Definition of chuckwalla in US English:



  • A large dark-bodied lizard, the male of which has a light yellow tail, native to the deserts of the southwestern US and Mexico. When threatened, it inflates itself with air to wedge itself into a crevice.

    Sauromalus obesus, family Iguanidae

    • ‘How do climate and vegetation interact to determine the distribution limits of the chuckwalla in the southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico?’
    • ‘This variation makes Sonoran Desert chuckwallas ideal for investigating the relationship between population density and mating system structure.’
    • ‘In general there is little consistency at this low resolution between the distribution of various soil types and the presence of chuckwallas, suggesting that soil type may not be as important as the thermal environment.’
    • ‘Here we have demonstrated that the northern limit of the geographic range of chuckwallas is limited by the effect of local and regional climate on soil temperatures.’
    • ‘It is interesting to note that green iguana growth patterns are similar to those found by Tracy, in chuckwallas, although on a different time scale.’


Late 19th century: from Mexican Spanish chacahuala, from a North American Indian language.