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eastern fence lizard (Sceloporous undulatus)

Photos

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is a medium-sized, rough-scaled lizard that reaches total lengths of 4-7 1/4 in. (10-18.4 cm). The scales are not glossy, are heavily keeled and pointed, and overlap. Colors on the dorsum of the head, body, and tail are brown to gray in a pattern of undulating crossbands. The sides are light gray, brown, or black, and the chin, throat, and belly are white or cream. Males are usually brown and have a blue to green-blue patch on the side of the belly and a broad blue patch at the base of the throat. Females are mostly gray with a very defined pattern on the back, and have smaller light blue spots on the side of the belly and throat. Mating starts in mid-April and 6-10 eggs are laid in rotten logs or sawdust piles in late spring. Eggs hatch in mid-summer. There may be second clutch. This lizard often runs along fences, rotting logs, stumps, and up trees. It hibernates until March.

Distribution

This species is found statewide in Virginia. It inhabits open pine woods, mixed hardwood and pine forest, mixed deciduous forest, woodlots in old fields and urban areas, near houses and barns and on rock piles.

Foods

This lizard preys on a variety of invertebrates by waiting for prey and then pouncing from a perch. A sample taken in Henrico County found prey to consist of wood boring beetles, blow flies, stink bugs, leafhoppers, ants, moths, short-horned grasshoppers, long-horned grasshoppers, roaches, spiders, millipedes, and snails.

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).