lizards in-hand, plus parasites, 2010

December 7, 2010

In Fall 2003 I noticed that most sagebrush lizards (including neonates) that I found in one particular hollow in Utah’s Canyon Mtns (in Millard Co) had orange mites on them–hanging on either in the depression behind the ear, or around the base of the hind legs.  Mite-incidence on sagebrush lizards seemed higher there than elsewhere in that mountain range.  Since then, I have noticed those same orange mites on other lizard species–fence & sideblotch.  I think the frequency of this is not uniform across the lizards’ ranges.  I don’t know how much year-to-year variation there may be in mite-prevalence in the same lizard population.  However, I have seen several dozen sagebrush lizards along the western edge of the Wasatch Mtns, some each year since 2002, but have not yet noticed mites on any from that particular area.

In 2010 I noticed a second type of external parasite on Utah’s wild iguanid lizards–ticks.  Then I began to take some photos to document this sort of thing.

So far, I have noticed these ticks only on some of the western fence lizards (about half the adults) in Utah’s Onaqui Mtns and Stansbury Mtns.

western fence liz, w/ ticks, Onaqui Mtns

early June 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), with ticks, Onaqui Mtns, Tooele Co, UT

Two of these ticks were in the ear cavity, and two were in the depression behind the ear.

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Now, some orange mites…

western fence liz, w/ orange mites, Antelope Range

mid June 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), with orange mites, Antelope Range, Iron Co, UT

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western fence liz, male, w/ orange mites, Mineral Mtns

early July 2010, western fence liz (Sceloporus occidentalis), male, with orange mites, Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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sagebrush liz, female, w/ orange mites, Mineral Mtns

early July 2010, sagebrush liz (Sceloporus graciosus), female, with orange mites, Mineral Mtns, Beaver Co, UT

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sideblotch liz, male, w/ orange mites, S House Range

early Sept 2010, sideblotch liz (Uta stansburiana), male, with orange mites, S House Range foothills, Millard Co, UT

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On sagebrush and western fence lizards, I have noticed the orange mites either in the depression behind the ear or around the hind legs.

On sideblotch lizards, I have noticed the orange mites either at the base of the hind legs or, as above, on the tail.

I have not seen the orange mites in a lizard’s ear cavity.  Near the ear they have only been in the depression posterior to the ear.

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