Western Fence Lizard Care (Facts, Diet, Sheet & Pictures)
The Western Lizard is an interesting one that grabbed my attention recently. I decided that you can benefit from the facts, including its diet, understanding if mixing them together in enclosures i a good or bad idea and so much more.
What is a Western Fence Lizard? A Western Fence Lizard is also known as a Blue-Belly or Spiny Lizard. It is originally from California and is considered a great pet lizard for lizard keepers. It requires a 20 gallon tank and UVB lighting, along with other accessories to keep it happy in captivity.
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Now I would like to go into more details and explain some background about them, the ideal lighting, food, required accessories, substrate and more. Keep reading to get the low down.
— Ctrl_Frk (@AutoCtrl) October 2, 2018
Western Fence Lizard Background?
This lizard is known as a spiny lizard, but more commonly known as a “blue belly”, because of the bluish colour it has on its neck and on the underneath of its body. It is a native to California and and it is part of the Sceloporus lizard family.
Like most lizards, it likes to regulate its body temperature by basking in the sun. It usually likes an elevated location for this. This is so it can get the perfect most amount of sun rays. So, keep this in mind when you’re thinking about caring for one of these lizards.
What does the Western Fence (Blue Belly) Lizard look like?
Their legs are yellow-orange colour underneath but primarily they can range from a black or brown colour. In reality they can change their colour depending on the environment. They also have small scales all over their body.
What is the ideal enclosure for these lizards?
In this section I’m going to talk about the ideal enclosure (Click for the best enclosures) size for these lizards. There is a range of sizes available (10-20 gallons), depending on your individual pet, but on the safe side is better to go for a 20 gallon tank. However, you can go as low as 10 gallon, depending on the size of the lizard.
Heating and humidity?
So in this section I’m going to discuss the heating and humidity requirements that are required for this lizards. As discussed earlier they really enjoy basking in the Sun.
However, you need to make sure your enclosure has a heated area, as well as a cool area. This is because they like to cool off at certain times of the day. Extended periods of direct heat can dry out their skin.
The basking spot needs to be roughly about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, to keep them happy. And it needs to have moderate humidity, which is ideal for them.
To maintain the ideal humidity it is a good idea to mist the enclosure once or twice a day, just to keep on top of things. Are you with me?
UVA and UVB lighting is an absolute must, so make sure that you have this. However, they do not like the lighting very close to them. For this reason, you should keep it at least a few inches away from their tank. You should find that a 75 watt bulb is perfect for them in this situation.
Blue Belly Enclosure accessories that are required
These lizards really like digging, burrowing and making a real mess. And love the whole digging experience. For this reason, make sure, when it comes to substrate, that you provide sand, dirt or even cypress mulch.
These lizards really enjoyed climbing and grabbing onto things, so it’s an absolute must to have some branches or twigs in there. This is for them to manoeuvre well. You can also put live plants in there as well. This will help maintain the humidity levels.
Ideal Cleaning schedule
In this section, I’m going to talk about the ideal cleaning schedule to maintain your enclosure. This is to keep it healthy and keep your lizard happy.
Ideally you need to have weekly, daily and periodic cleaning schedules. The periodic schedule, in particular, should be every two or 3 weeks.
An example of these periodic tasks. you may do more of a thorough clean of the enclosure, such as emptying the entire closure and cleaning out all of the accessories and substrate at this time. You want to re-house your lizard so that it is kept safe at this time.
Weekly tasks include completely replacing the substrate, such as cypress mulch. Also clearing up any dead/old leaves, branches or twigs.
The daily tasks are quick things, such as replenishing their water. Water is important to be changed every day, because there is a chance that you may find faeces inside it. This can lead to disease if you do not keep it fresh.
As discussed before it’s also good practice to Mist the enclosure on a regular basis. For this, it’s more like a twice a day activity really.
Can you share these enclosures?
You can share the enclosures for multiple Western Fence lizards, however it is not advised to mix males together, Males can be quite territorial and may end up fighting. So, for this reason, it’s advisable to only keep one male in the enclosure.
You can have more than one female together though. Just to give you an idea of a perfect combination, for a 20 gallon tank, two females and one male would be ideal.
If you do decide to share the enclosure with more than one of these lizards, in particular if you have a male and a female together, you need to understand that there is a chance that they could be mating.
If this happens in your tank, you need to make sure that you have got adequate facilities for your lizards, in case they do breed and lay eggs. A good idea is to have a container with some topsoil in it, which is damp. This will be ideal for them to borrow and hide their eggs in.
Temperature and lighting requirements?
So in this section I’m going to discuss the best temperature and lighting requirements for lizard. As discussed earlier the ideal basking area would be up to 90 degrees F. In your cooler spot in your tank, which we discussed earlier. It is ideal to have it anywhere from 70 to 85 degrees for this section.
When it comes to the night-time, it is better to reduce the temperature down to approximately 62 degrees Fahrenheit. You may want to switch off the lighting at this time. Anything from 8 to 11 hours without these lights is ideal, so that they can have the best temperature during their sleeping time.
