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Got fence lizards (“blue bellies”) living in your yard?

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 6th, 2008 at 7:57 am in Uncategorized.

The Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), often called a “blue belly” because of the blue markings on the bellies of the males, photographed here by my good friend Brian Murphy of Walnut Creek, is a very common California lizard.

While working in my Benicia, Calif., garden the other day, I spotted five blue bellies patrolling my backyard garden boxes. That many lizards can gobble up more bugs every day than a whole can of nasty pesticide spray.

I’ve landscaped my backyard with attractive little rock piles that these lizards like to use as hiding places. And now I have this little troop of beautiful reptiles living and working here as my private bug patrol.
Do you have fence lizards in your own back or front yards? How many?

Please leave a comment/reply/response below, listing the approx. number of fence lizards in your yard, the nearest cross streets, and the city where you live (and any other comments about your lizards you’d like to share).

I’m curious to see what kind of fence lizard population we’ve got going here in our little Bay Area suburban wilderness (aka our backyards).

Thanks! /Gary

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54 Responses to “Got fence lizards (“blue bellies”) living in your yard?”

  1. bhf Says:

    I wish I could have the fence lizard survive in our yard. Unfortunately, there are too many outdoor cats in my area that like to catch and kill them. Once in a while a see a young lizard. More often I see what is left over of the lizard after a cat has tormented it.

  2. Barbara Says:

    I’m in the proximity of the Arnold/Milano cross sreets in Martinez. The blue bellies are quite common in my area. There are/were three stationed in my yard; but, because the back has been resodded, I’m down to one–and his/her observation point is a rock nestled amongst low-lying juniper in the front. (One took up residency almost the entire summer last year.).

    In the past I’ve had to capture and release misguided youngsters from the garage. It’s also quite humorous to watch the head-nodding mating ritual (or maybe it’s a territorial thing) that one displays to another.

    I also get alligator lizards (under larger rocks), and gopher snakes. They are really pretty neat.

  3. brian murphy Says:

    The lady who’s cat catch’s lizzards – just make small rock piles (lizzard house’s) so lizzards can escape from the cats. Create short distance’s lizzards have to travel to hide in some rocks from the cats. At building corners and so on so the lizzards have pleanty of hiding places.


  4. Jacob Says:

    Hi my name is Jacob and i am 7yrs old.. can i have a blue belly as a pet in my house? if so what do i feed him.

  5. Tina Says:

    Hey Jacob,

    My 7 year old just came back from his grandmas with one of these lizards. We are feeding it crickets and meal worms. Im not sure if he has ate yet. Ours is teeny tiny.

  6. Julie Says:

    We live near the corner of Larch and Hammond Place in Moraga. We have dry stack rock walls in both the back and front yards and commonly see fence lizards in both places, including a juvenile or two during the summer. They also find shelter in ivy and other vegetation near the walls. Our neighborhood is full of cats but I’ve never seen one catch a lizard.

  7. Sarah Says:

    I have a question,I live in Dallas Texas, and I think these are all over my yard, here is my problem they are making my 2 year old golden retriver TOTALY NUTS, she is demolishing our beautiful yard stripping the shrubs to nothing digging ect… hunting for them what can I do

  8. Kimberlee Says:

    Hi Gary,

    We absolutely love our little blue-belly lizards. We live in Benicia also, in the old town section on 1/4 acre. We usually have 3-4 lizards living on the property. We would have more except we have a pet cat. In fact today she ‘caught’ one of our little lizards out by the drive this evening, and we managed to rescue it from her mouth, thanks to her announcing her catch. My 9 year old caught the lizard (the tail is still intact) and we have him in for the night, but will release him tomarrow. Perhaps we should place some more rocks at his hangout.

    I’m happy the blue-bellies are back. About 10 years ago the alligator lizards had displaced them from our yard for about 3+ years. I don’t care for that species so much.

  9. luis Says:

    what do blue belly lizards eat ?

  10. Sam Fujikawa Murphy Says:

    How do blue belly lizards survive? What are their houses
    like? What do they do all day? What do they eat? Where do they get water? Do they live in the city? Are there other Western lizards that live in the city? I am 7 years old and I am doing a school report. Please put in my email address so others can answer my questions.

