Sceloporus magister

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Sceloporus magister
Sceloporus magister Phoenix.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Family: Phrynosomatidae
Genus: Sceloporus
Species: S. magister
Binomial name
Sceloporus magister
Hallowell, 1854[1]

Sceloporus magister, also known as the desert spiny lizard, is a reptile of the family Phrynosomatidae, which is native to the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sonoran Desert.

Geographic range[edit]

In the United States it is found in the states of Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. It is also found in the Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango.[2]


Males have virtual ventral colorings that easily demarcate them from other species.


Like many desert lizards, desert spiny lizards adjust their internal temperature by changing color so they are darker during cool times, which allows them to absorb more heat from the sun, and become lighter during warm times so they reflect more solar radiation. The desert spiny lizard also uses camouflage so it is not so easily seen by predators.

Like many desert reptiles, the desert spiny lizard spends most of the day inactive in burrows. Burrows are much cooler than temperatures on the ground's surface.

Vivid ventral coloring of male Sceloporus magister


Desert spiny lizards eat small insects and sometimes, but not so often, small plants.


Five subspecies of Sceloporus magister, including the nominate race, are recognized.

  • S. m. bimaculosus Phelan & Brattstrom, 1955
  • S. m. cephaloflavus W. Tanner, 1955
  • S. m. magister Hallowell, 1854
  • S. m. transversus Phelan & Brattstrom, 1955
  • S. m. uniformis Phelan & Brattstrom, 1955[3]

One former subspecies (Sceloporus magister monserratensis Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1921) was elevated to a species (Sceloporus monserratensis Van Denburgh & Slevin, 1921) by herpetologist Ernest A. Liner in 1994.


  1. ^ Dahms Tierleben.
  2. ^ The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ The Reptile Database.
  • Hallowell, E. 1854. Description of new reptiles from California. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 7[1854]:91-97.
  • Phelan, R.L. and B.H. Brattstrom. 1955. Geographic variation in Sceloporus magister. Herpetologica 11(1):1-14.
  • Tanner, W.W. 1955. A new Sceloporus magister from eastern Utah. Great Basin Naturalist 15:32-34.

External links[edit]