Mr. Nature: the Fence Lizard

Jambo, boys ‘n’ girls! Mr. Nature here, with the humble fence lizard. My home state of New Jersey is but poorly endowed with lizards, but we do have the Eastern Fence Lizard, one of my favorites. The lizard in this video is a Western Fence Lizard from California, almost the same thing.

The “push-ups” that these lizards do, mostly the males, is a territorial display. It means “get lost!” Most of the lizards in the iguanid family–dozens and dozens of species–make this display, as well as puffing themselves up, showing the dewlap, etc. There are even some Old World agamid family lizards that do push-ups. This is a mystery to me, that totally unrelated lizards should resort to the same threat display.

I once had fence lizards and one of the females laid eggs. We caught her doing it, and so were able to contact the Staten Island Zoo for instructions as to how to care for the eggs. They were good instructions, and all two dozen eggs hatched into absolutely perfect little lizards.

At night the little ones used to bury themselves in cedar shavings with only their heads left showing. One morning our granddaughter came into the living room and saw them like that–only the tiny heads scattered here and there–and totally freaked out. She was sure some fiend had come in the middle of the might and beheaded the baby lizards. But Mrs. Nature was quickly able to reassure her otherwise.

Fence lizards eat live bugs and can be kept together in an aquarium without your having to worry about them assassinating one another. They tame rather quickly and are altogether nice lizards.

5 comments on “Mr. Nature: the Fence Lizard

  1. We have some of these bodybuilder lizards around here. I’m sure that Joe Collidge could traipse by and explain to us non-interlekturals how this disproves the existence of a Creator and the diety of Hillary, all in one single declaration, but I think are just body-conscious and want to work out. 🙂 Either that, or an all-wise God made them and programmed this behavior into them.

    1. My first successful lizard pet came from somewhere out West, a blue collared swift (a close relative of the fence lizard, but bigger). My Grandma, who had just died, had left an envelope on her dresser with a little money in it, earmarked for buying me this lizard as a present. You don’t forget a thing like that.

      I had that lizard for five years, its natural lifespan (although he was already an adult when I got him), and he was always tame and friendly.

  2. My daughter was here for Christmas, and when her mom got to pushy, my daughter would tell her to take 50 (meaning push-ups).

    Magnify that California Fence Lizard a thousand times and you would have a nice dinosaur – hopefully one easily tamed and not hostile to other said dinosaurs.

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