Fence lizard care
Did You Know?
These lizards possess some proteins in their blood that are capable of eliminating the bacteria, borrelia birgdorferi, that cause Lyme disease.
They belong to the Sceloporus family, and along with blue belly, they are also called swift or spiny lizards. A fully-grown reptile is about 6 inches long. This tiny grayish-brown lizard has its belly and throat covered with shiny blue scales, hence the name "blue belly".
Western fence lizards change color to blend in the environment, the color varies from brown to black, the legs are yellow-orange underneath. They have small scales all over their body.
Western Fence Lizard Care
EnclosureAn screen-covered aquarium can be a nice home for blue belly lizards. Opt for a 10-gallon aquarium, but if your pet is too large then go for 20-gallon one. Small lizards (2-2 ½") can be placed in a 5-gallon tank. As all reptiles love to bask in sunlight, make sure to divide the enclosure into a warm area and cool area. You can place the tank under partial sunlight, as strong heat can dry out their home. The basking spot should be around 90 degrees F, the tank should be at moderate humidity, not extremely cold, nor extremely hot. You can always mist some water once or twice a day to maintain humidity. UVA and UVB rays are a must for these lizards, a 75-watt spotlight can provide these; however, place the spotlight 3 to 4 inches away from the tank.
These lizards are fossorial by nature, meaning they love to dig and bury themselves while sleeping. For this purpose, you can fill the tank with substrate such as sand, unfertilized soil, dirt, or cypress mulch. It is mandatory to put twigs or branches inside the tank, as these species love to climb. Alternatively, you can put live plants to maintain the humidity in the enclosure.
These species love to hide especially when they are stressed, so make sure you provide enough avenues to hide, like small rocks, logs, and pebbles. Ensure that you don't choose sharp and pointed objects, because they may end up hurting your little friend. You can buy several hides from the market, but if you want to go cheap, rocks and pebbles will work wonders. Sometimes, even animals need their own space.
MaintenanceClean the tank every two to three weeks to reduce smell and dirt. The cypress mulch should be replaced every week, also dead plants and leaves, if any, should be removed. Transfer your pet in another aquarium or any place safe while you clean their enclosure. Replace the water everyday as your blue belly may defecate in it, which can cause disease and infections. Also, make it a habit to mist the cage regularly, preferably twice a day.
Room SharingIf you have more than one blue bellies, avoid housing two males together, as they are known to fiercely guard their territory, which may lead to fights and injuries. So, place male lizards separately, in another enclosure. Depending on the size of the tank, you can place 2 female lizards, with one male. A 20-gallon tank can easily support them, there are obvious chances that they will breed in captivity, so make sure there is ample space in the enclosure for the female to lay eggs.
A western fence in camouflage
A sun-bathing lizard
ClimateInitially, you can try to experiment with the temperature inside the enclosure to check or decide a comfortable environment for them. The basking spot should be 90 degrees F, other than that, the rest of the enclosure can be at 75 to 85 degrees F. They are cold-blooded reptiles, and a lack of heat makes them slow and inactive. Suitable temperature for nighttime is 62 degrees, to ensure the climate stays warm, it is necessary to switch off the lights for 9 to 11 hours. This ensures that the temperature in the enclosure will stay warm and cozy for them.
FeedingIn the wild, these lizards prefer small invertebrates like beetles, spiders, and flies. They even love to eat small lizards. However, in captivity, they can be fed crickets, ants, spiders, like black widow, wolf spiders, etc. You can even feed them meal worms, wax worms, earthworms, occasionally. Baby lizards are to be fed very tiny crickets and ants. A piece of advice, don't feed them anything that is longer than the space between their eyes, it may lead to a choking hazard. Don't feed your lizard everyday, 3 or 4 times a week is sufficient. When you feed them, step away from the enclosure, as initially, they won't be comfortable eating in your presence. They need access to fresh water daily, ensure the water container does not have sharp edges. Wild blue bellies are not familiar to water dishes, and they prefer drinking water droplets. So a great option is to spray water in the enclosure everyday, to keep them adequately hydrated.