Sunday, May 30, 2010

Alligator Lizard and more

Okay, maybe this is no big deal. It is a common lizard for this area (along with Western Fence lizards). But to see it just off the porch, near our bushes... too cool.

Alligator lizards, genus Elgaria, are members of the family Anguidae, a family of lizards found in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Large bony scales, a large head on an elongated body and powerful jaws probably give the lizards their common name. They are characterized by a slim body with short limbs and long tail. The tail can reach twice the length of its body if it has never been broken off and regenerated.

Active during the day, crepuscular and nocturnal during hot weather. Inactive during cold periods in winter. Moves with a snake-like undulating motion. A good swimmer, sometimes diving into the water to escape by swimming away.

The tail of an alligator lizard is easily broken off, as it is with many lizards. The tail will
grow back, although generally not as perfectly as the original. A lizard may detach its tail deliberately as a defensive tactic. When first detached, the tail will writhe around for several minutes, long enough to distract a hungry predator from the lizard.

Other defensive tactics used by alligator lizards are smearing the contents of the cloaca on the enemy and
biting. (In zoological anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species. The word comes from Latin, and means sewer. All birds, reptiles, and amphibians possess this orifice, from which they excrete both urine and feces, unlike placental mammals, which possess two separate orifices for evacuation.)

Diet: Eats a variety of small invertebrates. Will also eat small lizards and small mammals. Occasionally feed on bird eggs and young birds.

Range: This subspecies is endemic to California

KOFY TV20 was interviewing the girls at the Larkspur Flower and Food Festival.

On the slide at the "jumpy house."

This last picture is of a random beautiful flower display. Actually, not so random. We were given beautiful roses from a neighbor's yard; this is all that is left. I set them down and went off to do something. When I came back, Gabriana had dismantled them completely - every petal off every rose was gone... or, more accurately, spread in pieces all over the floor. Beautiful and fragrant potpurri, but not what I had in mind. Is she a true unmaker? A future engineer? The potential is impressive, but when I found her ripping the arm rests from a chair just now immediately after quickly unpacking every single thing in Daddy's dresser, just for the apparent fun of creating the chaos, my tired self wasn't as focused on her potential as much as on my own weariness at spending endless, mindless hours cleaning and putting things away. Still, this photo is a reminder to always focus on the beauty, in its various forms.

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