Lizards are one of the most fascinating creatures I’ve ever met. I’m fortunate to live in an area where they’re commonplace, particularly in the summer. They often remind me of the first lizard I saw in the wild. Surprisingly, I was in Los Angeles, not Tucson.
A Bite to Remember
The encounter wasn’t so much exciting as painful. As I bent down to pick up the beautiful specimen, my late husband yelled “No, don’t do that!” Alas, his words were a nanosecond too late.
The lizard bit my finger just as my husband’s foot landed on the poor little guy’s tail. Off came the tail. Getting the lizard off my finger, however, wasn’t as easy. It took some doing, but eventually, it let go. The scar remains to this day and serves as a reminder to never pick up a lizard the wrong way.
When I moved to Tucson many years ago, I was delighted to find lizards everywhere. Now that I’m old and gray, I live in a retirement community. Our grounds contain multitudes of lizards scampering in the flower beds and shrubbery. I’m utterly captivated. Last summer, a small lizard showed up on my patio. I named the cute little fellow Louie, after a lizard in one of my children’s books.
While talking to a friend, she mentioned feeding wild lizards. “You’re kidding,” I replied, amazed.
“No, I feed them twice a day. Now I have three lizards coming by every day for food.”
“Wow, this is remarkable. What do you feed these lizards? I want to feed wild lizards too.”
She looked at me in disbelief, surprised that I didn’t know what to feed a lizard. But how should I know? I grew up in New York. I didn’t see a cow until I was twelve, much less a reptile. That didn’t happen until I was bitten in Los Angeles. Growing up in Manhattan was a world and a half away from Los Angeles and Tucson. Lizards did not wander the cement streets of New York City! I was desperate to learn what she fed lizards, so I kept my sarcasm to myself. I wanted to say something like, “Yeah, well, have you ever seen a Broadway show or the Rockettes?”
Instead, in a quiet, ladylike fashion, I asked “So what do you feed them?”
“Live worms? What kind of worms?” Was she going outside and digging up worms?
She sighed. “Mealworms. You can get them at PetSmart.”
“No kidding? That’s great.”
PetSmart was my next stop. They sold mealworms by the hundreds and kept them inactive in the refrigerator. I bought a supply and began feeding Louie. Sure enough, he came by every day. One day, a little friend of his showed up and I named her Jane, after another of my book characters. All summer long I fed them. When winter arrived they ended their visits and went into brumation.
This summer Tucson enjoyed a very wet monsoon. Sadly, I was out of town and missed a good part of it. When I returned, I hardly recognized Louie and Jane! They were huge and reminded me of tiny dinosaurs. They’d been feasting on the multitude of bugs the rain provided. Dutifully, I fed my Louie and Jane twice a day.
Summer has ended, and my reptile friends are off to brumate for the winter. I can’t wait to see them next Spring!
About the Author
Alexis is an author of romance/mysteries, inspirational, and children’s books. Alexis was a favored columnist for the Arizona Daily Star. As the facilitator of the Writers’ Motivational Workshop at the Oro Valley Library for five years, she has helped over fifty authors publish their work. A resident of many cities including New York, San Francisco, and London, Alexis finds Tucson provides the best climate for her writing career.
Note from Lyric Power Publishing, LLC
Louie and Jane are Desert Spiny Lizards, Sceloporus magister. This is one of the largest lizards in the Tucson area. These lizards are commonly seen doing “push-ups.” The push-ups are a display of strength.
Lizards have inspired several authors at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. Elaine A. Powers writes about the curly-tail lizards in the Curtis Curly-tail and Lime Lizard Lads series, while Susan Glenn Mule’s book, Princess Tien, features a Mountain Horned Dragon.