Thursday, October 29, 2009

Incredible Journey, Reptilian Style

A couple of weeks ago, we had an interesting incident with Sierra's pet anole lizard, "Lizzy". We had left for a day to attend the baptism of my cousin's baby. When we returned, the anole's tank was on the floor, partly dug out, and no lizard in sight. Sierra was a mess of wails and tears. I was trying to hold it together on the off-chance that the lizard survived. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that we have six cats and at least three of them are excellent mousers.

Anoles are considered America's chameleon. They have the ability to change color and blend with their surroundings. Lizzy's surroundings happened to be a living room full of books, paper, toys, and furniture. The cage was also close by the doors to the furnace room and a coat closet. In other words, if Lizzy was a needle, our house was now the haystack. The house got a very careful cleaning that night as we picked our way through bookshelves, carefully swept under couch, desk, and computer, and crawled around in dark places with a flashlight. I had no idea how long the cage had been tipped, we had been gone for at least five or six hours. Our Miss Lizzy had vanished and our one hope and prayer was that she wasn't hiding in a cat's stomach.

After the fourth day, you start imagining the worst. After a full week, you start deciding whether a hermit crab would be a better pet. At least, Sierra did. I only suggested it as a solution to the cats' habit of knocking down tanks. They also ruined two triops experiments with their pushy behavior. Every day, Sierra would tell me how much she missed Lizzy. I admit, I missed her too. Of the three anoles we've had over the years, she was the most interactive. Her cage is next to my desk, and more than once I would look up from a drawing to find her plastered against the side of the tank, watching me. Sierra often had Lizzy clinging to her neck as she played on the computer. They were as close as a girl and a lizard could be. I told Sierra that she had to think about all of the adventures Lizzy was having. After all, we had never found a trace of her. My theory is that if you don't have a body, you can't prove there has been a death. I know, denial isn't just a river in Egypt. But wait, there's more.

A full week and three days after Lizzy vanished, one of our cats got very vocal. Rosie is not a talker, but she was mewing up a babble on that day. I was at the computer when I turned to look down at her...and saw Lizzy hanging out of either side of her mouth. Yikes!

I followed Rosie into the hallway where she dropped the lizard. Now I feared the worst. But as I reached down to pick up the anole, Lizzy scooted away from me! She's alive!

I carefully scooped her up and gave her to Sierra to warm. We couldn't see any punctures on the tough little creature, but she was severely dehydrated and hungry. As Sierra held her, Lizzy opened her mouth wide. I fed her drops of water from my fingernail each time she did this.

After several days of convalescing and a couple of skin changes, Lizzie is feeling much better. We're doing our best to make the cage more stable. We never did figure out who was responsible for knocking it down.

And there you have another life lesson from watching animals...

Lizzy Found

With good survival skills, miracles can occur.


Stephanie said...

What a wonderful post! My kids used to have anoles, and they loved them.

Inner Elder said...

You are a great storyteller. Love the line "as close as a girl and her lizard can be".

Love, Mom

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