Natural Sightings #722 - Side-blotch Lizard.jpg

Western Side-blotch Lizards are the second most common lizard in the Tehachapi Mountains.

Al Crisalli Jr. took this photo of a Side-blotch Lizard on the side of a boulder.

Western Side-blotch Lizards (Uta stansburiana elegans) are the second most common lizard in the Tehachapi Mountains. The most common, of course, is the Western Fence Lizard, universally known as “Bluebellies.”

Side-blotch Lizards are typically found in open areas that contain some sandy washes, dirt roads, or other areas with sparse or scattered vegetation. They don’t frequent areas with continuous vegetation, and they are typically encountered in semi-arid or desert settings.

These lizards get their name from a small bluish-black spot located behind their front legs, on each side. This spot is not always visible, and is not present in every individual.

Side-blotch Lizards typically range from three to six inches long, including their tail, which may frequently be a stub since the tail often breaks off as they escape from an enemy.

Side-blotched Lizards are predators who mostly feed on beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, ants and other invertebrates.

As small as they are, they are also frequently prey for many creatures, including shrikes, roadrunners, hawks and falcons, snakes, coyotes, foxes, etc. Side-blotch Lizards frequently lead a life full of peril, and they are short-lived, typically only a year or two.

Though they can climb well, Side-blotch Lizards are usually found on the ground. They depend on their fairly drab, sand-colored appearance to help them avoid detection. If alarmed, they tend to run for concealment at the base of a plant, or duck into an old gopher or ground squirrel burrow.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for Side-blotch Lizard is chigipiizh, pronounced CHIH-gih-peezsh.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to:

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