The Secret Life of the Granite Night Lizard

Apr 18, 2021 | MSHCP, Species

The sneaky Granite Night Lizard, with a tongue-twister scientific name of Xantusia henshawi henshawi, is found in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Potrero, San Jacinto mountains, Wilson Valley, Anza Valley, and Aqua Tibia. This unusual herptile is our RCA Species of the Month.

The Granite Night Lizard is one of the 146 species protected under the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) and is currently listed as a Species of Special Concern in California.

As its name suggests, this lizard prefers to spend its days tucked into the crevices of granite boulders, waiting until dusk to venture out for food. Because of its secretive nature, the lizard’s fate is tied to the existence of these granite boulders and rock outcroppings it calls home.  It searches the cracks of these rocks for small insects like spiders, beetles, and moths. Sometimes the Granite Night Lizard also eats the skin that it sheds.

Historically, this lizard has been difficult to document because of its nocturnal lifestyle. Riverside County is one of the most northern areas of the Granite Night Lizard’s known habitat range.

The Granite Night Lizard will be conserved by preserving 297,143 acres within nine core areas designated in the MSHCP. This species cannot survive without protecting the flaky, exfoliated boulders that take thousands of years of erosion to form. The most significant threats to the Granite Night Lizard are development, agriculture, and collection.