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Wildlife Fence Lizard Page


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This copyrighted photograph is the sole proprietorship of the photographer.  Unauthorized use is a violation of federal copyright laws.
Photo by: Dr. Geoffery Hammerson
 Fence Lizard
 Sceloporus undulatus

Habitat: This lizard inhabits sunny, rocky habitats including cliffs, talus, old lava flows and cones, canyons, hogbacks, and various outcroppings. Vegetation adjacent to and among the rocks is variable and may include coniferous montane forest (e.g., ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir), piņon-juniper woodland, mountain shrubland, semidesert shrubland, or various grasses and forbs.

Food and Predators: The fence lizard eats whatever small arthropods are readily available. Common food items in Boulder County include flies, grasshoppers, beetles, insect larvae, spiders, and ticks (Ferner 1976). Douglas (1966) reported that leafhoppers, beetles, lepidopterans, flies, wasps, and ants are eaten at Mesa Verde in Montezuma County. Ladybird beetles, snout beetles, and ants are dominant foods at a lower elevation in Montezuma County (Johnson 1966).

A wide assortment of predators attacks these lizards. Douglas (1966) found a striped whipsnake that had eaten a fence lizard at Mesa Verde in Montezuma County. Chiszar, Smith, and Defusco (1993) documented predation of an adult by a juvenile western rattlesnake in Elbert County. Degenhardt, Painter, and Price (1996) listed the collared lizard, leopard lizard, lesser earless lizard, and striped whipsnake as known predators in New Mexico.

Recognition: Dorsum with spiny scales; scales on rear of thigh keeled and overlapping; supraoculars separated from median head scales by complete row of small scales; coloration extremely variable. Mature male: enlarged postanal scales; underside of base of tail with two hemipenial swellings.

Distribution: Utah, southern Wyoming, southern South Dakota, Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and southern New York south to northern Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and central Florida. Occurs throughout most of Colorado; absent from the high mountains in the central part of the state; ranges from below 3,500 feet (1,070 m) in eastern Colorado to about 7,000 feet (2,135 m) in northwestern Colorado, about 7,500 feet (2,285 m) in north-central Colorado, and 9,200 feet (2,805 m) in the southern part of the state.


Status: This species is not listed.


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Fence Lizard Specific Links
  GAP Habitat Map


General Wildlife Links
  Colorado Audubon
  Colorado Birding Society
  Colorado Field Ornithologist's
  Rocky Mnt. Bird Observatory
  TNC Migratory Bird Program