The western fence lizard is a habitat generalist, found across California except in deserts (1)(3). Males are notable for their prominent blue patch on each side of their belly, this is less intense in females (3). Dorsally they are black to brown with a whitish underbelly (3). Males display territorial behavior; using chemical signals to mark territory and doing a series of “push-ups” if threatened (2)(3). Often little overt aggression is expressed and researchers have challenged the traditional definition of territoriality, pointing to S. occidentalis inconsistent use of space (2). Western fence lizards feed exclusively on terrestrial invertebrates, eating a wide variety of insects (1)(3).
(1) Morey, S. (n.d.). Western Fence Lizard Sceloporus occidentalis (United States of America, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Interagency Wildlife Task Group) (R. Duke, Ed.). CA.
(2) Sheldahl, L. A., & Martins, E. P. (2000). The Territorial Behavior of the Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis. Herpetologica, 56(4), 469-479.
(3) Stebbins, R. C. & McGinnis, S. M. (2012). Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California (Revised ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
(Photograph) © Alice Abela