Lizard Hunting: A Houston Family Pastime

TRUE STORIES, the ParentsPost.com Series

 


by Doctor Narks, Houston Dad

 

Editor's Note: True Stories are essays that capture slices of Houston family life. They are written by Houston moms and dads. Sometimes, the articles are submitted with a pseudonym for privacy. 

 

 

       I live in a house full of woman. There's the wife, who other than hair color, is the modern-day incarnation of Mrs. Ricardo from I Love Lucy. There's the nanny, the housekeeper, two female Maltese and, most importantly, the daughter. She's seven and the youngest and most energetic member of the household. The wife has raised her on only-organic everything so it's no wonder that she's tall and smart with piercing hazel eyeballs and strikingly gorgeous dimples.

       We live in the Shepherd/West Gray Area. In between the brick and concrete hard scapes, there are actually small patches of dirt and rock and even grass. It's a topic rarely discussed in 77019-land, but here in our paradise, we are living among the wildlife.

       Yes, we are not alone. Deep within our gardens there are vermin and critters of many species. And the current fascination in our household is the lizard.

 

LIZARDS IN HOUSTON YARDS

      Why the fascination with lizards, you ask; because the daughter has become a world-class hunter.

       According to Wikipedia (the only current source of information now that no one knows what a library is), "Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with more than 9,766 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group, traditionally recognized as the suborder Lacertilia, is defined as all extant members of the Lepidosauria (reptiles with overlapping scales) that are neither sphenodonts nor snakes."

        There is a lot to know about lizard hunting and I have learned this the hard way from the many reprimands and lectures I've received on the subject. From the outset please be clear; there is only one lizard hunter in our domicile and that is the daughter. Daddy is only there to provide encouragement and craft services when cookies and bottled water are needed. The hunt requires a keen eye, rapid reflexes, and vast experience, none of which the daddy possesses.

       It is a well-known fact that the lizards of River Oaks are particularly fast and agile and quite difficult to capture. In order to even the playing field, the daughter has modified our swimming pool skim net and fish tank net so that she can approach her prey from both far and near.

 

LIZARD HUNTING 101

       If you're going to go lizard hunting with your child, and I absolutely recommend that you do, you'll need to understand the procedure. The first step in the process is to actually spot a lizard. This is much harder than it sounds and the daughter with young sharp eyes will always be ahead of her deteriorating father. The second step is the sneak up. Here, daughter goes first, slowly tip toeing towards the lizard, all the time motioning with her finger for daddy to keep quiet. Now the third step. If the lizard is out in the open, such as on the brick wall of the house, the daughter takes a net and goes for the direct pounce. A successful capture comes with great pride; failure to capture is obviously daddy's fault for making too much noise.

      But what if the lizard is in the brush or balancing on a tree limb? Here the pounce will not work as there is not a direct line of access to the long-tailed creature. Instead, the daughter takes a serpentine route towards her capture, somewhat analogous to tacking in a sailboat. When she gets close, a swipe of the wrist and she has netted her target.

 

CATCH AND RELEASE STRATEGY

      The process becomes more challenging, however, when the lizard dives deeper into the brush. Here, the daughter has devised a rather clever tactic. Using the non-business end of one of the nets, she bangs out a distressing sound on a nearby object.  Lizard hunting aficionados refer to this maneuver as the stalking thump. This ingenious tactic almost always sends the frightened lizard scurrying out into the open and into the waiting net.

      Netted lizards are transported into a nearby holding tank where they are fed live crickets. A few hours later they are released into the wild and the next hunt is planned. 

      Lizard hunting is an ideal daddy-daughter activity. It's inexpensive, safe, fun, and promotes bonding between daddy and daughter. It is also an excellent way to escape the confines of a house full of woman.   





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