Alligator Lizards

To continue with the critter parade…

I’ve previously posted a picture of a reasonably large lizard (ten to twelve inches long, including tail) we used to see in our back yard. We named him “Fred.”

Then there was a similar but smaller lizard (six to eight inches) we would see regularly out in the front, who we dubbed “Mini-Fred.” There have also been the odd sighting around the yard of other lizardss that were presumably “Spawn of Fred.”

We haven’t seen Fred or Mini-Fred for a while, but at the beginning of the summer we started seeing a really small one (three to four inches) sunning itself out on the rocks and sidewalk in front. We named him “Micro-Fred.” He’s actually been growing all summer, and is now up to about six inches long. He can be spotted on most sunny days.

Imagine my surprise a week ago when I came around the corner from the driveway and saw not only Micro-Fred, but a second lizard, about the same size. Not knowing any better, it’s been christened “Mrs. Micro-Fred.”

File Oct 18, 20 40 21 small

The pictures aren’t the greatest, since I came around the corner, saw them, and froze in my tracks, hoping not to spook them into the bushes. I carefully got out my iPhone and took a couple of pictures, including the “zoom” photos below, which tend to be smaller and grainer than normal.

File Oct 18, 20 41 27

This is Micro-Fred. You can see that he’s sort of tan or brownish.

File Oct 18, 20 41 57

This is Mrs. Micro-Fred. She (it?) is much darker, almost an olive green color.

I will readily admit that I’m anthropomorphizing like crazy here, assuming sexes with absolutely no basis in fact to go on. On researching it, I found it’s almost impossible for anyone to tell the sex of an alligator lizard without a physical exam, and even then it’s difficult. But hey, two lizards, and there seem to be multiple generations of them over several years, so I’m okay jumping to the conclusion that one’s male and one’s female.

If they’re not, well, that’s okay too. I’m not here to judge, and this is a pretty liberal state. As long as they’re happy together and everything’s consensual, it’s none of my business. However, it wouldn’t bode well for the appearance of any “Nano-Fred” in the near future, if you know what I mean.

Now, I told you that story to tell you this one…

How, you might ask, do I know that these are alligator lizards? Well, let me tell you.

One of my favorite authors is Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant). // // <meta http-equiv=”refresh” content=”0; URL=/?_fb_noscript=1″ />(_If you don’t know who she is, read (and be wonderfully horrified & terrified by) the Newsflesh trilogy (“Feed”, “Deadline”, and “Blackout”) ASAP. Most highly recommended!

Seanan also is quite the storyteller on Twitter. A couple of her more memorable tales recently involve her love of lizards and reptiles in general, and alligator lizards in particular.

The first of these stories has been assembled here. That’s how I learned these are alligator lizards. I also learned that, while I have no fear of being attacked by these lizards (they’re not going to leap for my jugular just ’cause they can ’cause they’re monstrous, cold-blooded, evil lizards), I’m not going to try to pick any of them up if I can avoid it. While they’re too small to do much harm and they’re not venomous, they do bite. I prefer my epidermis unpunctured, thank you!

The second, hilarious story has been posted here. It’s Seanan’s storytelling at her finest. Every time I see Micro-Fred or his kin I’ll be remembering that story and smiling.

Live long and prosper, be fruitful and multiply, Micro-Fred and Mrs. Micro-Fred!

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