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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Desert Spiny Lizard: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Interesting desert spiny lizard facts for kids.

A muscular lizard species of the Phrynosomatidae family, the desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) is known for the patches on its belly and throat. The species is endemic to the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert of North America.

An adult male desert spiny lizard possesses blue or violet patches on its belly and throat, while its tail and sides have green or blue spots. Unlike males, females and juveniles have large dark spots on their bellies and backs. The species is mostly found in yellow, orange, brown, or tan colors, and their average body length is around 3-5.6 in (7.6-14 cm). These lizards also have the ability of cryptic coloration and camouflage that helps them to blend with their surroundings. In winter, these lizards turn darker in order to absorb more heat from the sun. Did you know that these lizards even do push-ups to display their dominance?

Desert spiny lizards are found in several states in the United States such as Utah, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. In Mexico, they can be spotted in Baja California, Sonora, Durango, Chihuahua, and Coahuila. The species dwells in the branches of trees, rock piles, and woodpiles. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not evaluated the conservation status of the species yet but their population is stable.

Let's read more interesting facts about the desert spiny lizard and if you find this article insightful, don't forget to check out exciting information about different animals like the Texas horned lizard and the lava lizard.

Desert Spiny Lizard Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a desert spiny lizard?

The desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) is a species known for the large dark spots on its back and belly. The lizard is found in several states of the United States such as Utah, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. In Mexico, they can be spotted in Baja California, Sonora, Durango, Chihuahua, and Coahuila. The yellow-backed spiny lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) is considered a subspecies of the desert spiny lizard.

What class of animal does a desert spiny lizard belong to?

The desert spiny lizard belongs to the class of Reptilia, the Phrynosomatidae family, and the Sceloporus genus.

How many desert spiny lizards are there in the world?

The exact population of desert spiny lizards is not known as of now but the species is widely distributed in Mexico and the United States.

Where does a desert spiny lizard live?

Desert spiny lizards are found in several states of the United States such as Utah, New Mexico, California, central Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. In Mexico, they can be spotted in Baja California, Sonora, Durango, Chihuahua, and Coahuila. The species is endemic to the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert of North America.

What is a desert spiny lizard's habitat?

A typical desert spiny lizard habitat is found in the branches of trees, in rock piles, in woodpiles in woodlands, and in grasslands and deserts.

Who do desert spiny lizards live with?

Like other species of the Phrynosomatidae family, the desert spiny lizard is a solitary animal and prefers to live alone. The lizard is diurnal and during the morning, they can be found basking in the sun on rocks, woodpiles, or any other hard surface. During the breeding season, these lizards come together.

How long does a desert spiny lizard live?

The average desert spiny lizard lifespan is around five to six years long, while other lizard species generally live for around four years. It is said that this species can live longer if kept in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) occurs in the spring and summer. Males and females are both involved in several courtship displays. Adult males generally display their blue spots and release pheromones to grab the attention of females. Also, males are polygamous, which means they mate with multiple females in each breeding season. Species of the Sceloporus genus generally reach sexual maturity at the age of one or two.

Females and males do not stay together after mating. Instead, females lay between four and 24 eggs and deposit them beneath 1-3 in (3-7 cm) of soil. The eggs usually hatch after 10 weeks. Once the eggs hatch, no parental care is involved.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not evaluated the conservation status of the species as of now, but the population is stable. Birds, dogs, cats, big reptiles, and amphibians are a few known predators of the species.

Desert Spiny Lizard Fun Facts

What do desert spiny lizards look like?

An endemic species of the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert of North America, the desert spiny lizard is known for its muscular build and the colorful patches on its body. An adult male desert spiny lizard possesses blue or violet patches on its belly and throat, while its tail and sides have green or blue spots. Adult female and juvenile lizards have large dark spots on their bellies and backs. The desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) is mostly found in yellow, orange, brown, or tan colors.

This description of a desert spiny lizard will make you love them.

How cute are they?

A description of a desert spiny lizard would not be complete without mentioning their brightly colored spots. Generally, the colorful patches of these lizards attract everyone but the most fascinating thing about them is the way they show their dominance. These lizards even do push-ups to manifest their superiority!

How do they communicate?

Adult male lizards generally puff their cheeks to warn away other potential adult males. Head bob displays and push-ups are a few common courtship displays used to grab the attention of adult females. Several visual, tactile, and chemical cues are also used to perceive their surroundings.

How big is a desert spiny lizard?

The average desert spiny lizard size is relatively small. For example, the average body length of an adult (Sceloporus magister) is around 3-5.6 in (7.6-14 cm). The exact weight of the species is not known but many species of the Sceloporus genus weigh around 0.033 lb (15 g). The desert spiny lizard is three times the size of the Barton Springs salamander and the dwarf salamander.

How fast can a desert spiny lizard move?

The exact speed of the desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) is not known as of now but the species is known for its cryptic coloration and camouflage abilities.

How much does a desert spiny lizard weigh?

The exact weight of desert spiny lizards is not known.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names given to adult male and female desert spiny lizards. Unlike females, males possess blue or violet patches on their belly and throat. Also, adult males are polygamous, which means they mate with multiple females in each breeding season.

What would you call a baby desert spiny lizard?

No particular name has been given to the babies of desert spiny lizards. These juveniles have large dark spots on their bellies and backs.

What do they eat?

These reptiles are carnivores and the desert spiny lizard diet mainly includes centipedes, worms, small lizards, spiders, ants, beetles, and caterpillars. These reptiles are often preyed upon by birds, dogs, cats, snakes, big lizards. Females have a high mortality rate while they lay eggs during the summer season.

Are they poisonous?

These lizards are not poisonous nor are they very dangerous, but they can be quite territorial and will go to any extent to protect their habitat. Their ability to camouflage helps them to blend with the environment around them. These reptiles can attack if someone tries to threaten or provoke them but a desert spiny lizard bite is not considered fatal.

Would they make a good pet?

Generally, spiny lizards are considered great pets as they adapt quickly to captivity but several things should be kept in mind before adopting or buying them. A large cage with plenty of rocks is required to resemble their natural habitat. Also, they need a good source of heat for a healthy lifestyle. They primarily prey on insects so they must be fed a wide range of insects to replicate their natural diet in the wild. A desert spiny lizard pet can often be bought from a pet shop and sometimes online.

Did you know...

The yellow-backed spiny lizard (Sceloporus uniformis) is most commonly found in California, Utah, and central Arizona.

In 1995, Sceloporus uniformis was declared as a subspecies of the desert spiny lizard.

In New Mexico (a state in the United States best known for its rich biodiversity) there are around 4,583 species of plants and animals, including many lizards!

Do desert spiny lizards hibernate?

Yes, desert spiny lizards hibernate in the winter season.

How do you take care of a desert spiny lizard?

The desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister) requires special care, like other reptiles. Their cage should be 30 in (76 cm) long and 12 in (31 cm) high. Their habitat should be dry and warm. People generally keep them with desert spiny lizards of the same size as they can become quite aggressive with other species. These lizards generally like to feed on crickets, cockroach nymphs, and worms but multivitamins and calcium powder should be added to their food once a week.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our reticulated python facts and gopher snake facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable lizard coloring pages.

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