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bejay9_10

Lizards - be they friend or foe?

17 years ago

My yard is full of scampering little lizards - so fun to watch. Ever since they built a house next door, and gave me a 5 ft. concrete block wall. It provides a lot of heat for them and they have really multiplied this year.

I actually think I see a lot fewer sow bugs, ants (but not too many) aphids and earwigs this year. That's fine. But I also saw one chomping on a boysenberry flower that happened to be close to the ground. Even so, that wouldn't be to much concern, but they also scamper in and out of my strawberry bed -

Does anyone know their names and/or good/bad habits?

Bejay

Comments (27)

  • 17 years ago

    There's at least 45 species of lizards native to California.

    Here's a website that has a very good photo key to identifying many of them.

    A very few lizards are flower eaters. None are any serious concern to California gardeners.

    Most lizards are insect (and other such crawlies) eaters. That they eat both bad bugs and good bugs puts them in a non-categorizable position as "good" or "bad".

    Overall, however, a good populatuon of llizards in a garden is a sign of an environmentally healthy garden.

    One of the most common garden lizards, by the way, is Sceloperus occidentalis, WESTERN FENCE LIZARD or "BLUEBELLY".

    Joe

    Here is a link that might be useful: California LIzard ID

  • 17 years ago

    I think you have a healthy food chain in your little ecosystem. You aren't thinking of getting rid of the lizards are you? It's wonderful to have them, and most are insect eaters, and that's probably helpful. You won't become over run with them because they will be limited by the amount of food available to them. Also, local birds may prey on them too. Lucky you!

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  • 17 years ago

    Lizards are good guys, insect eaters as stated above.

    I agree with Joe that they are more than likely, fence lizards. Alligator lizards are fairly common too, but generally seen less often than the bluebellies.

    wanda

  • 17 years ago

    My garden also used to be full of them, and at first I thought they were cute. But once my mid-sized dog encountered two of them in the grass, and to my horror the bigger one(maybe it was a male and his mate?)attacked and bit my dog's nose before my dog could even react. There was a good chunk of skin bitten off, and her nose bled so badly I had to take her to the vet.
    So now, whenever I see baby lizards, I gently carry them out front so they can go somewhere else. The adults I shoo away. And I have fenced off major parts of the garden from my dogs, except for the lawn part. Hated to do that, but it's for their protection. It was a pretty bad and painful bite that itty bitty lizard had.

    Suzie

  • 17 years ago

    A lizard biting a dogs nose? Maybe it was an alligator, By all means keep reptiles alive and well in your yard. I Also want to emphasize keeping amphibians such as toads and frogs.

    Having these critters is a healthy ecosystem, having a dog?

  • 17 years ago

    gardenguru -

    Nice pics - thank you. They definitely fall in the blue belly/fence types. But have also seen some that looked like alligator types - bottom/middle picture, but more rare.

    My only other experience with lizares was in our local desert - the desert iguanas - but they were decidely more whitish in color than those in the pictures. They were such fun to watch - as they have territorial fights when they are mating. Have seen as many as 20 to 30 at a time -running back and forth. Their larger size makes them a bit more formidable looking and sometimes a larger one can "throw" a wrestling hold that looks very much like a "fall to the mat" with the poor hapless fellow lying on his back on the ground - windless. So funny.

    I did have a bee hive there however, and they would take a stance at the landing board of the hive, and slurp up returning bees, so they too are bug eaters, but also will eat a lot of vegetation when they first come out of hibernation in the spring, when the desert still has sprouting seedlings.

    I regret that with the area now becoming so popular with dune buggy riders, that these critter sights are not seen very often anymore.

    Will keep an eye on my little planter boxes - strawberries in particular, and hope the lizards will continue to eat pill bugs - but not strawberry flowers!

    Thanks for the comments - appreciated.

    Bejay

  • 17 years ago

    Suzie: Your lizard was likely the Alligator lizard. They are a larger, agressive lizard that tend to stand their ground and they will bite. I got bit by one as a kid and it also drew blood.

  • 17 years ago

    In my garden their favorite food is earwigs. Lizards are welcome here.

    {{gwi:532975}}

  • 17 years ago

    We have plenty of lizards (bluebelly) lizards in our yard and general vicinity, too. In fact, we have a family of American kestrels nesting in the cottonwood tree behind our house, and I watched Mom bring a bluebelly to her chil'en. Everyone was grateful...except the lizard.

    Brenda

  • 17 years ago

    Love the lizards! I agree that your ecosystem must be pretty healthy in order for them to survive. I find them quite entertaining, especially when they run across the hot concrete and in order to regulate their temp, do a series of push-ups. Cracks me up everytime to see them doing push-ups!

