Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard
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Yesterday I took a day off from work and did some driving around southeastern Arizona in the company of a friend. We wound up in the Huachuca Mountains southeast of Tucson, near the community of Sierra Vista. We spent some time observing and photographing hummingbirds (I’ll post some photos soon) and enjoying the much cooler climate than what one encounters in lower-lying Tucson this time of year.
The wildlife that we saw included this lizard.
This is a Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard, a cousin to the Desert Spiny and Clark’s Spiny Lizards that can be seen in and around Tucson. It is predominately a Mexican species with a range that includes the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, the southeast corner of Arizona, and the southwest corner of New Mexico. Its habitat consists of the oak and pine forests of higher elevations between 5,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level.
It is a beautiful lizard about eight inches long, including its tail, and slightly smaller in size than the Desert Spiny Lizard but impressive nonetheless.
Its success in a mountainous habitat shows how adaptable reptiles can be. People who don’t live in Arizona think of our state as having a uniformly hot and dry climate. That’s not accurate. The mountains of southern Arizona have some pretty rugged conditions at higher elevations and can be snow covered for weeks at a time during our winters. The Yarrow’s Spiny Lizards have learned how to withstand these conditions and to prosper in spite of them.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 1600, f10 @ 1/250.