Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alligator lizards and others.

DON'T LOOK ROBIN!!!


Horse Lizards, Northern Alligator Lizards, or Elgaria Coerulea.

I was just wondering what I might talk about next when Cousin Penny asked when we were going to talk about Horse Lizards.

When we first built built our house in Benbow, I went down to clear the bush piles off of our lot. Near the bottom was a large pile of fir limbs. I took my chain saw and cut them up as fire wood. I encountered maybe ten alligator lizards in the pile. I still stack my fire wood in that same place. Every spring I find three or four alligator lizards in the wood, and usually find several shed skins. I have never really gotten used to them and they still give me a fright when I run across them. I find that it is easier to ignore them and let them crawl away to scare me again another day.

Most every little kid gets a good lesson in lizards when they first try to catch an alligator lizard. They are mean, they don't like to be messed with, and they bite!!! When they bite they don't like to let loose. This sweet little thing in the hand, in the photo, is probably close to frozen to be so docile. Also, they shed their tails very easily. It flips around for a few minutes after the lizard releases it. A cat will immediately play with the tail while the lizard makes it's escape. Nice diversion but then it has to grow a new tail which it does so readily. Wouldn't it be nice if a human being could grow new body parts after loosing them?
When bitten by an alligator lizard, if it breaks the skin, it will usually cause a small wound infection, but if kept clean and cared for it heals right up. Most people flinch and cause the wound to be much worse that if you just let it release itself. Do you think that you could just calmly let it quit biting you? Some people don't seem to mind being bit, and they will let themselves get bit on purpose just to show how brave that they are. Myself? I not one of those. Snakes and alligator lizards give me the screamin' bejabbers.

Western Fence Lizard, or what we called "the Blue Bellied Lizard.
The blue bellied lizard is a lizard that most kids play with. It is very common in our area. It is docile, but hard to catch. We would try to catch them an put them in coffee cans because they couldn't climb up the slick wall of the can. The baby lizards were even less scary and they were fun to catch and play with, then release. After being played with for a while, they stop feeling threatened, then they would run all over you without trying to run away. Great pets, but hard to care for. They tame right down, so we would catch one play with it for a while and turn it back loose. Very common in south fork canyon.









Thank-you "Anonymous" for the photo!

Another lizard that is common to the South Fork canyon that not many people have ever seen, is a very slim lizard about 6-8 inches long. It is subterranean. It has a brilliant blue tail and short legs. The reason that I have seen so many is from working in the woods. The Cat would blade them out of hillsides when building skid roads. We called them “Blue racers”, but I doubt that is the real name. If I can find a photo or some identification of what it is I'll post it here. It is a most beautiful critter.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

How did you know that was cousin Penny that asked that question Ernie?
I only ask because it seems like cousin Penny would ask a question more in the line of "how do you get rid of gophers?"
Actually Cousin Penny and I would both like to know how to get rid of gophers cheaply and something that really works. Fast would be nice too.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

oldtimer

Anonymous said...

I would never ask a question about lizards or snakes!!! My first bad encounter with lizards was after a huge family gathering on the Branscomb property. Our parents cleaned up and burned debris all day from the orchards, etc., as we kids played sliding down the hill in the leaves behind Ern's house in cardboard boxes. After dark as we were leaving, and the car door opened, the light shone (is that a word?)on a huge long mountain lizard that was on my chest!!!!!!!!!! aaaaaaaaaaaargh.. hated them ever since, lol. Go ahead and tell me they're pretty but don't let them touch me.

Cousin

Ernie Branscomb said...

I guess it wasn't cousin penny that wanted to talk about "Big Ol' Horse Lizards".

Okay, everybody raise their hands that has never seen a "Blue Racer".

Ernie Branscomb said...

Mountain Lizards have a beautiful olive green skin after sheding, later the skin fades and becomes grey green.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The best story that I ever heard about how to get rid of gophers was this guy that advertised a 100% successful gopher killer for only $10.00. He advertised it as a "two-part sure-fire method of killing gophers, and even offered money back, if you followed instructions and the gopher killer was not successful.

When the "killer" was received, it turned out to be two blocks of wood labeled "Block-A" and "Block-B".

