Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hey, what gives? A bouncing baby?

Liz Junior? Who the heck are you?
For years Sue and I have shared our south-facing deck with a Northern Alligator Lizard we named "Lizzy." My first clue of trouble in paradise was a blood-curdling scream when Sue reached into the front flower box on a lazy summer day and came face-to-face with Lizzy.

Since then, we've come to terms with that. Now, we think of Lizzy as an old friend. Anyone who can survive the winter out there deserves a little respect. We know when and where to expect her, so the element of surprise has eased a bit.

The "alligator" is the only variety of lizard we have on Whidbey. It runs about 6 - 8 inches in length, lives in the woods and eats mostly small insects. It is a true reptile, not to be confused with our more common salamanders, which are amphibians.

Lately, we've been seeing Lizzy every afternoon in the hot spot by the front door, hiding under UPS deliveries or wedged between our two floor mats. Sunday I went to show Lizzy to some guests but she was missing. And even though Monday was another gorgeous, hot day on the front deck, Lizzy again was a no-show. No sign Tuesday, either. I was starting to worry.

Lizzy - sleek, lustrous, stealthy. And motherly?
So imagine my joy this afternoon when I checked the front mat and found an alligator lizard. But it wasn't Lizzy!  It was somebody else, just about half Lizzy's size, curled up and looking stupefied.

Right away I jumped to the conclusion this was Son of Liz, or Liz Junior. I assumed Lizzy had been holed up somewhere the last three days, giving birth.

But Sue's quick online research doesn't support that. If Lizzy is pregnant, she should carry her young all summer, not deliver in April. And the babies should be a lot smaller than Liz Junior.

So what's the story here? We just don't know, but we'll be watching.