The Eastern Fence Lizard Sceloporus undulatus is a species of lizard native to the eastern United States. It’s distinctive appearance and behavior sets it apart from other lizards in its range
The Eastern Fence Lizard is known by many names: ‘Graybelly’, ‘Swamp Angel’ and even ‘Scaly Jimmy’. Whatever name they go by, these reptiles are easy to spot out in nature due to their bright blue belly patches. In addition to being brightly colored, they’re also quite loud; males often vocalize during mating season or when defending their territory.
Eastern Fence Lizards live up to 10 years in the wild and much longer if cared for properly in captivity. They have unique dietary habits which involve preying on insects as well as sipping dew off vegetation. These adaptable creatures can be found throughout deciduous forests, grasslands and suburban areas across most of the eastern U.S., making them one of our most common reptile neighbors.
The eastern fence lizard is a species of lizard native to the eastern United States. They are commonly found in woodlands and shrub lands, where they can be seen basking on rocks or fences close to their habitat. These reptiles usually prefer dry climates with lots of sun exposure and often inhabit areas near rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.
Eastern fence lizards are medium-sized animals that range from 3–6 inches long, making them one of the larger types of lizards in the region.
Eastern fence lizard diet consists mostly of insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles as well as spiders and centipedes. They also feed on small fruits like berries when available. During colder months these reptiles become less active due to lower temperatures; however, when it’s warmer outside they will hunt for food more frequently.
In terms of reproduction, female eastern fence lizards lay eggs during summertime which hatch after about two weeks. The young then go through several molts before reaching adulthood at around one year old. As adults they live up to three years but may reach four depending on environmental conditions and predator presence.
Habitat And Range
The Eastern Fence Lizard is widely distributed in the United States and Canada. Its geographic range extends from New Jersey to Iowa and southward to Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. It lives mainly in open woodlands and grassy areas where it can find plenty of food sources and places to sunbathe.
The species also inhabits a variety of other habitats such as deserts, rocky hillsides, scrubland, edges of ponds, lakeshores, and cropland. In addition they are often found on walls or fences keeping out intruders.
Eastern Fence Lizards inhabit many different types of terrain as long as these regions provide adequate shelter for basking during the day. They like warm weather so prefer sunny locations with moist soils that offer them protection from predators. These lizards have been observed living near human dwellings suggesting that they may be adapting to anthropogenic environments over time.
In terms of its distribution along coastal states, this species is most commonly seen around Virginia, Maryland and Delaware but has also been spotted further north up into Massachusetts and down into South Carolina too.
There is evidence suggesting some degree of migration within certain parts of their range which could explain why specimens have been collected outside of their expected habitat boundaries. Overall though the Eastern Fence Lizard’s range remains relatively consistent across its native area providing an abundance of suitable habitats throughout much of North America.
In addition to the habitat and range of the Eastern Fence Lizard, they possess a variety of physical characteristics which make them distinctive among reptiles. To begin with, their scaly skin is quite thick and smooth.
They have an elongated body shape that tapers off towards their tail, accompanied by four short limbs. Their coloration varies from brownish-gray to tan shades but they can also appear in more vibrant colors such as yellow or blue.
The tail length typically reaches around twice the size of their bodies and it has the ability to break away if grabbed by predators for protection purposes.
Lastly, when looking at limb structure, these lizards use all four legs for locomotion over various surfaces; this allows them to move quickly away from any potential danger. In sum, Eastern Fence Lizards display unique features that set them apart from other species found in North America.
Diet And Feeding Habits
Eastern fence lizards are omnivorous, meaning they consume both plant and animal material. They primarily feed on insects such as ants, beetles, grasshoppers and spiders but also supplement their diet with vegetation like flowers, fruits and leaves.
They may occasionally eat earthworms or other small arthropods. Insects make up the majority of their diet because they provide not only nutrition, but moisture that is essential for survival in dry climates.
The eastern fence lizard has been observed eating food from birdfeeders, suggesting that it can adapt its dietary habits to exploit new resources when necessary. It will often spend time near human dwellings seeking out opportunities to scavenge discarded food items left behind by humans or birds.
Furthermore, researchers have found that these lizards tend to be attracted to areas where there is an abundance of prey species. This suggests a preference for certain habitats based on food availability rather than purely environmental conditions alone.
Eastern fence lizards exhibit very specific feeding behaviors which help them survive in harsh environments with limited resources. By being opportunistic feeders who take advantage of any available resource, these animals are able to thrive even when faced with extreme environmental pressures and scarce food sources.
Behavior And Adaptations
Moving on from diet and feeding habits, we can look at the behavior and adaptations of Eastern Fence Lizards. These lizards are known for their sun-basking behaviors, where they’ll sit atop a rock or wall to soak up the warmth of the sun.
This increases their body temperature which helps with digestion and other metabolic processes. During this time, they will often engage in territorial disputes if multiple individuals have gathered in one area seeking out basking spots.
Eastern Fence Lizards also exhibit various foraging behaviors. They tend to move around quickly as they hunt for food such as insects and spiders, making use of both visual cues and chemical communication to locate prey items. If disturbed during these activities, they may enter into a short flight response before settling back down again.
Adaptations wise, these lizards possess several impressive features that help them survive within their environment:
- An ability to lose its tail when threatened by predators – Known as caudal autotomy
- A flattened shape allowing it to hide among rocks or vegetation more easily
- Grooves within its claws giving better grip while climbing surfaces & trees
- Textured scales providing camouflage against different backgrounds
All of these traits make the Eastern Fence Lizard well adapted to life in rocky environments across North America’s eastern coastlines, especially those with open woodlands nearby.
Reproduction And Mating Habits
The Eastern Fence Lizard is an oviparous species, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs. This species is distinguished from other reptiles due to their mating strategies, which are often complex and involve several behaviors and rituals. In the springtime, males will establish territories and defend them against intruders while displaying bright colors to attract females for mating.
Mating typically occurs in May or June after a courtship ritual that includes tail waving and head bobbing. Females lay two clutches of hard-shelled eggs between late June and early August in nests located near tree roots, stumps, logs, or rocks.
Egg size ranges from 8-9 millimeters wide with each clutch consisting of 4-8 eggs on average. The female then buries the nest beneath soil or leaf litter where it remains until incubation begins in late summer when temperatures reach 24 degrees Celsius.
Incubation takes between 30 – 50 days depending on temperature. After hatching, juvenile lizards usually disperse within weeks, reaching full maturity at around one year old when sexual maturity is achieved. It’s worth noting that adult Eastern Fence Lizards may live up to five years in the wild making them relatively long lived among other lizard species.
Overall reproductive success varies significantly based on environmental conditions such as weather patterns and food availability making this species particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts over time.
Eastern fence lizards are often the prey of larger predators. Snakes, hawks, cats, rodents and other lizards can all be a threat to them in their natural habitats. Snake predation is particularly common due to the ease with which snakes are able to capture and consume smaller creatures like fence lizards.
Hawks have also been known to swoop down on unsuspecting eastern fence lizards from above. Cats that wander into these habitats may hunt for them as well. In addition, some rodents such as rats may feed upon small reptiles including eastern fence lizards when given the chance.
Lastly, even other lizard species may attempt to eat the eastern fence lizard if they come across one and there is no other food available.
Given the wide range of potential threats posed by various predators, it’s important for eastern fence lizards to remain vigilant at all times while out in the wild. Taking shelter in burrows or up high in trees where possible can help protect them from many of these dangers.
They should also always be aware of their surroundings so they can spot any nearby predators before they become too close and vulnerable to attack. By following these safety precautions, an Eastern Fence Lizard has a greater chance of avoiding becoming lunch for its hungry predator counterparts.
The eastern fence lizard is not considered to be endangered, but due to human activity in the form of habitat destruction and disruption, their populations have decreased. As a result, conservation efforts are necessary for the health of this species.
Several organizations focus on conserving these lizards:
- Captive Breeding Programs: These programs help maintain healthy captive breeding populations and increase population numbers if needed.
- Habitat Protection: This includes establishing areas where they can remain free from human disturbance or protection of existing habitats that provide shelter and food sources for them.
- Research & Monitoring: This helps researchers understand how climate change may affect lizard populations as well as monitor any potential threats that could lead to further decline in their numbers.
It’s essential to take action now before it’s too late. We must work together to ensure that we protect existing reptile habitats while also working towards creating new ones so future generations can enjoy the benefits of having an abundant population of eastern fence lizards around them. Such actions will ensure that our collective efforts in lizard conservation prove successful in preserving this beloved species into the foreseeable future.