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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Granite Spiny Lizard - Sceloporus orcutti

Stejneger, 1893
Click on a picture for a larger view



Granite Spiny Lizard Range MapRange in California: Red



observation link





Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard
Adult male, San Diego County Adult female, San Diego County
Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard close-up Granite Spiny Lizard
Adult female, Riverside County Adult male territorial display,
San Diego County
Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Female Granite Spiny Lizard Female Granite Spiny Lizard
Adult male, Riverside County © Amber Carson Adult female, Riverside County
Male Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard
Adult male, eastern San Diego County
© Mike X Macrae
Adult male, San Diego County Adult female, San Diego County
Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizard
Adult male, San Diego County Adult male, San Diego County Adult, Orange County © David Feliz Adult male, Riverside County
© Lou Hamby
(Please ask permission before copying.)
Male Granite Spiny Lizard Male Granite Spiny Lizard Underside Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizards
Adult Male, San Diego County © Jason Jones Adult male, Riverside County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult female, Orange County
© Mark Girardeau
Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards
Adult male, Riverside County
© Jeff Ahrens
Adult male, San Diego County
© Adam G. Clause
Adult female, Riverside County
© Jeff Ahrens
Adult female, Santa Anna Mountains, Orange County © Dave Beller
Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizards  
Adult female, Riverside County, in typical large granite outcrop habitat.
© Patrick Ward
This telephoto enlargement shows a Granite Spiny Lizard using it's large sticky tongue to eat something crawling on a rock in San Diego County  
Granite Spiny Lizard close-up of belly Granite Spiny Lizard close-up of scales S. orcutti scales  
Male ventral view
© Patrick Briggs
Male dorsal view
© Patrick Briggs
A Granite Spiny Lizard has
large overlapping scales with
sharp spines on its back.
 
       
Juveniles
Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizards  
Juvenile, San Diego County
© Marisue Crystal
Juvenile Riverside County
© Patrick Briggs
Top: adult male
Middle: adult female
Bottom: juvenile
Riverside County © Patrick Briggs
 
       
Habitat
Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, Imperial County Habitat, San Diego County
Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat Granite Spiny Lizard Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County desert Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, coastal San Diego County Habitat, Orange County © David Feliz
       
Short Videos
Granite Spiny Lizards Granite Spiny Lizard Granite Spiny Lizard  
A male Granite Spiny Lizard moves over to a female who is basking on a nearby rock and presents himself to her. She's not interested and slowly moves away from him with her back and tail slightly arched then does some push-ups. He retreates and does some push-ups. A Male Granite Spiny Lizard (the same guy as the one to the left, a few minutes after that video ended) does his territorial push-up display, lifting his body high off the rock, pausing briefly to eat something with his big pink tongue. Several adult lizards are shown in various rocky habitats.  
     
Description
 
Size
3 1/4 - 4 5/8 inches long from snout to vent (8.2 - 11.7 cm). (Stebbins 2003) Up to nearly 11 inches in total length.

Appearance
A large, dark, lizard with large pointed keeled scales.
Scales are more stronly keeled on the tail, giving it a more prickly appearance.
Color and Pattern
Color is a dark rusty coppery brown to nearly black.
With a triangular dark wedge on the sides of the neck, and dark bands across the body.
Often these crossbands are not visible when a lizard is in its dark phase and the body color matches the bands.
Male / Female Differences
Males have blue on the throat and belly, and yellow and blue markings on the back along with a wide purple stripe on the back. Males also have enlarged femoral pores and a swollen tail base.

Females have more distinct crossbands than males and no blue and purple coloring above or below.
Young
Young lizards have a rusty head and conspicuous bands and neck markings.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Diurnal.
Active from spring to fall, sheltering in cracks in rocks or under surface cover, and remaining inactive during winter.
Typically seen basking on large granite boulders.
An excellent climber.
This lizard can be very conspicous when basking on light granite boulders, but it is very wary and capable of running quickly away from danger, often to the other side of a large rock.
Usually bites when captured.
Diet and Feeding
Eats small invertebrates, small lizards, and occasionally fruits and flowers.
Breeding
Mates in March and April. A clutch of 6 - 15 eggs is laid from May to July. Eggs hatch from July to October.

Habitat
Inhabits areas with large boulders and granite cliffs with mixed vegetation, including chaparral, mesquite, pine and oak, and palms.

Geographical Range
Ranges from the northern side of San Gorgonio Pass south along the lower slopes of the Peninsular ranges into Baja California where it ranges almost to the cape. Found on the desert slopes of the mountains where there is sufficient plant cover, and on the coastal side inland to near the coast and north to the Santa Ana River.

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Elevation is listed as being from sea level to near 7,000 ft. (2,100 m) (Stebbins, 2003) but I have seen them as high as 7,800 ft. on Mt. San Jacinto, and I have received a reliable report that they occur at 8,740 ft. there, also.

Notes on Taxonomy
Alternate Name

Bluebelly

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Phrynosomatidae Zebra-tailed, Earless, Fringe-toed, Spiny, Tree, Side-blotched, and Horned Lizards Fitzinger, 1843
Genus Sceloporus Spiny Lizards Wiegmann, 1828
Species

orcutti Granite Spiny Lizard Stejneger, 1893
Original Description
Sceloporus orcutti - Stejneger, 1893 - N. Amer. Fauna, No. 7, p. 181, pl. 1, figs. 4a-c

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Sceloporus - Greek -skelos leg and porus - pore or opening - refers to the femoral pores on hind legs
orcutti
- honors Orcutt, Charles R.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Related or Similar California Lizards
S. uniformis - Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard
S. occidentalis longipes - Great Basin Fence Lizard

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, editors. Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946.

Grismer, L. Lee. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. The University of California Press, 2002.

McPeak, Ron H. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California. Sea Challengers, 2000.

Lemm, Jeffrey. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region (California Natural History Guides). University of California Press, 2006.

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the 2017 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


This animal is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.


Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN

 

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