Chuckwalla Fourth & Andy Devine

This stop on the Discover Kingman walking tour is sponsored by Donna Ferguson

Learn More | Audio Narration

by Jim Hinckley

About Chuckwalla

Artists Solomon Bassoff and Domenica Mottarella, collectively known as Faducci, are renowned for their artistic talents and attention to detail that transform building materials such as concrete into life like animals. Faducci established in 2002 has developed an international reputation for the creation of whimsical sculptures for public art projects as well as private collections. 

Their creative interests are sparked by nature and wildlife. Their lengthy list of public art installations include Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle as well as displays in Redding, California, the Northwest Library in Oklahoma City, and in Natomas, California. 

An example of their ability to sculpt over steel framework with concrete, bronze and Italian glass is this piece entitled King Chuckwalla. Installed as a landmark piece in 2018, it was the first artwork installed in Kingman Arizona’s Art in Public Places program. The Chuckwalla sculpture is a community gathering place at the site of the city’s Harvey House that also provides children with an educational play structure. 

The chuckwalla is one of five species of lizards that inhabit arid, rocky hills of southwestern North America. This represents the common chuckwalla that is native to the southwestern United States. While some species grow much larger, this type will only grow to 15 or 20 inches in length. 

All species of chuckwallas are predominantly herbivorous that eat a diverse array of desert plants including leaves of the creosote bush. Most lizards cannot digest cellulose, the material in the cell walls of plants. However, chuckwallas have a unique gut flora of microorganisms that break down the cellulose. They will supplement their diet occasionally with insects. 

Crevices in rock walls, old lava flows or loose rock outcroppings are their primary dwelling. They have a combination of small spiny scales on the dorsal surface and the ability to inflate their bodies that make it almost impossible to remove them once they have wedged themselves in a crack. 

The common chuckwalla is predominantly a dull brown or dark gray. The head, chest, and limbs of adult male chuckwallas are darker or even black. The backs are a multicolored red, black, or yellow. Juveniles of both sexes usually have dark-banded tails. 

The color varies between sexes and with the age of the individual. Adult males have black heads and forelimbs; their trunks may be black, red, orange, gray, or yellow. Females and juveniles may have gray or yellow banding.

In general, they emerge from hibernation in mid to late February. But on sunny, warm winter days they may be seen on the surface.