Backyard Fauna: Western Fence Lizard

Aug 13 2010 Published by under Biology & Environment

Western Fence Lizard

Living in the 'burbs there aren't many native animals that appear in my back yard other than birds and bugs.

The exception is the Western Fence Lizard - Sceloporus occidentalis - which pretty much have the run of the place.

The lizards spend most of their time sunning themselves on walls or fences. However, occasionally they do pushups, which serves as a message to others of their kind, either as territorial challenge or part of a courtship display (I can't tell the difference, but presumably the other lizards can). You can see that behavior in this video:

Western Fence Lizards sunning themselves.

They  reduce the population of unpleasant backyard critters by eating on crickets, spiders, ticks and scorpions. They even reduce the risk of Lyme disease, because the lizards' blood carries a factor that kills the disease-causing bacteria in the gut of ticks that bite them.

I just wish our next door neighbor's cat would stop hunting them, at least on our side of the fence.

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