Gardening Ideas forum: Article: Anole lizards in the garden

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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Aug 25, 2017 12:26 PM CST
ANOLE LIZARDS IN THE GARDEN

I was so excited. About a year after I submitted my first image for the banner on All Things Plants (now NGA) I was surprised to see this:
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Growing up in Connecticut where there were no Anole lizards I realize that I had a deprived childhood. No Anole lizards. How sad.

After my parents retired and moved to Florida, Mom would tell me the funny things that her little lizards would do...the little lizards would watch from the window screen as she washed dishes. They seemed to play with her when she watered her outdoor plants. Lizards brought a smile to Mom's face. I should mention that as I write this, Mom is 99 3/4 years old. Yep. (Update - mom lived to be 100 years old plus 6 months.)

Savannah is my home now; has been for 22 years. And gardening is my hobby. Naturally, I come into contact with lots of lizards in the garden.
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There are Skinks with bright blue tails; you can read my short blog titled "All this and the kitchen skink" to see this little guy. (The hand in the photo belongs to a gardener, hence...no manicure.)
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I found the Eastern Glass Lizard; it's a legless lizard and a bit too shy for a photo. https://srelherp.uga.edu/lizar...
Oh yeah, I should mention they don't care to be picked up. Lesson learned. Ouch!!!
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However, it never occurred to me to wonder, "Where do lizards come from?"

That all changed one day I was doing some garden clean up, long overdue, when I found...
well, at first I thought it was a round piece of perlite. As I looked more closely it seemed a bit soft and leathery. Could this tiny thing be a lizard egg? It was no larger than the fingernail on my pinkie finger.

What do I know about eggs? Guess I already talked about eggs in my chicken blog story, right?
But I don't know much about lizard eggs.

Since I never studied Anole lizards I reached into the 'Way-Back Machine' I call my memory to see if I had anything on file that could help. When I was a kid I remember my brother once brought home a turtle egg. It looked similar in size, shape, and color to a ping pong ball. In fact, it looked so exactly like a ping pong ball that ....well, let's just say it was a bad idea for me to try to bounce it in the living room. It did not bounce and I got into really big trouble for making a mess on the carpet. Neither mom nor brother ever forgave me for that blunder.

Okay, what else do I know about lizards and eggs? Ah, there was a show on television called 'Dirty Jobs' (I love that show!) and the host Mike Rowe (he's so cute in a boyish way) was invited to go along to collect alligator eggs in the swamps of Louisiana. Dirty Jobs, season 2, episode 18; runtime 44 minutes .
http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ...
One thing I remembered from the show is that when collecting the alligator eggs, they need to be marked 'this side up' and always kept in the same position.

That's enough to get me started. I didn't actually mark the egg, just picked it up very carefully and, keeping it in the same position, placed it in a cup of damp vermiculite. Since I had recently participated with several other All Things Plant members to grow out Sweet Shrub seeds provided by JB, I already had the cups and vermiculite handy. Here is a picture. Take a look. That is my index finger in the photo and not my pinkie finger so use that as a size reference.

Lizard eggs in cups of vermiculite. July 9
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Anole lizard egg incubator.
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Anole egg in vermiculite, July 20
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Now, where to keep the cups safe? My plant friend named Liz who was moving clear across the country to Oregon gift me with lots of her gardening gear. Since Liz was also an avid 'birder' she raised mealworms to fill her bird feeders. Her husband Tom made a really neat set up using lidded plastic containers which he fitted with some window screen mesh. Yes, the perfect 'incubator' for the Anole lizard eggs and safe from predators.

Next came several days and nights searching the internet to learn as quickly as possible how to care for the eggs until they hatched. We have an ATP member named Gleni who lives in Australia; I remember he sometimes mentions his local lizards. I sent him a Tree mail to see if he could offer help and advice. Yes, and lots of encouragement, too!

