By Alisha Brewer

Get your protein shakes ready! This month we’re talking all about those robust lizards (with the BIG personalities) that you see in your front yard, on your rocks and around your walkway doing push up after push up at record pace. (Why in the world do they do that?)

Desert spiny lizards are stocky lizards. The males have a beautiful blue/purple patch on their throat and bellies and a bluish green stripe on their sides and tail. Yellow speckles can cascade down their side. Believe me, if they could strut in front of a mirror and check themselves out, they’d be all over it. The ladies and youngsters lack the colorful markings and stick to a mix of tan, grey and black- though the females will develop a reddish color on their head during breeding season. They leave all the peacocking for the males.

So, why the push ups? The short answer is, they do it to get attention.

Males will find their territory and stake their claim on their few feet of land by intimidating their neighbors. Suns out, guns out is their motto. They make themselves visible to all and commence their push up display. This action shows just how beast mode the lizard can go. Hopefully, the reps demonstrate his dominance, keep other males at bay and, if he’s lucky, catches the eyes of some of the ladies on the block.

By pushing up the front of his body, the beautiful colors of the lizard’s neck and belly are exposed. Those baby blues paired with his ripped little arms are a hard combination to resist. Females can lay between 2-24 eggs in the summer, which usually hatch in August, September and even October. So keep your eyes peeled for mini bros coming soon!

The He-Man of all spiny lizards lives in my front yard. He has claimed a rock just outside our front window. We have so much fun watching him go up and down, up and down as he scans around his domain. He doesn’t hesitate to charge after other males that stray too close and send them scurrying for the bushes. With the size of him, it seems that he does his fair share of ingesting our insect life, which I greatly appreciate. Having less ants, spiders, beetles and centipedes is alright by me!

It’s fun to see the confidence ooze out of these little beings. If only we could all find that sort of strength and self assurance. In the meantime, we’ll proudly wear our imaginary cut of shirts and vicariously feel the burn as we root for the success of our little strongman.

Alisha Brewer is a veteran zoo keeper of nearly 15 years. U of A alum. Boy mom, veggie dog connoisseur, anti Oxford comma and eternal optimist. Alisha hopes to connect residents to the incredible creatures that surround us.

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