Lizard Wakes

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

The warming weather has raised from sleep all kinds of creatures, including creatures that eat those creatures. Case in point: this Western Fence Lizard. It was soaking up the sun on the wall at the entrance to the Open Circle Viewpoint when I inadvertently disturbed it. In a couple of quick dashes it hid under some foliage, doing pushups to show it wasn’t afraid. I admired how it was able to maneuver effortlessly on the side of the vertical wall. This little reptile eats bugs of many kinds. It in turn is eaten, if not careful, by many birds of prey. This particular individual was probably a juvenile or a female; it doesn’t show yellow on the sides of its limbs (and blue on its belly, if we could see it) the way adult males do.

As I’ve noted here several times before, but bears repeating, this lizard’s blood contains a cure for Lyme disease. I’ll just quote the Wikipedia language:

Studies have shown Lyme disease is lower in areas where the lizards occur. When ticks carrying Lyme disease feed on these lizards’ blood (which they commonly do, especially around their ears), a protein in the lizard’s blood kills the bacterium in the tick that causes Lyme disease. The infection inside the ticks’ gut is therefore cleared and the tick no longer carries Lyme disease.

The source is this 2006 article in the journal of Parasitology. To date, this lizard’s power to kill the Lyme disease bacteria hasn’t percolated into the consciousness of the pharmaceutical industry or the medical profession. Despite a vast literature on Lyme disease, a search of Medscape for “sceloporus” comes up blank. Lyme disease is booming in the Northeast and northern Midwest as climate change creates a happier habitat for ticks. Still, apparently nobody has isolated the protein in the lizard’s blood that kills the Lyme disease bacterium and made a medication from it. What seems to be the problem?

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

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