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Western Fence Lizard

Sceloporus occidentalis

Video Credit: Amanda Sparkman

This species is by far the most abundant and easily seen lizard on campus. On rocks, walls, sidewalks, and trees, they can be seen basking, doing push-up displays, chasing each other, and catching small insects. If you look closely, you can see the brilliant blue on their ventral side that gives them the popular name "blue bellies."

Fence lizards appear to be thriving in suburban areas across the west; but that doesn't mean they haven't changed in response to human-made environments. For insight into how campus lizards are different from their more rural counterparts, have a look at this study conducted by Westmont students and faculty.


A Story of Hands



Our hands, say the Chumash,

were supposed to be coyote paws.


Coyote had won the argument

of who would provide that part of us.


At the last second, lizard,

who had been very quiet,


reached out to touch the white

stone of our creation in the sky


and left his print.  That’s why

our hands are lizard hands.


That’s why lizard keeps diving

down into cracks in the rock.


Coyote is still wanting

to get his paws on him.


—from Visiting Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2008)

fence lizard_head close-up_HSZ Duck pond.JPG

Photo Credit: Henry Sparkman Zylstra

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