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A ground-living and burrowing lizard, this species is usually greenish-grey or brownish, with a yellow (or sometimes red) throat and often a narrow stripe down each side. It is well armored, with hard body plates, and head shields fused to the skull. The tail is generally about two-thirds of the total length. Its limbs are well-developed, though its four five-toed feet are not specially adapted for digging. These lizards mate during the summer. In mating season the males head change color to either red, yellow or even light blue.