Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I guess I have been in Jamaica long enough. I don't jump as high as I used to when I see a lizard!

I was teaching a fourth grade class the other day in the library at Renee's school. All of a sudden, crash, bang, boom. The metal chairs all got pushed, arms went flying, the girls started squealing and the boys yelled. I thought for sure the culprit had to have been at least a foot long to merit that kind of response. Trying to calm everyone, trying to be cool and in control as the teacher should, I said, "where is it!!" I wanted to be sure that I was prepared and far enough away from what had to be a lizard. I have seen even grown men be as frightened of a lizard as we are of rattlesnakes!

After a few moments of sheer pandemonium, getting the class back in control, I said where is it? The children screamed Nathan has it. Give it up Nathan, stop scaring the class. Give it up Nathan, let me see! Lo and behold that little lizard was only two inches long including the tail! I began to tell them that they were really scaredy cats!! and then began a monologue on how many BIG ones have been in my house! Of course they have been in their houses too!! Nathan still had the little thing captured and so I had to tell him to let him go! Please don't kill him, he is going to help us in the long run by eating the mosquitoes! Needless to say, that class was shot, the clock kept ticking, they barely had time to recoup their fear and get a book checked out!

Twenty-two different lizard species live in Jamaica. Some countries fear insects, some fear snakes, Jamaicans fear lizards. There is the green lizard (can get quite large), the Jamaican Brown Anole, the Croaking lizard, the Graham's Anole, and many more. The Croaking lizard is a gecko. They are active at night and make croaking calls to attract mates. They make a very annoying, distinguishable sound, sounds like AAAAK, AAAAK. It is really bothersome because you know who is making the sound and wonder how close they are to the bedroom window that is open!

The Croaking lizard is the one that visits my dining room at night. One night when Ryan was here we went downstairs for a midnight snack and caught him on the wall. He is huge. Just plain huge and scary! This particular kind of lizard climbs walls and clings to the ceiling. You wonder how they can stay like that! It is actually because of the millions of tiny hairs that help them to cling.

Okay a Biology lesson....The tip of each tiny hair has hundreds of little pads called spatulae. Biologists have assumed that lizards produced a glue type reaction to cling but not so. As a matter of fact, an interesting note, one setae (tiny hair) can lift the weight of an ant. A million setae, which fit in the size of a dime, could lift a 45 pound child. What this means is you can't pull a gecko off the wall even if you dared to get that close!

Here is a blurry picture of the one in my house. I was so scared that my hands were shaking to take the picture!

The green lizards are a magnificent sight. There is one that clings to my clothesline pole. I was clipping the clothes on the line, startled him and he moved to the tree. He is probably a juvenile because they get much bigger than this one that I call "Limey"!

The Jamaican Brown Anole is the most common one that I see. They are everywhere. This is the kind that landed in my closet and I wouldn't go in for about 3 weeks, he was huge. One day I was cleaning and he was just staring right at me. He was as if waiting for me to spot him. He was right in the middle of the floor and then scampered when I screamed. Den tried to get him out of the closet, but he grabbed where his tail was attached behind his back legs and his tail ripped off so then I had a tail-less lizard, an obnoxious one at that, living in my closet! He finally left when he got hungry I guess and found his way out. Would I love to have seen how he left, hopefully with his tail between he couldn't leave humbly, his tail was ripped off! Just recently I saw him outside the bathroom window, I knew it was him, he was the same size and tail-less!

Terry Ord, a post doctoral researcher in Zoology, explained that birds, frogs, geckos, and primates sound off at dusk and dawn but the Jamaican Anole ends and starts each day with push-ups, head bobs, and neck flaps. He set up a camcorder in their territory to make observations. They are quite the showman I would say! One thing for sure they are not shy. I have a new friend outside the bathroom window who each night it would appear he is looking for us. When I go upstairs to get ready for bed he is actually looking in the window and just sits and watches as you brush your teeth. He is really something.

Here is a brown looking in on me at my desk!

Our first Christmas in Jamaica, I had an outside door decoration holding fake poinsettias, when the season was over I took the flowers out and lo and behold a gecko was in there nesting. I wonder how long he had been in there for he was completely white, just like the container. Talk about startling!!

One of my favorite photos I took is this one. Two little friends sunbathing together!

These little browns are everywhere, inside and out. In every spot that has an opening, they will find themselves making their own welcome!

When I put the books away at Renee's school, I disturb their resting places. There they love to rest on the top of the pages of the books. I startle them, they move and I keep going!

I doubt that I will ever cease jumping when they surprise me or yelling D.E.N. when I find them in strange places, but I think I am getting used to where they hang out and when I jump, they run....or should I say slither...........eeww!