Well, golly gee. I'm a mother!!
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He's a bit blurry but awfully cute, don't 'cha think?
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Taking his first steps...wow, baby lizards can run very fast.
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He is looking for an exit.
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Time to leave...
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Time to set him free in the garden. Good cover and plenty of food for baby lizards here in the Sweet Autmn Clematis.
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Two of my baby lizards on the Swamp Sunflowers.
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Lizards, August 1
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Camera-shy lizard on Forsythia Sage plant.
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August 9 ( Hurray! That was my mom's birthday!!)
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Not one of my lizards; this one lives at the Botanical Garden located on Eisenhower Street in Savannah, Georgia.
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Now, if I could just figure out what these are...but that will be a different article. Thumbs up
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Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - Mar 18, 2018 10:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

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plantladylin
Aug 25, 2017 6:31 PM CST
Greene, I love your story! Having lived in Florida for more than 50 years I've seen lots of green and brown anole lizards and I'm always finding eggs in the soil of some of my container plants! Back in 2008 I was transplanting something or other and found a single brown anole lizard egg and put it in a terrarium, thinking for sure it wouldn't hatch ... but sure enough, one day I noticed a teeny little lizard running around inside the terrarium. We dubbed her Lucy Lizard and since it was winter time and fairly cold outside, we didn't think he/she would survive outdoors so we left it in the terrarium. I wasn't sure what to feed it so, hubby decided to leave the porch light and garage lights on all night and he caught moths and dropped them into the terrarium and little Lucy would stalk, catch and eat them. It was fun to watch! She thrived and grew and once the weather warmed in the spring, we released her to the garden!

Brown Anole Lizard (Lucy)
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I've seen a few of the legless lizards over the years too .... I remember thinking my husband was lying to me when I'd scream about a snake in the garden and he'd look at it and tell me it wasn't a snake, just a legless lizard. I'd never heard of such a thing Usually the ones we'd see were small but one year there was a 3 footer scurrying around the garden. Pretty things but they still look like snakes to me. Green Grin!

Eastern Glass Lizard
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We have a few different types of Skinks around too and I've heard that they will bite! I don't mind picking up and handling the little Anole Lizards at all because they don't bite but I'd worry about some of the skinks.

Six-lined Racerunner Skink
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~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 25, 2017 7:33 PM CST
Great stories Greene and Lin,

Once, many years ago, we were shoring up a collapsing edge on our pond. When we peeled back the liner, we found about a dozen lizard eggs. We carefully gathered them up and put them in a jar on the kitchen counter. Within a couple weeks, we were the proud parents of a whole slew of Alligator Lizards.

Alligator Lizards get about 18 inches long, are very bendy and bite - HARD! And then they won't let go. Smiling
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Name: Kristi
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pod
Aug 25, 2017 8:49 PM CST
I have enjoyed these "lizard tales" as much as I like lizards. I have always cohabitated with them and been fascinated to watch the littlest buggers catch large moths and butterflies and struggle to eat them.

Earlier this summer they earned more of my respect. I have had problems with an abundance of scorpions. Having killed three that were in a container in the greenhouse, I got the heebie jeebies and left them there to clean up later. When I went to do so an hour later, I found one of the chubby neon skinks in the container, smacking his lips and picking his teeth. He had eaten all three of the scorpion carcasses. I gave him/her a big atta boy!

Thanks for the informative article Greene! Thumbs up
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 25, 2017 10:27 PM CST
@Greene, I've only been to the South a couple times but what I remember is that you never see just one Anole - they seem to run in herds. Is that right?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 26, 2017 6:49 AM CST
From a decade of observation, I've only ever seen solitary anoles, except when mating, when pairs get together in that "special hug."

They (and skinks, geckos, frogs, toads, birds) are why I do not use any 'cides of any kind.
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Aug 26, 2017 8:39 AM CST
Wonderful article! Thumbs up Thumbs up
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Aug 27, 2017 5:47 PM CST
We have hundreds of the little green and brown Anole lizards here in Florida and I LOVE having them around because they eat the unwanted bugs! Thumbs up Unfortunately they will also snatch a butterfly if they get a chance too and if I see one stalking a butterfly I will grab it (the lizard) and move it to the other side of the yard. Over the years, I've rescued many little lizards from our cats and we now have two dogs who seem to enjoy stalking and (if I can't catch the dogs fast enough) eating them! Crying

I love the little ones but I'm so glad we don't have the huge Iguana's here like they have farther south in the state!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


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