Sunday, July 17, 2011

A lizard in suburban Colorado?

The last thing I expected to see crossing the sidewalk as we walked to the park was a lizard.

They are quite common in Texas. In fact, I see three or four a day. And I'm sure they are also common in Colorado, but to be honest, the only place I've ever seen them in Colorado is down south, near Mesa Verde.

At first, my grandchildren and I stood and stared. None of us expected to see a lizard this far north where the snow is sometimes six feet deep in winter, and in fact, winter dragged on this year until May! But there it was, a tiny lizard, sunbathing on the sidewalk. We crept slowly forward, and when I realized it was, indeed, a little lizard, I slowly moved to its side, talking to it, photographing its lovely head and tail. The grandchildren followed my example, creeping closer and closer, using soft, soothing voices.

Lizards enjoy this type of conversation with soft voices and baby talk. They often turn their heads and look at you sideways--as this one died--as if they are trying to understand the conversation. After awhile, though, he seemed to get a bit nervous, realizing he was surrounded by giants, and scampered beneath a nearby fence.

After downloading the pictures and searching diligently on the Colorado State University website, I have determined it was a female Prairie Lizard. They prefer sunny, rocky habitats and cliffs, downed logs, and forested areas, though they prefer ground areas. The females lay their eggs in June, July and August, so it's possible it had eggs nearby.

My daughter's house is in the foothills, so close that we can walk into the lower hills at the base of the mountains. I suppose it isn't that rare to find this type of lizard in this area, I was just surprised to see it!

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