Friday, October 16, 2009

You don't want to be a lizard here

Lizards and iguanas seem to be prey for many around here. The smaller lizards playing in the garden are often scooped up by passing birds. If they manage to escape the attention of the birds, they rarely escape the notice of cats.

Our three 'house' cats spend a lot of time on the back terrace. Unfortunately, small lizards like to visit back there, and it's the last thing they ever do because once one of the cats spots it, the hunt is on and there is no chance of escape.

Last evening one of the cats hit the back door. I thought they wanted in, so went to check. None of them wanted in, they were all interested in what Maya held in her mouth. Little feet sticking out on both sides of her mouth told me she had a lizard. The sound I'd heard was Maya jumping up at the door to catch the little guy.

I used to try to take them away from her, but she is not like our other cats - she chomps down on them right off the bat and severely injures or kills them. I've tried shaking her, yelling at her, chasing her - no luck, she won't drop the lizard. Smokey and Minina are more gentle, because they want to play with the poor creature before they eat it, and I can often rescue the lizard from either of those cats. But not Maya, she just wants to eat it.

Once I had the situation summed up, I went back inside, leaving Maya to fend off the other two cats that were doing their best to check what she had in her mouth. How it ended up I don't know - there were no bits and pieces left lying around.

The stray gray cat out in the front garden often catches the little lizards out there. Since I can't even touch that cat there is no hope of prying the lizard away from him. I just have to go back in the house and try not to think about the lizard.

With all these hunters, I'm surprised we have any lizards at all - thankfully they must breed like rabbits, because I do enjoy watching them hop around the 'jungle' in the front garden and there are still some out there despite all the hazards.

Luna has caught the bigger lizards and small iguanas. Before she came to live with us I'm sure lizards and birds were her main diet. Luna is a terrific hunter, and we suspect that she's the only one capable of killing the odd rat we've seen around here. A rat is not a small beast, so it takes a courageous cat to take it on. That would be our Luna.

Loco and Negra love going after iguanas. Before Negra came to live with us, I saw her eating an iguana once, so I know she had to learn to find food after she'd been abandoned down the road. She still tries to chase them and I'm sure she'd kill it if she got one. Loco - he has caught a few iguanas, but he just catches them and then runs home with them, and they often bite him on the nose and he drops them. So far we've been able to rescue all the iguanas that Loco has caught, even if one or two lost part of their tail in the process (iguanas can grow another tail - a little stumpier, but another tail it is).

Loco lives to watch and chase iguanas. The other day there was a dead snake on the road. We had just returned from a tour on the cart, so I held Loco on the cart while Miguel found a stick and scooped the snake off the road and threw it into the jungle. Loco had been watching intently, and as soon as I let him off the leash he leaped off the cart and tore down the road.

But not to where the snake had been. No, while I'd been watching Miguel, Loco had spotted a small green lizard walking along the sidewalk of the house next door. He was on it in a flash, and the lizard bolted this way and that way to escape. Miguel and I dashed over and Miguel grabbed Loco just as he was about to pounce. The lizard disappeared, and Miguel let Loco go.

The silly lizard had just gone into the grass, and in no time at all Loco's nose sniffed it out and he was pushing into the grass looking for the lizard. I grabbed Loco and Miguel picked up the lizard and threw it into a tree. It sort of dangled there - looked dead to me but Miguel insisted it was hanging on with its feet and it was just pretending to be dead. I hope that was the case. I checked the tree the next day and did not see the lizard, so either it was not dead, or it was dead and another creature came along and ate it up.

Early this morning I was woken up by a commotion outside our bedroom door. Smokey and Minina were looking around and sniffing - I knew it meant a gecko was around. After moving a few things I found it - a baby not more than an inch long, hidden under the coffee maker. I put a glass over it while Smokey watched, and then I lifted it and carried it outside and put it in the plants. It might stay outside, it might not - but at least I saved it. For now.

There is an iguana that lives in the base of the wall down at the corner, and both Loco and Negra dart down there to try to surprise the iguana. So far the iguana is ahead, he dashes into a hole in the wall and despite heavy digging by Loco, the iguana is safe.

If you are are ever driving about the island around 5 pm, take a look at the planted parts of the wall along the airport, on the west side. Those walls are covered with iguanas - one day I must remember the camera to get a picture. Loco's eyes just about pop out of his head and he gets a cramp in his neck as we pass - he just can't believe his eyes that there are so many iguanas all in one place.

The other day as we were driving along, a big iguana was at the side of the road waiting to cross. We knew his chances of making it to the other side were slim. Miguel stopped the cart and while Loco and I watched, Miguel took off his cap and swished it at the iguana to make him run back to the wall. What the iguana did after we left we don't know, but we do our part to try to keep them from turning into road kill.

We did the same thing along the main avenue near La Gloria. An iguana was across the street. Miguel pulled over and waited until he could safely cross, and he waved his cap at the iguana. It took a few swipes and sidesteps to convince the iguana to change his mind, but finally the iguana took a flying leap into the plants at the side of the road. A young man was standing beside our cart watching Miguel, and I could see he was wondering what Miguel was doing. I explained (in Spanish) that Miguel didn't want the iguana to cross the road, and the guy just grinned - he understood. I don't know how many people would stop on the road to convince a creature it isn't wise to cross, but it's nice to know that people understand it, even if they wouldn't do it themselves.

We hate coming across dead animals in the road. Doesn't matter what it is, it was a life that was snuffed out. If there is any way to take the animal off the road, Miguel stops and removes the animal into the plants, to let it be in peace and not continue to be road smush. Respect for all life, that's our motto.

But Miguel and I are the only ones in our house that seem to have a soft heart. The rest - they just want to eat them.


Islagringo said...

I like having geckos in the house. They are cute and great bug eaters. Lizards, not so much! Simon likes to catch them and bring them in the house. Then it is up to me to catch them and put them outside! He likes to torture them before he eats all but their heads. Drives me crazy.

Sue said...

I like the geckos too, but not their droppings. However, I just let them live in here, the ones that manage to escape the cats. We don't get lizards in the house (that I know of). Funny what parts cats leave behind - sometimes it's a pretty gruesome sight.

Anonymous said...

Excellent the way you wrote the story. It was like I was right there!

Bennie said...

Oh this reminds me of when you first moved to Mexico and watching the Geckos on your ceiling. Sounds like you don't have that problem anymore.