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The Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) is a well-known species of lizard found in the eastern United States, ranging from Maine to Florida and as far west as Texas. This species belongs to the family Phrynosomatidae and is typically 8–10 cm long when fully grown.

Eastern Fence Lizards are known for their agility, being able to quickly scale vertical surfaces such as walls or fences with ease. They inhabit open wooded areas, often near large bodies of water where they can find food sources like insects and spiders. Males exhibit bright blue patches on their bellies during mating season which serves to attract females for breeding purposes.

As an ectotherm, this species relies heavily on ambient temperature to regulate its body temperature via thermoregulation. In order to maintain optimal temperatures, it will bask under direct sunlight in early mornings or afternoons before retreating into cooler shaded areas at midday. Thus understanding their behavior in relation to temperature is essential for proper conservation practices regarding this widely distributed reptile species.

Eastern fence lizard

Species Overview

The eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) is a species of small lizards belonging to the genus Sceloporus. This species can be found in many parts of the eastern United States, from Maine down through Florida and extending westward into Texas and Oklahoma. It has been introduced to Hawaii as well. The dorsal surface ranges from grayish-brown to black with four longitudinal stripes along its back. Males typically have bright blue patches on their sides which are absent in females.

Eastern fence lizards typically dwell in areas near open forests or grasslands where they find plenty of cover, such as under logs and rocks, vegetation, or other debris. They feed mainly on insects, spiders, millipedes, and centipedes with occasional consumption of plant material like berries or flowers. Live birth occurs during the summer months after an incubation period of approximately two months inside the female’s body; male eastern fence lizards will often engage in territorial combat over access to potential mates by standing up tall on hind legs while bobbing their heads rapidly back and forth.

Eastern fence lizards are known for their ability to survive extreme temperatures both hot and cold compared to some other lizard species, spending much time sunning themselves on warm days but retreating quickly when cooler weather sets in. These unique characteristics make them important contributors within their habitats that should not be overlooked despite their small size.

Anatomy And Physiology

Eastern fence lizards are medium-sized, with a total body length of up to five inches. Their body coloration is typically brown or grayish in hue, but males may also have blue patches on their sides and back. The tail can be longer than the body size, ranging from three to four inches long. Regarding limb structure, they possess five toes on all four limbs. Scales patterning consists of small granules across its entire surface; these become more distinct towards the neck region and head area. Eye color varies between individuals, but it is generally dark brown or black.

The eastern fence lizard has numerous adaptations that help them survive in their environment such as being able to use camouflage for protection against predators by blending into their surroundings due to its light coloration. Additionally, this species’ tail helps them escape capture when grabbed by a predator because it will easily break off at the base, allowing the lizard time to flee after which it regenerates over time with no permanent damage done. Furthermore, the scales patterning provides an extra layer of defense making it difficult for any attacker to get a good grip on their bodies while trying to catch them.

Overall, this species displays several physical features that make it well-suited for life in its habitat including its diet preferences and ability to hide from potential threats. The combination of various anatomical characteristics gives them both defensive measures against predation as well as enhanced mobility when searching for food sources or avoiding danger.

Habitat And Range

The Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) is an adaptable species, with a wide range of suitable habitats and geographic ranges. This remarkable lizard can be found in any number of places – from the urban jungle of cities to the rural areas surrounding them.

These lizards have specific requirements for their natural habitats:

  • A source of food such as insects, spiders or other arthropods;
  • Enough ground cover or vegetation for hiding spots;
  • Access to plenty of sun-exposed rocks, logs and branches for basking.
  • These provide thermal gradients that regulate body temperature during colder months.    
  • They also act as sheltering sites against predation by birds and mammals.
        * The warm surfaces are used to absorb heat energy when exposed to direct sunlight.

Eastern fence lizards select particular habitats based on these requirements which vary geographically depending on local climate conditions and availability of resources like food supply, water sources etc. In addition, terrain features such as elevation tend to influence habitat selection behavior within this species. Overall, they occupy a large geographical range across most states east of the Rocky Mountains from North Carolina all the way up through New England into Canada.       
In sum, Eastern fence lizards show great versatility in terms of both habitat selection and geographic range – an attribute that has allowed them to thrive even amidst human settlement patterns and changing environmental conditions over time.

Behavior And Reproduction

Eastern Fence Lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) exhibit a variety of behaviors, both during mating rituals and territorial disputes. During mating season which can range from April to October, males will engage in courtship displays such as head bobbing and dewlap expansion. These displays are used to attract females and establish dominance over other male lizards. The pair then engages in brief copulation, after which the female lays her eggs in a shallow burrow or crevice that she has dug in the ground.

Once laid, parental care is absent for these hatchlings and they must fend for themselves soon after hatching. There is much variation within clutch sizes; however, there have been reports of clutches containing up to 17 eggs at one time. Eastern Fence Lizard hatchlings often reach maturity within two years but may take longer depending on environmental conditions such as climate and food availability.