  11. Sam Fujikawa Murphy Says:

    correct spelling of my dad’s email to reach me is

  12. Sam Fujikawa Murphy Says:

    How do blue belly lizards survive? What do they eat? What are their houses like? Do they live in the city? Are there other lizards that live in the city in California? I am 7 years old and I am doing a school report.Answer to my dad’s email:

  13. dallas Says:

    i have alot of blue bellys in my back yard just yesterday my cat caught one very strange one it had a ornge neck it looked like a blue belly but its belly isnt blue i let it go but an hour later my cat caght the same one agin but this time it was bleding a little bitt so i got a big tank and i pute him in ther whith small krickets and im goin to let him go when he gits better i was wandaren how can u tell if its a male or female and do they eat laidy bugs?

  14. derek Says:

    to the poster asking how to keep it as a pet… you can buy it crickets at petco/petsmart or a local reptile store. but most importantly, being a diurnal (daytime) reptile, they need UV light to produce vitamin D to help keep their bones healthy. you can buy a lightbulb that simulates daylight complete with UVA rays which will prevent them from getting calcium deficiency problems

  15. Holly Says:

    hey i got this western fence lizard and it is injured what can i do for it and what can i feed it

  16. Gary Bogue Says:

    Fence lizards eat insects and you can feed it crickets and mealworms that may be purchased from most pet stores. As far as the injury is concerned, I have no idea what its problem is, so can’t really advise you. Call the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif., at 925-935-2978 and ask to speak to their wildlife hospital, explain the lizard’s problem and see what they suggest you do. Good luck! /Gary

  17. Max Says:

    Well guess what I caught a blue belly lizard and now he lived for 7 years and now I dont know if he is dead or not!!

  18. Gary Bogue Says:

    Max: Pick him up and ask him … /Gary

  19. Bob Cook Says:

    I live in the wilds of Sonoma County and boy oh boy do I have blue bellies. Usually they make me laugh. Run little lizard, Run! Lately I’m having problems with them eating my pole beans. They like the young tender plants before the stems turn woody. They snap it off just above the ground and make off with the entire plant. I’ve busted a couple off them with whole bean plants in their mouths. They stare at me, do a few push ups then split with the plant.

    They still make me laugh.

  20. Brandy Says:

    I read that many people are asking what the Blue Bellied Lizards eat and how to care for them. I am no expert but I caught one in the mountains of Idaho and have had her for 2 months now. She actually just laid some eggs, but you can feed them baby crickets, mealworms, waxworms and spiders. They eat insects and spiders if you can catch them. Adults you feed generally every other day and young ones you feed daily. If they eat them right up then they are not getting enough to eat and feed them a little more. I have a water dish that she will go in and bath and drink. I have never actually seen her use her tongue like a dog does but to each his own. Does anyone have any idea what to do for a mother and how ling it takes the eggs to hatch or how many they generally have.

  21. hannah Says:

    Hey I caught a northern fence lizards and its just a little baby so I want to know what I can feed the little lizard?Also if you have any advise for keeping one pleas let me now.Please email me if you can anwser my question my email is thankyou so much.

    hannah :)

  22. jocelyn anglis Says:

    Ecoute, j’ai bien apprécié l’article en fait…

  23. jeanclaude duss Says:

    Ecoute, j’ai bien apprécié l’article en fait…

  24. ryan Says:

    hi my name is ryan im only 10 but i love reptiles. can you send me some more information about the lizards
    can you send it as fast as possible.

    from ryan

  25. glenda Says:

    We are in the Marysville, (Yuba City) California Area These Blue bellied lizzards are every where that is near or around open field area, and with the rivers that run through this area it keeps spaces like these populated with rabbits and squirles too. This Past Summer I had actually had to rid my yard of rattle snakes on two seperate occasions both being found by my 8 year old son, just shading itself in the grass. (I am in the City Limits) and it was quite an unwelcome critter, but my boys find the blue belly lizzards daily. They bring them all in to me to see, they think I am the coolest mom (holding lizzards and all). My kids have also found skink lizzards in the city limits of Roseville Califonia. Unlike the Blue Bellied Lizzard these are very shinny and smooth skinned like a snake on legs. Another popular lizzard they look for is the alligator lizzard, similar to the blue belly but more agressive. In the past for the intertainment of my kids I have allowed the blue belly to latch on to my finger. They have a surprising amount of pressure in those little mouths of theirs, it leave an imprint in your skin but doesn’t hurt.
    I hope you find this information useful and intertaining since Yuba City isn’t all the far from where you are…..
    One “awesome” Mom

