March 16, 2009

WAY Off Topic

This has nothing to do with sewing... but I'm excited about it!

For many years we've seen the lizards who soak up sun in our garden. They are common but I knew nothing about them. Right now we have at least three, which I've seen all at one time. Here are two of them. The second one looks like he recently molted.

Before a visit to San Diego Zoo, I printed my recent photos to ask a zookeeper about our residents. In the reptile exhibit we saw plenty of snakes and lizards, but no zookeepers. Finally, at the marsupial area (kangaroos, wallabees, wallaroos, wombats) I spotted someone inside an animal enclosure putting out food for his charges. I asked him if he knew anything about local lizards and thrust my photos at him. He animately (!) said, "Wait right there, Ma'am, I'll be right out."

As a boy, zookeeper Doug Krestl captured and kept lizards. Later he wrote a paper about them which led to a lifetime of working with animals. Something that tickles me: by luck or by chance somehow I find exactly the right person to speak to!

Doug identified these as Western Fence lizards, also known as swifts. They absorb heat during the day, eat insects, lay eggs and often return to the same place to sleep. They are preyed upon by rats, birds and snakes and, because our home is against a canyon preserve, plenty of wildlife make their way into our neighborhood. Remember the lizard with the missing foot? That lizard would have been an easy meal. A tail, however, would grow back. Under ideal conditions (three square meals ;-), they can live up to seven years. In our garden, it's more like three or four years.

So now I know!

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