Who needs pets when you have wildlife?

Posted on July 9, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, Musings, Science |

Yesterday I was peering into my back garden, as I often do, and noticed what appeared to be a family of lizards frolicking about. There was a light rain at the time, in advance of one of our summer monsoon deluges, and the lizards seemed quite perky in the mist. I had seen what I assume were these same four lizards several days ago, and a day or two before that. There was one large one, almost as big as a baby gila monster; a smaller but still substantial one, and two smaller lizards. They ran around in circles, sometimes chasing each other; sometimes not. I had always thought that lizards were solitary creatures, and until about three years ago, also thought they were always on the move, and didn’t stay in one place for very long.


This latter erroneous supposition was put to rest when I met Fred. Fred has been living under the Desert Spoon in my front yard now for four years. I’m pretty sure he’s the same lizard each year, when he emerges in the spring, because he has a spot on his hindquarters that looks familiar. I guess he hibernates in the winter. When it starts to get warm again, I’ll see Fred sunning himself on a rock as I go out the front door to take a hike or fetch the mail. He immediately scrambles under the Desert Spoon (even after all these years, he’s not quite trusting) and then pretends he’s not under there. I will speak to him, however, saying “Hiya Fred, don’t worry, it’s just me! You know me. How are you doing?, etc.” Then, he wiggles a bit, and I fancy it’s to acknowledge my presence. He and I have come to an understanding over time: I won’t trim off the bottom of the Desert Spoon (which I wouldn’t want to do anyway because it makes them look even more hideous than they already do), although I will, from time to time, trim back the individual spines. He may continue to call the Spoon home, for as long as he likes. In return, he has agreed not to bite my toes.

So, Fred and I—we’re cool. Fred certainly doesn’t seem to have a mate or a family, so I had continued to believe that other lizards are loners, too. That is until I saw the frolicking family. The first time I saw them, I thought there just happened to be four lizards in the back garden, all at once. I thought they’d go away. Then—although I don’t know for sure it’s they same four—they came back. Or were still there. And yesterday, watching them play in the rain, it occurred to me they all had taken up residence in the back, as Fred had in the front. Hmmm. They got along; they never strayed more than a few feet from each other, and they seemed to interact. I wondered if they were indeed a family, and if so, if that was usual for lizards.

After a consultation with my trusty Internet, I discovered that lizards have a variety of social behaviours. Some like to live alone, while others stay in family groups and rarely stray from the rock crevice they all call home. Some, usually those in colder climates, are born “live”, while other species lay eggs. I had no idea there was such a variety.

There are many creatures to watch in my garden (I’ll have to write about the Prairie Dogs someday), but these normally slow-moving lizards, who perked up and frolicked in a rain storm, were just so cheery, I invited them to stay. I’ve called them Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa—for no good reason I can think of, as I haven’t even ever seen an episode of The Simpsons, but somehow, the names seem to fit.

=   =   =   =   =

So I turn from my lizards to complete a meme. It’s only fair that I do, as I requested blog friend B0bby to complete it, which he graciously did, only to wonder why I had not done so myself.

“Why is the meme in this post?”, you ask. (“Why do I project questions onto you which you may not even have?”, I ask.) Well, the meme is about MY wild life. Get it? It relates to the title? No? Oh, well, here goes anyway:

20 nosy questions meme:

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?   “Whew! better than I expected! 😉 “

2. How much cash do you have in your wallet right now?   “$17.38. Time to go to the bank.”

3. Do you label yourself?   “Constantly! I just have to remind myself to turn the yuccky ones into ones I like better.”

4. What does your watch look like?   “I have five watches! Three of them need batteries, so I don’t wear them (!) one runs two hours fast a day, so the one I wear most often is an old one I have to wind up. It’s quite traditional looking; gold-ish band, round face; second hand—always reminds me to get my other ones fixed, but I need something more than a reminder, obviously…”

5. What were you doing at midnight last night?   “Really? Truthfully? Reading the ICanHasCheezburger website. 😐 “

6. What’s a word that you say a lot?   “”Splendid’. I say it when I’m asked how I am (most of the time). I say it when describing my activities. And sunsets. And the state of the world. Oh my.”

