This week’s Creature Feature is the Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), though you might know them better as “blue-bellies”. These medium-sized lizards have mottled brown coloring on their back, but turn over an adult male and you’ll see how they got their nickname! Other identification markers include black stripes on their back, and yellowish coloration on the inside of their legs. Like other reptiles, Western Fence Lizards like to sit out on rocks, fences, roads, and other warm, sunny places. They can even change color from brown to black to help absorb more heat.
One of the coolest things about Western Fence Lizards has to do with ticks. If you are able to catch one of these nimble creatures, you might notice ticks around their ears and fingers. But there’s no danger of the lizards getting Lyme disease, because their blood contains a protein that kills the bacteria that causes Lyme. The protein not only prevents the lizard from getting Lyme, but cures the tick of the disease as well! This means areas with large numbers of Western Fence Lizards have lower rates of Lyme disease. Thanks, blue-bellies!
PC: Allan Hack on Flickr
Sources: Wikipedia – Western Fence Lizard; Burkemuseum.org