The Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard

Wetlands Park Friends

WHAT CRITTER HAS A SERIOUS TERRITORIAL PROBLEM IN CLARK COUNTY WETLANDS PARK? Get off my property! This adult male Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard  (Sceloporus uniformis) is right at the top of his territorial display “push-up,” with his body flattened vertically and blue throat patch extended to make himself look as large as possible. 

Spiny Lizards have stout bodies and can grow almost 6 inches long from nose to base of tail. Their rough, keeled yellowish-brown scales give them their common name. The distinctive wedge-shaped black mark on the shoulders appears as a bar when seen from above. Males, females, and even juveniles all have this marking.  

Spiny lizards are often found in areas with yuccas and Joshua trees, but they also occur in areas with rock outcrops, including those found at Clark County Wetlands Park. Growing up, I frequently saw them sitting vertically on the trunks of the mesquite trees near our house in Paradise Valley.

Spinys eat insects, spiders, other lizards, and even small birds and mammals. They are as tough as they look, and will bite hard when captured.

Please enjoy these two YouTube videos:

1. Here is a male Spiny displaying.

2. Females also display.

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