Wednesday, September 1, 2010
There are nine species of lizards in Tennessee, but only one trying to get into my living room. That lizard is the Five-lined Skink. The first two photos are of a juvenile. One has come to grief at the eight legs of a Harvestmaster spider, the other is still whole. Both sport psychedelic blue tails. Young skinks are stylish in their little striped suits with their brilliant tails, but their elders are not so glamorous. They are plain, thick, and stolid looking, like well fed Republicans. There is something Karl Rovian about them- their little tongue flicking contentedly in and out as though they have just swallowed a Democrat.
I see a young skink on my porch every day. I have also seen him running across the herbs on my outside windowsill. He was in the outer foyer yesterday, and panicked when I walked up. The foyer is a dead end, but he did find a shingle to hide behind. Twice, on the porch, I have seen him headed towards the door in the living room. I startled him to discourage him. I do not want him meeting the beagle. I had a cock-a-poo once who was a yard assassin. She caught an adult skink and ate half of it before throwing it up. My apartment's beleaguered carpet does not need this. I have read that skinks are poisonous to cats, but that cock-a-poo lived a long time afterward. The yard I had then was full of skinks. One had a nest in my compost bin. She laid eight eggs. Who can say how many hatched and lived, and for how long. My yard also had corn and garter snakes prowling, as well as possums, who know a good egg when they see one.
The last photo, from Wikipedia, is of an Eastern Fence Lizard. Every August and September I see baby fence lizards darting into the rock walls along the road at the Percy Warner Park Steeplechase Course. Some are no more than an inch long, and they move very fast, though not fast enough I'll wager to keep them from being snacks for voles and snakes and spiders. When I see the hatch ling fence lizards I know summer is over.