The Western Fence Lizard aka the blue belly lizard is a very fascinating lizard pet to keep. This is because it is quite unique and interesting to watch. It is also unlike cats, dogs, and other pets that everyone knows everything about. Keeping it and knowing more about it every passing day is a wonderful experience.
However, while taking care of it is not hard it is challenging. It is something you have to commit to if you want your lizard to live for a long time.
In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Western Fence Lizard so that you can care for it the right way.
Western Fence Lizard Facts
Before I share with you a care sheet that I have spent hours putting together, here are fast facts about the Western Fence Lizard.
- The Western Fence Lizard is a medium-sized lizard: It only grows to a maximum of 8.5 inches in length. So it is safe to keep in a terrarium.
- The lizard is usually covered in spiny brown, tan, or gray scales and has a bluish underside hence the nickname blue belly lizard.
- The lizard is native to California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. It prefers living in grasslands and woodlands.
- It likes eating spiders, caterpillars, flies, ants, and beetles.
- It likes breeding in the months in the middle of the calendar year.
- As of now, the lizard is not under the threat of extinction.
The fast facts above are like a crash course on Western Fence lizards. You now know more about them than the average person.
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about Western Fence Lizards is their name. They are called the Western Fence Lizard because they like sitting on fences and other elevated places to sunbathe.
In case you are wondering, the lizards sunbathe because they are cold-blooded animals and they need the heat from the sun to warm up and avoid getting too cold. The ‘western’ part of their name comes from the fact that they are normally found in the Western United States.
As stated in the fast facts, the lizards have got a bluish underside and this is why they are also called blue belly lizards.
In my opinion, the above facts don’t say just how fascinating or interesting it is to keep a blue belly lizard as a pet. Below is the aforementioned Western Fence Lizard care sheet that I have prepared.
Western Fence Lizard Care Guide
How to Set Up a Western Fence Lizard Enclosure
Perhaps the most important thing you need to do before you bring a Western Fence Lizard home is to set up an enclosure. If you set up the enclosure right, your lizard friend will enjoy living with you. In contrast, if you set it up wrong, your lizard could escape, get sick, or die.
Follow the steps below to set up a Western Fence Lizard enclosure the right way:
- Buy a 20-gallon empty fish tank
Not many pet stores sell enclosures specifically adapted for lizards. This is the reason why you need to buy a decent-sized empty fish tank to adapt into a lizard enclosure.
You should make sure the tank is at least 20 gallons in volume. This is because Western Fence Lizards are medium-sized lizards. Therefore, they need a bit of space to roam, “hunt” and feel unrestricted. A 10-gallon tank is okay but a 20-gallon tank is much better for Western Fence Lizards because it has twice the space.
- Add bedding, rocks, a log house, and plants
It is important to add a bedding of about three inches of dirt, soil, or sand to the bottom of your empty tank. This is because Western Fence Lizards are fossorial. This means they like digging and burying themselves at night to protect themselves against prey. So to enable them to protect themselves, you need to add a bedding that they can dig into easily.
It is also important to add rocks and plants to make your tank feel as natural and as homely as possible. Plants and rocks will make your enclosure feel like a real habitat to your lizard. They will also make your enclosure to look really attractive from the outside.
Adding a log house is important. Your enclosure is like a compound and it needs a structure that a lizard can call home. So buy or build a log house and install it in your tank.
- Buy a metal screen or build one yourself
The tank you will buy will need a screen to become an enclosure. If you put a Western Fence Lizard or any other lizard in a tank without a screen, it will climb out. Therefore, to make it impossible for a lizard to climb out, you need to buy or build a metal screen over your tank.
Whether you buy or build a metal screen yourself, you should make sure that there is no space that a lizard can slip through when you put it on your tank. In addition, you should make sure that the screen has a window that enables you to easily put food or water in the tank and to do a bit of cleaning.
- Install a basking platform
As mentioned earlier, Western Fence Lizards are so-called because they like sunbathing on fences to warm up. Therefore, when setting up a Western Fence Lizard enclosure, you should install a raised basking platform where the lizard can climb onto and bask. You can easily find and buy a large lizard basking platform on Amazon. This is because there are many available on the e-commerce platform for less than thirty bucks.
