At this moment we have a house guest. His name is Louie and he is currently residing underneath our refrigerator. In case you’re wondering, Louie is a lizard. We would not normally invite house guests to stay under the refrigerator, it’s very dark and dusty; but Louie doesn’t seem to mind the dust. In fact, he has probably found enough food under there to last him a lizard lifetime. He came in through the back slider. Lizards do that down here.
Having lived in Florida for 21 years now, we are fairly used to the comings and goings of lizards in our home. Sometimes they come in on their own like Louie and sometimes they are brought in against their will. Our dog Phoebe has a fondness for lizards. She either hunts them and trees them, baying at them like the Treeing Walker Coonhound that she is; or, if she catches them she eats them, I don’t know why, and then comes inside to throw them up. Of course, they don’t look the same in their regurgitated state. She has also tried to capture some of those that have entered at their own risk. Once she grabbed one by the tail. The tail came off and wiggled around on the floor. While Phoebe was mesmerized by the bloody wiggling tail, the rest of the lizard ran into our living room and hid. We allowed him to live there for the rest of his little lizard days. I figured it was the least we could do. Eventually, I found his almost tailless corpse (their tails do grow back) and buried him in a paper towel in our outside garbage can. Thus, fulfilling my debt to the poor little guy.
Looking back on my life, I can see how God, in all of His wisdom, was preparing me for life in Florida, though we had no idea that we’d be living here. We have three children and all three of them owned lizards while we were still living in New Jersey. They lived in an aquarium in our dining room and had cute names like Fred and Ethel, Bo, Jewel, and Pinkerton. The highlight of lizard ownership was when we fed them mealy worms and crickets. I have to admit, I liked watching them chase and devour the little bugs. It was kind of cool and, even better, it alleviated the need to keep live mealy worms in my fridge.
I remember the first time one of the lizards escaped one of my children’s hands. Normally, I would put a cup over the thing and save it for my husband to collect, but our German-Beagle, Ralph, was in the house and on the hunt. It was up to me and may I say, I almost did really well. I did catch it and was feeling a little bit proud of myself for a second. Notice those last two words…a second, because that was all the time needed for the thing to break away from its tail and leave the squirmy thing in my hand. I did not know that their tails come off when they are grabbed providing the lizard a means of escape. I did not know that and I may have screamed a little and thrown the thing when I saw its squirming tail between my fingers. The lizard was safely captured, I think by my son, and returned to the aquarium. Lesson learned. I never tried to catch one by the tail and was no longer surprised by that death-defying feat ever again.
When our son Eric was a little boy, his life-long dream was to own a gecko. Essentially, a gecko is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of small lizards. They are bigger and meatier and they too can drop their tails. I’m thinking it’s a lot messier than when their smaller, skinnier cousins do it. With that in mind, and the fact that they are very expensive, our poor son was deprived of the gecko he always wanted.
Fortunately, Eric has two sons and the younger of the two also loves geckos. When someone in their school co-op could no longer keep theirs, they gave it to Sawyer. And so, I give you Sawyer, the cute little boy, and his bigger, meatier, lizard buddy, Sol. Sol lives in an aquarium in Sawyer’s house. The lizard legacy continues. I’m thinking, at least in our family, that as long as there are little boys, there will be lizard pets. I’ll have to warn them about the tail thing. But, overall, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that big a deal!