What the Lizards have Taught Me and Other Mysteries

Categories: Narrative

Tags: Sagebrush lizards, Eco – feminism, Nature writing


I have six sagebrush “house lizards” that lived on the adobe walls of my present abode. I say six because I thought I lost one of the garden wall lizards but now two have come together again.


Perhaps another lizard joined the crowd because autumn is near and cooler temperatures are bringing them together?


These sagebrush lizards are supposed to be territorial but this behavior is not in evidence around here. In fact, these days the lizards seem to be sharing one common area – an apartment complex that I created totally by accident when I lined up Mexican hats along the garden wall.


Mexican hats are large sunflower heads that I am drying in the sun. As soon as I placed them on the warm adobe walls two lizards moved in. I watched the baby take up residence under one small hat, darting out for tasty ants that skittered around the edges of his new home. The ants never had a chance! I thought he had found the perfect abode! However, he was soon displaced by the adults, including the two house lizards that lived in the front of the house who used to use the giant nasturtium patch for safety and good cover. These days every time I walked by the garden wall at least one or two adult lizards peer at me from baby lizard’s front door!


I finally discovered baby’s new hiding place behind some slats by the south door, just a few feet from the garden wall. Immediately I placed not only a Mexican hat on the railing but a lizard friendly rock and a small dish of water. Since then he spends early mornings hidden behind the slats and emerges to sunbathe just outside his Mexican hat between 10 and 11 AM. Yesterday was hot and I was surprised to note that he had migrated to the garden wall. I glimpsed baby lizard under one of the Mexican hats along with three other lizards during the late morning. Today he is gone.


Sometimes a lizard climbs on top of the nubbly seed hats with spidery feet to bask but I notice that even late September afternoons are still too hot, so during those potentially lizard frying hours they all retreat under their “flowers” for shade.


All six of these lizards regard me as a friend and I have conversations with all of them during the day. Because I know that soon they will go into hibernation I spend a lot of time visiting and they always seem interested in what I have to say!


Today is cool, and only a couple of the adults are visible. If I lifted those hats I am sure that I would see more but to do would be invasive. I know how I’d feel if someone pulled the roof off my house to see if I was home!


Where will my friends spend the winter I wonder? Hopefully there are a few friendly burrows, or rocky crevices where they can bury themselves, lower their body temperature, and sleep through frost and cold. I am pleased to see that all are plump and seem well fed.


Although I can find no support from the literature I suspect that these little characters might hibernate close to one another… it does seem odd that within the last week of cooling temperatures that they have clustered close together in the same apartment complex!


I have learned by paying attention to the daily habits of my reptilian friends over the course of this summer that when it’s too hot for lizards to be out and about, it is also too hot for me. We both retreat to our respective homes to protect ourselves from the searing white sun star.


In Nature mysteries abound and keen observations only bring more questions, reminding me that people including scientists know so little about our non human relatives. All we seem to be able to do is to classify them, take DNA, experiment on them… So few of us simply watch them in wonder and gratitude that they exist at all.

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