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Lizards - be they friend or foe?

Posted by bejay9_10 zone 9/10 (My Page) on
Sat, May 12, 07 at 16:38

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


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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?


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by mikey SoCA-Z10-22/23 (My Page) on
    Sun, May 13, 07 at 12:47

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.


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Mon, May 14, 07 at 0:55

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

My Buddy Lizzie


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Mon, May 14, 07 at 9:28

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by dis_ z9 CA (My Page) on
    Wed, May 16, 07 at 14:49

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.


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by socal23 USDA10/Sunset23 (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 07 at 9:47

The following was interesting:

Western Fence Lizards and Lyme Disease


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Tue, May 22, 07 at 11:48

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


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RE: Lizards - be they friend or foe?

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.


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