|Adult male, Inyo County|
|Adult, San Diego County||Adult male, Inyo County||Adult female, Inyo County||Adult female, Los Angeles County|
|Adult male, Inyo County|
|Adult male, 5,500 ft., San Diego County||Adult female, Inyo County
© John Sullivan
|Adult male, San Diego County|
|Adult, 7,300 ft. Mono County||Adult, Inyo County||Young male, Inyo County|
|Adult male, Mono County
© Keith Condon
|Juvenile, Mono County © Keith Condon||Adult male,1600 ft. San Gabriel Mountains foothills,
Los Angeles County © Lori Paul
|Adult male, 9,300 ft. White Mountains, Inyo County||Adult female, Orange County|
|Adult, Inyo County||Young male, San Diego County|
|Adult, Granite Mountains, San Bernardino County. © Keith Condon||Adult male, Kingston Mountains, San Bernardino County. © Keith Condon||Adult male, Kingston Mountains, San Bernardino County. © Steve Bledsoe||Adult male, Modoc County|
|Pale adult female, Lassen County. © Debbie Frost||Adult, Inyo County||Adult female, Inyo County|
|Adult, New York Mountains, San Bernardino County © Sean Barefield||Western Fence Lizards have overlapping keeled scales with spines on them over much of their body.|
|Juvenile, Los Angeles County
||Hatchlings, San Diego County © Shelly Hancock||Hatchling, San Diego County
© Ketarah Shaffer
|These hatchlings may have hatched from the nest in a San Diego County yard shown below.
They were photographed near the nest site in September. © Connie McDowell
|This picture shows the difference in color and pattern between an adult female Side-blotched lizard (above) and juvenile Western Fence Lizards (below) © Mark Miller|
|Color and Pattern Variations|
|Dark-phase adult male, Riverside Co.
© Guntram Deichsel
San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County
© Bo Zaremba
|Adult, Inyo Mountains, Inyo County|
|The three lizards shown above were photographed in mountainous areas in the northern part of Joshua Tree National Park, where the dark phase appears to be common. Other dark-phase lizards from desert mountains are shown in the main photo section above from the Kingston, Granite, and New York Mountains.|
|Adult female from Orange County coast, showing yellow coloring on sides and armpits. © Beverly Gandall||Two adults, most likely females, with yellow markings, from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles County © Jonathan Hakim||Unusual striped fence lizard from San Bernardino County © Patrick Briggs|
|Adult, Riverside County with unusually bright white scales. © Cody Merylees|
|Rusty-Orange or Yellow Great Basin Fence Lizards|
|I have been sent several pictures of spiny lizards with similar rusty-orange coloration, most of which are Great Basin Fence Lizards, probably because they are in the most populated part of the state. I don't know exactly what causes the unusual color, or if all lizards got the coloring it in the same way. It could be a naturally-occuring aberrant coloration, but it look more like it was artificially added somehow, possibly from something in the lizard's hibernaculum. It appears to be painted on which suggests it might be paint or a chemical or rust. If it is color added to the lizard's skink it should go away when the skin is shed. To help to solve a part of the mystery, someone would have to catch one of these orange lizards and keep it until it sheds its skin to find out if the color is removed.
(A similarly-colored orange alligator was seen in South Carolina. It was suggested that it might have overwintered in a rusty culvert pipe where the rust gave it the color. USA Today 2/10/17)
|This apparent fence lizard was found in May in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles County. © Michael DeMarquette.
||This is another apparent adult fence lizard with a rusty-orange coloration that was found in late February in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles County.
© Dana Duncan
You can see more pictures of similar orange spiny lizards on this page.
|This is another adult from Los Angeles County with rusty coloring, photographed in mid February © Max Roberts||This pale yellow Great Basin Fence Lizard was photographed in a yard in San Diego County in early May. © Rosanne|
|This rusty-colored adult was found in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles County in late March. © James Hess|
|A female fence lizard lays her eggs in a nest she dug on a San Diego County patio in mid June.
© Connie McDowell
|This hatchling lizard was found near the nest site in September. It may have hatched from eggs deposited there. More pictures of hatchling lizards found near this nest are shown above in the "Juveniles" section. © Connie McDowell|
|Male Displays and Interactions|
|Two males fighting over territory in May in the San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County. The winner claims the rock - far right.
© Mike Dorsey
|Adult male territorial display.
© Jason Rojas
|Two adult males fighting in April, San Bernardino County.
© Jason Rojas
|Adult male in defensive display during breeding season, Los Angeles County.
© Nao Rains
|Sub-adult with throat display 6,000 ft. Inyo County||Adult male defensive display, Los Angeles County. © Douglas S. Brown|
|Two adult males in spectacular breeding colors fight over territory in April in Los Angeles County. © Douglas S. Brown
To see the full series of pictures of the battle, click here.
|This short video shows two male Great Basin Fence Lizards fighting over territory, biting on to each other's mouth. San Diego County © Stan Budz|
|Predation, Parasites, and other Dangers|
Adult male with ticks on the side of his head.
