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Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister)
Lizards Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)

General Description: Purple-backed Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus magister magister) are large, stocky lizards with large, spiny scales, crossbars on the back, and a large wedge-shaped bar on the neck. Males have a deep blue patch on the throat and dark blue patches, edged in black, running down the sides of the belly and joining to cover the groin. In females, the blue throat and belly patches are weak or absent.

Taxonomy: Phrynosomatid Lizard Family (Phrynosomatidae).

Technical Description: Body size 3.5 to 5.5 inches, stocky; tail longer than head and body. Dorsal scales large and spiny. Dorsal color light with dark crossbars and flecks; some scales yellow. Side of neck with black triangular-shaped mark. Ear opening partially covered with long, pointed scales.

Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)

Diet: Feeds on ants, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, other lizards, and plant material.

Habitat: Occurs in a variety of upland and riparian habitats, especially in places with trees to climb.

Range: This species occurs from southern California east to the Four Corners region and south into Mexico. This subspecies occurs from the Grand Canyon south across Arizona, southern California, and south into Mexico.

Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)

Breeding: Mate during early summer; eggs hatch in late summer.

Similar Species: No other species in southern Nevada has the enlarged, spiny scales seen on spiny lizards. Western Fence Lizard looks similar, but without the enlarged scales.

Comments: These lizards like to live near trees and will run up their tree to escape danger.

Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister) Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)
Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister) Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister)
Purple-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister magister) more to come ...

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121115

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