Texas Spiny Lizard
Sceloporus olivaceus
Population size
Life Span
7 years
cm inch 

The Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) is a species of phrynosomatid lizard native to the south-central United States. They are quite common throughout their range, where they are frequently spotted in trees or on fences.


Texas spiny lizards are typically grey in color with black, white, or red-brown blotching down the back. Patterns vary greatly by locality, but the colors and pattern typically serve to be adequate camouflage against the bark of trees in its chosen habitat. The underside is usually uniformly light grey in color, but males typically have blue patches on either side of the belly. Their scales have a distinctly spiny texture to them. These lizards have long toes, and sharp claws suited to climbing.



Texas spiny lizards are found in the states of Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma, and northeastern Mexico in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Potosí. Their preferred habitat is mesquite trees, over areas with a significant amount of ground leaf litter, but they are often found in scrub vegetation and suburban areas basking on fences or climbing telephone poles.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Texas spiny lizards are diurnal and arboreal spending much of their time in trees. They are typically shy and nervous, and when approached they will usually retreat up a tree or flee noisily through leaf litter on the ground. Texas spiny lizards are solitary and very territorial; the males have a peculiar habit when challenged by another male for their territory. The two males will have a push-up contest, or so it seems. Both males will begin doing push-ups until one of them gives up and runs away.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Texas spiny lizards are carnivores (insectivores), and eat a variety of beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, and other insects.

Mating Habits

spring, summer
60 days
at birth
1-20 eggs

Texas spiny lizards breed throughout the spring and summer months. Females may lay up to four clutches a year. Each clutch may contain up to 20 eggs which are laid in the ground and then covered with soil. The incubation period usually takes around 60 days. The young hatch precocial; they are fully developed and are able to fend for themselves.


Population threats

There are no major threats facing Texas spiny lizards at present.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Texas spiny lizard total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Like most lizards, Texas spiny lizards are quadrupedal and run with a strong side-to-side motion.
  • Though not normally found for sale outside of its native range, the Texas spiny lizard makes an ideal choice for a small pet lizard. They are hardy, adapt easily to captivity, and readily consume commercially available crickets, though they do require specialized ultraviolet lighting.
  • As in other reptiles, the skin of lizards is covered in overlapping scales made of keratin. This provides protection from the environment and reduces water loss through evaporation. This adaptation enables lizards to thrive in some of the driest deserts on earth.
  • The teeth of lizards reflect their wide range of diets, including carnivorous, insectivorous, omnivorous, herbivorous, nectivorous, and molluscivorous. Lizards typically have uniform teeth suited to their diet, but several species have variable teeth, such as cutting teeth in the front of the jaws and crushing teeth in the rear.
  • Lizards lack external ears, having instead a circular opening in which the tympanic membrane (eardrum) can be seen. Many species rely on hearing for early warning of predators, and flee at the slightest sound.


1. Texas Spiny Lizard on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_spiny_lizard
2. Texas Spiny Lizard on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/64133/12748044

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