Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Tale of Two Lizards

WHEN DID I MISS THE MEMO THAT I WAS ON LIZARD PATROL TODAY?

(insert breathless panting here)

Florida is famous for assorted wildlife, not discounting reptilian forms. There are abundant suburban reptiles, little lizards variously called geckos or chamelions but I think they are technically anoles. Anyway, we have TONS of them around our house. They sun on our front walk and scatter when we head for the door, dodging into the bushes and glaring at us from the aloe plants like minature dinosaurs, resenting their loss of fear inspiring size. They climb on the window screens to do their little "macho display", blowing out their red dewlaps and doing pushups.

This is what really interests the cats. My cats, in particular my two males, will throw themselves against the window to get to these little teasing creatures. They crouch for hours on the window sills staring at the bushes for some movement. They will follow a fast moving anole from window to window around the house. They dream of catching one of these lizards for themselves, and occasionally an unwise anole will hitch a ride or otherwise slip inside, not knowing the fate that awaits them.

This is where Lizard Patrol comes in. You see, while I know perfectly well I share a household with a group of natural predators, anoles are not good eating for cats. Anole guts contain nasty bacteria and such that will make a cat sick, not that this disuades the cat any. Also, there is always something rather disturbing about finding Bit O' Anole in your shoe or on a chair, especially if it is post-digestion. So, The Husband and I keep our eyes open for the telltale signs -- lots of pouncing and bouncing around by the two boys, desperate attempts to lift up the arm chair or the ottoman by a group of cats, crashing sounds -- you know, all the signs that a mad cat-chase is taking place in some room where we are not.

Lizards seem never to start out in a room where we ARE. They always appear in rooms where we Are Not. This, I suppose, is to make it more interesting for us, as we sit in another room trying to interpret the various sounds we hear and decide if intervention is necessary.

Well, tonight I am solo while The Husband teaches an extra yoga class. I am hanging decorations and trying to keep Bea away from the ornaments (she steals and hides/breaks them) and LaGuz away from the presents and the tree skirt (she pees on them). While taking a break, I hear suspicious noises. Upon investigation, I determine that Pooty and Benny are torturing a Lizard. I move in to save the poor thing. It hasn't been inside too long, as it still has its tail (anoles have that detachable tail thing). It's maybe two to three inches long. I try to pick it up in my hands, and it BITES me. Now, it's little and it doesn't actually HURT -- more like a firm pinch -- but I am so surprised that reflex gets the better of me and I fling the thing. Lucky for it, I fling toward the front door. I beat the boys away with much hand flapping and meaningless threats, find a piece of cardboard from one of the ornament boxs, scoop up the stunned lizard and deposite it outside. My good deed for the day, and I avoid finding a Pool Of Anole Bits later in the evening.

Not 40 minutes later, I hear Those Noises again. Pooty is in hot pursuit of ANOTHER anole, this one easily as long as my hand and not willing to go down without a fight. Neither is Pooty, who is absolutely determined I shall NOT spoil his fun again. So with one hand I am holding off a very determined grey tabby while with the other I am heaving up the ottoman under which the lizard has taken shelter. Pooty gets past me, grabs the lizard and heads for the hills, but the lizard fights free in the foyer and hides under the foot of a little metal cat sculpture I have there. I already have a piece of cardboard in hand. I've got Pooty held down with one foot, I'm lifting the sculpure with my left hand, I'm watching out for Ben (who is circling, waiting for an opening) and trying to manouver this cardboard -- not my most graceful pose ever, but it worked.

Another Lizard rescued. However, I had to make with the kitty treats because there were many Resentful Looks directed at me. They are still scouting the house, hoping to get lucky a third time.

Maybe it would just be easier to clean up the vomit.

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