They instructions read: "Place gopher on Block-A and slam smartly with Block-B.

Anonymous said...

I raise my hand about the Blue racers!!!!! why did you guys call the Alligtor Lizards,Horse Lizards?? Or should i say? did you ever call them this??

Anonymous said...

I always called them mountain lizards.
I'm with penny, I don't like them either and I think it is because I don't like to be hissed at.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

For dozens of photos of alligator lizards click here.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The well to-do aligator lizards have a hole dug into the ground then they all gather around the edge and hiss. The poor aligator lizards don't have a pit to hiss in.

Anonymous said...

The longer I look at your Big Ol Horse lizard I'm beginning to wonder if that's what was on me; nasty creatures.iiiiiiiiiyiyi...
And about blue racers, a couple of times in the summer when our door was open one would come inside. They like to charge you when you try to get them back outside, so use a long broom or they'll go up your leg....

Cousin

Anonymous said...

RE: For dozens of photos of alligator lizards

Can't wait, Ern.

Robin Shelley said...

I would just like to tell "Anonymous" over there in the worm post who asked about "big ol' Horse lizards"... be careful what you wish for... & PLEASE don't do any of that type of wishing for me! All things creepy-crawly, well, creep me out! Ewwwwwww! Shudder, shudder!
As for getting rid of gophers, I've heard that dynamite works but someone told me recently that it really only works for one season so doesn't seem worth the trouble. I could use some hints in this department, too.

Ross Sherburn said...

Just like Ernie said!!! one of the few Blue Racers i've ever seen was on a fresh skid road.Think it was probably on Reed Mountain or out East Branch???

Anonymous said...

I see that all the lizards that are in someones hand in the images you have on link are little lizards. They get bigger.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

when you are about 5-10 years old,they are "REAL" big!!!

Anonymous said...

I know Ross, just ask cousin Penny.

Anonymous said...

I never measured a mountain lizard but I'm sure I've seen them over 18 inches long. If you stomp on one hard enough you can give them reptile dysfunction.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

When hiking thru the woods south of town,they'd scare the p!ss out of me,when i'd come across one!
i was thinking on average,they were about a foot long?? i haven't seen one in years!

Bunny said...

We have salamanders in the very small pond on our patio. They aren't scary at all. They have red bellies and several names I can't remember right now.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about those Big ol' Bananna Slugs as well!!!

Robin Shelley said...

You warned me, Ernie, but oh, Gawd! I'm gonna have to go hang out at Rose's until you guys get over this slimy, ugly, creepy-crawly thing you've got going on now. Eeeecchhhhh! Bye!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Bunny
we called the little orange bellied salamanders "Water Dogs". Don't eat them thay are poison. If you play with them, wash your hands before eating. Oddly, what we called "water snakes" and the Ummmm... educated people called "Garter Snakes" eat them and it doesn't kill them. Ain't it strange how nature works?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Oregon
I've been laughing all afternoon about your "Repile Dysfuntion". I've been warning people to be careful not to step on any lizards.

kymk said...

Which ones do you call skinks? Everyone seems to have a different description of them.

Anonymous said...

This is not about the big lizards but the small fence lizards. I showed my kids, when they were young, how to catch lizards with a piece of wild oat straw. My oldest daughter, after catching a couple would rub their lower jaw and they would open their month and then she would stick them on her ear lobes and they would clamp on. Big fun and high fashion I might add. That was before video games.

Oregon

Ben said...

Now this seems to be a family string but I'm going to butt right in with some city boy wisdom. First... Oregon, any slicker knows you get rid of gophers with Juicy Fruit Gum! Nuthin' to it. You just chew up a good wad of Juicy Fruit, stick it down in the gopher hole and let it do its work. The gopher can't resist, eats it and it plugs his/her system and they die. They don't climb out and die on the lawn so I can't be sure it works but there sure do seem to be less gophers when I have tried it. City folks swear by it. When I was a kid, we used "gopher bombs" which I loved as they had a fuse and put out a lot of smoke which we all claimed was cyanide but I suspect was simply sulphur. They never seemed to work very well as gophers are clever enough to have escape routes. The best gopher catchers I ever saw were a pair of rat terriers up Salmon Creek. Mother and daughter they could dig and flush gophers all day. Of course the lawn looked pretty rough when they were done. Which brings up another question I have pondered. Why do folks (I won't say hippies) living way out in the hills, seem to love to have lawns? At any rate, Oregon, that's my gopher wisdom and I'll just imagine everyone out in the yard with a mouthfull of Juicy Fruit.

