T found this caterpillar (pretty sure it’s a Monarch) on a plant, got a box and made a home for it with leaves and flowers to eat.
For an entire day, he referred to it as his pet and was constantly checking on its welfare.
“I love him so much, he’s beautiful.”
Late afternoon, he chose to release it under a shady plant because he thought it would have access to a fresher food source.
With me by his side, we picked a plant we both agreed would be tasty.
No sooner than he put it down and we watched it crawl away than a lizard ran over, grabbed it in his mouth and swallowed it.
We both gasped in horror as the realization of what occurred fully blossomed in our minds. It happened so fast and took us a moment to actually process what we saw.
T, sitting cross-legged on the ground, lowered his head and began to sob in genuine lament, tears staining his face and dripping down his chin.
“WHY, Grandma, why?” He said, “I loved my pet, why did the lizard eat him, why?”
Hearing T cry, Dad came out, I told him what happened, and he gathered T in his arms to comfort him as we gently tried to explain how nature works. His sadness broke our hearts, but I’m so proud of the compassionate way his dad helped him work through these huge emotions.
“I hate lizards. I’m going to hurt them.” Although retaliation was his first solution; it’s obviously not one he would be allowed to do!
After a while, and after a mango/black cherry ice cream cone (thank goodness I had made a double batch), he started to calm down and recover his normally cheery disposition.
He’s an extremely sensitive child and this was his first experience with the raw and gritty side of how animals live and survive.
I found two more caterpillars for him (whew) and this time we didn’t release them and they’re still here in his Spiderman bucket, gnawing their way through leaf after leaf.
He doesn’t know they’re only tomato hornworms and that’s going to be our little secret, right?
Although I could probably ruminate for a few hours to ponder that existential question; light a candle and meditate with a mantra, I’m not. Instead, I’m wondering is what and who is THIS?
Does anyone know? I’m not sure it’s albino but I have never seen an alligator lizard this color. I can’t find any information at all. He comes out every day from a spot near the veggie garden and hangs out for a bit.
Most of my other alligator lizards look more like this:
Totally different, right? Even the scales look different. Maybe I discovered a new species or maybe it’s an odd, aberrant mutation. I sent this photo to the local herpetological society to see if they can identify my new friend.
If you have an idea, let me know!
UPDATE: Mystery solved! San Diego Herp Society got back to me right away with this great website and information that pretty much explains the odd coloration. Apparently it’s a variation of a Great Basin Fence Lizard. If you scroll down the page, they talk about Rusty-Orange Variations.
Yup, an alligator lizard. So adorable. So harmless looking, right?
A few teenagers were sitting in a local park above our beautiful Agua Hedionda Lagoon, attempting to humanely herd this creature off the grass and back into his native habitat of sagebrush and coyote bush, when I waltzed by and thought I’d be the conquering heroine and offer my assistance.
They were afraid to pick him up, but I said, “no problem, guys, here’s how it’s done.” I then proceeded to pick him up, totally forgetting the proper way to handle a scared reptile and he immediately latched onto my finger with his razor sharp teeth and WOULD NOT LET GO.
So much for my heroics; I started screaming and shook off the poor little fella, sending him sailing off into the bushes. No worries, though. He was FINE, scurrying away with all of his limbs intact and whole, probably searched for his family to tell them about the lunatic human he encountered, while I was nursing several bleeding puncture wounds…amid teenaged laughter. To be fair, they DID ask me if I was OK, but I think they actually recorded the whole incident, so if you see it on YouTube, yes, that was ME.
I dropped my phone whilst repelling the attack of the ‘gator, and this pic was accidentally taken…
It was all good, though. Just a day in the life of Princess Rosebud.