Brightly yellow, green and blue colored lizard on a red rock
Collared lizard sunning itself. NPS/Robb Hannawacker

The Grand Canyon is home to 41 species of reptiles that live in every part of the park- from the pine forests of the rim to the Colorado River. The 22 snake, 18 lizard, and 1 tortoise species that live here are important and beautiful species that range from commonly seen collared lizards to the elusive desert tortoise. Reptiles have many important roles in the Grand Canyon. Many are prey for raptors and mammals, while lizards prey on insect populations, and snake species control rodent populations- preventing the spread of diseases like Bubonic Plague and Hantavirus. Many of the reptile species found inside the park are unique- the Grand Canyon rattlesnake (Crotalus organus abysus) is found nowhere else in the world.


Please only view reptiles from a distance- Grand Canyon is home to 7 highly venomous reptiles: 6 species of Rattlesnake and the Gila Monster- the only venomous lizard in the United States. Small lizards and snakes can be easily harmed if they are handled.

Orange and black gila monster
Gila monsters are identified by their beaded skin and vivid coloration.

Gila Monster

Gila monsters are found in the desert areas at the far western edge of Grand Canyon National Park.

Yellow and orange gopher snake
Gopher snakes are the longest snakes in Arizona, and are often mistaken for rattlesnakes.

Gopher Snake

At Grand Canyon, gopher snakes live in both the wooded forests of the Rims and the dry desert scrub inside the Canyon.

Small short-horned lizard in profile
These small lizards primarily prey on ants within the park.

Greater (Mountain) Short-horned Lizard

At Grand Canyon, short-horned lizards are found on the Rims and inside the Canyon. Their camouflage makes them very difficult to see.

a coiled beige-colored rattlesnake with brown splotches blends into a brown rock slab.
Rattlesnakes are usually seen coiled on or under rocks.
The Grand Canyon is home to six species of rattlesnakes. Please observe these venomous predators from a distance.

Yellow spiny lizard perched on a log
These moderately-sized lizards are some of the most commonly seen animals in Grand Canyon National Park.

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard

Yellow-backed spiny lizards are found throughout Grand Canyon National Park, but are most commonly seen inside the Canyon.


Quick Facts:

  • 41 reptile species live in the park- 18 lizards, 22 snakes, and 1 species of tortoise.
  • While the 6 rattlesnake species in the park are the most venomous creatures in the park, several other snake species are mildly venomous, including the Sonoran lyre snake and desert nightsnake. The Gila Monster, found in the western part of the Park, is one of only 2 venomous lizards in North America.

Southwestern U.S. Reptile Science

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    Last updated: April 25, 2022

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    Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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