Stripey

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War Arrow
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Stripey

Post by War Arrow » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:40 pm

Not sure how interesting this will be for anyone, but well...

Anyway, I moved here a few months ago now, and the first job was to start on turning the massive crappy yard (of the kind usually seen on Animal Cops Houston containing malnourished pit bull terriers) into something civilised with grass and flowers etc... it looked like this:

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Just for the record, it's now a bit further along. I've dug a lot of that up and have grass growing, plus a few bedding plants, but I digress...

Being English, there's a lot about Texas which seems almost impossibly exotic to me, not least the lizards. I've never really seen lizards in the wild before, aside from a few moving at 200mph in Mexico, but nothing you could get a good look at. Anyway I started noticing a few lizards when I started digging - specifically Texas Spiny Lizards hanging around wherever I was working. After a few weeks I realised these lizards were all the same lizard, a little guy about six inches long (I think that's full grown, but not sure) following me around in hope of my digging up the odd grub. By following me around I mean that without fail, wherever I was working, I could stop and go over to the nearest tree and always find that lizard sitting there on a branch. Next came the inevitable experiment - digging up a grubworm (about an inch long, lots of them here and they're bad news as they eat through roots) I took it on the end of my trowel and deposited it under the nearest tree. The lizard zipped down the trunk, swallowed the thing in one go, then zipped back up to his hiding place.

Each day I fed him in this way and he became less cautious, actually jumping onto the end of the trowel a couple of times before I could even deposit the grub. Bess said we should name him before the kid saw him and applied his hopelessly literal naming technique (it would be either Stripey or Scaly), and I considered Dave, but realised I like Stripey more.

So Stripey it is. I see him every day now pretty much, and it seems he must see me in the garden and decides that means lunch time. I had never really considered lizard intelligence, but this one seems at least as smart as a bird, and I've read online that some people even have Texas Spiny Lizards which will eat from the palm of their hands. His capacity seems to be about three grubworms a day, after which he just sort of looks at me, then f***s off to sit on a branch looking fat (and he does look a bit chubby after a full meal).

I know this may not mean anything to everyone, but I love nature and shit, and Stripey makes me feel good to be alive.

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Finally this was today. It's rained at last (having been hot and dry for months) and the digging has yielded far more grubworms than Stripey can cope with in one sitting, so I filled a flower pot with earth and just dumped them all in there (they'll burrow and I'll feed them to my lil' blood on a day when I don't have time to dig) - about twenty or thirty of the things by the time Stripey showed up, so I left the flower pot at the base of his tree and he just dived in to fill his boots. This was the point at which I think he had had enough.

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Well, there you go. I go all mushy over a lizard.

This was actually something I posted on another forum, but I saw Dig's comment about his views of dinosaurs changing over time, and it sort of reminded me of this. A cold blooded (as I don't believe dinosaurs were by the way) metabolism has often been portrayed as something you have if you can't afford warm blood like all the mammals in the nice part of town. Living in Texas has really made me reassess this view... there's nothing second rate about my little buddy here.
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Minimalist
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Re: Stripey

Post by Minimalist » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:43 pm

After a few weeks I realised these lizards were all the same lizard, a little guy about six inches long (I think that's full grown, but not sure) following me around in hope of my digging up the odd grub.

Probably the local republican party organizer!
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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JSteen
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Re: Stripey

Post by JSteen » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:31 pm

Great write-up. Brought a smile to my face - thanks!

Also, now I'm curious about lizard intelligence ....

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circumspice
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Re: Stripey

Post by circumspice » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:57 am

I too enjoyed reading about your adventures with Stripey! You evoked some very fond childhood memories! We used to play with an unusual type of lizard... It's really too bad that you're not likely to see what we called a "Horny Toad" when we were growing up. I think that it is more correctly called a horned lizard, but all I ever heard them called was Horny Toad. They are incredibly fascinating lizards. They subsist off of ants and they DO squirt blood from a gland located near their eyes when they feel threatened. We used to capture several of them and have circuses, featuring our captives. (my mom would free our captives after we were in bed for the night) They are becoming more and more scarce due to the fact that humans hate ants and take every opportunity available to poison them and otherwise attempt to eradicate ants from the face of the Earth. I believe it's been at least 20 years since the last time I saw a horny toad out in the wild. Thanks for the nice story about Stripey. :)
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Digit
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Re: Stripey

Post by Digit » Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:19 am

As for intelligence WA, he can't be that stupid, he's got you doing all the hard work! :D

Roy.
First people deny a thing, then they belittle it, then they say it was known all along! Von Humboldt

War Arrow
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Re: Stripey

Post by War Arrow » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:34 pm

circumspice wrote:I too enjoyed reading about your adventures with Stripey! You evoked some very fond childhood memories! We used to play with an unusual type of lizard... It's really too bad that you're not likely to see what we called a "Horny Toad" when we were growing up. I think that it is more correctly called a horned lizard, but all I ever heard them called was Horny Toad. They are incredibly fascinating lizards. They subsist off of ants and they DO squirt blood from a gland located near their eyes when they feel threatened. We used to capture several of them and have circuses, featuring our captives. (my mom would free our captives after we were in bed for the night) They are becoming more and more scarce due to the fact that humans hate ants and take every opportunity available to poison them and otherwise attempt to eradicate ants from the face of the Earth. I believe it's been at least 20 years since the last time I saw a horny toad out in the wild. Thanks for the nice story about Stripey. :)
You're welcome. My wife recalls plenty of those horny toads from growing up in Pearsall, although she says (as you suggest) there isn't so many around that area now, sadly.

Worryingly, I dug away for nearly an hour and a half this morning without seeing the little guy once, which is unusual. Last I saw him yesterday (after more grubworms) he was looking a bit on the round side so maybe he's still sleeping it off.
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Barracuda
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Re: Stripey

Post by Barracuda » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:05 pm

Enjoyed that!

I've been around a bit, and its interesting to see the changes in even common creatures. Like the difference between East Coast Coast and West Coast Quail, Jay Birds, and Squirrels.

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MichelleH
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Re: Stripey

Post by MichelleH » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:53 pm

WA, that was great! Thanks :lol:
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