Time to Bask

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

The warm weather has heated up the concrete v-channels that line the park, and this Western Fence Lizard is taking advantage to bask. When it’s cold they stay quiet under ground or beneath rocks. They eat small insects like crickets, spiders, and ticks. I saw them recently in several spots in the park, mostly on the north and east side rocks.

Western Fence Lizards are magnets for ticks that carry Lyme disease. There is a protein in the lizards’ blood that kills the Lyme bacteria. As a result, ticks that feed on the lizard no longer carry Lyme disease. It’s believed that these lizards are the reason why Lyme disease is less common in California than in the northeastern states, where this lizard does not occur, and where Lyme disease may be epidemic. To date, no pharmaceutical company is known to have researched the potential use of Western Fence Lizard blood as a Lyme disease cure.

Another foe of the tick is the opossum, recently discovered in the park (maybe). Opossums are also magnets for ticks, but the animals manage the ticks by eating them, without suffering ill effects. It’s estimated that one opossum will eat 5,000 ticks in a year.

More about the lizard: Wikipedia CalHerps In Chavez Park

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3 thoughts on “Time to Bask

  • Who knew? How interesting that lizards can help control Lyme disease! Thanks for being so well informed!

    I guess there’s little money to be made by researching Western Fence lizards and their effect on ticks. Sad!

  • wow that’s fascinating about the ticks! thanks. and thanks lizards!

  • There are lots of opossums in the marina area. Near the hotel I see them often along with skunks and raccoons. The ‘park’ is right across the street but the differences in wildlife and birds seen is huge.

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