Texas spiny lizards: The best close-up video you will ever see

Texas spiny lizards are quite common around here – though, as with many other species, we don’t see as many as we used to, and actually we hear them more often than we see them. In the summer, when we’re outside, they will rustle away from us in the undergrowth or skitter up the nearest tree, their immensely long claws making little ticking sounds on the bark. Many people, locally, call them “tree lizards”.

The adult spiny lizards we see in our backyard are typically about 10” (25 cm) from nose to tail-tip, and a lot of that length is tail – they have very long, thin, tails. Their variegated gray, white, black, and brown scales are perfect camouflage against the live oaks and they can be hard to spot when they’re not moving. We have a video clip of a wren almost landing on a spiny lizard who was sunning herself on a live oak stump.

Spiny lizards eat bugs – insects, spiders, and any other creepy crawlies they can find. They are carnivores, like most lizard species.

Female spiny lizards lay up to 4 clutches of eggs each summer, as many as 30 eggs at a time, in holes that they dig out of soft earth and then invisibly cover over. The eggs hatch after about 60 days (our reference from the Texas Master Naturalists says 43 – 83 days; we don’t know what accounts for the surprisingly wide range).

This video is a compilation of lots of clips that we’ve recorded over the past month or so. Because spiny lizards often sit for a long time without moving we have been able to record some extraordinary close-ups. One of the things that we’ve found most interesting in watching the lizards like this is that their skin really is a little spiny. Geraldine F., one of our many scientifically minded live-stream observers, described them as “shaggy”. We can’t think of a better word.



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