The western fence lizard is also known as a blue-belly because of the brightly colored scales under its throat and at the outer edges of the underbelly. It is a fossorial (burrowing) poikilotherm (an animal that regulates body temperature by sun basking or dirt burrowing).
In females and youngsters, the blue markings are faint or not there at all.
This lizard measures 2 inches to 3.5 from nose to snout. Eight inches total, including the tail.
Because of its pointed, overlapping scales, it’s a member of the spiny lizard genus – Sceloporus.
Colors range from sandy, black, brown to green. Some may have back stripes. Under the arms may be yellowish. Western fence lizards have the ability to change colors. Biologists think this adaptation relates to maintaining body temperature rather than for camouflage.
The third or parietal eye is located at the top of the lizard’s head. It’s covered by a translucent scale. Its purpose is to sense light throughout the year, signal the onset of reproduction and it helps control body temperature.
The length of winter hibernation is dependent on climate conditions.
- Fast, biting, and defecating on predators
- Dropping tail – caudal autotomy or self-amputation (Scientists measure from snout to vent because of the break-away tail)
Functions of the Push-ups;
- courtship – fitness demonstration – the more brilliant colors, the healthier the male (low parasite load)
- territorial defense display – in mating season, males defend an approximate 25-foot radius from a high perch
- may also relate to food availability within the territory
- a dominant male guarding at the highest point in the territory is known as a tyrant
A blue-belly’s favorite food is insects. It will eat beetles, grasshoppers, ants, wasps, aphids, mosquitoes, ticks, scorpions, centipedes, and spiders. It will also eat other western fence lizards!
As they grow, lizards shed skin in pieces. Sometimes, it becomes a snack. Successful shedding depends on diet, health status, and environmental conditions.
Birds, snakes, alligator lizards, and cats.
Like birds, male western lizards are more brightly colored and showy than females. Where the tail meets the body, males have two large scales near the vent, a single opening used for waste elimination and reproduction.
While copulating, the male’s blue color is at its most brilliant.
Male identification at 2:17
Western fence lizards begin breeding after one year.
Mating Season – March – June
Egg size is largest with the first clutch. The number of clutches laid in a season depends on temperature and elevation. At lower elevations, females will lay between 1-4 clutches. At higher elevations, they’ll lay between 1-3 clutches. Each clutch can contain between 3-17 eggs.
Eggs and Hatching
Eggs incubate for approximately 2 months. Once hatched, babies fend for themselves.
Disease Benefits to Humans
Western fence lizards have a protein in their blood that filters out the spirochete bacterium in Deer Ticks that cause Lyme disease. After a tick feeds on a lizard it will not spread Lyme disease to its next, larger, host during its life cycle.
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BioWeb – Western Fence Lizard
Wikipedia – Western Fence Lizard