Anonymous said...

OMG let's not get started on those slimy banana slugs or whatever they were on Grandma Ruby's patio under the grapevines. uuuuuuurgh!!!
How about more on getting rid of gophers??

Cousin

Anonymous said...

Lol, lol, lol!! LMAO

Cousin

Anonymous said...

Lol, lol, lol!! LMAO

Cousin

Anonymous said...

Double dare anyone to click on Ernie's link to see dozens of alligator lizards, they'll probably pour all over your desk top, lol.

cousin

LMAO reptile dysfunction

Anonymous said...

The blue-tailed one is a "blue-tailed skink." They are quite common and are widely distributed. There may be (likely, is) geographic variation, but the ones we have in the guest bed in our screen porch here in Pennsylvania looks like the picture and the ones I used to see in Humboldt County. I've also seen them nearly everywhere I've lived in the US (Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, Maryland, Illinois, etc.) and even in Indonesia--where they have some REAL lizards. Picture, if you will, an alligator lizard more than 12 feet long. Ever seen a Komodo dragon? Okay. Now put it out of your mind and don't dream about it tonight. And, of course, growing up on the old Circle E Ranch up by Panther Gap, there were lots of fence lizards that we enjoyed watching and playing with. I got bit pretty hard by an alligator lizard once. He was in my pajamas when I put them on. The pajamas had been washed and hung on the line to dry, then were left in the clothes basket after they were taken off the line and the basket was left outside for awhile. I was in bed, ready to doze off to sleep, when I felt what I thought was a drip of water on my neck. That was okay when it was running down the side of my neck, but when it ran up the other side, I was pretty sure it was not a drip of water. I perceived that I was not alone in my pajamas, and as I grabbed and clutched at my guest he grabbed onto the tender skin of my young underbelly. I survived. The lizard did not. And the pajamas had to go back into the wash.

Joe

Anonymous said...

Joe, I used to have a bedroom outside the house when I was a kid and I had a friend from the city that would not stay out there with me because he heard stories about Bigfoot. This was back in the 50's when we in Garberville first heard of Bigfoot but he (BF) didn't scare me any. I did go out and throw the covers back on my bed one night and there was a big potato bug under the covers. The night before was the last night I slept out there.

Oregon

Joseph said...

So, this morning I learned that skinks are diverse. Their family, Scincidae, is the most diverse lizard family. There are skinks all over the world, and there are supposedly 800 species, or more. I do not remember seeing any in Australia or Madagascar or Africa or Europe, but they live in all those places. Apparently there are fewer than ten species in the US, and the ones we have in the east are not just like those in the west.

Anonymous said...

Ben, I have a 5 acre yard and gopher hills that would require a 4-wheel drive vehicle to cross over them. I don't think I could chew that much gum much less buy that much. Maybe back when it was still 5 cents a pack.
I did, last February see an open hole in one of the mounds so I got this bright idea of sticking the hose off my propane bottle into the hole. VIOLA!!! well 2 months later the little darlings were back and I was out of propane.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I just read the comments here again and it just hit me what you were saying at 7:14 PM yesterday about not stepping on lizards. Now I am the one laughing. I am getting old but I think I have always been slow. LOL

Oregon

olmanriver said...

Dang funny folks!
Reptile dysfunction and lizard earrings!

When I was ten I was playing with a large alligator lizard in San Diego, and I broke the lizard. The tail flopped around, the lizard slunk off and I felt just awful. What to do? I watched the darn tail twitch for awhile and finally put a rock on top of it to hide my crime. Didn't occur to me to put it out of its "misery".
At the dinner table that night, my guilt was building til I had to tearfully confess that I had killed a lizard. Sob.
I sure was relieved to hear that lizard would grow its tail back.

