Western Fence Lizard

Scientific Name:

Sceloporus occidentalis

Type:

Reptile

Habitat:

Forests, grasslands, shrublands, mountains, and urban areas

Range:

North America west of the Rocky Mountains

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Western fence lizards are moderately-sized lizards, growing up to 8.5 inches long, most recognizable by their spiny appearance. They are grey, tan, or brown in color and have a dark wavy pattern on their backs. Females and young males are lighter in color than adult males. Adult male western fence lizards also have blue patches on their belly, which is why these lizards are also known as blue belly lizards.

Fast Facts:

  • Western fence lizards can often be found perching on larger rocks along rivers or in plants along trails. To defend their territory and attract mates, males will do push up-like movements.

  • A protein in their blood kills the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. If a tick carrying Lyme disease bites a western fence lizard, the tick will no longer carry the disease.

  • Western Fence Lizards tend to avoid harsh deserts, preferring coniferous forests, grasslands, and sagebrush.

  • If their tail is caught by a predator, western fence lizards can detach it and escape. They will eventually grow back their tails, but the new tail will have a different pattern.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Meghan Anderson (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

May 11, 2021, 10:43:48 PM