Saturday, August 28, 2010

Northern Fence Lizards

During the last two summers, I had a large female Northern Fence Lizard living near my barn. Late last fall, her dried carcass showed up near a tree at the corner of the barn. I knew it was her because of a distinctive scar she had on her back. I hoped that she had successfully laid a clutch of eggs and earlier this year I began seeing many small lizards that I assumed were her offspring.

This little guy is about half the size of the female. I tried to get him to pose on a more natural background, but he wouldn’t leave the sheet of window screen that had previously been deployed to keep chipmunks out of one of my big flower pots. His coloring does make him hard to see against the screen, so I guess this is a fine place for him to hang out.

I’ve never seen a Fence Lizard that didn’t know it was being watched. If you’re close enough to see them, you can bet they’ve already seen you. There are four of these lizards that spend their time chasing bugs on the concrete apron in front of my barn door. I’m very careful not to step on them or squash them with a mower tire, but they’re so used to me that they’re not quick to get out of my way.

This is their favorite place to seek shelter. Hiding would really be more effective with the tail pulled in.

Here he is nice and snug in his hideaway. I’ve made piles of dead wood and flat rocks to serve as shelter for Fence Lizards. This spot is not in one of those.

The preferred hiding place is beneath the sliding door on my barn. It would be nice if you could explain to wildlife that you’ve created a nice, safe place for them to live and have them go there. Now, every time I open the barn door I have to check for lizards and then open the door very carefully to assure that none of the little guys get caught in any pinch points.


  1. Too much fun! I haven't seen lizards since I left Texas. I'm saddened that you found the mama dead, but 4 new lizards to take her place isn't such a bad deal! ~karen

  2. Hi Steve...That is interesting..he sure does blend well with the screen!!
    Just like me.. 4 bird baths and they prefer a puddle...I guess they like what they like and your sliding door well..same thing!!
    Great that you have the offspring !!
    Now I can take a lizard sighting over a snake because it has legs "why you may say" I don't know : }
    I almost stepped on a snake about 10inches long and no bigger around than a pencil in my driveway yesterday and I imagine they heard me scream for a mile !! First I have seem all summer!!

  3. Very cool! I'm kind of fascinated by sightings and photos of lizards in Ohio, because I never managed to find any while I lived there.

  4. Karen – I don’t often see an old fence lizard. Fortunately, they reproduce quickly enough to keep the supply replenished.

    grammie g - I think I heard that scream. Now if you could manage to take a picture while screaming, we’d be making some great progress.

    Rebecca – Fence Lizards are fairly common in this area and I manage to see several each year. Maybe you’ll see a few lizards on your island.

  5. What fun to see the northern cousin of our Western fence lizards. A great story, Steve!