I had a dwelling in the Santa Cruz mountains that was sort of primitive. At different times I had to remove a potato bug, a scorpion, and a tarantula from my bedding.
No more dating for me!

Anonymous said...

Olmanriver, I've met a few dates that would make a spider look good in my bed but I draw the line on potato bugs and scorpions. Never dated a person that even come close to being in the category of those critters.

Oregon

Joseph said...

With all this talk of alligator lizards, surely someone must mention America's "Ventura Highway," with the "...alligator lizards in the air...."

It seems to me that we had both northern and southern alligator lizards in southern Humboldt, and possibly an intergrade zone. I always wondered what the intergrades would be like if there were any. I think I remember that the northerns gave birth to live young and the southerns laid eggs. What's THAT about?

Joe

lonely in pj's said...

I was not alone in my pajamas
Great line joseph!

Joseph said...

Lonely in PJs,

What a provacative handle you have!
And thanks for your comment.

And OMR, Ernie, and Oregon, my mind is now crowded, not only with various reptile and amphibian memories, but also a few bedtime stories. One springs to mind. A lass that I bedded turned out to be the daughter of a local FBI agent. She brought to my bed some little arachnoid critters that were more difficult to get rid of than scorpians or spiders. That occasion stretched the limits of the expression "getting lucky."

Joe

suzy blah blah said...

The shape shifting humanoid-lizards are a root race of the present day humans and derive from Lamuria. Not all were destryed with the sinking of the ancient continent and a group of them, the Skrulls, are well placed onstage in today's political drama. Hilary Clinton is one of them. There is evidence that her back side, her rear end, has at times been separated from her body when apprehended. At least two Hilary "tails" exist, one at area 51 in Nevada and the other at the underground Scientology bunker here in our "own" Humboldt Co. The "Hiltails" are said to be blue and for some this leads to the conclusion of her being a skink rather than a skrull. Other researchers have used the term skank as well as a skunk.

Ernie Branscomb said...

So, does anybody know why a lizard is measured from the tip of it's nose to it's anus? It's true that is the proper way to measure a lizard.

Scroll
down
for
suspense.

Because lizards often lose their tails, and that is the only way to accurately measure them.

Joseph said...

Yes, aren't the zoological terms fine? Awhile back I was describing a donkey as an "ass," and that might have been offensive to some folks (probably nobody reading this blog).
But, how nice to be able to describe the length of a lizard as "snout to vent," or something of the sort. A precisely defined "crown to rump" length is an important morphological measure for mammals. Tails as a problem--not just because the get lost or injured or are a work in progress, but because they tend to vary substantially across biological populations. I'm about to go off to Asia to attempt to gain some understanding of what is going on in macaque monkey populations in southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and maybe Burma/Myanmar. There is a zone of intergradation between longtailed macaques and rhesus macaques. Of course, the hybrids have tails that are intermediate in length. Getting them sorted out reliably and better defined is critical to conservation of wild populations, among other things.
I strayed off topic. I intended to make some wise crack (get it) about being able to refer to someone as a "vent." Well, enough potty humor for now....

Joseph said...

I meant to say "tails ARE a problem." Sorry, typo.

Anonymous said...

Just name the person you want to call an ass Joe. Go ahead and vent.

I wanna go with you to Asia. It has always been my biggest dream to go there to check out the Wildlife.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I did know you can get salmonella from water dogs and turtles but way back when, I didn't have that knowledge. I have a picture of my two very young daughters with a water dog in one hand and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the other.
I also didn't know water dogs are poisonous. I have read that toads and I think buzzards are the only critters you can't eat in America. It looks like the list is growing.

Oregon

Joseph said...

Okay, Oregon. You are on for the Asia trip.

And, regarding the vent, don't worry, it isn't you. In fact, it isn't anyone who is reading this.

