Reptiles

{still a work in progress…}

Fence lizard

Western Fence Lizard

Western Fence Lizard

Colorado is home to two species of fence lizard:  Sceloporus tristichus (plateau fence lizard —more western) and S. consobrinus (prairie or fence lizard—more eastern).  Given the range maps of The guide to Colorado reptiles and amphibians (Young, 2011), I’d say our lizards are likely the former.  These lizards are active during the day from April through early November.  They may emerge on sunny days during warm periods in winter and early spring.  One time, when we came back from having been gone for several weeks in the dead of winter, we found a lizard lounging comfortably in a sunny patch on the floor.  No telling how long it had been in the house, enjoying the solitude. Lizards can drop their tails as a defense measure against being caught by a predator (which will often partially regrow another one over several weeks).  So if you want to pick one up, try not to grab it or carry it by its tail.

Males challenge others by bobbing (looking like they’re doing push-ups) to flash the blue patches on their belly and throat.  Measuring between 3 inches (the young ones, such as the one in the photo above) to 7 inches, they were all considered subspecies of the eastern fence lizard until the early 2000s.  They climb well and scamper quickly; they can scale rocks, trees, and the side of our house.  They are quite tolerant of humans and may sit quietly until approached very close, then dart off into cover.

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