Saturday, June 19, 2010

Who's Peeking Out Here?

I feel like I've been away from my blog forever and I have missed sharing our days. My sister and her family just left for Colorado last night so I have lots of fun posts to catch up on. But I wanted to share some of the wildlife ~ and not so *wild* life that we've experienced over the past few days.

Lizards are in abundance in Southern Cal and the girls and I have been having fun catching some of them to study a bit before releasing them back where we found them.

This little female is a western fence lizard, also called "swifts" or "bluebellies". The males have much darker blue marking on their underbellies than the females. Isn't she gorgeous!

When Charley was holding her, she jumped out of her hands and started climbing on her back and up in her hair! She was so light and swift that Charley didn't even feel it and couldn't find her, until I picked her up and placed her on her shoulder. Look at the joy on Char's face!

One last shot of her beautiful blue belly...

Now this was a larger one we trapped under our bucket, but it was too fast for us (don't want any tail injuries) so we just enjoyed watching it run up the stucco on our house.

And speaking of tail injuries - this poor lizard had lost its tail (click on the picture to see how it is regenerating), so we just watched it a while. I am not sure what type it is, but the orange feet made it appear similar to a California Alligator Lizard. I did not handle it, so it was harder to type ~ not to mention I'm a complete novice! Lizards use their tails as a decoy to escape and the tails are easily broken if pulled or pushed up against a hard surface, so it's important to be very careful when trying to capture one. If the tail breaks off, it spasms, which is quite graphic and gross and I think could be very upsetting to sensitive children. I found this video of a tail that was severed accidentally. It is graphic, but can be seen here.

You can also see some information on the California Alligator Lizard, including stock photos of the dropped tail here (near the middle of the page).

He scurried across our yard for cover under some bushes.

And this cutie is the smallest Praying Mantis I have ever seen. He was so adorable and tiny that I had a hard time photographing him without a macro lens.

You can get an idea, though, of his size in comparison to the letters on our garbage can! I'm hoping he grows big and strong and sets to work on some of our dreaded black widow spiders!

Speaking of spiders, the girls and Tony spent about 30 minutes just sitting and watching a flawless orb web being constructed.

This is "Sally". I think she was a Zygiella x-notata.

And hidden in the bush next to her was this bruiser...

I think this is a Funnel Web Spider.

And on the "not-so-wild side", these two canine cuties are bonding and playing together just beautifully!

Our one-eyed captain is a total love!

I missed yesterday's book review, but will be sure to continue that this coming Friday and hope to post some of the fun things we did on our vacation with some of the cousins this week!


  1. Wow, the lizards are so beautiful. I wish I were so brave as to catch one. Or quick! We have many black widows as well. Before children I used to leave them alone as they caught all the roaches trying to come in the house. Now, after having kids they must go.

    Thanks so much for your awesome feedback on my etsy shop. I'm so glad you're happy with your little gnomes and plum gal!


  2. love that photo of the lizard on her shoulder! so cute.

  3. wow makes me glad i am not in southern california, those lizards are beautiful to look at but I can just picture myself hopped up on a chair screaming for the hubby to come rescue me from the scary lizards!

  4. Ha! Kat, you had me laughing there with your comment! Some of them look a little snake like, slithering along, so for people that don't care for snakes (like my momma) it can get a little creepy :D I like reptiles, but have a problem with bugs, esp spiders, but I admit that after having kids and focusing more on the wonders of nature, I'm a lot less freaked out by them!

    Thanks for the big smile with your comment and hope you never come across a lizard without your chivalrous DH to rescue you!


  5. My girls had a wonderful time looking at your animals! Thanks for sharing especially the alligator lizard, as we have real gators here ;)

  6. All right, I'll go out and help them catch lizards after this post! I had my own hair-raising experiences with reptiles in Southern France...lizard hair-dos and snake-hunting in my house.

    So I have not touched a lizard in years, but the munchkins would LOVE to see them close up for a little bit. Jen to the rescue of children-animal relationships, thank you!


  7. Hi Jen
    My boys would just love your lizards and in fact all your pictures. I will share them with my boys. You know in all our learning, in our alphabet container story and our maths container story, this past year, we have three young lizards that go adventuring together with a wise old man. So, lizards are special to us. We don't get any here in our area but lots of fantastic species in Zimbabwe. Happy day to you, dear mama!

  8. Hi Jen, Isn't it amazing that our children can spend hours amused by these tiny little creatures. My children love lizards and when there is a tiny one my youngest son brings them in the house saying it's my little friend the lizard who keeps away the mosquitos at night. Building tunnels and homes for our frangipani worms are so much fun for them as well as watching all the ants bringing food to and fro into their nest. Your children are naturally beautiful. Lovely photos. I couldn't leave a message under my blog name for some reason.