Friday, May 29, 2009
Desert Spiny Lizards
Sabino Canyon is crawling with reptiles this time of year. One of my favorites is the colorful and smart looking Desert Spiny Lizard. They are often lounging out in the open, soaking up the sun. Even though spiny lizards are rather large, they blend in and aren't easily noticed.
They can change their coloring to match the weather: dark for cool temperatures and lighter coloring to reflect the hot afternoon sun:
Sorry about the blurry photo below. I wanted to catch this male in action, showing off his expanded throat dewlap and blue belly patches as he was doing push-ups. Lizards do push-ups mainly to display strength. I found a very short YouTube clip of a lizard doing push-ups. It looks like it's on our backyard wall, but it's someone else's.
Here is a pair of male and female spiny lizards. The head of the female sometimes turns orange during breeding season, like this one:
Besides basking on top of rocks, these lizards also like to hang out on walls and tree trunks, with head pointing towards the ground, ready to seek shelter.
Like most lizards, Desert Spinies are peaceful creatures, harmless to humans unless picked up. I like having lizards around the yard. Besides being fun to watch, they eat insects that are considered pests.