I do have a friend, a tenured professor at a major university, who has a very long list of people she could use this for. Every time the name of just about any of our mutual acquaintances is mentioned, she loudly proclaims "Oh yeh. He's an [vent]!" I often do not agree, but in the interest of safety and sanity, I just mutter something like "Yeh, well, just because you HAVE one, doesn't mean you need to BE one." I like her and she is my good friend, but does have a remarkably long "shit list." I don't. During a reflective time a few years ago, I realized that I had such a list, but there were only two people on it, and neither of them had been relevant to my life for more than 25 years. What's more, what I had blamed them for years ago, had diverted me into doing richly rewarding things that I would probably not have done had I not been so grievously wronged. So I figuratively tore up and discarded my figurative list, and, somehow, felt less encumbered.

So, where do you want to go in Asia, and what do you want to see?
I've had the good fortune of getting over there a lot of times, but there's always much more to see. The expense is not trivial, but it is less than one might imagine. I'm still searching for the most favorable promotional airfare.

Take care.

Joe

Joseph said...

Oh yes, about the amphibians....

We used to see red-bellied and
rough-skinned newts a lot when
we lived near Honeydew. It was
a real treat. Several times we
saw them in mating/reproductive
clusters. It is pretty common for
amphibians to emit toxic exudates
from their skin--everything from
the powerful toxins from poison-arrow frogs of south and central America, to the relatively mild emissions of the common garden toad. We also saw a couple of kinds of slender salamanders in the Mattole. Back here, we have mostly red-spotted newts, but have also seen cave salamanders.
Joe

Anonymous said...

Joseph, I'm humbled. I was being facetious. Not about my dream of going to Asia but of just going. It is a big deal for me to travel to town for groceries. That is 30 miles away.
If I were to go to Asia I would like to see everything.

Thank you, Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Joe
While we are into semantics, and terminology, I feel it only fair to warn you that Oregon probably has a different idea of “Wildlife” than you might have.

Joseph said...

My 2DO list includes scanning in all my best slides--which includes lots of wildlife shots. When I was working for National Geographic they gave me all the film I wanted and developed it with no charge to me. While they claimed a right to first refusal of all my photos, they never looked at any of them and never expressed any interest in doing so. I learned not to feel badly about that, because that was also pretty much the same way they treated people who were Pulitzer prize winning photojournalists.

Anyway, when I get some of these images digitized I'd be glad to post them or links to them or something--for things that interest you.

It would be kinda cool to go see giant pandas in the wild in southern China. There is some possibility that that could happen. It would also be fun to see golden monkeys or other snub-nosed monkeys. We'll see....

Joe

Joseph said...

Ernie, fair enough. I kinda went feral for awhile, mostly between marriages (1968-1973). My experience
with the "wild" life in Asia has been somewhat limited. I mean, once I went (pushed by friends) to a massage parlor in Jakarta. The young lady I selected was rather astonished when I limited our activities to a massage. I was afraid that I damaged her self-concept, but she did give me a really good back rub. There were a few other episodes and offers I declined. I learned during my wild days that trying to explain STDs to health providers and a dynamic and extensive web of active hedonists and their spouses and significant others was not really much fun. Fortunately, some of the urgency has subsided, along with most of the opportunities. Reptile function or dysfunction has not really been an issue for quite awhile. It's been more like reptile disjunction.
How did we get off on this topic?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Joseph
I am very much, personally, interested in any photos or observations that you might have on your trip “to Asia to attempt to gain some understanding of what is going on in macaque monkey populations in southern China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and maybe Burma/Myanmar.”

I would be more than glad to publish any photo or print that you want to provide. I would give you photo credit and copy rights. National Geographic we aren’t, but I don’t think you would find a much more appreciative audience than you would find here. My “Critter posts” are the most popular thing that I do. My friends don’t care much for my politics, but most everybody likes critters. I have friends that were in south east Asia when they didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy the critters. This could be a second chance for them.

All you would have to do is put it in an email to me, and I would put it in this blog.

All in favor say “Aye!”

Anonymous said...

Aye!!

Maybe you can find a sure fire way of exterminating gophers too.

Oregon

Joseph said...

