Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Chance Encounter With Local Wildlife

Today has been more than a little nerve-wracking... It's awfully hard to be at the mercy of someone else's mortgage lender who seems to have less than an appropriate level of interest in getting this deal closed.  Someday I'm sure all the stress they are causing will be the makings for a funny story.  But that day is not today!  So a chance encounter with some local wildlife was a welcome, if short, distraction.

I walked outside to get some papers out of my car and noticed a small lizard sunning itself on the rocks of a retaining wall between this and the neighboring property which sits a bit higher on the hillside.  It wasn't very happy to pose for my picture taking pleasure but I was able to snap this with my cell phone before it scurried off and after getting some friends to take a look we decided it was probably an Eastern Fence Lizard (a.k.a. prairie lizard, fence swift, gray lizard, or pine lizard depending on your locale).

The skin was sort of a mottled gray and from nose to tail tip I'd guess it measured about 4 inches long.  As it scooted along, the underbelly appeared light, almost white.  (Which may mean it was a female... everything I found online said the males are browner and have blue-colored bellies.)

Google confirmed the identity and came up with some other facts about this cute little reptile.

Wait.  Did I just say "cute" and "reptile" in the same sentence?

I did not see that coming!

Wikipedia gives the genus name as Sceloporus undulatus.  Sceloporus is derived from the Greek word "skelos" (meaning leg) combined with the Latin word "porus" (meaning hole) in reference to this lizard breed's large femoral pores.   "Undulatus," Latin for wave, refers to the transverse dark crossbars on their backs.  And it says this 4-7 1/2 inch long lizard is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Southern Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, northern Florida, and southern New Jersey and that there's also an isolated population in southeastern New York.

A little more digging around other websites uncovered much the same information but I also learned that they are non-venomous.  Most people who were posting pictures and comments and articles weren't overly concerned when their kids caught these little lizards or the cat drug a mortally wounded one home and left his gift of prey on the doorstep.

Not poison... maybe things are looking up for that cute factor!

In fact, they are among the good guys in the garden as their favorite meals include spiders and other pesky insects that we don't want nibbling on our tender and expensive plants.  So I say welcome to my world, and munch on little lizard, munch on!!

People who've lived here for awhile tell me to expect to see lots of them.  They say there'll be gray ones and  brown ones and green ones... oh my!

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