Thursday, September 04, 2008

Eastern Fence Lizard

While mowing grass along the edges of the barn my eyes caught movement along one of the aged planks of cypress that make up its walls. Blending in quite well against the woodwork was an eastern fence lizard. Ten minutes of haphazard grabbing finally paid off. In other words he made me work for it. If anyone driving by had seen this they would've thought I had lost my mind as I chased this speedy reptile up and down that wall. He wriggled and squirmed trying to release himself from my grip, but quickly became calm once I began scratching the top of his head.Belonging to a group of lizards from the genus Sceloporus, which means “spiny lizard”, they're not quite as fast as the racerunners around here, but they can be tricky to catch. Finding them on trees makes for a more difficult capture, because as you approach them they dart to the other side of the tree and continue this round and round escape tactic until finally scurrying higher and out of reach. I try to make sure when I do grab one (as I do with all lizards, geckos, etc.) I get it by its upper body and not by its tail, which would break off rather easily. Known as autotomy, lizards will relinquish part of their tails in order to escape and distract a predator. Not to worry it will grow back to be used again.
Their skin has a very rough texture due to its scales being keeled and pointed. Blue markings are found under the chins and on the sides of the belly on males during breeding season (April-August). They flash these patches to attract females by bobbing up and down as if performing pushups. Normally these patches are bright in color, but this particular male’s chin patches are lighter than usual. Also no patches were found on its underside. Not sure why. Could it be that this one is a juvenile? Do the patches fade following breeding season? If anyone knows the answer to this please share. These lizards are diurnal and when not hunting for prey (beetles, ants, weevils, spiders, and centipedes) they spend much of their time basking in the sunlight, waiting for fools like me to try and catch 'em. To check out more photos of this dude go to my Flickr page.


Web Counter
Online Schools