I've never been to China (except for Hong Kong), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, or Nepal, but I'd like visit all those places. I've been in Malaysia, Singapore, and quite a few places in Indonesia. One of these times I'll start getting things digitized--and, of course, everything I take now is already digital. So, on this upcoming China trip I should have some things to share. I should dig out my water dragon pictures and get those to you. These are good sized (up to about 40" long) aquatic lizards that can run on water. I'm always pleased that I do not have one of those in my pajamas. I'd rather be lonely, if you know what I mean.

Ben said...

Joseph... For years there was a "Basilisk Crossing" sign out on China Creek Road with a picture of a water dragon on its hind legs. Never saw one. Must be nocturnal.
No one has mentioned one peculiar quality of both the Alligator lizard and the Blue Bellied Skink. That is that both are hosts to the deer tick and that some factor in their blood kills the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. The theory is that this fact causes our area to have a much lower rate of infected ticks than the disease centers back east. I have never seen any info on how this works but it is well documented.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the knowledge of the folks that post on this blog so why can't one of you give me, Robin and Cousin a sure kill for gophers??
I do take into consideration the Juicy Fruit gum but there just has to be better way. Is there pre-chewed Juicy Fruit gum available?
The block A and B are out of the question.

Oregon

spyrock said...

i was cleaning out my 700 gallon tub and the plug is real low to the ground. before i could put the net down to catch any fish that went through the hole some of them came through. usually i can find them flopping on the ground. not this time, there was a gopher hole right under where the water was coming out and it seem to go on forver because the water kept disappearing down the gopher hole. anyway, the gophers had a goldfish dinner tonight because they never swam back up the hole to the surface.

spyrock said...

i climbed up this creek to a spa up a canyon in new mexico. i put my clothes underneath a rock while we went for a soak in the hot spirngs. afterwards we went to a mexican restaurant and were in the middle of dinner when i felt something on my back. every time i would try to touch where it was it would move so i went to the mens room. there i took off my shirt and an 8 inch long centipide started running around all over the floor. i didn't want to leave it in there alone so i called pedro and jose and they were still in there trying to catch the bugger when we left. at least i didn't leave it for someone sitting on the shitter watching it come out between their legs.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,this may have been discussed before??? But what about the Eels in the Eel River?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
I've written so much about Eels that I thought that I did a post on them. Every time I do a search, it brings up everything with "eel" in it, which is everything, because of the "Eel" river.

Oregon
Yes, there are some very wise people comment on this blog. What I like best is that they are in a “laid back” mode here, so their comments are humorous and educating at the same time. Ben knows a lot about everything. He IS a recognized expert on the Wailaki Indian language and culture. He is also a lay expert on Lyme disease. I always look forward to his comments here. He and a few others like Olmanriver ( who is almost THE expert on local history) took the locals advice seriously and they did learn about us and our canyon. Now they know more than the locals do. Unfortunately, they don’t use our names for things. (just because we are wrong is still no reason to gloat!)

Spyrock is a bridge between the local Indian People and the local white people, because he is a descendant of both. Both he and I have learned a lot about our local history through this blog.

Both Robin and Penny sit in the background and correct our mistakes. I suspect that they let many mistakes slide.

I have a helpful “Anon” out there, and also a hateful “Anon”, so Anon always keeps me busy.

Wow! never start naming names, I should just let it suffice to say that the commenters here are much wiser than the head-blogger.

not so pert, olmanriver said...

Many of us older types are a bit ex-pert, as my mirror tells me daily.
My focus is the early local Indian/white contact period because that story has been poorly recorded, but I am no expert on local history, just a passionate researcher. People who are experts, study for a long time.

My latest info raid on the Mendo Hist Society yielded this nugget. When the explorer Gibbs was coming north from Sherwood, over the mountain dividing Sherwood from Cahto/Long valley in 1849 or '50, he found the headwaters of the Eel River and named it.... "Rio des Morons". hmmm, wonder what he meant.
I don't make this stuff up, I just report it.

Ekovox said...

Ah yes, alligator lizards....up over the ridge we used to use them to guard our vegetable gardens.

You see, when the Chinese miners came to our region, they brought the lizards from Hong Kong and Mongolia as camp watch dogs, er, watch lizards. As you have stated, the hiss was the warning they would give just prior to the lunge and grasp onto the victim. Quite vicious little suckers.
They were bred to be tame and sometimes you'll see one of the K-T oldtimers carry one on his shoulder like a parrot on a pirate. By the way, don't eat them, even if you are hungry. The acrid, bitter flavor is akin to wild cucumber. No, they don't taste like chicken.