These lizards are highly adaptable to their environment and because of this have spread across many geographic regions throughout North America where they live mainly solitary lives with occasional interactions between individuals occurring when resources become scarce or when defending territories.

Diet And Predators

The eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), commonly found in the southeastern United States, has a diet that is composed largely of insects. This species exhibits predatory behavior and feeds on a variety of invertebrates, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and spiders. Additionally, this species will occasionally feed on small rodents such as voles and mice. The following table displays the estimated percentage of each prey group consumed by the Eastern Fence Lizard:

Prey GroupPercentage Consumed

While primarily an insectivore, the eastern fence lizard also faces predation from other lizards, birds of prey and snakes. Therefore, it must remain vigilant in order to survive. Of all its predators, the most common are king snakes which are widely distributed throughout North America. In addition to king snakes, skinks and large bullfrogs can be potential predators for adult fence lizards while hatchlings may face danger from fire ants or robber flies. Although these animals pose a threat to their survival, they still make up an important part of local ecosystems due to their unique dietary habits and ability to adapt quickly to environmental changes. Furthermore, they serve as food sources for many different organisms further solidifying them as essential players within natural communities. Overall then, despite facing various threats from both predators and changing environments, the eastern fence lizard remains a vital organism within its native range and should be protected accordingly.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the eastern fence lizard is a concern for herpetologists and wildlife biologists. These lizards are not considered endangered or threatened, but their wild populations may be at risk due to habitat loss resulting from urbanization and land development. To ensure protection of these species, conservation measures should be implemented such as limiting human activities in areas where fence lizards live, reducing light pollution that can disrupt breeding cycles, creating protected habitats under state laws, and conducting public outreach campaigns to increase awareness about the importance of protecting these reptiles.

A key factor in conserving this species is providing adequate shelter for them throughout their range. This includes preserving natural shelters like rock piles, logs, and other debris on the ground that provide refuge during extreme temperatures or when predators are present. Additionally, captive-bred individuals have been released into suitable habitats to help bolster wild populations. Research studies have also been conducted to better understand the ecology of this species so informed management decisions can be made going forward.

Ultimately, maintaining healthy populations of eastern fence lizards requires proactive efforts by scientists and landowners to protect their habitat while minimizing impacts from human activity. With continued research and careful stewardship of its environment it is hoped that future generations will still appreciate this unique reptile thriving in forests across North America.

Eastern fence lizard

Interaction With Humans

The eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) has a long history of interaction with humans. Studies indicate that up to 90% of individuals may have been exposed to human activity and infrastructure, such as roads and buildings. Interaction behavior can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Pet keeping
  2. Captive breeding
  3. Exposure to human-associated structures (e.g., farms, roadways, housing developments)
  4. Feeding by humans
    Pet keeping is an increasingly popular hobby for many people interested in herpetology or wildlife biology, which includes collecting specimens from wild populations for observation purposes. Eastern fence lizards are no exception; they are typically collected from their natural habitat in large numbers due to their hardiness and adaptability in captivity environments. Furthermore, captive breeding programs have become quite successful over the years due to increased knowledge about husbandry techniques such as diet and temperature requirements, reducing mortality rates during transport and acclimation processes. Additionally, exposure to urbanized areas can increase survival rates since this species often finds shelter among artificial structures like houses and barns when temperatures drop too low at night or during cold spells throughout winter months. Lastly, feeding by humans can provide these animals with additional sources of food beyond what they find naturally occurring in their environment; however, it should be noted that only occasional handouts should be given so as not to disrupt normal behaviors or attract predators unnecessarily. Overall, interactions between humans and eastern fence lizards can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances but generally result in positive outcomes if done responsibly.


The Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) is a medium-sized species of lizard that can be found in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. It has an impressive physiology, with its spiny scales providing protection from predators, as well as specialized feet for climbing trees and other structures. Their habitat range includes open woodlands, fields, and suburban gardens. They are primarily diurnal animals that feed on insects and spiders, though some also eat small fruits or flowers.

Eastern fence lizards reproduce through internal fertilization and lay eggs during summer months in nests beneath debris or tree bark. Predators include snakes, birds of prey, cats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, and humans who may collect them for hobbyist purposes. In spite of this wide array of threats to their population size and health, they remain common within their ranges due to their adaptability to human-altered landscapes such as residential areas and farms.

Overall, the Eastern Fence Lizard is an incredible animal with a remarkable ability to thrive despite pressures from both natural predators and human interference. Truly it is a magnificent creature fit for admiration by all – even those not normally inclined towards herpetology! Its presence in our environment should be appreciated tenfold; an experience surely capable of making one feel like standing atop the highest peak…imagine being able to observe these creatures without fear of repercussion!