The Lizard and the Rock

‘Whoops, there he goes, I didn’t mean to startle him, but my heart is now racing and my adrenaline pumping because he did startle me!’

Northwestern Alligator Lizard by my dock.

My lake environment is rich in natural wildlife, animals, birds, insects, and also types of creature that not everyone appreciates like I do, reptiles. One of the more interesting ones (to me), is the Alligator Lizard, known properly as the Northwestern Alligator Lizard. I have been fond of them since I was little, because it seemed so cool as a child to have a little creature that looked like a big, fierce alligator only in a cute little miniature size. Even though I am a female, and raised to be very ‘proper’ in the city, decades of running wild in a forest and living a cabin life has always just brought out the best of the ‘Tomboy’ in me.

On bright sunny days, there are a couple of types of reptiles that tend to pop out and sun on the rocks and paths around my shoreline. They love to bask in the sun, and often also lay on my docks. One thing I have learned from cabin life is that we are the visitors, and so we adapt to, and give great respect to the wildlife here in all forms. Yes, cute, fuzzy little creatures are generally more alluring to most people, animals like squirrels, and such, but I have always been fond of the many little different types of creatures that cohabit with us, like the lizards and the snakes, yes, I did say, the snakes. The species of snake and the lizards here are not poisonous, and they all have a natural job to do, and so I just leave each species alone. When I was small, however, I did on occasion pick up snakes and lizards to admire them. My parents were never impressed. I have one or two snake stories that I will share with you one day, but today I will just mention my appreciation for the little Alligator Lizards. I’ll also mention that not all members of my family have the same fond sentiments I have about snakes and the reptiles, but I having been here most my life in the summers, these little creatures are a perfectly familiar part of my world.

The Alligator Lizards, do indeed, resemble little alligators. They are about 20cm, or 7-8 inches long, with short legs and long bodies, including a meaty long tail. Their patterned mottled skin blends in very well with the vegetation, all sort of browny-green. Their heads are triangularly shaped and they very much resemble a miniature alligator.

I have picked them up as a child, (after learning that the have a few defense mechanisms, some don’t smell good, the other is that they will lose their tail if it is grabbed, which saves their life, but is not so healthy for them. They will grow one back, though it wond’t be the same in size and shape.

I no longer desire to disturb these creatures today, or bother them. I would rather just spend a moment or two to appreciate and admire them. It is rare that I can manage to get a picture of one, even though there is a spot they regularly roost. They dart away quickly when they sense something coming. They exist under the main deck of may cabin, along the path adjacent to my boat dock. It is place bordered by very large rocks most likely lizards use as their habitat to hide under or live under in during the winter. In summer, they love to come out to catch the warm rays of sunshine as they bask on flat rocks.

Often, as I walk along the path to get to my dock, I will be startled because they will hear me coming and dart out of my way. I try to watch ahead along the path on sunny days, and sometimes I am lucky enough to see an alligator lizard perched there.

Lizard rock.

One day I decided to paint a lizard rock. It was a simple design, more like the Spirit Stone in design, basically a simple native shape done in black. I placed the rock down where I often saw the lizard lay. It would become a silent personal challenge to catch a glimpse of the lizard sitting on the lizard rock, and one day I was richly rewarded for my yearning. I was incredibly blessed to not only see it, but I also managed to run off quickly without disturbing the lizard to further grab my camera from the cabin and to return to catch a photo of the lizard that day on his rock.

I feel incredibly grateful to experience so much as I live with the wildlife here, and this was just one of those rich little life blessings I was lucky enough to enjoy, that I am delighted to share with you.

* Please note: I have taken so many photos over the years, and I will admit some get away from me. For this post, I will share a photo of an Alligator Lizard that I took one sunny day, and share a picture of the lizard rock I painted, but the one that I took many years ago of the lizard on his rock is currently eluding me, my apologies to you, dear reader…

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