Posted by Lesley on March 11, 2012
Lizards are as common in my Florida garden as ants. During my early days as a Floridian, I found their constant presence unnerving. In a reflex, I threw one across a room on an iron because it startled me. My how things change, now I find myself enjoying their company. This one especially caught my eye today. I held the camera on it so long my arms started to hurt, but my day could not go on without a picture of that dewlap!
It’s brilliant; this lizard definitely has game. The dewlap, what that bright orange flare is called, attracts female mates. Since I’m a female without scales, it’s more likely this stud was flexing his dewlap like muscles to deter me. The dewlap serves a dual-purpose to attract mates and ward off predators.
If I’m saying dewlap a lot, it’s because up until a few hours ago I was saying to John, “What’s that thing called?” He usually knows the answer to weird questions like that but not this time, and the Google gods were a little wishy-washy. There was frill, dewlap and the selections beginning with throat–throat fan, throat flap or throat sack–to choose from. With the throat options too obvious and frill pertaining mostly to appendages that come from the back of the neck instead of the throat, dewlap was my word. And it’s by far the most fun to say…doo-lap, dooo-lap, doooo-lap.
I always thought brown anoles were light brown with a Native American-looking patterned band running down their back, but the dark brown, speckled lizard I spotted today is also a brown anole. After looking at pictures of fence, scrub and all sorts of other lizards, every picture that matched was labeled brown anole. Then I found a research study done by Patrick Ellsworth, a PhD student at the University of Miami, that confirmed the variety amongst the family, “The only consistent characteristics is that they are some shade of brown and their dewlap is orange with a yellow border.” A tad disappointing as I thought it could’ve been a new visitor to the garden.
Posted by Lesley on February 19, 2012
It slithered in, and I ran out. Snakes are my least favorite part of gardening. Not because they’re not good to have around, snakes eat other unsavory garden visitors like rodents and insects, but because they creep me out. They slither in and out of plants, trellises, and trees so quiet and undetected that it’s unnerving to have them lurking in my happy place.
I should have never watched The Witches of Eastwick as a kid. The image of Cher waking up in a bed of snakes has never left me. A run in like this used to take me out of the garden for a day if not a week, but my sister gave me a good tip: look to the lizards. They’re everywhere in Florida but not when there’s a snake around.
The lizards have returned, and a brown anole has never looked so handsome! Only a couple more hours of daylight; break time’s over.
Posted by Lesley on January 29, 2010
It’s official. I’ve turned some sort of corner and deep inside of me I am all Floridian. I can’t believe I’m about to say this or that is it even possible to feel such an emotion, but I think I miss the lizards.? I add the question mark because I’m still questioning it myself it’s so weird. A native New Yorker, I once hurled a lizard across a room on an iron because it freaked me out that much – I just wanted it out of my hands! Another time-and this one is really terrible, I feel bad enough and was very young and living in my first apartment by myself, so please don’t judge or send this link to PETA-I jumped on top of my bed with a mini ShopVac, threw the hose over the back of the bed where the lizard was, and shook it around until I heard a thwoop. I told you it was terrible, but the residual guilt may be leading to the fuzzy feelings I’m experiencing now. I have been actively seeking out lizards. I look for them every day and can always find one, but that’s it. I was bizarrely elated this morning to spot one without having to search. She was sitting on the brick pathway but hid behind a croton as I neared.
She’s a brown anole – a common lizard throughout Florida. Usually they’re everywhere around here - peeking through the windows, sunning on the pathways, and way too often creeping under the doors. There’s normally one perched on the mermaid’s head but not today.
There have been various articles written about the cold snap affecting Florida’s wildlife – reports on floating fish, bobbing sea turtles, huddling manatees and even falling iguanas but not much on the lizards. Exotic iguanas falling from the trees in Miami are bound to get attention, while the poor little lizards in our gardens are being ignored. Hopefully, they’re still sleeping and not…the other thing. Cold temperatures cause iguanas and lizards to fall into a deep sleep, and they lose their grip causing them to drop from trees, roofs, etc. The only article I could find directly related to lizards was about a woman from Pompano Beach blowing a hairdryer on a couple of lifeless lizards on her porch; they perked right up…if only I had known!