Blue Spiny Lizard

Children's Zoo


In the Zoo
5-14 inches
5-14 inches
90- 200 grams
90- 200 grams
7 years

Geographic Range

North America from west coast to southern Texas and northeastern Mexico

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Sceloporus cyanogenys

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Activity Time Frame:
Sexual Dimorphism:
60 days gestation, 8 month incubation Lifespan in the Wild: 70+ years
Lifespan in the Wild:
Lifespan in Captivity:




Biggest of the spiny lizards, S. cyanogenys, can be up to 14 inches in length, including the tail. Tails are longer than the body. This is a stocky, grayish-brown lizard with white spots on the head and back and a distinctive white-bordered black collar around the neck. Males have a blue-green sheen to their backs and a blue chin, throat and belly. The scales of the back feel very rough, for each scale bears a keel ending in a sharp spine.

Species Specifics

Sexual Dimorphism. Male lizards have metallic green/blue on their backs and a tail with white flecks. Males also have a blue chin and throat. Females and young lizards lack the blue-green coloration and belly patches and have grey throats.

Physical Characteristics

This lizard is a good climber of rocks and trees, but can also be found on the ground. They are called spiny lizards because of their large, pointed scales. The spines may deter some predators. The tail can break off as an escape mechanism.



Seeks shelter in rocky crevices underground. Prefers rocky terrain in arid and semi-arid environments, where it is commonly seen on boulders, rock piles, cliffs, bridges, and in dry creekbeds.


Rocky hillsides and scrublands of south Texas and northeastern Mexico.


A variety of invertebrates, especially flying insects.

Ecological Web

Secondary consumer.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Like most reptiles, activity is temperature dependent, preferring conditions that are moist, humid, and warm. Ideal temperature is 80-95°F and they are more active during rainy periods and immediately after it has rained. During drought, turtles may spend time in burrows and in excessive heat turtles will seek out shallow pools of water to soak in. In fall months turtles are observed basking in the sunlight for energy. In Northern climates turtles will enter hibernation in late October. In places like Florida, turtles are active year around.


The gecko will lick its eye to clean it from dust and other particles.

Social Behavior

In disputes, the Sceloporus male bobs his head very frequently, moving it up and down with incredible speed. A weaker male will flee. If the rival doesn't withdraw, he will turn broadside and flatten his body so as to present the greatest area and display the flowing blue of the belly.

Reproductive Behavior

This species of Sceloporus is ovoviviparous, i.e. gives birth to live young. From February to June, females give birth to 6-18 little lizards.


Baby lizards are about 2" in length.



Not endangered. Listed as a species of Least Concern by IUCN.


Due to a widespread, consistent and persistent decline of the species, the ICUN considers the Box Turtle to be a Vulnerable Species. The decline is associated with anthropogenic causes, or manmade causes centering on urbanization. Agricultural use of pesticides within a shared water shed has negatively impacted young turtle survivability due to malformed eggs. Introduction of synanthopic predator species, (species who live near and benefit mutually from human settlement and urban habitats) such as ravens, coyotes and raccoons, are increasing in numbers as humans continue to urbanize.

Current Threats

Introduced Non-Native, Domestic, and Invasive Species

Our Role

No items found.

How You Can Help

Please be aware of the pets you choose to buy. Never get a pet that has been taken from the wild and never return a pet to the wild. Be aware of pesticide applications so as to not poison native animals that benefit your ecosystem. Finally, be conscious of your trash and waste so as to not attract unwanted animals such as ravens.

Fascinating Facts

It can climb vertical crevices in the rocks using the technique mountaineers call "chimney climbing"; the carapace is pressed against one wall and the feet against the other and the tortoise can wriggle upwards.

The Iriquois and other Native Americans used them for food, medical, ceremonial, burial and hunting purposes.

Of all the Gerrhosaururidae lizards (Plated lizards) they are the most armored.


Grzimek, Bernhard. 1984. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. New York City, NY.

Stebbins, Robert. 1985. Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, MA, p. 125.