7. Who told you he/she loved you last?   “Um. This person that I know.”

8. Last furry thing you touched?   “A dog that was a guest at the Independence Day party I went to.”

9. What was the last thing you said to someone?   “So, when we look at it from a broader perspective, we don’t see the tragedy of it all, we see it as very rich experience we can learn from. Doesn’t mean we don’t want to or can’t change it, though.”

10. The last song you listened to?   “Last song? I’ve been listening to a lot of Baroque-era instrumentals lately, but the last song would be ‘We are the World.'”

11. Where did you live five years ago?   “In a town, north of Tucson, Arizona; which is where I live now.”

12. Are you jealous of anyone?   “No. Jealous is a different word than ‘envious’, so I’ll say, no.”

13. Is anyone jealous of you?   “I don’t think so. I hope not. No reason to be.”

14. Name three things that you have on you at all times?   “There aren’t any! I guess the three most frequently used items are Contact Lenses (I don’t wear them at night, though), Underwear (but, you know, there are times…[whoa! TMI alert]), and the aforementioned watch. Whichever one is working.”

15. What’s your favourite town/city?   “So far? I haven’t been to ALL that many…Drat! Am I allowed to pick three? No? Alright, than I”d have to say ‘Paris’. (But if I were allowed three, I’d also say San Francisco and Canterbury.)

16. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?   “Uhhh…Ummm…1996? maybe?”

17. Can you change the oil on a car?   “Not anymore. I used to have a really old VW on which I could, but not since then.”

18. What is your current desktop picture?   Stonehenge. I occasionally swap it out for something else, but always come back to Stonehenge.”

19. When did you start your blog?   “July, 2007. I’m almost two!”

20. What country would you like to live in other than your own?   “I like my own pretty well; but the next choice would be England.”

So, there you have it. I feel reconciled with B0bby again. I will not task others with this, but if YOU feel you’d like to take it on, by all means do. It was both entertaining and introspective for me.


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11 Responses to “Who needs pets when you have wildlife?”

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i find lizards a bit icky. 😕 they’re much better than cockroaches though cos they always go away quickly when they see me. 😆 are prairie dogs really dogs? are they wild?

i enjoyed the meme! i didn’t know you went to paris. and wow, this means we’ve known each other for almost two years! splendid! 😀

That’s too cool! I think lizards are neat creatures. We had a few iguanas when we were kids. I had no idea though that lizards would sometimes live in groups because I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than one at a time. I had just assumed after they hatched they were just loners throughout their lives. We have to get you a camera Muse! Would love to see some of the things you write about, especially the Simpson family! 🙂

I like lizards. 🙂 You have such interesting wildlife where you live. Around here, we only have sloworms and viviparous lizards, and never in our garden! I’ve certainly never seen lizards frolicking before. They sound fun.

And you did the meme! 🙂 I enjoyed that. #5 and #16 made me smile. There are places on the Internet where the concept of TMI still exists? 😛

Lizards! Yikes! What are the temps there these days?

Yet again, I learn something here. I thought all lizards hatched.

Prairie dogs are cute as can be. I photographed some several years ago at the Brooklyn Zoo, where there environment is built so that we’re pretty much eye level with them. If they weren’t slides, I’d send you one!

And then there’s wildlife AS pets… First, the rescued baby squirrel whose joined me when his family died. (Don’t take this on until you’re willing to feed every two hours for a while, and have an equally committed friend. Nature knew what she was doing when she arranged for two parents.) The squirrel, who adored orange popsicles and Letterman, died after 8 years – cardiac myopathy. Don’t ask the cost of knowing that particular fact.

Grieved so much for the squirrel a friend showed up with a prairie dog. You learn a lot, fast. If you ever lose a prairie dog for a couple of days, look in the sofa. Sofa’s are great for burrowing 😉

Wonderful post – would love to hear about your prairie dogs!

I have found lizards to be good listeners… When I was in Phoenix and strolled the nature garden at the resort, I was greeted by the same (I think) guy every morning and we would chat about our plans.

