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Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Lizards Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
 
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Desert Spiny Lizard on Willow Tree

General Description: Yellow-backed Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus uniformis) are large, stocky lizard with large, spiny scales and crossbars on the back. While most are smaller, I've seen them with bodies the size of chipmunks at the top of the Sheep Range.

Taxonomy: Phrynosomatid Lizard Family (Phrynosomatidae). Formerly Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister uniformis).

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.

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Note black wedge on 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.

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

Habitat: Occurs in a variety of upland and riparian habitats, especially Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands with rocks or trees to climb. Less common in the Creosote-Bursage Flats habitat type).

Range: Southeastern California, southern Nevada, southwest Utah, and northern and western Arizona; arid to semiarid habitats from sea level to 6,000 ft.

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Note scales with spines (male).

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:

Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Incomplete line of scales identifies spiny lizards.
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Male ventral color pattern. It is so convenient when they play dead.
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Male showing enlarged postanal scales and enlarged femoral pores.
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Female ventral color pattern -- no blue on belly.
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Postanal scales not enlarged on female. Note large scales on rear of thigh (smaller in many other species).
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Big male with breeding colors.
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny lizard relaxed ... (photos by Bob Spirko)
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
... Spiny lizard puffed up and showing off (photos by Bob Spirko)
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny lizard relaxed ... (photos by Bob Spirko)
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
... Spiny lizard puffed up and showing off (photos by Bob Spirko)
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Desert Spiny Lizard in typical pose on a tree trunk
Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Desert Spiny Lizard on a tree trunk
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female with red on head
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female with red on head
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female; this is one fancy lady!
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard with red on head
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard female
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus uniformis)
Lookout post atop a cottonwood stump
more to come ...

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 130522

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