Monday, March 17, 2008

Western Fence Lizard

Although there are other types of lizards that share Dryad Ranch with us, the most common is the Western Fence Lizard. We believe the particular subspecies here is the San Joaquin Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis biseriatus. The males of this species have blue underbellies, while their topsides are typically of light gray to black blotched coloration. Evidently they can change their coloration allowing them to blend nicely with whatever they are choosing to sun themselves on at the moment. They are typically six inches long from head to tail-tip.
The fellow in this picture was observed catching some rays on top of some rocks while we were out and about yesterday. You can just see a little of his blue underside.
These lizards like to sit on top of rocks and fence posts to warm up as well as to keep an eye out for prey. They eat spiders, beetles, flies, caterpillars and various other insects. They are inactive during cold weather and hibernate during the winter. We started seeing lizards this year in late February.

One interesting feature of fence lizards is that their blood contains some factor that destroys the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Evidently, if a larval tick feeds on a Western Fence Lizard, the spirochetes carrying the Lyme disease are destroyed. It’s nice to think that our little scaly friends may also be keeping us protected from this unpleasant disease! Here's a link to an article from the San Francisco Chronicle giving additional information about the connection between Fence Lizards and Lyme Disease: Link
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