May 2012: Eastern Fence Lizard

 

Female Fence Lizard

 

Eastern Fence Lizard

Sceloporus undulatus

 

Who am I?

 

A little dinosaur? Not really, but I am a reptile, a lizard, a fast lizard.  I look just like tree bark, with brown, grey, white and bluish keeled scales. (A keeled scale has a ridge down the center like the keel of a boat. Snakes sometimes have keeled scales as well.) I can grow to 4-7 inches long! Males of my kind have blue scales on their sides and underbellies. Females are more brownish. The males are very territorial and will defend their area with elaborate displays of blue-belly flashing.  Sometome between April and June  I will lay a group of anywhere from 5-15 eggs in a hole I've dug in the soft moist ground. Then my job is done. The eggs will hatch in two or three months. The little ones are on their own. And, hey, they look just like me. It will be a year or two before the males start to show their blue sides and underbellies.

 

Where can you find me?

 

I live in forests, though I can be found near homes and as my name suggests I like to hang out on split rail fences. I like sunlight and dry areas so don’t expect to find me in shady or wet areas. Should you see me I will either run or freeze, hoping my camoflage will protect me. If I am hiding, don't blink becasue I can disappear instantly! I can be found throughout the eastern United States.

 

What do I eat?

 

I will sit and wait from my favorite perch for something small to pass by. A beetle perhaps? Really any insect will do.

 

What might eat me?

Other lizards! Especially the broad-headed skink. Snakes and birds will also eat me if they can catch me.

 

Cool reasons why I am the critter of the month!

  • Like many lizards I have fracture plates in my tail that allow me to sever the tail whenever I want. It will grow back in time, sort of. But I will never look the same.
  • I have overlapping scales which make me look rough and spiny.
  • Males of my species defend their territory by doing push ups! ... and flashing our blue underbellies. If all else fails, we will fight..
     

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