The yellow-backed spiny lizard is endemic to the deserts of the Mojave and the Great Basin. It is native to the USA and is found in the states of Utah, California, Arizona, and Nevada.
They prefer desert flats, semiarid plains, low mountain slopes, riparian woods, areas that grow creosote bush, mesquite trees, yucca, Joshua trees, and grasses. They inhabit rock outcrops and rabbit holes on dry stream bed banks. They breed in spring and beginning of summer. Females lay a clutch between 3-19 eggs. Young emerge in August and September. The lizards feed on many small invertebrates including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, centipedes, etc. They also feed on smaller lizards, nestling birds, leaves, flowers and berries.
This is a stocky and robust lizard with adult males growing up to 5.5 inches (snout-to-vent length) and females reaching 4.4 inches from the snout to vent. The base color is brown, tan or gray. The back of the lizard has a general yellow color that grades into a dark gray-brown when it reaches the sides. There is a sporadic arrangement of yellow and orange scales on the sides of the body. On each shoulder, there is a black wedge-shaped mark. The males possess two large brightly colored green-blue patches on the underside and a green-blue patch on the throat. Females have indistinct belly and throat patches or lack them entirely. Juveniles do not have the wedge-shaped marks on the shoulders and have light spots on the back.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians