Western fence lizard, Lockwood Park. May 2016. Photo: K. Fitzgerald.
Western fence lizard
- Lizard with spiny scales.
- Back is black, gray, or brown and blotchy.
- Males have blue on throat and sides of belly; females do not.
Western fence lizards are often seen on fence posts, rocks logs and tree trunks, doing “pushups” to advertise and defend their territories (Basey 2004). They feed on insects and spiders (Stebbins 1966).
A 1940 study on reptiles and amphibians of Nevada reported that Western fence lizards were abundant across most of the state. They were observed mating in June, laying eggs in July, and young had hatched by August. In Washoe County, specimens were collected from The Willows, Pyramid Lake, Verdi, Reno, and various other locations (Linsdale 1940).
A 1992 study on Truckee River amphibians and reptiles found Western fence lizards living in the area between Floriston, CA and the Tracy Clark power plant on the lower Truckee River. They were usually observed perched on large rocks near the river (Panik & Barrett 1994).
Two subspecies of Western fence lizard may be found in our area, and Californiaherps.com has good photographs of each: the Great Basin fence lizard (S.o. longipes), and the Northwestern fence lizard (S.o.occidentalis).
References & Links
Basey, Harold E. 2004. Discovering Sierra Reptiles and Amphibians. Fifth printing. Yosemite Association, CA.
Linsdale, J.M. 1940. Amphibians and Reptiles in Nevada. Proceedings of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 73, No. 8, P. 197 – 257.
Panik, H. R. and S. Barrett. 1994. Distribution of Amphibians and Reptiles Along the Truckee RIver System. Northwest Science, Vol. 68, No. 3, p.197-204.
Stebbins, R. C. 1966. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.