Friday, June 10, 2011

fence lizard ~ 06/10/11 ~ Pinnacles

male coast range fence lizard
Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii

I've been debating about this ID ever since I posted another fence lizard at Pinnacles from this same trip. These two lizards look totally different from each other. I'm wondering if the one shown above might be a sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus). However, this species is supposedly not found according to the Pinnacles reptiles and amphibians list. The two Sceloporus species are difficult to tell apart without looking at the underside of the males.


Erica Lea said...

I don't know lizards at all, I just enjoy looking at them:-) In fact, when the title showed as "fence lizard" in my blog roll, I thought it was going to be a picture of a lizard on a fence, lol! Nice capture, and, as always, thanks for the education.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hi Erica Lea! Hope you like your new place. I'll have to virtually visit :)

biobabbler said...

Ah, yes, I've been there re: learning only AFTER I took the picture what precise thing I needed to photograph to discern i.d. Plus, you'd have to catch him or her and (apparently) hope it's a she. =) Nice shot, though.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

bb, do you think this is a "she"? I looked closely and I think there is a bit of blue on the sides of the throat.

John Sullivan said...

Female Sceloporus occidentalis can have blue patches on the throat and belly, but it’s usually less pronounced than on males. I agree that it’s most likely that this is a male based on the amount of blue visible on the belly, but it’s not a certainty.

I’m sure it is S. occidentalis rather than S. graciosus. Though the two species look very similar, the scales of S. graciosus are notably less spiky, and also it would be unusual to find them at the same elevation -- typically S. graciosus replaces S. occidentalis at high elevations.

I love the colors in the photo -- Pinnacles is such a beautiful place.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thanks, John. I zoomed in on so many pictures for this ID, examining the blue on the sides and throat and if I could distinguish larger keeled scales of S. occidentalis. Until I actually see a S. graciousus in person, I don't think I'll know the difference. The color variation compared to the other fence lizard I found at the campsite (slightly lower elevation, btw) made me really want to look into the ID. I usually try not to pick up lizards, because I don't want to be the cause for them to loose their tails even though this makes ID a bit more challenging. And, yes, the lichen at Pinnacles is incredible and adds so much color to the rocks.