Eastern Fence Lizard

By William T. Hathaway

Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

The Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) averages from 3.5 to 7.5 inches in length. It has a spiny appearance due to rough scales that are keeled; that is, the scales possess an elevated longitudinal ridge.

Fence lizards prefer open areas and woodland edges and are rarely found in dense forests. Most of us remember having seen this lizard scampering toward the nearest tree trunk or sunny woodpile. Once on a tree trunk, it hesitates and zaps to the other side of the tree if further pursued. If approached from the back side of the tree, it again zaps to the front of the tree but at a higher elevation. Students who know this behavioral characteristic have little trouble catching a specimen. It is a challenge to make a temporary inspection and observation of the surprising greenish-blue underside of the male fence lizard.

This species comes forth from hibernation during the warmer days of March. Food consists of spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and snails. (See also further information.)