Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Western Fence Lizard

Scelorporus occidentalis

In our yard, catching insects and basking in the sun. Males have bright blue patches on their flanks and bellies, hence the other common name "Blue bellies". Apparently they can also change color to match their background, though this fella seemed to be content to stay the color he was when we were hanging out.

It turns out that we may have these lizards to thank for the relative rarity of Lyme Disease in California. Infected nymphs (young ticks) that feed on Western Fence Lizards do not have the Lyme Disease causing bacteria when they metamorphose into adults. The protein that protects the lizard from contracting Lyme moves into the ticks body and kills the disease causing bacteria in the host.

Now if they could just do something about poison oak.

Western Fence Lizards and Lyme Disease

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