  26. Sallie Says:

    29 March 2010 – Bluebellies are common here on the farm in Brentwood. A strong breeding population of varying numbers 6-10 live in a hot corner under an ornamental waterwheel. We see many many babies twice a year. Other populations of 2-3 are found near the porches and scattered through the yard. These guys like hot rocks, concrete and lay in wait at the garden’s edge to snag insects. (One caught a dragon fly.) More can be found in the fields. As a kid we would watch and play with them. The lizards seemed curious about us too. This March we think we saw a Western Sage Brush lizard bully the Fence Lizards for territory. Hope to see that one again for positive identification.

  27. julian Says:

    i live in san diego on cambria and lancaster and the population of lizards is over 78 aprox email me at

  28. Tayler Says:

    how often do blue belley lizeredse eat

  29. Tayler Says:

    how big do blue belley lizereds get &how long do they live

  30. shannon Says:

    heyo i found a baby blue belly rite at my front door the other morning. rite now i have him with me but i dont want him to die because i dont know what to feed him=( pleez help.

  31. -K Says:

    baby bluebellies eat pinhead crickets, ants, and fruit flys. All, except ants, can be purchased from any good pet store/reptile breeder.

  32. grace Says:

    hi im 11 yrs old and i caught a lizard but i dont know what species it is or what it eats and it has a bluish spot on the neck on the underside and on the sides of the belly but its really hard to see and the lizard is really tiny…

  33. Catherine Says:

    Hi. I was interested whether or not blue-tongued skinks in the wild are rare. Our lizard population is about 200. Please email back with the response. Thank you very much.

  34. Wiest Says:

    I have 2 lizards in my yard and are trying to catch them. What is a helpful trick to catch them

  35. bob Says:

    Where can you find western fence lizard eggs in your yard?

  36. Maria Orona Says:

    My husband found one inside the restaurant where he works, im pretty sure got in from the front yard. this is one of many he seen around there, my boy who loves any kind of animal love to keep them as pets. but we aren’t sure if it is poisones. are they? this is in the Stockton area..

  37. Adrian Says:

    Hello,My name is Adrian and I have a western fence lizard. His name is April. I want to find a girl fencie- but I have had no luck. Can someone help? April is getting lonely…..

  38. Adrian Says:

    Okay. I found a boy-named it Allion (Al-e-on). But that night April’s tail fell off.=( I threw it away the next morning.

  39. ALEX Says:

    i had a fence lizard traped in one of my mouse traps in my garage. i saw it in the morning and helped it escape. but the mouse trap was a sticky one b/c it had a substance to stick the mouse onto the device, instead it caught the lizard. its poor body was completely stuck, so i tried my best to free it from the device and put it next to where i usually see lizards. however its free now but cannot walk b/c the sticky residue is left onto the body. :( i want to feed it but dont know what it’ll like. a fly? it sure is a fence lizard that came to the sticky trap. i did not want to touch it with my bare hands to completely take off the residue b/c it looked piosonous from the blue belly and blue patches on its back. since i did research on this lizard it seems like a back yard freindly lizard, so i’ll go feed it a fly.

