Female Desert Spiny Lizard

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The foresummer heat is intensifying.  We’ve had at least a full week of 100 degree plus weather.  By next weekend highs are predicted to approach 110.  It’s an annual agony that we must endure before our summer rains begin (we hope!) in July, bringing slightly cooler temperatures with them.

The intense heat affects our wildlife.  It’s getting more difficult for me to find subjects to photograph.  Lately, I’ve begun looking down as much as I look up.  Birds just aren’t all that visible this time of year.  But, reptiles are, particularly early in the morning when the temperature is not yet unbearably hot.

The other day I found and photographed a female Desert Spiny Lizard.

I’ve posted images of the males of this species from time to time.  They are big and gaudy, often bearing brilliant splashes of orange, yellow, or blue on their scales, sometimes displaying combinations of those colors.  The females are significantly smaller than the males and are also less colorful but they are no less attractive.  I found this one basking early in the morning.  Moments before I took this picture she had been flirting with a male that was easily double her size.  The male hurried away when he saw me approaching but the female remained behind.

Male Desert Spiny Lizards, aside from being bigger than the females and more colorful, generally have bright turquoise scales under their chins and on their abdomens.  Females lack these.  However, this female does have a quite pretty array of colorful scales on her back and flanks and a dark collar that is typical of the species.

Desert Spiny lizards are quite common around Tucson.  There is another, somewhat less colorful species of spiny lizard that shows up here as well, the Clark’s Spiny Lizard.  I may feature some images of that lizard soon.

Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f10 @ 1/1000.

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