    I must admit my dog will occasionally catch a slow one and eat it, but the lizard has his revenge as once it hits the dog's stomach, it makes him barf! Haha! Most of them are too quick and wiley to get caught, fortunately!

    The less amphibians and reptiles we have around, the worse our environment is, so encourage them whenever you have some!

    Elaine

  • 17 years ago

    So push-ups are regulating temperatures - was wondering what that maneuver was all about.

    No I don't intend to destroy them - just keep a nice balance - although they seem quite numerous this year. We have an indoor cat that is a real "scaredy" so she is not likely to intervene, but several neighbor's cats also visit, and 2 of them will help keep things from getting out of hand. We also live next to a canyon that exits off a natural wildlife habitat, and see hawks, etc. from time to time - also many coyotes below us.

    Definitely an "ecosystem" but as long as everyone behaves -and doesn't eat too many of my hard-earned fruits and veggies, all will be well with the universe.

    Just my 2 c's.

    Bejay

  • 17 years ago

    I must have a very healthy ecosystem in my yard. I have lots of lizards. There is one variety that is rather large and looks like an alligator lizard except that it's maroon. I even had one that took up residence in my kitchen for a while. He's a really pretty fellow.

  • 17 years ago

    The following was interesting:

    Western Fence Lizards and Lyme Disease

  • 17 years ago

    Wonderful article! My brother was one of the first people in the U.S. to contract what is now considered Lyme disease, before it even had a name, back in the '70s. He has since recovered fully, but it's nice to know that such exciting research is still being done on this rare, yet frightening, disease.

    Brenda

  • 17 years ago

    If you're bigger than the lizard, it is a friend.
    If the lizard is bigger than you....run!

    I saw a 10 - 12 inch alligator lizard in my yard the other day. He was resting on some warm flat stones. I went to get my camera. He didn't move. I got a nice picture of him.

  • 9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am dead scared of lizards and I have never enjoyed my backyard because of the lizards.. Is there anyway that we can reduce the number in the yard? I am also too scared that they might come inside the house when the temperature outside rises. Is there anyway that I can avoid them coming inside the house? Something that can repel them?

  • 9 years ago

    We have gazillions of lizards on our property. I'm doing my rounds and there is a rustle in the brush. I stop and look. Mostly it's a lizard, but sometimes it's a snake! I'm cool with some snakes, but not the rattlesnake! I know, they eat lizards......... Still


  • 9 years ago

    Oh, yes, they will come in the house! I have had a large alligator lizard residing in my laundry room for a couple years. Keeps himself happy eating bugs, crickets, roaches and only leaves me a little poop once in a while. Just saw the first poop of the season, so he's back!!


  • 9 years ago

    They do pushups I think to warn other male fence lizards to git. The last two years they have really taken off at my house. The other day,I had to unclog a sewer line. I took the clean out cover off...and that smell drew a few flys as I got my tools. I come back in time to see one fly land. A fence lizard sooooo smoothly and I might add gracefully,darted out and caught the fly perfectly.
    How can they ever be foes?

    btw,I caught a jillion Alligator lizards as a kid. I never could get one to bite me.


  • PRO
    9 years ago

    I only have alligator lizards in my yard, and they get to be almost three feet long and often go into my garage as well. I see baby ones also and have noticed them eating spiders.

    I think this is a picture of lizard love on my back wall:


  • 9 years ago

    That dog that was bit will either never do it again or, depending on breed, will just get better at catching lizards.

  • 9 years ago

    I love my lizards. I found a big one floating in the dog water bowl yesterday- put it on a warm rock in the sun and it warmed up and ran away. Now i have a rope hanging into the water so they can rescue themselves. They never try to bite me when I pick them up- nothing to be scared of Ziggy! They feel dry and smooth and not at all slime-y. Lizards are garden friends for sure. Min


  • 9 years ago

    I don't know what you might be seeing- Gartersnakes? But Alligator lizards don't come even remotely close to 3'. Not even by nuclear power plants.


  • 9 years ago

    I think spell check must have changed what Lars typed. Maybe typed "almost a foot long"? They have such long tails they can get to just about exactly one foot total length. Those ARE California Alligator Lizards in his picture.


  • 9 years ago

    I was estimating from this photo:

    and there was no reference for me to tell exactly how long it was. I have seen them in front of my garage door also, and they appear much longer than 12", but I have not personally measured them. I have photos of them in front of my garage door, but I cannot find them at the moment. This one appears to be full-grown, however. I do like them and consider them to be friends.

  • 9 years ago

    There are subspecies and the southern california one is the longest. check the link

    San Diego Alligator Lizard