For the letter X I was tempted to write about xeric plants but then I heard the word xerocole. What a wonderful word. My definition? Drought tolerant creatures.
As those of you who read the spoilers know I spent the last week stalking lizards but I could not get a decent picture for my “X is for …” post. How is that even possible? When I am not looking for them or if I don’t have my camera they are everywhere!
If you happen to know how hyper vigilant and FAST these Texas Spotted Whiptails (Cnemidophorus gularis) are you might forgive the poor quality of the pictures. In the time it takes a person to blink these guys can cover half a city block. No exaggeration. Plus, they are agile. I’ve seen them make close to 90 degree turns at top velocity. They usually aim their noses for the shade of the popular garden agave plants that look a bit like sea monsters.
Their powerful hind legs give them that ability for rocket bursts of speed. Extreme speed is one way these guys have managed to survive the drought and extreme temperatures. They can travel long distances for food or water and avoid predators. Other adaptations: lovely long flat toes that keep them from sinking into sand or mud. And slim bodies to help with thermoregulation: they are quick to heat up and equally quick to cool.
For you dear readers I even risked arrest or worse to get the picture below. I saw this sweet fellow knocking at my neighbor’s door across the street and I couldn’t help myself. I sidled over like some kind of peeping Tom and surreptitiously took the shot. Bad picture but I was too afraid to linger. We have a rabid neighborhood watch group. Not even the chickens next door can match their ability to scatter the holy words of gossip.
I think it was a spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus). It had scales like pecan bark on his back.
If you want to see a nice picture of one of the anoles that are common in Austin please check out Austin Agrodolce. Because even though I live in ATX I didn’t see a single one all week.
Note 1: Don’t trust my identification skills. I admit to a whole lot of guesswork here.
Note 2: Found the lizard pictured below in a burrow near the nearby creek tonight. No idea what kind it is. I am hoping it was a female laying eggs!