- Install a decent heat lamp
It is no use installing a basking platform if your lizard is not going to get heat while on it. Your lizard needs heat for key biological processes including circulation, respiration, and digestion. So buy and set up a decent heat lamp 4 inches from the top of your tank’s metal screen. When you set up the lamp, make sure it shines only on the platform and that it leaves other areas of your enclosure cool and moist. This is important because lizards need both cool and warm areas in their enclosures to regulate their temperature because they are cold-blooded.
There are several decent heat lamps on the market. Some are automated while others are even capable of emanating heat at night to keep terrariums warm without showing any light. Get one that that is within your budget from Amazon and set it up over your tank as explained in the paragraph above.
Remember to switch off the heat lamp you buy at night if it is not automated to avoid disorienting your lizard.
- Install a mist machine
Western Fence Lizards need moderate humidity. The fact that you have added live plants to the enclosure will make sure the humidity does not drop too much. However, to ensure moderate humidity is maintained, you need to install a mist machine that automatically sprays mist to the enclosure atmosphere every twice or thrice daily.
You can find mist machines on Amazon. There are many automatic models designed for pet tanks on the e-commerce platform.
As you can see from the steps above, setting up a Western Fence Lizard enclosure the right way is not a walk in the park. Several things need to be considered and addressed. However, if you are committed, following the steps above will not be too difficult.
How to Care for a Western Fence Lizard
It is not easy to set up a Western Fence Lizard enclosure the right way. However, when you set up the enclosure correctly, caring for your lizard should not be hard work. It is should pretty easy. This is because Western Fence Lizards do not require a lot of care and maintenance. They obviously need food which I will discuss in the next section. However, their maintenance or the maintenance of their enclosures is pretty straightforward.
Below are the things you need to do to maintain you Western Fence Lizard enclosure:
- Clean the enclosure every two weeks
This is important to keep the enclosure clean and to prevent it from smelling. To clean the enclosure, you should remove your reptile using a net and you should put them somewhere else where they can be safe and they cannot escape.
When cleaning the enclosure make sure you remove everything foreign in the tank that you did not put in when setting up the enclosure. Use a brush to brush dirt that needs brushing.
- Mix the bedding a bit
To keep everything fresh in the tank, you should mix the bedding throughout the tank except perhaps the areas where you have added plants.
- Replace the water daily
It is important to do this because the lizard may defecate in the water and make it dirty. If they drink dirty water, which they normally do, they will get sick. So to prevent your lizard from falling sick, you should replace its drinking water daily.
You are also supposed to spray mist daily to your lizard’s enclosure. However, if you set up your tank correctly, it should have an automatic mist machine that does that for you.
What to Feed a Western Fence Lizard
Wild blue bellies like eating flies, spiders, and beetles. They also like eating small lizards. In contrast, captive blue bellies like eating ants, crickets, wolf spiders, and black widow spiders. Therefore, you should aim to get your pet blue belly lizard ants, crickets, and spiders. Blue belly lizards also like eating earthworms, wax worms, and mealworms. So you should occasionally feed them with these foods.
If your Western Fence Lizard is small, you should feed it with small ants and crickets. Otherwise, it will choke.
In addition to the foods mentioned here, Western Fence Lizards like or rather need water. So you should supply them with fresh water daily. Put the water in a plastic bottle and open the bottle top a bit so that it releases droplets slowly when on its side. Doing this will make your Western Fence Lizard drink the water regularly as the lizard species likes drinking water droplets and not water in plates/ containers.
In addition to food and water, you should give your lizard supplements such as calcium and vitamins. Calcium is important for lizards because it aids in their bone development. It is important to give it as a supplement because your lizard will not get it from its diet of ants, crickets and other insects.
Vitamins are also important for the good wellbeing of your lizard. This is because they improve health and bodily functions.
Both calcium and vitamin powders for pets are found in many stores.
As you can see from the information in this article, caring for a Western Fence Lizard is a bit of work. You first need to build a lizard enclosure correctly. You then need to feed the lizard with live prey almost every other day.
To ensure the lizard stays healthy and in a clean environment, you need to maintain the tank every week. So there are many things to do to care for a blue belly lizard. However, the experience is totally worth it. And it will create a bond between you and your pet lizard. It will also enable your pet lizard to live a long and healthy life.
A well taken care of Western Fence Lizard can live up to five years.