A Garden Friend
A southern alligator lizard lives in our garden. We meet up occasionally, unexpectedly—under the artichoke, in the leaf litter, near the the rock pile. Our dog cornered the lizard in the kitchen once. That was an adventure.
I spotted a juvenile lizard in the yard as well. It sported a red stripe down the back. Last year I saw two different molted lizard skins in the yard which might explain the baby lizard.
I’m happy to have this garden friend who is known to eat a variety of pests and undesirables such as grasshoppers, snails, slugs, sow bugs, black widows and crickets. Southern alligator lizards may eat animals close to or greater than their own body length. Read more about the alligator lizard diet on the San Diego Zoo website.
These little guys live ten to fifteen years if not taken out by snakes, red-tailed hawks or domestic cats. I can’t resist a few more factoids about the southern alligator lizard from the Zoo fact sheet:
Climbs trees and is a good swimmer.
Cannibalism is not uncommon. Adults may eat the young and males and females eat each other.
Range is from Washington to northern Baja California, west of the Cascade-Sierra Nevada crest.
Snout to vent length is 3.1 to 7.25 inches with tail length up to twice the body length.
Has ability to be active in cool temperatures during foggy or cloudy periods of the day. Its capacity for activity despite low body temperature is distinctive. Many other lizards need to be warmer to function well.
May inhabit the same site for many years ('site tenacious').
Stick around little critter, you’re doing useful work in my garden.