I am shocked SHOCKED!!! and appalled that you haven’t written a letter for so many years. I love sending goofy letters and cards. Which is why Hallmark loves me, I guess.

sulz, yeah I knew lizards are not your favorite. Not everyone likes cold-blooded creatures. 😉 The good thing is, unless provoked, they are rather libertarian—they’ll leave you alone if you leave them alone. 🙂 No, Prairie Dogs aren’t really dogs, and I don’t live on a prairie! I’ll have to do a post about them; they are quite fascinating and intelligent. I was in Paris years ago, when my family toured western Europe. Want to go again! Haha! Splendid, indeed! Here’s a case where I’m happy to use that word!

You had iguanas, Shane? That must have been fun. It takes a bit of patience to talk to them and get to know them. Well, I actually {confesses} *have* a camera, but, it seems I have to *point it at things and click* in order to get pictures—imagine! I’m kind of intimidated by excellent photographers such as yourself. I appreciate the interest; thank you! That family was moving pretty quickly; I’d have to shoot video of them. 🙂

I do too, B0bby! 🙂 I didn’t know what sloworms were, so I watched a YouTube slideshow of them. They look like their name! 😕 Yes, frolicking! It’s been so hot lately (see my response to seeing, below) that they must have felt refreshed and spunky in the rain! Ah, the last outpost of TMI-ness may be here. 😛

I’m sure you mean “Yikes!” in the best possible way, seeing! 😉 It’s been pretty darned warm lately. It hovers around 106 (41-42C) in the afternoons. That’s normal for July, though. We just tell ourselves that the spring and fall weather make it all worthwhile! 🙂

I did too, ella, until my new residents caused me to dig deeper. (I wish the little reptiles would at least pay some rent!) 🙂 Oooh, I’d love to see slides of Brooklyn Prairie Dogs. I believe they are different than our desert ones. We have the Sonoran Desert Museum which has a similar environment where you can watch them at eye level. Makes all the difference, as they can move quickly. I will post about them soon, because I recently came across some info. about their communication system.

Wow, shoreacres, that IS a lot to take on! I admire you greatly. I am more likely to call the animal rescue service than try to do something like that on my own. We have a great, humane service here. They do their best to patch up the injured critters, and then re-introduce them to their habitat if possible. If not, there is a wonderful refuge where they can live out their lives. Your squirrel sounds lovely; you must really miss him! Letterman? I’m not sure what that’s saying about either squirrels or Letterman, but I’m enjoying the thought either way. 😀 And you had a Prairie Dog inside! {Is that a Prairie Dog in your sofa, or are you just glad to see me?…} oops, sorry about that. I have a lot to say about Prairie Dogs, actually, so I shall post. Thank you! 🙂

They are excellent listeners, IJ, and it sounds as if you made friends with a nice one! 🙂 I am quite chagrined when I examine that fact. 😐 I do send greeting cards for birthdays and holidays to my F&F, and I handwrite a note on those! Does that count? 😕 Otherwise, it’s emails and ecards all the way, baby! 😉

Hey Musy Muse…Looooooooong time no see and no writiiiiiiiiiiiing.. How weird would it be for me to watch lizards’ behavior in my backyard… I guess would be as weird for u watching roe deer bouncing around into ur back garden…Talking about wildlife u remember the hitchy Muscade… She is gone to heaven… and I was there with her til the last moment of her life on earth..Very sad…Well, life goes on and it’s the sadness of it…But, there are also positive changes happening into my life right now …Going back to school starting September in Alternative Studies…Yes, I’ll have fun!..I did an intensive hypnosis therapy for couple of months..Wow! I am very impress with it all…This is working for me….Plus, I am in a verge of moving into a place from which I could eventually become the owner…Thank u life I am very grateful!!…I am glad that ur are continuing feeding ur blog with good writings…Keep it up, cause I can’t!

See ya!


No lizards near Montréal, CV? Even in the summer? You are right, we don’t have deer where I live, but there are many in the mountains north of here.
It is wonderful to ‘see’ you! It has been a very long time! I am glad to read you are studying. And your housing situation sounds good, too. I’m also happy that the hypnosis is working for you; that’s wonderful. I really appreciate your news, I think about you often!
And speaking of that, I check your blog every few weeks to see if you are there—and I see the picture of Muscade. I’m sad it was her time to leave this life. From her picture, and what you wrote about her, I can see she was a lovely dog, and I know you cared for her.
Perhaps when you are settled in your new place, and have started your studies, you will find time to blog once in a while?
Take care my dear Colourful one. I miss you! 🙂

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