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Great Basin Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
aka Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Lizards Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Blending in with granite (Joshua Tree National Park)

General Description: Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) are medium-sized, rough-scaled lizards. Males have dark blue patches on the sides of the belly, and the throat is blue. Around Las Vegas, these can be difficult to tell from Desert Spiny Lizards (dark bar on the side of the neck) and Sagebrush Lizards (rusty sides).

Around Las Vegas, Western Fence Lizards occur at higher elevations such as up on Mt. Charleston where the easiest place to see them is along the Desert Overlook Trail.

Taxonomy: Phrynosomatid Lizard Family (Phrynosomatidae).

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Blue throat patch entire (not divided)

Technical Description: Western Fence Lizards grow to about 7 inches (total length). The dorsal scales are keeled and spiny, but less so than in Spiny Lizards. The dorsal coloration ranges from gray to brown to black with dark blotches or stripes on the back that continue down the tail. Yellow or orange on the rear surfaces of the limbs. Scale count between interparietals and rear of thigh 35 to 51. Complete supraorbital semicircles. Scales on back of thigh mostly keeled.

In males, the ventral surface is gray with dark blue patches edged with black on the sides of the belly. The throat is entirely dark blue. The dorsal pattern on males is longitudinal stripes.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Yellow on back of legs

In females, the ventral surface is gray with little if any blue. The dorsal pattern on females is crossbars.

Diet: Insects and spiders.

Habitat: In our area, these are mountain lizards. They are found from the coast to the mountains, but not in the low desert. They are often found on elevated perches such as fence posts and rocks, but usually on or near the ground.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

Range: This species ranges from central Washington south into Baja California and from the Pacific Coast east to western Utah. In Nevada, this species occurs throughout the state except in the lower-elevation deserts.

Breeding: Mating occurs in late spring; as many as 10 eggs per clutch are laid beginning in July, and hatchlings begin to emerge in August.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Close-up view of keeled scales on the dorsum

Similar Species:

Sagebrush Lizard: Size smaller, scales less keeled; ventral surfaces of legs white (not yellow or orange); armpits, sides of body with rust color.

Desert Spiny Lizard: Size larger; scales more keeled; dark wedge or triangle on side of neck.

Comments: These lizards are often called Blue-bellies or Swifts.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Dark Great Basin Fence Lizard, dorsal pattern.
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Same dark Great Basin Fence Lizard as photo above, ventral pattern.
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Femoral pores and enlarged postanal scales on a Great Basin Fence Lizard.
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) A real Las Vegas lounge lizard, here relaxing (perhaps playing dead) on a bed of Rock Spirea up on Mt. Charleston. This big buck is alive and well; he took off and headed for the hills shortly after I snapped this photo.
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Male Great Basin Fence Lizard with breeding colors
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Some Great Basin Fence Lizards have a striped dorsal pattern
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Young Great Basin Fence Lizard; Mt Charleston
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Old, black lizard in breeding condition; Mt Charleston
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female, possibly gravid
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female, Joshua Tree NP
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female, Joshua Tree NP
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Great Basin Fence Lizard
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female; note lack of enlarged postanal scales
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female; note lack of enlarged postanal scales
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Female
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Great Basin Fence Lizard
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Breeding female; Mt. Charleston
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis longipes)
Breeding male; Spring Mountains

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130508

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