I'm gonna share a few of those tidbits before telling you a funny tale.
Did you ever have any of these little guys as a kid? I'm pretty sure red eared sliders are still fairly popular pets, but they have been known to carry salmonella. As far as I know, our sliders never carried salmonella. In fact, they lived very happy little lives in a little plastic habitat, complete with a little plastic palm tree. Until they died of boredom.
I'm not a huge fan of snakes, but I do admire their beauty. (From a distance.) My brother raises ball pythons, and his albinos are especially beautiful. Know why snakes stick out their tongues? They aren't being rude. That's how they smell. Same for lizards.
A couple other quick tidbits before we go on to that tale:
- Most lizards have autonomous tails, which means they can break them off to escape predators. I must confess, I caught and snapped the tails off quite a few skinks when I was a kid, simply because I thought it was funny as heck to see those detached tails wiggle. Besides, I knew their tails would grow back again. However, now I know the regenerated tails are smaller, boneless, and sometimes of a different color than the original. (So to all those skinks whose beauty I marred, I deeply apologize.)
- Some lizards can squirt blood two to four feet... out of their eyes!
- Lizards can conserve water by excreting salt. When water is scarce, they excrete enough salt to form a white residue on their bodies.
- Most lizards have suction cups on the bottoms of their feet.
- The gecko is the only lizard with a true voice, because he's the only one with vocal chords. As anyone who's ever seen those insurance commercials could tell you, they also speak with a British accent.
Okay, ready? Story time.
Cute little guy, isn't he? And he looks pretty doggone pleased with himself, too. Just picture that expression in the story that follows.
WARNING: This is one of those laugh-out-loud funny stories that went around the Internet without attribution some years back, so you might want to set your drink down before you start reading it.
Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell me there was "something wrong" with one of the two lizards he holds prisoner in his room. "He's just lying there looking sick," he said. "I'm serious, Dad. Can you help?"
So I put my best lizard-healer expression on my face and followed him into his bedroom. Sure enough, one of the little lizards was lying on his back, looking stressed. I immediately knew what to do. "Honey," I yelled, "come look at the lizard!"
"Oh, my gosh!" my wife exclaimed. "She's having babies."
"What?" my son demanded. "But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!"
I was equally outraged.
"Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn't want them to reproduce," I said accusingly to my wife.
"Well, what do you want me to do, post a sign in their cage?" she inquired (I think she actually said this sarcastically!).
"No, but you were supposed to get two boys!" I reminded her, (in my most loving, calm, sweet voice, while gritting my teeth).
"Yeah, Bert and Ernie!" my son agreed.
"Well, it's just a little hard to tell on some guys, you know," she informed me (Again with the
By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. I shrugged, and decided to make the best of it. "Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience," I announced. "We're about to witness the miracle of birth."
"Oh, gross!" they shrieked
"Well, isn't THAT just great? What are we going to do with a litter of tiny little lizard babies?" my
wife wanted to know.
We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a scant second later.
"We don't appear to be making much progress," I noted.
"It's breech," my wife whispered, horrified.
"Do something, Dad !" my son urged.
"Okay, okay." Squeamishly, I reached in and grabbed the foot when it next appeared, giving it a gentle tug. It disappeared. I tried several more times with the same results.
"Should I call 911?" my eldest daughter wanted to know. "Maybe they could talk us through the trauma." (You see a pattern here with the females in my house?)
"Let's get Ernie to the vet," I said grimly.
We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap. "Breathe, Ernie, breathe," he urged.
"I don't think lizards do Lamaze," his mother noted to him. (Women can be so cruel to their own young. I mean, what she does to me is one thing, but this boy is of her womb, for God's sake.).
The vet took Ernie back to the examining room and peered at the little animal through a magnifying glass.
"What do you think, Doc, a C-section?" I suggested scientifically.
"Oh, very interesting," he murmured. "Mr. And Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?"
I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside.
"Is Ernie going to be okay?" my wife asked.
"Oh, perfectly," the vet assured us. "This lizard is not in labor. In fact, that isn't EVER going to
happen. Ernie is a boy. You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into
maturity, like most male species, they um... um... masturbate. Just the way he did, lying on his
back." He blushed, glancing at my wife.
We were silent, absorbing this.
"So, Ernie's just... just... excited," my wife offered.
"Exactly," the vet replied, relieved that we understood.
More silence. Then my vicious, cruel wife started to giggle. And giggle. And then laughed out loud.
"What's so funny?" I demanded, knowing, but not believing that the woman I married would commit the upcoming affront to my flawless manliness.
Tears were now running down her face. "It's just that... I'm picturing you pulling on its ... its... teeny little..." She gasped for more air, and laughed even harder.
"That's enough," I warned. We thanked the vet and hurriedly bundled the lizard and our son back into the car.
He was glad everything was going to be okay. "I know Ernie's really thankful for what you did, Dad," he told me.
"Oh, you have NO idea," my wife agreed, collapsing with laughter.
Two lizards: $140.
One cage: $50.
Trip to the vet: $30.
(Memory of your husband pulling on a lizard's winkie: Priceless!)
So what little tidbit of information could have prevented that priceless experience? Simple. Most lizards... lay eggs.
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Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
[Images from Wikipedia, icanhascheezburger, morguefile, and seniorark]