Reptile Rendezvous

My front deck is the reptile rendezvous of choice.

My front deck is the reptile rendezvous of choice.

Early May has brought out the reptiles in abundance at my house. Almost every time I walk anywhere on our five acres these days, I see/almost step on a snake or lizard. Amphibians of numerous species are also ubiquitous. I encountered two very large toads in different parts of the vegetable garden yesterday as I planted my summer squash seedlings.

A week or so ago, early afternoon brought out two lizard species on our front deck. We couldn’t miss them, because they were basking/interacting just outside our front door. Those are Green Anoles on the railing, of course. I’ve written about them several times, including here. They like that railing, and we see them there often.

The new additions were the skinks loitering on the deck below. They are either Five-lined Skinks or Southeastern Five-lined Skinks. The two species are very similar; apparently the experts distinguish between them by examining scales on the undersides of their tails. I wasn’t about to traumatize them or myself by trying to catch them for closer examination.

At first, I thought the Green Anoles were engaging in courtship behavior, but the longer I watched, the more I thought that perhaps it was a slow-motion reptilian territorial dispute. The most action occurred when one of them caught a small butterfly that was visiting one of the white salvia flowers growing beside the railing. Just as one anole caught its prey, the other rushed it, jostling it, so that it released the fluttering victim, which flew away as the two anoles settled in for more slow motion space wars.

The nose-to-nose glare-off lasted for many minutes.

The nose-to-nose staring contest lasted for many minutes.

One was clearing shedding the skin off its tail. Maybe this makes it extra grouchy?

One was clearly shedding the skin off its tail. Maybe this makes it extra grouchy?

One did occasionally inflate his throat pouch. The other never did, which is why I suspected it might be female.

One occasionally inflated his throat pouch. The other never did, which is why I suspected it might be female.

The skinks were much less active than their green friends. They seemed content to stay nearly immobile, soaking up sun and ignoring me as I moved around trying to get better camera angles on them without startling them.

Those are White Texas Sage flowers.

Those are White Texas Sage flowers.

This one was larger and wider and had no blue on its tail, which I think means it is older than the other one.

This one was larger and wider and had no blue on its tail, which I think means it is older than the other one.

The one was more shy, hugging the edge of the deck for a quicker escape. Note the blue tinge to its tail.

This one was more shy, hugging the edge of the deck for a quicker escape. Note the blue tinge to its tail.

Skinks and Green Anoles are all welcome in my yard and garden, of course. Any critter that eats some of the ten gazillion bugs that occupy my garden is welcome. For every butterfly they devour, they almost certainly eat more unwelcome insect pests. I’ve read they eat spiders, too, and I’ve noticed fewer of the eight-legged creatures lingering around my front deck. Perhaps the lizards have reduced their numbers somewhat?

At least one large snake also occupies the area around our front deck, although it is not audacious enough to sun itself on the deck with the lizards (thank goodness!) I suspect it is the same Black Rat Snake I wrote about here, because of its size, but I can’t be certain. I almost stepped on it the other day as I was weeding around a daylily, and last week, it left me a present coiled around the large Spanish Lavender bush that thrives against the front of my house:

A freshly shed skin.

A freshly shed skin.

It’s a little hard to see in the above shot, but the shed skin is quite long. I got out a yard stick, gently eased the skin away from the lavender, and laid them side-by-side on a garden bench for comparison:

Four feet long, give or take a few inches.

Four feet long, give or take a few inches.

Here’s a slightly different angle:

You can tell the former owner of this skin was not only long, but relatively thick.

You can tell the former owner of this skin was not only long, but relatively thick.

I’m happy to report that it’s not just the cold-blooded clan that love the habitat-rich environments we’ve created for them. Bird song by many species begins before the sun has done more than hint at the arrival of a new day. All the summer visitors are here now: Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and too many warblers to ever distinguish. The Red-breasted Nuthatches finally left for their northern breeding grounds. I’ll miss their bold visits to the suet feeders as I tried to re-fill them.

And don’t get me started on the summer weeds. My knees may never forgive me for the relentless torture I’ve subjected them to as I’ve tried to plant vegetables amid predictions of wildly varying temperatures.

Reptiles have it far easier in that regard. I suspect that knee pain is rarely, if ever, an issue for them.

 

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  1. #1 by Jerree Scheitlin on May 14, 2013 - 6:06 pm

    As usual your new post was great. On my way to therapy this morning I itched for my camera as a mother quail ran across the road in front of me next to the golf course. Six newly hatched babies were following in a line but stopped when they saw my car and would not move. I could not move until they decided I would not hurt them. Had I moved I would have hit at least one or two.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on May 14, 2013 - 8:18 pm

      I’m glad you were able to avoid hurting the baby quail, Jerree. They are so cute!

      As always, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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