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Northwestern Blue Belly

Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis


Often called "blue bellied lizards" the Western Fence Lizard can be found scurrying about in less populated areas. A fairly small lizard with keeled and pointed dorsal scales of equal size on the back, sides, and belly. Scales on the backs of the thighs are mostly keeled, and abruptly smaller, and the rear of the limbs is yellow or orange. The sides of the belly are blue. Color is brown, gray, or black with blotches. Sometimes light markings on the sides of the backs form stripes or irregular lines, and sometimes dark blotching may form irregular bands. The belly is light in color. Males have blue markings on the sides of the belly edged in black, two blue patches on the throat, often connected with a light band, enlarged postanals, and a swollen tail base. Some scales on the back become blue or greenish when a lizard is in the light phase. Females have faint or absent blue markings on the belly, no blue or green color on the upper surfaces, and dark bars or crescents on the back. Juveniles have little or no blue on the throat and faint blue belly markings or none at all. Like most lizards, they eat small insects. You have to be pretty damn quick if you want to catch one, but it is possible. If trying to obtain a free pet, beware. The tails DO come off. A great distraction for any cat, bird or other predator as they munch on the easily detached tail the lizard can run to a safe hiding place. Also, its not recommended to keep wild animals as pets, as it is stressful for them to adjust their lifestyle and likely that they won't survive the transition. Most people advise to let them go where they were found rather than risking killing it by improper care. Capturing lizards and other wildlife without a permit is illegal, so don't do it in a way that causes problems or you will probably get caught. [WWW] has more information on permits offered by the Department of Fish and Game, some of which apply to reptiles.


These guys are native to all of California except deserts. Found in a wide variety of open, sunny habitats, including woodlands, grasslands, scrub, chapparal, forests, along waterways, suburban dwellings, where there are suitable basking and perching sites, including fences, walls, woodpiles, piles of rocks and rocky outcrops, dead and downed trees, wood rat nests, road berms, and open trail edges.


According to the California Academy of Sciences, Western Fence Lizards' blood contains a protein that kills the Lyme disease-causing bacterium. Apparently the bacteria (Borrelia) is carried in the guts of ticks and can be spread by biting all kinds of animals. But if an infected tick bites a Western Fence Lizard, the Borrelia is killed off completely, leaving the tick's future bites harmless. Pretty cool!

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Spotted by

Sacramento, California, USA

Spotted on May 1, 2012
Submitted on May 8, 2012

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