Blue belly lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) are midsize reptiles from northwest Mexico and the western United States. They're often called western fence lizards. The population numbers for blue belly lizards are strong and consistent -- no major drops or rises.
The coloring of blue belly lizards generally is blackish-brown, brown or gray. However, the edges of their stomachs feature prominent bright blue markings, hence their naming. These blue elements are often subtle in the fairer sex but highly conspicuous and vivid in males. Mature blue belly lizards usually are between 2.2 and 3.4 inches long. They are prevalent in many types of landscapes, including rugged canyons, sagebrush and meadows. They tend to steer clear of damp and thick woodsy settings. Climbing is a strong suit for these lizards.
When mealtime comes around, blue belly lizards are all about bugs. They frequently dine on insects such as flies, ticks, beetles, ants, caterpillars and other varieties. Blue belly lizards also enjoy munching on centipedes and arachnids. Some of their favorites are spiders and scorpions.
Blue belly lizards often make themselves comfortable on rocks, which are optimal basking sites. Because they're coldblooded, taking in the sun is an extremely common -- and imperative -- daily activity. By lounging around on rocks, blue belly lizards multitask, scanning the scenery for any insects to be their next yummy meal. They often remain completely motionless until the unsuspecting prey targets get nearer. Then -- voila. These lizards rapidly swoop in on the insects and chow down. They use their tongues to grab their prey.
Predators Looking at Them
Blue belly lizards are often on on the menus of other animals. Some prominent predators of these lizards include shrews, snakes and birds of prey such as hawks. Predation is a prime cause of death for blue belly lizards, who are highly vulnerable while basking on fences and stones. The same locations that are suitable for spotting food make it easier for predators to see them.
Blue belly lizards are occasionally kept as exotic pets. As pets, these reptiles require diets that simulate their wild feeding -- think lots of insects. Some suitable foods for captive blue belly lizards are waxworms, ants, beetles and crickets. Just as in the wild, spiders can work well for them, too. If you have concerns about feeding pet blue belly lizards, speak to an exotic-animal veterinarian first.
- International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species: Sceloporus Occidentalis
- University of California, Irvine Natural History of Orange County, California: Western Fence Lizard
- Idaho Museum of Natural History: Sceloporus Occidentalis
- Washington State Department of Natural Resources: Sceloporus Occidentalis
- National Park Service: Animal Life in the Yosemite - The Reptiles
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images