Spiny Lizard

Lizard on a dead branch
Yellow-backed spiny lizards, one of the most common reptiles in Grand Canyon.

NPS

 

Scientific Name

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard: Sceloporus uniformis

 

Identification

  • They are relatively large lizards, reaching up to 12 inches (30.5cm) in length.
  • As the name implies, they are covered in large, pointed, overlapping scales.
  • The back is yellow or tan, and fades into brown or grey on the rest of the body. Orange scales are scattered along the side of the body.
  • Males have 2 large blue patches on the belly, and a smaller patch on the throat.
 

Habitat

  • Spiny lizards live in arid areas throughout northwest Mexico and the southwest United States, reaching as far east as Texas.
  • Yellow-backed spiny lizards are found throughout Grand Canyon National Park, but are most commonly seen inside the Canyon.
  • They prefer semi-arid scrubland and rocky outcrops where they can bask in the sun.
 

Behavior

  • They are one of the most commonly seen reptiles in Grand Canyon National Park, and are regularly seen basking on rocks along trails inside the Canyon.
  • Spiny lizards primarily feed on small invertebrates, including ants, beetles, centipedes, and grasshoppers, and will occasionally feed on small lizards and berries. They hunt by sitting and waiting for prey to come within striking distance.
  • They become sexually mature at 2-3 years old, and females lay a clutch of 3-19 eggs.
  • During the winter, they take shelter under rocks, in cracks, and abandoned rodent burrows.

Last updated: March 15, 2016

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

(928) 638-7888

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