collared Lizard is a North American lizard with a large head and powerful jaws that can reach a length of 14 inches. Black bands around the neck and shoulders give this lizard a collared look, hence its name. The mature males of this brightly colored species are green with the head often being yellow. They also have brightly colored throats of blue, green, or orange and may have blue patches on the belly. The females are generally duller with orange or salmon-colored bars or speckling on sides when gravid. Found from Missouri to Texas and west to the Pacific states and Mexico, Collared Lizards prefer hilly, rocky areas. They are diurnal, and are especially active during warm sunny weather. They bask on the warm rocks to regulate their body temperature. When the rocks get too hot they move into the shade to cool off.
Collared Lizards feed mainly on insects but will take small vertebrate prey, including mammals and other lizards, and occasionally some fruit and vegetable matter. When stalking their prey they often wave their tail like a cat. Males are very territorial toward other males and usually sit on a high rock to guard their territories and watch for danger. They go through a series of head-bobbing and push-up displays to intimidate other males that trespass and to impress passing females. Several females may live in and around a male’s territory. Females lay 4-8 eggs in loose sand or in tunnels under rocks or boulders.
The Collared Lizard is the state reptile of Oklahoma where it is fondly known as the “Mountain Boomer”. This name came from the early days when this lizard was mistakenly thought to emit a booming sound that was often heard echoing through the hills where these lizards were common. The real source of these booming sounds was probably the Barking Frog which often lives under the same rocks where the lizards bask. When fleeing predators, Collared Lizards have the ability to run bipedal on their hind legs, with their tails raised off the ground to reduce drag, making them look like tiny T-rex dinosaurs. They are relatively fast sprinters with recorded speeds of up to 16 miles per hour. When unable to outrun a predator, Collared Lizards will take shelter under large rocks and in rock crevices where they will inflate their body with air to wedge themselves tightly to prevent removal. If cornered they will threaten with open mouth revealing a black mouth lining. When captured they can bite hard and it is difficult to get them to let go. There is a regional saying that they won’t let go until it thunders.
Just as the Mountain Boomers depend on the rocks for shelter and protection, so should we Christians live in faith and depend on our rock, Christ. “He is the rock … Centuries before the advent of Christ, Moses pointed to Him as the rock of Israel’s salvation; the psalmist sung of Him as ‘my redeemer,’ ‘the rock of my strength,’ ‘the rock that is higher than I,’ ‘a rock of habitation,’ ‘rock of my heart,’ ‘rock of my refuge.’ … Isaiah describes Him as the ‘rock of ages,’ and ‘the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.’ That I May Know Him, 24. “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: [he is] my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.” II Samuel 22:2, 3.