Collage of WonderLab experience photos

Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science


Sauromalus obesus

Chuckwallas are large lizards that live to be about fifteen to twenty-five years old in captivity and can grow up to sixteen to eighteen inches in length. Lucky, the WonderLab chuckwalla, is a full-grown adult. Before coming to WonderLab, he belonged to Indiana University – Bloomington and lived in Jordan Hall’s reptile exhibit.

Habitat and Range
Chuckwallas live in rocky desert and lava flow regions of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southern California, southwestern Nevada, southwestern Utah, western Arizona, Baja California, and northwestern Mexico.

Chuckwallas are herbivores, meaning they mainly eat plants.  In the wild, they generally eat wildflowers, buds, fruits, and leaves of desert plants. At WonderLab, the chuckwalla eats a daily salad made of vegetables including dark leafy greens, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers.

Behavior and Adaptations
To escape from predators, a chuckwalla can crawl into a tiny space, such as a rock crevice, and suck the maximum amount of air into its lungs. This expands the chuckwallas body size and wedges it between the rocks, making it harder for predators to pull out. If a predator grabs a chuckwalla by its tail, the tail will separate from the body and continue to wriggle, allowing the chuckwalla to escape.