In addition to these heating requirements they also require lighting which gives the full spectrum of colours, so that they can maintain and metabolize their calcium levels. This is important to keep their calcium levels correct.
What do they eat?
— iNaturalist (@inaturalist) April 16, 2017
In the wild Western Fence Lizards eat flies, spiders and they are even known to eat smaller lizards. Yes, other lizards! This is cannibalisation, its something that happens in the lizard Kingdom.
In captivity their diet is fairly similar, eating ants, spiders, etc. However, they may also snack on mealworms or waxworms.
Baby Blue Bellies Diet
When it comes to the baby lizards, they can eat food such as crickets and other similar insects. However, the key thing to remember here is the size of the food. The food you’re giving them needs to be checked to be safe.
A good guide, to be safe is to not feed them anything that is longer than the distance between their eyes. This is simply to reduce the chances of them choking, and to keep them safe while they are eating.
Frequency of Eating
With regards to the frequency of eating, as in how often you should feed them. Please do not feed them on a daily basis, this is not necessary, and can lead to over feeding.
The ideal feeding frequency is 3 to 4 times a week. It is also a good idea to let them feed in peace without standing over and watching them. Especially when they are new. The problem with this is, they may not feel comfortable in your presence.
And this may lead to them stopping eating or not eating as much as they should be to keep healthy and happy, are you with me?
When it comes to feeding them water, you need to make sure that you give them fresh water on a daily basis to keep them happy. You need to understand that they actually prefer to drink from water droplets rather than the dish.
However it is possible to give them a dish, but just make sure that there are no sharp edges around the dish to stop the chances of them cutting themselves.
Another technique that you can use to keep them properly hydrated is to spray the enclosure with water. This should be done on a daily basis. This is more commonly known as misting. This will keep them happy and hydrated.
What supplements do they require?
Supplementation is a must for most lizards. For the blue belly lizard in particular, you want to make sure that they’ve got a good calcium supplement to regulate their calcium levels.
The best way to do this is to actually brush the calcium supplementation on to some insects, that they’re going to eat. For example, a cricket.
This way, they will indirectly eat it. If you are interested to know the exact amount of supplementation they should be consuming and adding to each meal, please read the directions on your supplement of choice just to make sure you get this right.
Do Western fence lizards Bite?
They do bite but you need to understand that this bite is really quite timid and tame. If you are bitten by one of them it is almost a non-significant bite. They will only bite if they feel threatened.
Even if it does happen, most people are not bothered by the bite at all. Some people have even described this bite as almost as if the blue belly is trying to grab their finger, rather than actually penetrating and drawing blood.
How big does a Western fence lizard grow? In this section I’m going to discuss how big the blue belly lizards grows. These lizards are really classified as a medium sized lizard, meaning they really do not grow that big.
But to be precise, they can grow anything up to 8 and 1/2 inches in length, and that will be from the tip of their nose down to their tail.
Are they Lyme disease killing superheroes? In this section I will discuss some of the talk and myths regarding the blue belly lizard being immune or even having the ability to cure the lyme disease infection.
Lyme disease is usually transmitted by small tick bites. These sticks are known to carry lyme disease and infect a human or another lizard by biting and passing it through their blood stream.
The interesting fact about this lizard is, if one of these ticks bites it, its blood can neutralises the lyme disease in the tick. Not only that, it also makes the tick unable to infect anyone else with the disease in the future.
Do Western Fence lizards hibernate? In this section I’m going to talk about the Western Fence lizard hibernating. In reality they do go into a form of hibernation in the winter months.
But technically speaking, it’s not called hibernation, the term for reptiles is “brumation”. This is similar to hibernation but is more like a slowdown of activity in your lizard.
At this point in time they may wake up and have some water but they really will not be active at all. And you may find they will they won’t eat during this period as well.
Because this is a known state, it is advisable to prepare for this by feeding them some extra food towards the end of autumn, so that they have enough fat stores available in the winter months, when they slow down or stop eating.
During this period of time you should make sure that their enclosure is cool and dark. In the wild this can go on for all the winter, however in captivity you may see it only last for a few weeks.
How can you differentiate between a male and female lizard? The males have very brightly coloured blue stripes on a white belly. Just behind the vent you should see two large scales.
As for behaviour, you will notice that the males can be aggressive and territorial. They like to fight with any other males that attempt to breach their territory.
The females only have 1 scale at the centre of their vent and they typically have a lot duller colours than the males do.
What Defensive behaviour do they have? What you will notice with these lizards is quite similar to other lizards, if they are under attack they will drop their tail.
What you should notice once the tail is dropped is that it will still keep pulsing and flopping around as the muscles in the tail are still contracting. This is done deliberately to create a distraction and make the predators go after the tail, whilst the lizard can make a sharp exit and run away to safety.
Losing their tail is not something that they do lightly, because it takes a lot of energy for them to regrow their tail back and is quite a stressful period for them.
The Predators that give them the most hassle is feral cats or even pet cats in captivity. They are ideal predators to fall for the trap of chasing the broken tail rather than the lizard itself.