top of page

2- Sceloporus uniformis, also known as the yellow-backed spiny lizard :

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Sceloporus uniformis, also known as the yellow-backed spiny lizard, is a reptile of the subfamily Phrynosomatinae. It is native to the Mojave and Great Basin deserts. Until recently, it was considered to be a subspecies of Sceloporus magister.

Yellow-backed spiny lizard

Scientific classification :









Species:S. uniformis

Binomial name:

Sceloporus uniformis
Phelan & Brattstrom, 1955


Sceloporus magister uniformis

Taxonomy :


Sceloporus uniformis was originally described as a subspecies of Sceloporus magister in 1955.[1] In 2006, genetic analysis revealed that S. uniformis is sufficiently distinct to merit classification as its own species.[2]


Description :


S. uniformis is a large robust lizard, and adults can grow to 5.5 inches in body length (snout-to-vent), with a tail slightly longer than the body. Color is brown or tan with yellow and black dorsal stripes or mottling and a black collar on the sides of the neck.[3]


Males are larger than females, and have a swollen tail base, enlarged postanal scales and femoral pores, and bluish markings on the throat and belly. Females have a pale throat and underbelly, with faint or no blue markings. The head of a female may be orange or reddish in the breeding season.[3]

Sceloporus uniformis (adult male). 

Range, habitat, and diet :


This lizard is native to the Mojave and Great Basin deserts. It is endemic to the United States, and can be found in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.[4] S. uniformis can be found living in desert flats, semiarid plains, low mountain slopes, and riparian woods.[3]


Although S. uniformis is primarily an ambush predator, on occasion it will actively forage. This species will eat a variety of small invertebrates and their larvae including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, centipedes, and caterpillars. Occasionally, small lizards, nestling birds, leaves, flowers and berries are also consumed.[3]

Sceloporus uniformis (breeding female). Inyo County, CA.

Behavior :


Like many desert species, S. uniformis basks in the morning on rocks or any hard surface that is in direct sunlight. It will seek shelter, usually underground in burrows, during the hottest part of the day in the summertime. It hibernates in late fall and during the cold months of winter before re-emerging in spring.[3]

For the external links , refrences  click here to read the full wikipedia article 

YELLOW-BACKED SPINY LIZARD  Sceloporus uniformis  :

courtesy to :

DESCRIPTION: A large (up to about 142 mm or 5.6" from snout to vent), stocky lizard with large, pointed, keeled, overlapping scales. Base coloration is gray, tan, or brown. The back is a uniform yellow or tan grading into darker gray-brown on the sides. Yellow or orange scales are sporadically scattered on the sides of the body. A black wedge shape marks each shoulder. Males have two large, bright, blue-green patches on the belly and a blue-green patch on the throat. Belly and throat patches are faint or absent in females. Its lack of distinct dorsal markings (in adult males) distinguishes this lizard from the similar Desert Spiny Lizard. Its large, black, wedge-shaped shoulder markings distinguish it from many of Arizona's smaller Sceloporus. Its lack of crossbars on the forelimbs distinguish it from Clark's Spiny Lizard. 

DISTRIBUTION: The Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard ranges across northwestern Arizona at elevations ranging from about 150 m (500') to about 1,500 m (5,000'). 


HABITAT: The Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard is found in Mohave and Great Basin desertscrub, Great Basin Grassland, Interior Chaparral, and Great Basin Conifer Woodland communities. It is often encountered along riparian corridors, on the lower and more moderate mountain slopes, bajadas, plains, and low valleys. It basks on the branches of trees or on fence posts, wood piles, boulders, rock piles, and packrat nests.


BEHAVIOR: This diurnal lizard is often heard before it is seen as it scratches and claws the tree-bark en route to the opposite side of the trunk or branch. It flees down into the inner tangles of pack rat nests, rock crevices, or burrows when threatened. It has strong jaws and often bites when captured. It hibernates during the cold months of winter and late fall.  


DIET: Prey consists of a variety of insects including ants, beetles, and caterpillars. It also feeds on spiders, centipedes, small lizards, and some plant material.


REPRODUCTION: The Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard is often encountered in male-female pairs. Mating takes place in spring and summer and one or two clutches of eggs are laid in spring and summer. Clutch size ranges from 2 to 12 eggs. Hatchlings begin to emerge in late July. 


By Thomas C. Brennan

Brennan, T. C., and A. T. Holycross. 2006. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Brennan, T. C., & A. T. Holycross. 2005. A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Maricopa County. Arizona Game and Fish Department. Phoenix, AZ

Degenhardt, W. G., Painter, C. W., and Price, A. H.. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque.

Phelan, R.L., and B.H. Brattstrom. 1955. Geographic Variation in Sceloporus magister. Herpetologica. 11 

Schulte, J.A., J.R. Macey, and T.J. Papenfuss. 2006,A genetic perspective on the geographic association of taxa among arid North American lizards of the Sceloporus magister complex (Squamata: Iguanidae: Phrynosomatinae) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39: 873–880

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.  

Male. Mohave County, AZ 

Male Venter, Mohave Co., AZ

bottom of page