Anonymous said...

Ekovox, I have cooked many mountain lizards and as you may have guessed, they taste just like lizard. I find the same with chicken (dead) and various snakes.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Oregon
I'm glad to hear you still call them mountain lizards. I never heard them called aligator lizards untill I was out of high school. Aligator lizard seemed like a fitting name, so I just went with it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I don't know what mountain lizard tastes like but I have eaten aligator. It was pounded and fried in cracker meal and it tasted a lot like abalone.

Joseph said...

Mmmmmm! Abalone! It has been a long time since I've had abalone. My friend Buck Miner, author of the book about the Mattole place names, used to "ab" a lot. He had a special talent for it.
I remember once, about 30 years ago, when Nancy and I were living in the Old Mattole Cafe, aka, "The Mattole Center for Science and Education," near Honeydew. We were sitting out on the front steps when Nancy said, "An abalone would taste good right about now." I agreed, and at just that moment, a pickup with a camper came up the Mattole Road from where it crosses Woods Creek. It was Buck, and his housekeeper, Faye, returning from down near Westport. They pulled up in the parking lot in front of us. Buck got out and felt his way around to the back of the truck, opened the camper door, and presented us with two freshly caught abalones.

Don't worry about eating lizards unless you really need to. Fence lizards aren't big enough to be of much use. I'd have to be pretty hungry to try a alligator lizard, but alligator and crocodile can be quite delicious. I have friends in Mauritius who have a crocodile farm and restaurant. The croc they serve in their restaurant is really tasty. In Australia, the monitor lizards are called "Goana," and they are eaten regularly by the aborigenes. The typical way is to roast them over a fire. I have not had goana, but Nancy and I ate crocodile fairly often in Australia. I have not yet eaten snake. We tried to eat a rattlesnake we killed in the Mattole (at a place that the Indian name meant "snakes many here"). There was not enough meat on it to make it worth eating. But I just missed out on a python once in North Sulawesi. We heard a python had been killed and that it was being prepared for dinner, but when we got there? "Sudah makan!" (Already eaten). This was in an area where pythons sometimes exceed 30 feet long.

Aunt Janet said...

None of this lizard talk is creepy to me. Yep, we played with lizards, snakes, mice, rats, sal bugs, salamanders, etc. when I was a kid in Scotts Valley, down by Santa Cruz.

Here in Humboldt I also had a scorpion crawl into bed with me. Or I crawled into bed with it. I got stung twice on my thigh. Called up the doctor in G'ville, who had to look it up. It hurt, and made an impressive welt. I was turning back the covers after that one.

We did the lizard earrings, too.

Which reminds me of another pair of earrings I had at the age of 18. It was a little leaf that had been covered with metal, somehow. Well, I'll tell you, it was decades before I realized it was a marijuana leaf. Hee hee. I wore them a lot. It is such a pretty leaf. It was just a little bit of a leaf really. I still have one of the leaves from that pair.

lizard breath said...

cewl thread!

buffy said...

Help there is one in my car!he is about 8 inches and has been in there for long enough to shed his skin.....

buffy said...

Will it bite me? Tried to get him out and he hid somewhere...can not find him now but he is in there will it attack me while I am driving?

Eileen Johnson, CA said...

Hi, Ernie...I just came across your photo while googling "alligator lizards", and while I did not read through all the other folks comments, I can tell you that what you have here is a Skink. They are beautiful, I think. Thx for your excellent photo.

Joe said...

Yes, the blue-tailed one is a western skink. That first alligator lizard is a southern alligator lizard. I understand that there is an intergrade zone between northern and southern alligator lizards somewhere around the Lost Coast area. Will they bite? I was bitten by one as a kid growing up near Panther Gap, but the occasion was that I went to bed with one inside my pajama top with me (the clothes basket had been left out for a while after the dry clothes had been taken off the clothesline. The younger folks will ask, "What's a clothesline?"