Thursday, June 7, 2012

Psychedelic Garden Guard

                In the past week, I met a new neighbor in my garden.  Apparently, this blue/green juvenile racerunner lizard moved from his burrow or wherever his last digs were and into my 12 x 18 foot raised bed garden.  Our hilltop is too rocky to support an in-ground garden, so we had to create our own little haven for tomatoes, peppers, onions, and okra.  Mr. Psychedelic must like the bugs that visit the Salsa in the Makings Ranch, and he is hanging around to dine.

                Since I was already on my hands and knees, digging up weeds, this little character’s swift, reptilian movements alarmed me into a faster than normal, dizzying leap to my feet.  After all, we live on a sunny, rocky hilltop that translates into perfect snake habitat.  It is best always to be on the lookout since they live here too.  After my brain settled and my eyes focused, I realized the new garden guard was a cute little racerunner lizard.

                Once I tossed the weeds out on their ears and the loosened the soil around my salsa-in- the- making, I did a little racing myself to the computer to see what I could find out about my new friend.  He’s a six-lined racerunner, apparently in his juvenile stage since he has so much green and blue about his person.  He is about 9 inches long with his tail taking up twice as much of his length as his body.  All of this sounded correct, but I could not get the little guy to hold still long enough to take the measurements that the herp site I checked indicated were his stats.

                On that same site, I learned the reason I could not catch this fellow is that he can run 18 miles per hour.    I gave up any ideas about races right then and decided he was the winner of any potential contests because I know I can’t run 18 miles per hour even with a bear chasing me. 

                While I have spotted a few lizards out here before to keep the toads and snakes company, I haven’t seen one of these.  A friend tells me that this is a sign of a healthy environment.  I hope so since I live in it too.  What I also learned is that we have the perfect situation with our rocks and sandy soil for this species.  I hope this means I will see more blue/green lizards with long tails sunbathing on my hilltop.

                While our environment seems perfect with all the sun, rocks, and sand, these little guys do have to be on the alert.  Hawks and owls, which we enjoy in abundance, feast on lizards as well as rodents.  It helps that racerunners can run 18 miles per hour, and they have a nice little one-time trick of shedding their tail and leaving it wriggling to deceive their prey while they find a rock to hide them.  This tail does regenerate, but not swiftly so it is probably good for one get away a season I am guessing.

                It is good to know the neighbors, so now I know a bit more about my garden lizard, I hope I see him with his long tail intact often.

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