How To Catch a Blue-Belly Lizard

Blue-Belly Lizard
Blue-Belly Lizard

Preparing a Lasso to Catch a Blue-Belly Lizard

The Western Fence Lizard, commonly known as the Blue-Belly Lizard 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.

A grass lasso
A grass lasso

Selecting the Grass for the 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.

Approaching a Blue-Belly Lizard
Approaching a Blue-Belly Lizard

The Art to Catching Blue-Belly Lizards is in the Stalking

To be successful at catching blue-belly lizards, you have to stalk them very slowly. Here are three tips to stalk a lizard.

  • Move very slowly
  • Stalk from behind the lizard
  • 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 grass can reach the lizard slowly bounce the grass 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 enough, 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.

Blue-Belly Lizard Lasso
Blue-Belly Lizard Lasso

Removing the Lasso from the Lizard

Once the catch is in your hands, gently put the lizard on it's 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 it's 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 neck that can catch the grass. Just be really careful to open the loop gently.

Sometimes the lizard will thrash around when trying to remove the trap from its head. It's not uncommon for blue-belly lizards to lose their tails. This is a natural defense mechanism of the lizard. 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.

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.

Happy Blue-Belly Hunting!

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Comments 7 comments

DDS profile image

DDS 3 years ago from Toronto

Hi Paul, you might want to do a quick re-check on the spelling as you have 'tales' in for 'tails'

An honest mistake, but figured you'd want to fix it.

Nice article otherwise!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Fascinating. We did this years ago in Key West with the center stalk of a palm frond leaf. There were loads of lizards on the island. Although I never saw the western Blue Belly ones, of course. Lizards always reminded me of tiny dinosaurs. Never thought to rub their bellies but we did keep them on sewing thread with a safety pin attached to our shirts. Ah, you've reminded me of the old tomboy days.

Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 3 years ago from Burlingame, CA Author

@DDS thanks for the grammar tip. Some day we will have a feature that let's other Hubbers fix things up like that. Thanks again!

DDS profile image

DDS 3 years ago from Toronto

@Paul: as long as you know I was trying to be helpful and not critical for it's own sake. Stick with it, you'll get this hubbing thing figured out in no time! ;-)

Availiasvision profile image

Availiasvision 23 months ago from California

What a fun idea! I used to catch them by hand by sneaking up on them. I'd put them in the same cage as my anoles and they got along great. Blue bellies are really easy to tame and will sit on your shirt for hours. Now I don't have to use the pouncing method.

lizard lover 20 months ago

what worked most successfully for me was first, to take a long thin stick ,second then get dental floss and cut off about a foot of floss then make a lasso at one end of then string then attach the other side of the string to the end of the stick. i have caught countless lizards using this method and have never hurt or damaged any of my lizards.

Fawntia profile image

Fawntia 7 months ago from San Francisco

I don't think I've ever seen a lizard like this before, but the blue color on the belly is so unusual! I've heard that blue is not very common in nature.

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