How Lizards Help Save Us from Lyme Disease

lizard

With all the talk these days about ticks and Lyme disease, it’s good to know that at least some creatures are looking out for us.  Blue-belly lizards (also known as the western fence lizard, or Sceloporus occidentalis) are a common sight in California. You can find them pretty much anyplace but the high peaks and the driest desert, often showing off for the ladies by doing push-ups!  Their entertainment value aside, blue-belly lizards also provide another great service. The lizards are often host to black-legged ticks, nasty little creatures that are the vector for Lyme disease (which, if you’re not familiar with it, is something you really don’t want to get).  The lizards carry a protein in their blood that, when ingested by the tick, kills the Lyme disease bacteria in the tick’s gut – effectively curing the tick of the disease and preventing it from being passed on to us!

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About the author

Richard joined the League’s staff in 2012 as the Conservation Science Manager and now serves as Director of Restoration. He brings nearly a decade of experience in forest management and restoration.

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