The Best Way to Catch a Blue-Belly Lizard (or Western Fence Lizard)
The Best Way to Catch a Blue-Belly Lizard
The Western fence lizard, commonly known as the blue-belly, can be found across the Western United States. Typically, they are spotted sunning themselves on a rock or log during the day. Their scales make them a little rough to handle, but they are fairly docile and a lot of fun to catch.
There are multiple techniques I've used over the years to catch them—from just being quick with my hands to baited small snares—but by far, the best technique is to make a lasso out of grass and to slip it over the lizard's head. This technique works so well, because blue-belly lizards can only run forward, so there is only one way for them to go which will tighten the noose.
How to Make a Lizard-Catching Lasso
- Select a long piece of grass like a foxtail that is at least three feet long and is green enough that the flimsy thin end can be tied to make a lasso without breaking.
- Pull the grass out of the ground from near the roots as possible.
- Remove all the small branches so that you're left with a single long stem of grass.
- Next, take the tip and loop it back about one and a half inches and tie a half knot around the stem. The loop if pulled will tighten.
How to Catch a Lizard With a Lasso
- To be successful at catching blue-belly lizards, you have to stalk them very slowly.
- Approach them from behind.
- Make sure your shadow never covers the lizard. Most people that aren't successful at catching lizards tend to move quickly and forget to think about their shadow. As soon as the shadow hits the lizard, the lizard darts off for cover.
- Once your lasso can reach the lizard, slowly bounce it up and down. If the lizard's head starts bobbing, there is a good chance it will remain still for you to slip the loop over its head.
- A long piece of grass can be a bit tricky to hold still, but with a little practice, you will get the hang of it.
- When the loop is over the lizard's head, gently pull up on it. You need to be quick enough to pull it tight before the lizard can run through, but not so quick that you hurt the lizard.
How to Remove the Lasso from the Lizard
- Once the catch is in your hands, gently put the lizard on its back and rub its belly. This will mesmerize and calm the lizard down.
- Once it's calm, push the loop open and slide it off its head.
- If the lasso becomes too tight, just be patient when opening it up. Blue-belly lizards have little gill-like features on the side of their necks that can catch the grass. Just be really careful to open the loop gently.
- Sometimes, the lizard will thrash around when you're trying to remove the trap from its head.
- Once the loop is off, you don't want to handle the lizards too much. I usually flip them over and give them a tummy rub to see how long they will sleep, then I put them on my shoulder and let them stay there until they run a way.
What if the lizard loses its tail?
It's not uncommon for blue-belly lizards to lose their tails. This is a natural defense mechanism. Don't worry too much if this happens, the tails will grow back, but it can make the lizard appear as if it's badly hurt. Just remain calm if this happens and continue to work on removing the loop from its head.
Happy blue-belly hunting!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.