Friday, June 4, 2010
My first surprise was that most of the lizards I've been seeing have blue bellies. Beautiful, iridescent blue bellies. Wow! My husband, a veterinarian, knew right away what they were. Not surprisingly, one of their common names is Blue belly. They're also known as Western Fence Lizards and the official latin name is Sceloporus occidentalis.The blue belly tells me that this lizard is an adult male.
Greg told me that they are slightly toxic to cats. Which reminded me of a cat that lived with me long ago, Henry, who became extremely gaunt one summer and lost his appetite. Worried that something terrible was wrong with him, I took him to a different veterinarian, as I hadn't yet met Greg. She told me that he was probably eating lizards. Sure enough, David, my next door neighbor, told me that he'd been finding lizard carcasses in his driveway lately and wondered what was going on.
Apparently, these lizards are more than pretty blue bellies. In areas where they're found there is a decreased chance of contracting Lyme disease. According to a California Academy of Science article a protein in the blood of these lizards kills the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. When a western black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) bites the lizard it's blood is cleansed of the Borrelia burgdorferi. Then, if it bites you or me, it's just a tick bite, not the beginning of an unpleasant disease.
You can read more about Blue bellies at:
California Academy of Science