Friday, July 31, 2009

Lizards of the Day: Blue Bellies

On a recent roadtrip through Nevada, on our way to a Geobloggers-in-the-Pub meeting, MOH and I stopped at the West Gate windmill. Lo and behold, after squeezing through the closed gate and walking around to the windmill side of the rock-and-concrete water tank, we saw a couple blue-belly lizards scurrying around on the shady north wall of the approximately six-foot-high water tank.
In fact, we saw two pairs of lizards, possibly mating pairs judging by how closely they stuck to each other. The first pair is in the first photo, the second pair in the second photo.
The first pair had a larger, darker-looking lizard and a slightly smaller, browner-looking lizard; similar coloring and sizing in the second pair was not quite as obvious. This is the larger, darker lizard of the first pair.
In this close up, we can vaguely see the bluish patch under the lizard's chin, and we can see a bit of the blue belly, along the side of the lizard between it's foreleg and hind leg.
This is the slightly smaller, browner lizard of the first pair, hiding between a water pipe and the north wall. Some of its spots are turquoise in color.
And here, he/she has run to the top of the rock wall, and we can see the under-chin and belly patches quite clearly. The blue to bluish turquoise patches on the bellies of these lizards consist of two side patches.
This is one of the lizards of the second pair. The fairly common or typical yellow coloring behind or under both sets of legs can be seen, especially the yellow behind the forelegs.
These lizards, commonly known as blue bellies, blue-bellied lizards, swifts, or Western Fence Lizards, are formally known as Sceloporus occidentalis. The subspecies seen here is called the Great Basin Fence Lizard, or Sceloporus occidentalis longipes. All S. occidentalis lizards are good to have around, as they may help keep ticks free of Lyme disease.

The location of West Gate on this MSRMaps map is marked by the windmill symbol. For more about West Gate read Friday from the Road: West Gate. This post is being submitted to Carnival of the Arid #6, hosted by Chris Clarke at Coyote Crossing.


Aurora said...

Cool pictures. These lizards look cute. Its the geckos I hate. One got indoors some years back and I almost lost it.

Gaelyn said...

Sort of looks like our Plateau Lizards with the blue bellies. Nice shots.

Silver Fox said...

Thanks, Aurora and Gaelyn!

So far, I've never met a lizard I didn't like, but I don't usually (ever?) find them running around my house, either. Anything unexpected can be pretty darned startling!

The Western Fence Lizard is very widespread in the west, with a few or several subspecies, so probably the Plateau Lizard is related.

Liz at Yips and Howls said...

I too have never met a lizard I didn't like. These are gorgeous. I appreciate the information because I saw these in central Arizona last spring and didn't know much about them. The photos are great. I especially like the photo of the lizard peeking through the rocks.

Lucy Corrander said...

Some of these photos are very lovely. I expect you are as pleased with them as with having come across the lizards.

In January, you were kind enough to comment on a photo I posted on my blog of a rock with strange lumps in and wondered what people in the future would make of fossilised phones and things.

Well, as for this rock, it's eroding so fast, we won't be wondering much longer about its lumps. I posted a picture today (August 2nd)of what it looked like yesterday and thought I would let you know.


Silver Fox said...

Liz, glad you found something of use about lizards here! I'm by no means an expert - MOH seems to always know the common name right off hand, then I have to spend time researching the real name. :)

Lucy Corrander said...

Thanks for your comment, Silver Fox. I've put a couple more photos there.


coconino said...

I especially like the one with the chin and side patches showing. Great photos! As I've said about your paintings, you have a great sense of creativity and capturing the essence of what you're portraying. Good luck with selling some of your art works.

Silver Fox said...

Lucy, thanks for reminding me about your rock - I'd forgotten (I see so many rocks!). I can't tell what kind of rock it is - wonder if it would dissolve with a littel hydrochloric acid, but can't send you any in the mail. Glad you liked some of the lizard shots!

Silver Fox said...

Coconino, I felt especially fortunate to get that one shot of the lizard looking up at it's underside. The lizard almost immediately turned away from me! At the time, I knew I could see the chin spot, didn't know I'd gotten the under-side patches until I downloaded the camera.

Diane AZ said...

You got some amazing shots! A couple of Western Fence Lizards frequent our backyard. Sometimes I can get a glimpse of beautiful electric blue belly coloring when they do push-ups on the wall.

Silver Fox said...

Diane, neat that you have some in your backyard that you can watch.