Eastern Fence Lizard
Scientific Name: Sceloporus undulatus
Description: Fence lizards are spiny lizards, meaning that they have rough, pointed scales on their backs. Overall they are gray to brown in color, but males and females can be distinguished by certain color variations. Females have patterns of black horizontal stripes on their backs, while males have patches of bright blue scales on their bellies and throats.
Size: Adults are 4 to 7.5 inches in length.
Diet: Fence lizard prey includes a number of invertebrates such as beetles, ants, moths, grasshoppers, spiders, and stink bugs.
Predation: Snakes, birds, cats, and other reptiles are predators of fence lizards. The fence lizard makes its escape by running up tree trunks and pausing on the opposite side to avoid being seen. If its pursuer circles around, the fence lizard will continue to spiral up the tree trunk until it ascends out of reach.
Typical Lifespan: The average lifespan of eastern fence lizards is unknown, but is probably less than 5 years.
Habitat: Fence lizards are found in a number of habitats including woodlands, grasslands and shrublands, but they usually stick to areas with trees. They spend most of their days basking on fence posts, trees, stumps and rocks, and they crawl into rock crevices or go underground at night. Males warn off other males from their territories with displays of head bobbing and push-ups.
Range: Eastern fence lizards are found from New York south to northern Florida and as far west as Ohio and Arkansas.
Life History and Reproduction: Male and female fence lizards mate from April to August, and quickly go their separate ways. Young females lay only one clutch of eggs per year, but older females can produce up to four clutches. The eggs are deposited underneath the soil and hatch after 10 weeks. The offspring receive no parental care, so juvenile mortality is high.
Fun Fact: Fence lizards are so fond of pine trees that they’ve also gotten the name “pine lizard.”
Conservation Status: Fence lizards are relatively common and their populations are stable. Currently, they face only minor threats.
IUCN Red List
University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries