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Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

The western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) is a very common reptile which is native to the western North America and especially prevalent in California. It is often called the blue belly due to the blue markings on the ventral side of its abdomen. Individuals have the remarkable ability to adjust the brightness of their scales; while this could assist in camouflaging the lizard, scientists believe this is more a matter of thermoregulation.

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0089
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis), dorsal view atop an ancient lava deposit at Machado Postpile. This subspecies is sometimes referred to as the northwestern fence lizard. Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.
ANI0089

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0092
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis). Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.
ANI0092

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0091
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis). Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.
ANI0091

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0090
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis). Eldorado National Forest, Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California.
ANI0090

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0055
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis), close-up of an individual with ticks feeding on its blood. The blue belly's blood contains a protein which effectively kills Lyme disease in infected ticks (but not the ticks themselves). Therefore, the incidence of Lyme disease in ticks is greatly reduced in areas with large populations of western fence lizards. For this reason, western fence lizards have long been praised, but the relationship turns out to be a bit more interesting. New UC Berkeley research shows that ticks overwhelmingly prefer western fence lizards as their host; areas without large numbers of this common reptile do not have an abundance of ticks. In short, areas with more western fence lizards also have more ticks, but with a lower incidence of Lyme disease. Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.
ANI0055

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0054
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis), vibrantly-colored individual on an oak tree. Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento County, California.
ANI0054

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0053
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis). Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.
ANI0053

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0052
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis), close-up showing a touch of blue on its underside. Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.
ANI0052

Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis).  Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.  Stock Photo ID=ANI0051
Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis occidentalis). Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve, Solano County, California.
ANI0051

Next Animal: California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)



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