Western Blue Lizard Essay

623 words - 3 pages

The western fence lizard, or blue lizard is a medium-sized (up to about eight inches including tail), mottled lizard that ranges from Washington state to Baja California, and as far east as Utah. It doesn't live in the harsh deserts, but it is found from the coast up to nearly 6,000 foot elevations, from the scrubbiest coastal chaparral to mountain forests.
It has a habit of sunning itself on high points such as rock outcroppings or fenceposts , which makes it a fine target for hawks and other predators in its habitat. This bold and careless lifestyle has required it to develop lightning reflexes and quick-burst speed.
Another of its defenses is the ability to change colors according to its surroundings. Like many other lizards, it can lighten or darken its coloration to match the background, but it will sometimes adopt a contrasting hue. Perhaps this mimicks ...view middle of the document...

Successful over a wide range of habitats, it is in no way endangered. If all that were not life-affirming enough, its presence in an area reduces the incidence of ticks carrying Lyme disease from about 50% to about 5%. It seems that ticks who feed on the blood of the blue bellied lizard are unharmed, but the Lyme disease spirochetes that they harbor are destroyed.
On any cold morning in the Western UnitedStates, go outside and look for blue bellied lizards.
You'll find them under rocks, under lumber, any place that has shelter. Once you've found one, pick it up. If you got to it early enough, it'll be too cold to move much. The lizard's scales are spiny gently run your finger along them the wrong way. They're like sandpaper. Its skin is paper thin. Most people are too afraid of reptiles to realize they're some of the softest and most delicate creatures around. You may as well be handling a slime ball.
Break down "ectotherm", outside temperature. Reptiles are ectotherms. This means they take warmth from the environment rather than generate it from within. But environment is really too broad a term. They take their warmth from the sun. Normally, this being would muster the strength to stick its face out in the light and let its blood carry the warmth throughout its body.
Like most lizards, blue bellies can alter their color slightly to match surroundings. Put a light lizard on a dark rock; it turns dark. Interestingly, they tend to stay dark when on light surfaces, appearing as shadows.
The blue belly is carnivorous, subsisting on ants and other insects. Its tendency to take up position in high places makes it easy prey for hawks, but it compensates for the devil-may-care attitude with lightning fast reflexes. When confronted without an escape route, males will perform jerky 'push-ups' to display the blue patches and upper body strength.
Mating season is May through June. Eggs are distributed ten or so per clutch in July and hatch as early as mid-August. As hatchlings go, blue bellies are quite large — counting tail, they're about two inches long.

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