Western Fence Lizard

Lizard Identification

I photographed this animal in the Elfin Forest, a charming park of stunted oak and manzanita trees overlooking an estuary, in Morro Bay in the Central Coast of California. This lizard was making its way to some underbrush on a cloudy day in June of 2003. What type of lizard is it? The verdict is in from alert website visitors: it is a Western Fence Lizard.

Lizard in Sandy Coastal Habitat

Many years later, there is an update. Not that far from the Elfin Forest, a bit north, a the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in San Simeon, my husband photographed the lizard below. It also appears to be a Western fence lizard. Quite the coastal "dude," it came out on a foggy, salt-spray day that must have put the shiver in its cold blood.

Lizard in Sandy Coastal Habitat


While lizards certainly aren't a symbol of glamour with their dull brown dry skin and habits of skulking under dead branches and leaves, I enjoy finding them nonetheless. Lizards are a symbol of homebody habits; most lizards never venture more than a few hundred feet from where they start their lives.

Here is an excerpt of a poem, "The Lizard" by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold and translated by Rumer Godden, with a theme of lizard homes:

please put me
a swift arrow
on a sun-baked wall:
a wall full of cracks,
of mossy havens,
quiet caves of shadow
and hiding places...

The Anasazi Native Americans depicted lizards in their rock art created in the period from 900 to 1300 A.D.

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