  40. Gary Bogue Says:

    Alex: Vegetable oil will help remove the stick stuff from the trap. That’s a harmless fence lizard and it can’t hurt you. In the future, please don’t use those sticky glue traps. They seem to catch EVERYthing except the rodents you are trying to catch. Birds, cats, lizards … they are VERY inhumane. If you have to trap mice, use a plain old Victor mouse trap. /Gary

  41. Ariana Enrriques Says:

    I caught one but don’t know what to feed it I already had a terrarium so using that

  42. Gary Bogue Says:

    Ariana: Fence lizards like small bugs, crickets, moths, meal worms (pet stores carry a lot of these things, especially meal worms and crickets). You shouldn’t catch lizards like that and put them in terrariums without FIRST reading up on them and learning what you need to do to take care of them and feed them. /gary

  43. Ivy Says:

    I caught a blue belly lizard at my Grandpa’s in Lotus, CA. I kept him in a large display cabinet turned on its side so that the opening was on the top. I put small rocks, a few small branches, a hide house, and a larger rock inside. I used the top of a jar with water for him to drink and bathe. I kept a warm light on him during the day. I fed him bugs and my dad caught a spider to feed him. I named him Spikes. He would cling to my finger and my clothes and didn’t try to run away. I had to release him back into the wild today cuz i’m leaving. We put him near where we caught him and after a few minutes he went on his merry way.

  44. loretta Nedved Says:

    We have had a lizard dig under a rock which is in mulch
    and it takes about 12 hours for her to finish making a nest and to lay eggs, About 12 days ago she did the same thing and yesterday we saw 2 eggs laying on top of the dirt by the rock and I put one back under the dirt and went ot about 2 hours later and one egg was kind of flat. Today I saw a very tiny lizard next to the rock, The eggs are about the size of a hummingbird
    eggs. we have some new cats next door///????

  45. loretta Nedved Says:

    I have finished my message thanks

  46. jada Says:


    I just found a lizard (without the tail because my neighborhood cat pounced it)and im not sure if its a wall lizard (im in germany) or a fence lizard. Since i live in germany i only see a few lizards here and there. Since i am a lizard fan i read a good 5 big texbooks on reptiles and some amphibians so i only know about a few species.I am sure the lizard is a girl.

  47. Gabrielle Says:

    We have a fence lizzard in our back yard – and s/he knows us and comes to the back door when s/he sees us to get some mealworms I keep for bluebirds. There is some blue under her/his neck but I’m not sure if only males have blue. S/he comes right up to me when I open sliding glass door and sit down, with my (inside only) cat sitting quietly behind me, observing. As soon as I close the door cat starts hollering at “Lizzy” who just continues to stand there and stare at the door. This routine started by coincidence, when I dropped a few worms, but “Lizzy” really seems to know me. I’m fascinated observing her/him – and I don’t quite understand why people would want to “catch” them and stuff in a terrarium. That’s really sad!

  48. gwen Says:

    i cought a baby bluebelly lizard at school today at school well actualy i saw it and then my friend caught it…we named it blueboy hes realy cute and i even reaserched how to take care of one

  49. gwen Says:

    :) :) :) 😛 😛 😛 😀 😀 😀 😀 GO BLUEBOY!!!!!!

  50. chris Says:

    Yeah i got lost of them lil bluebelly’s runnin around my front yard an back yard i live in weirsdale florida an trust me when i say there is alot of them there is i just caught one an was tryin to figure out what they were an now i know but one thing i dont know is r they deadley.

  51. Brian Says:

    I found one approx. 6″-8″ on my back porch screen. I took some pics of it then released it into the woods (which I’m surrounded by). If this is classified as a western species, why is it in Georgia?

  52. Matt Says:

    I have a great garden and I needed to get some blue bellies in it to help me with bugs so I a friend trapped one and gave it to me. I took the little guy and put him in my garden last year at this time and I have not seen him tell today:)

    He is 4 or 5 times the size he was! I mixed some soil today and went and sat down to rest and boom! There he was:) When my friend gave him to me he was missing part of him tail and now it is growing back!

    He jumped down and started eating bugs that I mixed right out of the soil:)

    I live in SoCal Huntington Beach…

    Anyone know where I can catch more? I know there is water for them and lots of bugs in my yard to eat:) Also, look up lizered traps on YouTube if you want to get more in your yard! Great for organic gardeners because they do almost all the pest work!!!

  53. Matt Says:

    O, I’m thinking I should put a rock pile do he will come down off the gate more. Maybe a dark rock so he can heat up really good:)

  54. brooklyn Says:

    my friend michelle cot a blue belley lizared but my mom said that i cant have it in the house but why cant i have it in the house? and im moving and can it travel from up the hill to down the hill or will it explode? please write back.
    from brooklyn

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