One sunny day in September, my husband sent me out to his truck to retrieve a cardboard box. I peeked in, and met the ebony eyes of a rather perturbed long tailed lizard whom my husband intended to be the new best friend of our four year old son. Hunter was of course delighted to have his own little buddy, but I was perturbed there was no instruction booklet or housing suitable for the latest addition to our already eclectic menagerie. Lizzie happily perched on a cactus plant in our garden window, watching as I attempted to make it into a terrarium by positioning a glass shelf across the front of the window opening. I did not realize long tailed lizards are quite capable of scaling glass walls.
Needless to say, Lizzie escaped, much to the chagrin of all relatives who entered the house to meet the creature but expected that meeting to take place in a controlled environment. After a few days, Lizzie turned up beneath a damp hand towel in the half bath near her sun room window, and was promptly returned to the lovingly prepared home. Unfortunately, a few days later she managed to escape again in spite of our best efforts to create a secure enclosure, and we resigned ourselves to finding a tiny little skeleton in an unexpected location at some point in the future.
One evening during the Christmas vacation, my husband noticed Lizzie s.l.o.w.l.y appropoaching the bathroom, her pleas of ‘water’ almost audible. She was reclaimed, rehydrated, and rehomed in our ecstatic son’s bedroom with a lovely lizard terrarium fully supplied with crickets for prey, plants, rocks and moss for play. Little did we know the crickets would team up on poor Lizzie, literally taking a bit out of her, and she was discovered in distress the other morning. Poor Hunter was devastated, tears pooling in his green eyes as he pointed to his best friend, prone on the bottom of her habitat.
Lizzie made a trip to the magical vet (located in the local pet store) to have emergency surgery, emerging refreshed and renewed – and a little lighter in colour. The pet store provided the correct size of crickets, and the larger carnivorous ones have been removed to a cricket house. Hunter knows about death because we lost our twelve-year old bulldog patriarch last summer, but was not ready to deal with the loss of the one pet that was solely his own.