In California, western black-legged ticks (deer ticks) are the primary carriers of Lyme disease. Very tiny nymphal deer ticks are more likely to carry the disease than adults. A protein in the blood of Western Fence Lizards kills the bacterium in these nymphal ticks when they attach themselves to a lizard and ingest the lizard's blood. This could explain why Lyme disease is less common in California than it is in some areas such as the Northeastern states, where it is epidemic.
|Sean Kelly © shot this series of a California Striped Racer eating a male Great Basin Fence lizard in San Diego County.|
|California Striped Racers eat mosly lizards. This one is swallowing a Western Fence Lizard while holding the front third of its body straight up off the ground. This racer usually hunts with its head in this elevated position.||Juvenile Pacific Gopher Snake eating a Western Fence Lizard © Daniel Harris||Juvenile fence lizards are preyed upon by many other animals, including the black widow spider. © Rory Doolin|
|Sean Kelly found this juvenile Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake eating a Great Basin Fence Lizard behind his garbage can one afternoon in San Diego County.
© Sean Kelly
|A California Striped Racer swallows a male Northwestern Fence Lizard in
El Dorado County © Jim Bennett
|This adult was rescued from synthetic mesh fencing in which it was trapped in San Diego County. © Mark Miller|
|Habitat, Inyo County||Habitat, coastal San Diego County||Habitat, San Gabriel Mountains,
Los Angeles County
|Habitat, Santa Ana Mountains,
|Habitat, Sierra foothills,
|Habitat,6,200 ft. San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County||Habitat, Mohave Desert,
San Bernardino County
|Habitat, Laguna Mountains,
San Diego County
|Habitat, 6,000 ft. Inyo County||Habitat, Kingston Mountains, San Bernardino County. © Steve Bledsoe||Habitat, Tehachapi Mountains,
|Habitat, riparian zone at edge of San Bernardino mountains and Mohave Desert.|
|Adult in habitat, Inyo County||Habitat, Mohave Desert water tank, Riverside County © Guntram Deichsel
||Habitat, Granite Mountains, San Bernardino County. © Keith Condon||Habitat, Santa Ana Mountains,
|Adult in brush pile habitat, Inyo County|
You can see more pictures of this lizard from eastern Oregon here.
|Short Videos of Great Basin Fence Lizards|
|A female fence lizard runs across a wall in Riverside County and encounters a male who pursues her. She rejects him and he runs to an open spot on top of the wall and does a push-up display.||A male fence lizard in Inyo County defensively showing his throat color and doing push-ups.||Large, dark phase Great Basin Fence Lizards bask and eat ants off rocks in Inyo County.
||Two male fence lizards fight over territory, biting on to each other's mouth. San Diego County © Stan Budz|
|Short Videos of Other Subspecies of Western Fence Lizard|
|A male Northwestern Fence Lizard defecates off the side of a Butte County fence, wipes himself off, then does a territorial push-up display.||I'm not going out of my way trying to film this behavior - I can only take what I get - so here we see another Northwestern Fence Lizard doing his business for the camera. It's like they're trying to tell me something.||Two Coast Range Fence Lizards, Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii, are observed during the breeding season in early May in San Benito County. The first lizard, a female, has moved from her perch on a rock to a nearby rock in order to get away from the photographer. She begins a territorial push-up display when a male comes up the side of the rock and begins to pursue her. She arches her back and hops away in order to reject him. She may have already mated and is bearing eggs, or maybe he is not her type. He finally stops and does a push-up display, possibly to continue trying to entice her, or possibly to warn the photographer that this is his territory.
||A male Northwestern Fence Lizard fights with a female in Placer County © Rod|
|A few fence lizards in Contra Costa County.||A male fence lizard on a tree in Alameda County.||Several juvenile fence lizards come out to bask in the sun on a cool and windy morning in early March.||
San Joaquin Fence Lizards on trees along a river in early spring.
|Sierra Fence lizards run around a rocky area in the woods 8,000 ft. high in the Sierra Nevada mountains.||A Sierra Fence Lizard, or intergrade, runs around rocks in the forest up at 5,600 ft. in Tuolumne County.||These two videos show a Placer County Northwestern Fence Lizard appearing to taunt a garter snake (a Mountain Gartersnake is my guess, because it lacks red.) The lizard keeps moving down towards the snake but when the snake moves towards the lizard, apparently trying to catch it for dinner, the lizard runs up the wall away from the snake. © Rod|
The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals. You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.
If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.
This animal is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California.
|NatureServe Global Ranking|
|NatureServe State Ranking|
|U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA)||None|
|California Endangered Species Act (CESA)||None|
|California Department of Fish and Wildlife||None|
|Bureau of Land Management||None|
|USDA Forest Service||None|
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